A popular day trip from Madrid, the ancient Walls of Avila are the remnants of the medieval bastion surrounding the provincial capital of Avila. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed walls are renowned as one of Europe’s finest examples of a medieval wall, impressively preserved and stretching for 2.5 km.
Dating back to 1090, the Walls of Avila took almost 600 years to complete and feature 88 towers and 6 gates along their length. Towering 12 meters high, the walls are an imposing sight and walking along the top is a popular pastime for visitors, providing expansive views over the city. Only around half of the walls circumference is walkable from the top, but exploring the city periphery from the ground is still a fascinating stroll, taking in the elaborately carved stone gateways.
Inside the walls, the hilltop city of Avila is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage site and as the birthplace of mystic Saint Teresa of Jesus has become an important pilgrimage site. The 12th-century Gothic Cathedral, the Romanesque Bascilia de San Vicente and the Convent of Saint Teresa are also key attractions, all easily to find inside the walls.
Address: Avila, Spain
Hours: Mar 29 - Oct 27: Tue-Sun 10am-8pm; Oct 28 - Mar 28: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm. Open Mondays June-Aug
Salamanca's Plaza Mayor is the Spanish Main Square that your dreams are made of. Home to the city's commanding City Hall building "” and once the site of bullfights until as late as 1992 "” the plaza is widely considered the most beautiful square in Spain. Beautiful because of its dramatic Baroque style, its 247 balconies, and its 88 arches behind which hide all sorts of restaurants and shops.
Indeed, this is where you'll want to go to bask in your Salamanca surroundings by sitting al fresco (when weather permits) to enjoy tapas while savoring views of the 18th-century square and its emblematic sandstone buildings. From here, you'll also have easy access to other city sights, as it's just a short jaunt from stops such as the Salamanca Cathedral, Casa de las Conchas, and the University of Salamanca. Meanwhile, those looking for a good selection of shops need only head down Calle del Toro, a street just off the northeastern corner of the plaza.
Salamanca's main sights can easily be tackled on foot. For additional information on visiting the city, there is a tourist office located near the southwest corner of the plaza.
Address: Plaza Mayor, Salamanca, Castile and Leon 37008, Spain