The advantage of living in Madrid is that you can easily escape for day trips or short weekends. Segovia, Salamanca, Aranjuez, or even Alcalá de Henares, charming tourist cities, are not lacking around the Spanish capital. So, I took advantage of living in the Spanish capital to discover Ávila. Located in the region of Castilla y León, it is known for being one of the highest cities in the country, at 1182 meters above sea level, and above all for being surrounded by a completely preserved medieval wall. So, let’s find out the best things to see in Ávila!

Avila in a nutshell

Romans, Visigoths, and Moors have trodden Ávila, which is located in a rocky enclave on the right bank of the Adaja, a tributary of the Duero.
Interestingly, it holds 3 honorary titles: Ávila de los Caballeros (Avila of the Knights), Ávila del Rey (Avila of the King), and Ávila de los Leales (Avila of the Loyal).
The walls are the true attraction of the city, classified as a World Heritage Site, where the cobbled streets, medieval sites, and charming churches do not leave tourists indifferent. 

Things to See in Avila

While the walls are the number one tourist attraction in Avila, they are not the only one. Let’s find out the best things to see in Avila!

1. Catedral Salvador de Ávila

This is the first Gothic cathedral in Spain, construction of which began in the 12th century. It was heavily inspired by the Basilica of Saint-Denis.
The heart of the cathedral is directly embedded in the wall that has made the city famous. However, this is not the only curiosity of the cathedral.
In fact, a special stone was used in the construction of the monument: The Bleeding Stone (La Piedra Sangrante). Its name comes from the red stains, a sign of the iron oxide it contains. It is a unique stone that was found in the surroundings of Ávila at that time.

2. Real Monasterio de Santo Tomas

The Gothic-style monument was built between 1482 and 1493.
The Catholic Monarchs partially financed the works, as they had decided to make the monastery their summer residence.
Also here, years later, they buried their son Juan, heir to the throne.
Inside the monastery, you can also find the Oriental Museum and the Museum of Natural Sciences.

3. Plaza del Mercado Chico

A rectangular square, like the ones that abound in Spain, surrounded by bar and restaurant terraces. Here you can also find the Town Hall.


4. Plaza de Santa Teresa de Jesus

Sitting on the terrace of the many bars and restaurants there, the visitor enjoys a beautiful view of the walls or the parish church of San Pedro Apóstol.


5. Basilica San Vicente

It is a Romanesque church built between the 11th and 14th centuries.
Legend has it that the Christian martyrs Vicente, Sabina, and Cristeta were persecuted during the reign of Diocletian and that their bodies were buried in the rock where the basilica was later built.




6. Walls

The walls of Ávila are of medieval origin and served to control the entry of food and merchandise, as well as to play a defensive role.
With a length of 3 km, they can be walked along the entire exterior perimeter. They also offer beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.





How many days to spend in Avila?

Ávila is a city that can be easily visited in a day, but if, like me, you enjoy taking your time to sit in the park and observe the locals, or discover the nightlife, it’s best to spend a night there.
It truly is a charming town to discover in slow travel mode, especially to enjoy its gastronomy.

When to go to AVILA?

Ávila is a city where it can get very cold. Therefore, it’s best to avoid the winter months if you want to visit the city calmly and enjoy its terraces.
The months of June to September are particularly recommended, as the temperatures are mild and rainfall is less frequent.

How to get to Avila?

Several options to get to Ávila. From Madrid, the train is the fastest and most comfortable option. You can check the schedules here.
However, it’s also possible to take the bus. They depart regularly from the southern bus station in Madrid. If you are in another Spanish city, likely, you can also get there by bus. Check this site for more information.
By car, the city is also accessible in just over an hour from Madrid. If you don’t have a vehicle, you can rent one in any Spanish city to go to Ávila. Check the rates of different rental companies!

How to get around in Avila?

Ávila is a very small city that you can easily explore on foot without any problem.
You can also use taxis to get around more quickly. However, I recommend walking to truly discover the beauty of the place.

Where to stay in Avila?

The best option is to stay in the city center to be able to visit it calmly and on foot, and also to enjoy its atmosphere both during the day and at night.

What to eat in Avila?

In Ávila, most bars will serve you a tapa of your choice each time you order a drink.
Otherwise, I recommend trying the chuletón (beef steak), the judías de El Barco de Ávila (local dried beans), and the Yemas de Santa Teresa (a dessert).

Be a digital nomad in Avila

Ávila is a very small city, and you can explore it quickly. Additionally, finding a community of digital nomads or expatriates can be quite challenging.
Similarly, coworking spaces and cafés to work from are nonexistent. Therefore, it’s best to visit the city as a tourist.
However, if you’re looking for a different nomadic experience, peaceful and immersed in local life, it might be worth trying!

Be a responsible traveler in Avila

As in any other place, it’s imperative to take care of nature and the inhabitants in Ávila. Here are some ideas for actions to be a responsible traveler:
  • Walk instead of using taxis
  • Pay attention to your electricity and water consumption
  • Do not litter on the streets
  • Take away the leftovers from your restaurant meals
  • Drink tap water instead of buying bottles
  • Do your shopping at the market
  • Limit your meat consumption
  • Learn some Spanish words to communicate with the locals
These are just a few examples of eco-friendly actions. There’s much more to do!

Be a POC in Avila

As I mention in each post, the experiences of each racialized person can be completely different in each destination. I am of South Asian origin and did not have any problems during my stay, apart from a few glances.
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