Things to do and see in Zaragoza
Let’s start with the 15 must-see places in Zaragoza!
1. La Plaza del Pilar, one of the best places to visit in Zaragoza
I could not start this list of the best things to do in Zaragoza with any other place than Plaza del Pilar, the heart of the city. You will surely pass by this square more than once during your visit to the Aragonese capital, and it is full of treasures. Starting from the west side of the square, where you’ll find the Roman Walls, of which I will give some details later. Next to the walls is the church of San Juan de los Panetes.
Next, you will find the Fuente de la Hispanidad, inaugurated in 1991. If you look closely, you will notice that its outline draws a map of Latin America. A little further on, you will come across the Ball of the World, a sculpture that is also part of the reform that was made in the Plaza del Pilar almost 2 decades ago. Here appears the beautiful and incredible Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar.
On the other side of the square, we have the Zaragoza City Hall, La Lonja Exhibition Hall and the Monument to Francisco de Goya. A little further back, in the Plaza la Seo, we find the Museum of the Forum of Caesaraugusta and the Cathedral of the Savior of Zaragoza, which I will also talk about below.
As you can see, you can easily spend some time visiting all the places of interest near Plaza del Pilar. Although one of the best plans is to sit on a terrace to have a drink and enjoy the views and the atmosphere. Also, if you are traveling with family and children, you can have some adults-only time while the little ones play in the square.
I recommend you take this free tour of Zaragoza if you want to explore every part of the city with a guide and learn the most fascinating facts. If you enjoy this type of activity, look into some additional free tours around Zaragoza.
2. The Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar
The Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is the icon of the city and the great must-see in Zaragoza. In fact, it is one of the most visited monuments in Spain.
Its origin dates back to the year 40 A.D., when, according to popular belief, the Virgin Mary appeared to the apostle James on a pillar. Whether you are a believer or not, a visit to the Virgen del Pilar is a must. Before entering, try to guess the color of the Virgin’s cloak, which is something that we locals usually do. It is a complicated task since the Virgin has more than 450 mantles that are changed daily.
3. Visit one of the towers in the Pilar complex
Something that I was finally able to do on my last visit to Zaragoza and that I highly recommend you do too is visit one of the towers of the Pilar. Many people don’t know that it is possible to visit the highest part of the Tower of San Francisco de Borja, one of the best things to do in Zaragoza. From there, you will enjoy 360-degree views of Zaragoza, with the Pilar in the foreground. It’s amazing!
To access this place, you only have to purchase the ticket through the cathedral’s website. The general admission costs 4€. There are different schedules. I recommend you visit right before sunset. The visit is only 15 minutes, so take advantage of every minute to enjoy the scenery.
4. Calle Alfonso I, the most beautiful street in all of Zaragoza
One of the most beautiful streets in Zaragoza is Alfonso I Street. This pedestrian avenue connects the center with the historic center, leading to the Plaza del Pilar. Here you will find homes, stores and restaurants. Whatever time of day you go, you will always find a lively atmosphere.
5. Stroll through Paseo Independencia
If we continue talking about the main streets of the city, there is another one that you cannot miss. I am referring to Paseo Independencia, the most important shopping street to see in Zaragoza. This street connects the Plaza de Aragón with the Plaza de España, the place where the historic center begins. It is one of the busiest avenues, so you will always see people going from one place to another.
One of the side streets of Paseo Independencia leads you to the Plaza de los Sitios, a beautiful square surrounded by historic buildings that is worth visiting. Nearby, you will find the Basilica of Santa Engracia, which you can visit.
6. Sunset in Zaragoza from Puente de Piedra
At sunset, I recommend a walk across the Stone Bridge, the most emblematic and oldest bridge in the city. It was built in the 15th century and is located where a Roman bridge used to be. You will see that along the bridge there are several semicircular viewpoints, where you can rest your body on the wall, rest a bit and appreciate the beautiful views of the Ebro and the Basilica del Pilar.
You can stay there to watch the sunset and take some pictures, or you can finish crossing the bridge and head to El Balcon de San Lazaro. There, you can enjoy one of the most typical and beautiful landscapes in Zaragoza. The Ebro River, the Stone Bridge, and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar. Can there be a better plan? Visit this place at sunset and you will be amazed.
Another interesting place where you can watch the sunset in Zaragoza is on the rooftop of the IAACC Pablo Serrano (Aragonese Institute of Contemporary Art and Culture).
7. Nightlife in Tubo, one of the best things to do in Zaragoza
Does strolling through crisscrossed alleys while enjoying amazing food sound like a good plan to you? If your answer is yes, El Tubo of Zaragoza is waiting for you with open arms.
You will find it in the historic center of the city, between Plaza de España and the streets Alfonso I, Don Jaime I and Méndez Núñez. In fact, there are several streets that make up El Tubo: Estébanes, Libertad, Mártires, 4 de Agosto, Ossau, Cinegio, Blasón Aragonés, Pino and Plaza Sas.
I recommend you visit El Tubo both day and night and go in search of the best tapas in Zaragoza. Some of the bars with the best reviews are Los Victorinos, El Meli Del Tubo, El Champi, La Republicana, Terraza Libertad 6.8, La Miguería, Doña Casta, El Balcón del Tubo, El Limpia, Uasabi, Lamaribel Escabechado and La Viña.
Although if I had to highlight 2 places in Tubo, they’d be Casa Lac and El Plata. Casa Lac is one of the oldest restaurants in Spain, founded in 1825 by the Lac family from France. Nowadays, the chef of the restaurant is Ricardo Gil and vegetables are the main protagonists.
On the other hand, El Plata, founded in 1920, stands out. In 2008, Bigas Luna was in charge of converting it into El Plata Cabaret. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, they offer a show.
8. Parque Grande José Antonio Labordeta
Going to Parque Grande was one of my favorite things to do in Zaragoza when I was little, and it still is every time I go back! For this reason, it can’t be excluded from the Zaragoza in two days itinerary that I propose.
As its name suggests, it is a large park, 27 acres to be exact. It was inaugurated in 1929 and is located in Universidad neighborhood. Although it has always been popularly known as Parque Grande, its official name has changed. Until 2010, it was known as Primo de Rivera Park. That year, after the death of José Antonio Labordeta, the park was renamed Parque Grande José Antonio Labordeta.
If you travel with children, this park is a must-visit place in Zaragoza. I am sure they will enjoy it as much as I did years ago. Although it is not a place that only children like. Anyone will be delighted after a walk through all the green areas and monuments hidden in the park. There are several places to highlight that you cannot miss during your visit.
Things to do in Parque Grande
First of all, I recommend entering the park through the main entrance, so you will cross the Puente de los Cantautores (Singers’ Bridge). Walk along the Paseo San Sebastian until you reach the end of it, where the main fountain is located, and go up to the Monument to King Alfonso I the Battler. Then do not miss the music kiosk, the Fountain of Neptune and the Botanical Garden.
In addition to strolling through the park, you can have a drink in one of the cafes that you will find in different areas or rent a bike and tour the park on wheels.
9. Aljafería Palace, a must-see place in Zaragoza
Another place that should not be missed on your visit to Zaragoza is the Aljaferia Palace, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001. It is a fortified palace of Aragonese Mudejar style, built in the second half of the 11th century. It was ordered to be built by Al-Muqtadir, king of the Taifa of Saraqusta between 1046 and 1081, to be the residence of the Hudi kings, an Arab dynasty that reigned in Zaragoza, among other places, from 1039 to 1110.
Throughout its history, the Aljaferia Palace has had different functions and, therefore, several reconstructions. It has served as a Taifal palace, a Mudejar palace, palace of the Catholic Monarchs, an Inquisition prison, military barracks and seat of the Cortes of Aragon.
Visit the Aljaferia Palace
Nowadays, you can visit by booking guided tours (for free) or on your own. You can visit the Muslim palace, the Mudejar palace and the Troubadour Tower. In the Muslim palace, you’ll find the Patio de Santa Isabel, one of the most beautiful corners of the Aljaferia. Be sure to appreciate the details of the beautiful Arab arches. Do not miss the permanent exhibition, the throne room and the facilities that were used as a prison inside the Troubadour Tower.
Free guided tours take place at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. In the morning, it is open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. In the afternoon, it is open from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (from November to March) and from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (from April to October). On Sundays from November to March, it is closed in the afternoon, so guided tours are only available in the morning.
Admission is €5 or €1 if you are over the age of 65, a student, or have a youth card. On Sundays, it is free.
10. Roman Ruins of Zaragoza
In Zaragoza, there are several Roman ruins that you can visit. In my opinion, the most interesting are the Roman Walls, which you can pass by when you visit the Plaza del Pilar, the Museum of the Theater of Caesaraugusta and the Museum of the Forum of Caesaraugusta.
The Roman Walls are located next to Plaza del Pilar, specifically in Plaza de Cesar Augusto, next to the Torreon de la Zuda. The Roman wall of Zaragoza, built in the 1st century, used to measure a total of 3 kilometers and had 120 towers. Today, two sections are preserved. The aforementioned section is the longest and most monumental.
The Roman Theater of Zaragoza
In the Theater Museum of Caesaraugusta, you can see the ruins of the ancient Roman theater of Zaragoza. It was built in the first century A.D. It could hold a total of 6,000 spectators. It was discovered in 1972 due to some work that was being done there. From Tuesday to Saturday, it is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. On Sundays, it is open from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The entrance fee is 4 euros.
Museo del Foro de Caesaraugusta
In the Museum of the Forum of Caesaraugusta, you can visit the remains of the forum of the ancient Roman city, dating from the late first century BC. Here the political-administrative, economic and religious life of the city took place. Part of the remains belong to the time of Emperor Augustus and part belong to the time of Emperor Tiberius. From Tuesday to Saturday, it is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. On Sundays, it is open from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The entrance fee is 3 euros.
You can also visit the Caesaraugusta River Port Museum (3 euros) and the Museo de las Termas Públicas de Caesaraugusta (3 euros). If you want to visit the 4 museums mentioned above, there is a special ticket called “Bono 5 Museos” that includes the entrance to these 4 places and the Pablo Gargallo Museum for 9 euros.
As there is quite a lot to visit in Zaragoza, I would only focus on visiting the inside of the Roman ruins if you are going to be in Zaragoza for 2 days or more.
11. The Cathedral of the Savior of Zaragoza, one of the best things to do in Zaragoza
The Cathedral of the Savior, also known as La Seo, is another of the most emblematic places to see in Zaragoza. It is located in the Plaza la Seo, next to the Museum of the Forum of Caesaraugusta and the Plaza del Pilar. It has a basilica floor plan with 5 naves and 6 sections covered by ribbed vaults.
Throughout its life, it has undergone several reconstructions. For example, its tower, which was remodeled in the 17th century by Giovanni Battista Contini, went from a Mudejar style to a Baroque one.
The entrance to the Seo costs €4 and also includes the entrance to the Tapestry Museum. It is also possible to take a guided tour of the Cathedral of the Savior.
Be sure to go around the cathedral to pass by St. Bruno’s Square, where there is an antiques market on Sunday mornings, and the Arch of the Dean.
12. Parish Church of San Pablo
The Church of San Pablo is another of the most striking religious buildings in the city. In fact, it is nicknamed “the third cathedral of Zaragoza.” It is located in the San Pablo neighborhood, also known as El Gancho. This is located next to the old town. Before visiting the Church of San Pablo, you should know that it was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2001, as it is one of the most important works of the Aragonese Mudejar style.
It stands out for its beautiful bell tower, which you can visit if you book a guided tour available for those who want to visit the interior of the temple. Thanks to this, you can also visit the chapels, the cloister, the choir and the altarpiece. You can also visit the church without a tour, but you will not have access to all the spaces. You can find out how to visit this place here.
13. Puerta del Carmen
The Puerta del Carmen is the only one of the 12 ancient entrance gates to the city of Zaragoza that remains standing. The arch was built in 1789 by Agustin Sanz and inaugurated in 1792, replacing the old Baltax Gate.
It is in neoclassical style and is located between Cesar Augusto Avenue, Hernán Cortés Street, Paseo Maria Agustin and Paseo Pamplona. It is made of ashlar stone and is shaped like a Roman triumphal arch, with a central arch and two smaller side arches.
14. Mercado Central de Zaragoza
A place I always like to visit in any city is its main market. That’s why, when you visit Zaragoza, I recommend you visit the Central Market of Zaragoza. The market was designed by the Aragonese architect Felix Navarro Perez and inaugurated in 1903. In 1978, it was named a national historic monument and in 1982, a site of cultural interest.
I think the building itself is beautiful. Head inside to discover all the food stalls and experience the day-to-day life of the locals.
15. Plaza del Justicia, a lesser known place
The following place does not usually appear on most must-see lists of Zaragoza; however, I have not hesitated to include it in mine. I’m talking about Plaza del Justicia, a charming corner located in the old part of the city. Visiting this place will only take you a few minutes, unless you want to sit on one of the benches in the square to rest and observe the local life.
In the Plaza del Justicia, you can see the Samaritana Fountain, the Palace of the Counts of Sobradiel and, especially, the Church of Santa Isabel de Portugal, which has a very beautiful facade. In one of the streets surrounding the square is located the Cafeteria Justicia, a place where you can have a delicious specialty coffee.
If you have several days to visit Zaragoza, you can also visit some interesting places around the city. In this article, I recommend some of the best day trips from Zaragoza.
Where to stay in Zaragoza
If you still do not have a place to stay in the city, my recommendation is to look for a hotel in the center or in the old town. These are the best areas to sleep in Zaragoza and here you can see some of the best hotels in the center of Zaragoza (coming soon).
On my last visit to the Aragonese capital, I stayed at the INNSiDE Zaragoza, located between the center and the old town, very close to the Puerta del Carmen. I liked it very much, both the room and the common areas. It has a great rooftop pool if you are visiting the city in the warmer months.
Other highly recommended hotels in Zaragoza are the Hotel Sauce and Hotel Inca.
Map of things to do in Zaragoza
In the following map of Zaragoza, I have marked all the tourist attractions that I have mentioned in this article. In addition, I have also marked the hotels that I recommend with their respective Booking links.
If you are traveling to other parts of the country, don’t miss my Spain travel guide.
I hope this post about the best things to do in Zaragoza has helped you plan your trip to the Aragonese capital. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. See you next time!