This itinerary, through the less-visited regions of Extremadura and Castilla y León, focuses on the enduring Roman, Moorish, and Christian monuments that have shaped Spanish history.
Day 1: Mérida
Buy a combined ticket for €15 to visit all the main monuments in Spain’s best-preserved Roman town. After a tapas lunch at the bullring next to the excavation of a Roman villa, spend the afternoon at Mérida’s world-class Museo Nacional de Arte Romano. If you visit in summer, try to get tickets for a night-time classical performance at the Roman theater, and round off the evening with a drink at Trajan’s Arch.
Day 2: Trujillo
Catch the early-morning bus from Mérida and linger over a cool drink in beautiful Plaza Mayor, built with riches sent home by 16th-century conquistadors. A huge equestrian statue of Francisco Pizarro, who defeated the Incas, looms above. Walk up the hill to visit the Casa-Museo de Pizarro house museum, where the conquistador is said to have lived, and climb the battlements of the perfect medieval castle. Dine al fresco back in the floodlit main square.
Day 3: Cáceres
An early morning bus will drop you in Cáceres in under an hour. Head straight to huge Plaza Mayor, gateway to one of Spain’s best-preserved medieval cities. Plan to explore the walled hilltop town twice, visiting its churches, palaces, and museums by day, and taking a flood-lit guided tour at night. Be sure to sample some of this ancient city’s cutting-edge modern cuisine.
Day 4: Ávila & Segovia
Bus and train connections are awkward from Cáceres, so your best bet is to rent a car for a day. En route to Segovia, stop off in Ávila to walk along the ramparts of Spain’s greatest surviving medieval fortifications. Continue to Segovia for dinner near the 166 arches of its wonderfully preserved Roman Aqueduct, lit up at night.
Day 5: Segovia & Zamora
In the morning, visit Segovia’s Alcázar for Spain’s best example of a storybook castle, extensively reconstructed from the era when Castilian lords poured boiling oil on their enemies from the ramparts. Take a midday train to Zamora, where the ridgeline bristles with beautiful 12th- and 13th-century churches that staked out the frontier with Moorish al-Andalus. The Centro de Interpretación de las Ciudades Medievales gives a vivid picture of life in warring medieval Spain; after that, visit Santa María-Magdalena to understand the faith that sustained those warriors.
Day 6: Burgos
The morning express bus to Burgos will get you into town just in time for lunch. (Burgos originated estrellitas, fried potatoes with an egg broken over them as a sauce.) Head to Plaza Mío Cid to see the grandiose modern statue of El Cid, the dashing 11th-century warlord who’s become a symbol of Spanish patriotism. Pay your respects at his tomb by the main altar of the beautiful Gothic Cathedral. If you’re here from spring to fall, you’re bound to notice throngs of pilgrims coming through Burgos, their last urban stop before Santiago de Compostela.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.