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Burgos vs Zaragoza for 4 nights?


I previously posted a question about finding nice cities like Oviedo or Santiago to stay for a few nights:

First Post

Thank you again to all those who replied. Now, I think I have narrowed down my trip to Madrid (2 nights), Toledo (2 nights), and one other city for 4 nights.

I picked Toledo despite it being overcrowded because it's beautiful and also I am going before it gets too hot (mid-May). Also, I got a good deal at Hotel Santa Isabel. Ditto for Madrid.

So, my itinerary is like this:

May 7 night land at Madrid airport late at night, staying in Barajas
May 8-12 (4 nights) Burgos or Zaragoza (or elsewhere)?? Will go there directly from airport
May 12 (daytime) return to Madrid, leave bags at hotel near Atocha (CC Hostal Atocha). Head for Toledo
May 12-14 (2 nights) stay at Hotel Santa Isabel, Toledo
May 14-15 (2 nights) Madrid, stay at CC Hostal Atocha
May 16 (daytime) early flight at 9am to USA via Toronto (Air Canada)

From Google Maps, the old town of both cities seem not too big. I want to do slow travel: sightsee a bit, slow down, have lunch, walk around aimlessly, have afternoon tea, walk around more, and finally dinner. I am guessing that businesses are more used to English-speaking tourists in Burgos because it's on the Camino.
I also considered Logroño, but I can't find much information about it.

I know that 4 nights at any of these cities may be a little too long, but hotels in these places are far cheaper than in Madrid, especially for Saturday, May 11.

Posted by
53 posts

If you are staying in Burgos and have a car, there are numerous medieval sites worth considering for day trips. You might consider: San Millan de la Cogolla, Silos, San Miguel de Escalada. It's been many years since I've visited, but I remember using Burgos as a base for exploring the region. Try searching google maps for drive times or even the bus routes out of Burgos.

Posted by
351 posts

Unfortunately, I won't have a car. I found a bus that travels from Logrono and Burgos--it takes 2 hours one way.

Posted by
2114 posts

If you are coming from Madrid, without a car, your best option would be Zaragoza, which would only be a short 1:45 hr ride on the AVE high speed train. The AVE takes you from city center to the city center.

With 4 nights, I think that Zaragoza has a tad more to offer within the city itself than Burgos, although both are nice options. Zaragoza, comes from it's original Roman name Caesaraugusta, I think that its timeline of history is more readily on display, from Roman, to Moorish, Medieval, and Baroque.

I forgot to mention in your other post, if you are interested in art, Francisco Goya was born in a village very close to Zaragoza, the Museum of Zaragoza has quite a few of his works, as well as artifacts from its Roman, Moorish, and medieval Christian days:

Posted by
269 posts


sorry that you have given up on Logroño. I think you would have liked it.

Just a heads up, you are aware that the 15th is San Isidro and there will be fiestas in Madrid.

Posted by
3071 posts

We recently spent 3 nights in Zaragoza, and I would have been happy with one more. It is pretty flat and compact. The one sight that we couldn’t walk to, the Aljaferia Palace, is easily accessible by public transport. Look on TripAdvisor for day trips. They have one listed which goes to Teruel and Albarracin. I would have done it, if we’d had more time.

Posted by
351 posts

Thanks again, everybody. Seems like Zaragoza is a better choice, compared to Burgos. I need to find more information about it, because it neither in Rick's book nor well covered in the internet (not on Camino).

BTW, on May 15, will the fiesta be held everywhere? Will stores and restaurants be closed?

Muchos Garcias.

Posted by
2114 posts

Fiestas de San Isidro are only in Madrid, it is their annual city festival.

Posted by
269 posts

Carlos, the only place on the OP's itinerary.

There are many places that have San Isidro as their patron. Most of the one's I know of are small villages around here, but according to wiki "The feast in honor of San Isidro is declared of National Tourist Interest in Andalusia".

Posted by
2114 posts

@dlindstrom - yes thank you, I should have clarified, although the most known one is in Madrid, of course every village or town that has San Isidro as their patron saint will celebrate his saint's day. It's hard to keep track of them :)

San Isidro is not so important up in Catalonia, we have Sant Jordi, his day is actually coming up soon (April 23)!

Posted by
2258 posts

Barkinpark, during my own visit to Spain in June 2018, I spent 1 or 2 nights each in Logroño, Burgos, Zaragoza, also Teruel and Albarracin, all wonderful places. You might consider dividing your time, rather than spending 4 nights in one spot. Certainly the city with the most to do for a visitor is Zaragoza. The aljaferia was a highlight, I walked there from the city center, arrived just before the opening (9:00 am?) and took the free English language tour at that hour. Very interesting, beautiful and worthwhile. The city also has several interesting churches, bridges and museums. One place that was highly recommended to me by a friend, but just didn’t fit into my schedule, was the ruined city of Belcite, about 40 km from Zaragoza. This spot was truly devastated during the Spanish Civil War, the ruined city then left as a memorial to the destructive war. I am told it is a very moving site. A new town was built nearby. It is possible to go by public bus, but you have to work your schedule around the infrequent bus schedule. There may be tours, I’m not sure, or you can rent a car for the day, maybe include some other stops. The highlight in Burgos is the large and beautiful cathedral. I happened to be there during the annual festival, with parades, neighborhood costumes and bands, puppets large and small, and fireworks at night. There are two outstanding monasteries outside of town, but visits did not fit into my abbreviated schedule. The highlight of Logroño is certainly our brother Dave Lindstrom of this forum, who welcomed me warmly and introduced me to the local wonderful culture of pinchos (tapas). Logroño is much more a locals livable town than a tourist spot, so much so that I kept bumping into Dave and his family as I wandered around, so more opportunities for pinchos with some local beer or wine. There are also wineries and wine towns around Logroño, it is the heart of Rioja after all. I went to one excellent wine estate for a tour and wine tasting with accompanying gourmet food pairings, and then on my way out of town, stopped at the beautiful, small walled town of Laguardia, for most of a day, including a fine lunch. I also spent 1 or 2 nights in each of Teruel and Albarracin, both historical, beautiful and highlighted in the book “The Most Beautiful Villages of Spain”, where I first learned about them. While staying there and immersing oneself in local life daytime and evening would be ideal, no doubt a guided day tour to visit one or both would still be fun. My preference would be Albarracin. Not sure how far they are from Zaragoza, I was on a different route at that point. As you can tell, I don’t think there’s really a bad choice on this list, so enjoy!

Posted by
351 posts

Thanks again and again. I have more questions.

  1. What is the relative size of each of these cities, only counting the total areas of interest? For instance, does it take 1/2 day, one full day, or 2 full days to see everything (excluding day trips)?

  2. Which of these are green and which are not so green? One thing I like about Oviedo is that, whilst the old town is small, the surrounding areas are very green and filled with beautiful 18th century houses.

I am not a big museum person. However, I like looking at great architecture of various styles, shapes, and sizes.

  1. Suppose I re-consider Logrono, will I not have enough to do if I don't visit bodegas? I can't drink due to health reasons.

So many places to visit, yet there is so little time...decisions, decisions. I suppose I can't go wrong with any place. Maybe I should throw a dice?

Posted by
2258 posts

Well, this is a little subjective, but:
Bigness: certainly the biggest center, with the most interesting architecture, is Zaragoza. I suppose you could visit most of the in-town sites, excluding museums and places out of town, in a good full day. That’s what I did, as my full day there was a Monday, when the museums were closed. Both Burgos and Logroño were quite spread out, but did not have many in-town sites beyond the churches. Pinchos in Logrono are terrific, you don’t need to drink with them. There is also a tapas street in Zaragoza. If you include Teruel and Albarracin, they are both very small but with very interesting, often unusual, architecture.
Greenness: my memory is that the greenest (meaning parks, etc., not necessarily environmental policies) is Burgos. There is a river running through town, with green park land and open space running beside. Zaragoza also has a major river by the center, some greenery there too, but not as prominent as Burgos. Teruel and Albarracin are both small, surrounded by green areas and forest, often within walking distance.
Logroño and Burgos are both somewhat more distant from Madrid, not sure if there are fast trains or not., I guess I would guide you toward Zaragoza, with day trips to Belcite and Teruel and/or Albarracin if that is feasible.
By the way, you haven’t mentioned Córdoba, which is wonderful, but off in a totally different direction out of Madrid. Lots of memorable things to do in Cordoba, the wonderful Mesquita (unique and incredible architecture), the ancient Jewish quarter, and more. Also, major parkland along the river, and many homes and other buildings with flowery patios.

Posted by
269 posts

Hey Larry, thanks for the kinds words.

Here are the numbers for the cities in the conversation:

Zaragoza inhab. 666,880 area 973 km2

Oviedo inhab. 220,020 area 186 km2

Burgos inhab. 175,921 area 107 km2

Logroño inhab 151,110 area 79 km2

As for which are the greenest, I thing that you could look at them on google maps. Zaragoza, Oviedo and Logroño are usually well ranked for the green space per capital.

One last thing, in Logroño we have one of the top rated ice cream shops in Spain.
This page has it #1, and the HuffingtonPost in Spain has it #3. In most searches for Della Sera you will find it in the top 5.

As Larry said, it will be hard to make a bad choice.
@Carlos in San Diego I learned it as San Ysidro. I have a cousin who lives in a wealthy Bay Area neighborhood and the local parish is San Isidro Labrador. Which is a bit ironic given that it is a very white collar area.

Posted by
3041 posts

As you can tell, everybody has their preference, and as stated, all the choices are good. I’ve yet to visit Logrono, but it’s on next year’s trip. Decision time. Have fun researching your trip.

Posted by
269 posts

OCU, the Spanish consumers union, has just published their "Cleanness" rating of 60 Spanish cities.
The list is here.

The categories that were evaluated were;
Per capita spending, streets and sidewalks, condition of the parks and gardens, excrement, graffiti and posters, trash bins and the area around them, pollution, areas outside the center and overall satisfaction, and the change in the last 4 years.

The top four cities were; Oviedo 79, Bilbao 77, Vigo 76 Logroño 74

other cities in this thread; Burgos 67, Zaragoza 49

Posted by
1233 posts

Ooh, Murcia not quite as dirty as Valencia! They'll probably start putting that on the tourist brochures. I believe Cartagena's official motto "muy noble, muy leal y siempre heroica ciudad de Cartagena" translates as "if you think this is bad, wait till you see what happened to the original Carthage".