My second weekend in Spain was all about day trips! On Saturday, September 17th I headed to Avila and Segovia on a guided tour and then on Sunday, September 18th, I visited Cuenca on the day of their San Mateo Festival. This post is all about Avila and Segovia, while you can read about Cuenca here!
I booked my tour through the website Viator and our group consisted of people all over 40 years old… and me. Our guide was knowledgeable about all the sights and spoke in English for our largely American group. Said group left from the Julia Travel Agency Office near the Palacio Real at 9am. This meant I had to wake up at 6am and leave the house at 7am to catch the bus into Madrid before taking the metro from Moncloa to the tour’s point of departure. That’s ’burb life for ya!
Is it just me or does the silver-haired fellow towards the right of the photo look a little suspicious of me?
The bus ride to Avila, our first stop, was about an hour and a half long. Avila is a city northwest of Spain with a fully intact medieval wall completely surrounding it. Work began on the walls in 1050 and lasted until the 14th century.
Before we passed through the walls though, we parked the bus and headed into the Cathedral of Avila, which was a mix of both Gothic and Romanesque architecture.
After peaking around the rather small cathedral, we walked into the main city through an entrance in the wall.
Our next stop was the Convent of Saint Teresa, a woman born in Avila and named a saint in 1622, 40 years after her death in 1582. Overall, the chapel wasn’t too aesthetically spectacular, except for a small room in the back with an incredibly ornate, fully gold wall!
Honestly, the biggest attraction in Avila really was just the wall so we were out of there and onto our next destination, Segovia, fairly quickly! 55 minutes on the bus later, we arrived in Segovia and our guide informed us that we had a few hours to independently get lunch and see the aqueduct before meeting together again at the Segovia Cathedral. I actually ate a lunch that I had packed in Thermos on the bus, so I was able to just head straight to the 813 meter (2,667 feet) long Roman aqueduct. It was so, so cool to see such a perfectly preserved aspect of Ancient Roman times!
I got a map from a tourism office next to the aqueduct and starting walking at a leisurely pace to the Cathedral. Like in Avila, we were in the quaint, central part of Segovia so all the streets were easy to navigate and rife with people, both locals and tourists alike.
I got to the cathedral before the scheduled meeting time so I simply sat in the town’s Plaza Mayor in front of the Cathedral. Plazas, or squares, are everywhere in Spain and pretty much the all the towns and cities have several, always including the main Plaza Mayor.
Another solo traveler from my tour group arrived early so we chatted for a bit before our guide and the other tour members showed up and we resumed the guided portion of the tour. The gothic-style cathedral wasn’t anything too extraordinary to see, but the tour guide filled us in on some interesting history (which I honestly can’t remember now).
After a really quick visit to the cathedral, we all walked over to the Alcazar, which is a word for a castle from Moorish times. There’s no exact date assigned to when this Alcazar was built, but it was probably in the 11th or 12th century.
After seeing the Alcazar, we headed back onto the bus and to Madrid. The ride was about an hour long and I’m pretty sure I (and most of the other tour group members) napped. We arrived near, but not at, our original starting point at about 6pm, concluding the 9-hour tour (if you’re wondering what I did after, my evening involved subpar churros then an awkward au pair meet-up… the tour was good enough though that I wasn’t too bothered by the average night that followed)!
If you’re in Madrid and looking for day trips, Avila and Segovia are definitely good places to visit! I especially recommend Segovia because the aqueduct is just so cool, but it doesn’t take long to visit that one city so Avila is a good place to tack on to your day for a heartier excursion.
Ever been to these places before? Or want to go? Let me know what you think in the comments below!