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Barcelona or Zaragoza?


My parents and I are going to see France for 3 weeks and drive into Andorra for a day for sightseeing and want to head into Northern/Mid Spain. We will be staying in Spain for about 4-5 days and were wondering which is better to visit. Barcelona or Zaragoza? We know Barcelona is closer and a must see but Zaragoza looks nice too. We can only do one. We would like to see as much of true Spain as we can. We will driving from Andorra la Vella. We will be going to late September. Thanks!!

Posted by
1294 posts

True Spain????
Are you trying to incite a riot? ;)
You cross the border and you are into True Spain, a country offering as much diversity as the USA.
Both are good choices. My vote would be for Barcelona which offers a wider menu of opportunities.
Then again, I advise not telling the citizens of Barcelona that you think you are now visiting True Spain as they have this "thing" about wanting their independence from Spain. For comparison, i advise not going to Texas and telling them you still think you are in the USA.

Posted by
3714 posts

Do you intend to stay in one town for the 4-5 days? I was a little confused by the "see as much" part of your question.

What are you going to do with your rental car and when? If you rent it in France, you will pay a hefty surcharge to return it in Spain or Andorra for that matter. But maybe you already know that. If not, go to and explore their website, especially this part:

As for the direct question, I'd pick Barcelona.

Posted by
3118 posts

We recently spent 4 nights in Barcelona and 3 in Zaragoza. We liked both a lot but agree that Barcelona has more things to see and do---it would be my pick. I'd go just to see Sagrada Familia--it's amazing!

However, for cost-effective Spain, Zaragoza is a good choice! There are some good museums, great tapas, and the hotels are less expensive than Barcelona. Four to five days would be too much time in Zaragoza. Could you do two in Zaragoza and 3 in Barcelona for contrast?

If you have only 4 days, then Barcelona would be my pick.

Posted by
4535 posts

Not to knock Zaragoza, but there is a reason Barcelona is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. And while technically in the nation of Spain, it is Catalonian, not Spanish. The food, culture and language is very distinct than what you will find in other parts of Spain.

Also, you might consider driving "through Andorra" and spending time in some of the quaint towns in the Pyrenees.

Posted by
11978 posts

Except for Semana Santa (Easter Week), I would definitely go with Barcelona. You can easily fill a few days or more as there is plenty to see and do in Barcelona. Zaragosa has a decent center but really isn't a place you need to be for more than a full day.

The reason I excepted Semana Santa is because Barcelona is the least religious place in Spain. There is only one procession, on Good Friday, run by some people from Andalucia who were surprised Barcelona had none. The procession isn't connected to or sponsored by the church, which is pretty bizarre when you consider it's an Easter procession.

Zaragosa's Easter Week processions, on the other hand, are beyond amazing. I'm not sure any experience I've had tops the excitement and true cultural quality of the processions we watched on Holy Thursday.