A weekend might not be enough to experience all the things to do in Avila. Even so, we loved the walled city and now, we have a reason to go back!
When we lived in Madrid, we took advantage of our central location in Spain and were always visiting places that were nearby. On the weekends we’d take trips to places such as Castilla and Leon, which were really fascinating. This is how we wound up visiting the beautiful walled city of Avila. I have to admit that when people told me that this city was straight out of a fairytale I thought they were exaggerating. The truth is that Avila was magical and the term “fairy tale” doesn’t do it justice. We always think that we need to go to another country to find out if the grass is greener on the other side; but a lot of times we have the most amazing destinations right in our own backyards (or at the very list in our own country- Spain).
Once we entered the walled city, we went straight to our hotel to leave our luggage and start exploring Avila. It didn’t take us long at all to notice what a beautiful city it was, but since we arrived just in time for lunch, the first thing was finding a place to eat. We had a good meal (even though we paid a bit more since the restaurant was in the city center), and then it was off to start our cultural adventure!
Of course, our first stop was the authentic walls of Avila (la Muralla de Avila) which are a masterpiece all on their own. We hurried to get a look from the top and we weren’t disappointed! The view was breathtaking and it was easy to see the original purpose of the wall, which was to defend the city and separate the wealthy people from the less fortunate. As we took in the view, we thought about how everything used to be based on your social status. Moments like this make your imagination run wild as you think about what it must have been like to live 100s of years ago.
After visiting the Avila Walls, we wanted to get a panoramic view of the city, so we headed for Los Cuatro Postes (The Four Posts) to see the Avila Wall from farther away. They say that if you visit this part of the city, that you have to kiss your partner to ensure an everlasting love. We kissed of course, just in case the legend was true (and why pass up a chance for a kiss! Haha! We took a moment to rest and enjoy the view of this wonderful city.
The next place we visited was St Teresa’s Convent, which was very beautiful, by the way. What surprised us the most was that there is a relic of her finger exhibited at the Convent. The Convent dates back to the 17th century and Saint Teresa was born there. She loved the church, as did her parents. St. Teresa also had a small garden where she used to pray. It is a place full of symbolism, history and valuable artifacts.
The next day we started by visiting the Basilica of San Vicente which is the perfect example of the architecture of Avila. We also visited the San Pedro’s Church and of course the Cathedral. We have to say that the Cathedral is a wonderful masterpiece with a really spectacular altarpiece. Once we entered we noticed that it has a historical timeline that reflects the History of Religion very precisely and it’s a valuable work of art in and of itself.
Another place that we loved was the Plaza of the Mercado Grande, which is next to San Pedro’s Church. There we found parents trading football cards with their children, but somehow it almost seemed like the parents were having more fun than the children. When I was a child, we could only trade cards at school with our friends. I would have loved to go to a plaza like this when I was little.
The Delicious Gastronomy of Avila
We were lucky on our trip to Avila because we had some recommendations from a friend who had grown up there. Our friend provided us with the names of some places that were off the tourist trail where the locals like to eat. Since it’s been a few years since we visited Avila, we don’t want to give the names of the restaurants we visited (since they might have changed) but we can give you some tips on the foods you just have to try!
One of the best dishes we sampled was the bean stew. It was one of those dishes that really fills you up. We almost didn’t have to eat anything else for the rest of the trip. Haha! The last day we ate a good steak with spicy mashed potatoes (patatas revolconas) to fill our stomachs before returning.
After a long day of walking around the city, we decided to enjoy a cup of coffee with “yemas de Ávila” (the typical sweets from the area, although they are a little too sugary for my taste.) You can taste them in any bakery of the city or almost any coffee shop. My friend met us just before we left at a really unique coffee shop. It was called Delicatessen and it’s decorated like an old city with its back room, mechanics and lottery machines. Another curious bit is that one of the rooms is turned “upside down” with the furniture on the roof!
So, where can you stay in Avila?
Our experience was in a hotel in the area of NaturAvila, a place where you can escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy nature. But don’t worry, it was only a few minutes away from the city by car. If instead you came to Ávila by bus or train, then another option might be better for you. If you want something more central you have many other options to stay in Avila.
There is so many things to do in Avila, that you can enjoy visiting this beautiful city again and again. In addition to its heritage, its easy accessibility, and the fact that it’s a very walkable city make it a great place to visit. Ruskomendamos a visit to Avila 5 boquerones and we are confident that you will be as surprised as we were with its history, its monuments and unique places.