Valladolid, Castilla y León
Transport options to arrive: Train, Plane Bus, or Car
Valladolid is located approximately 200km northwest of Madrid and is therefore rather well-connected. It is reachable by RENFE train (approximately a one-hour ride from Madrid) as well as by plane from Barcelona, Malaga, and the Canary Islands. As always, driving is a great option for flexibility.
Recommended time of year to visit and length of visit: Year-round, perhaps avoiding July and August if you aren’t fond of 30˚C (86˚F)+ weather. As the city center isn’t so large, you could see the main attractions in a day, but with 2-3 nights you’d have the opportunity to enjoy more of what the city has to offer.
Fun Fact: Although believed to have been born in Alcalá de Henares, the famous Spanish writer Miguel Cervantes was living in Valladolid in 1605 when the first part of his world-renowned book “Don Quixote” became an instant success. This was a major turning point in the author’s life as he was previously unable to support himself on his writing alone.
Top three must-sees:
1. Iglesia de Santa María La Antigua: This little church is the oldest in Valladolid and its unique character—especially its pyramidal Romanesque bell tower—is sure to catch your eye. Entrance is limited to mass, but I’d recommend taking in the architecture of all the buildings in this plaza from one of the many outdoor cafes. There are plenty of impressive religious buildings to visit in Valladolid, but this is the one that stood out most for me.
2. Campo Grande: A nice green space right in the middle of the city. Be sure to check out this park that will remind you of NYC’s Central Park and Madrid’s Retiro—on a Valladolid sized scale. Plenty of wildlife, especially of the avian variety, to be found. The crowd favorite, however, is definitely the freely-roaming peacocks!
3. Museo de la Ciencia: This is one of Valladolid’s newer museums, but still worth the visit if you are staying more than a day or two! With different options to visit only temporary exhibits, only permanent exhibits, the planetarium, and/or the Casa del Río (a special section dedicated to native aquatic creatures), entrance can cost up to 9€ for the combined ticket but is 5€ on Tuesday. Stop for something to eat in the museum’s restaurant that overlooks the river for a unique view of the city.
One thing to eat: Tapas at the Mercado Del Val
Like many places in Spain, Valladolid has its own central marketplace. Instead of the traditional (often stinky fish-smelling) type of market, this indoor mercado has been recently renovated to take on a new vibe. Produce stands have been converted into small bars serving drinks, sandwiches, and tapas. Be sure to stop by if you’re in need of a little something tasty and inexpensive.