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The 9 Essential of Castilla y León

This region has everything: waterfalls, trails, cathedrals, museums, natural parks, archaeological sites… Although it’s wrong to say, because it’s where I live, for me it’s one of the best in Spain. Here there are 9 cities, smaller and larger, full of charm, monuments and cultural proposals. 9 provinces full of nature. Although it’s complicated, I’m going to make a recommendation for each one of them. These are my 9 essential of Castilla y León. Let’s see what you think.

My 9 essentials from Castilla y León

This community is made up of 9 provinces: Zamora, León, Valladolid, Palencia, Burgos, Soria, Segovia, Salamanca and Ávila. It is difficult to make a selection of the best of Castile and Leon, especially because its area is almost 100,000 square kilometers, neither more nor less than 20% of Spain. Here there are three World Heritage Cities, Ávila, Segovia and Salamanca. The Camino de Santiago, which runs from east to west through three of its provinces, Burgos, Palencia and León, also has this distinction. The sites of Atapuerca (Burgos), the archaeological site of rock art of Siega verde (Salamanca), the Cathedral of Burgos and Las Médulas (León), are the rest of places recognized for their great cultural, natural and historical value by UNESCO.

If we add to all the above a gastronomy like the Castilian-Leonese, the destination can not be more top. In this region there is a cult to the quality product, guaranteed by the D.O. and the different brands that watch over the value of beans, pears, cheeses, calves, suckling pigs, suckling pigs and wines, among others.

I’m sure you also have your favourites. That means you’ve already visited us. I hope that after reading this article you will set yourself the task of discovering the ones that are missing from my list of 9 essential ones from Castilla y León.

Babia (León), the Leonese Alps

Babia is a region located to the north of León. Its enormous mountains -87 of more than 2.000 meters- make border with Asturias. It is one of the areas of Spain with the most spectacular landscapes I know, thanks to its peaks, its rivers (the Sil, the Moon and the Torrestío) and its lakes and lagoons (Laguna Grande in the Babia lake, Laguna de las Verdes in Torre de Babia, Lago del Chao in Ríolago de Babia, and the small set of 4 small lagoons of the Mata in Vega de Viejos).

This is a land of cultural values anchored in the past as the calecho and filandón. A tradition that unfortunately is being lost. The harsh mountain climate of the area, long and cold winters, concentrated the neighbors around the warmth of the home to tell the news and remember stories.

3 essential of Babia:

Seeing stars. The sky of Babia is declared stellar park. This is an extraordinary place to discover the Big Dipper, the Lesser Dipper, the Milky Way… During the summer months the Association You’re in Babia prepares several stellar activities.

The green lagoon. You can get there by a hiking route, during which you can admire all the essence of Babia.

The viewpoint of Peña Ubiña. Its 2,500 metres high make it one of the largest in the Cantabrian Mountains. From its viewpoint -which can be reached by car-, the views are incredible.

Where: In the north of León. It borders Asturias.

How to get there: From León it is just over an hour by road: AP-66 and CL-626.

What to eat in Babia: sausages and meat are the main protagonists in this cattle region. Although one of the most typical dishes is a dessert, the babiana cake. If you are in season, you have to try the mushrooms.

Where to sleep in Babia: I was at the Posada Real de Babia. In Castilla y León a brand (Posadas Reales) has been created to distinguish rural establishments that meet standards of comfort and quality. It has 6 double rooms, 3 duplexes, 1 special room and a small independent house. Its location is perfect. The restaurant is cozy and its table is full of delicious food. The best: the friendly and close treatment of Marta and Gerardo.

Las Tuerces (Palencia), giant stone turtles
In short, Las Tuerces will be declared a Natural Space. And it doesn’t surprise me at all. This is a great secret that will cease to be in a short time. Here karstic erosion has carved out a magical route full of impressive rocks in the shape of turtle, dinosaur, pirate ship and giant mushroom.

A word of advice: watching the sunset here is an experience you will remember for a long time to come.

3 places near here that you will love if you do a route through that part of Palencia:

Viewpoint of Valdecabado. A natural balcony over the beech forest of Monte Ahedo and from where you can see Las Loras. And if you like strong emotions, it is an ideal place for paragliding.

Cave of the French. An interesting complex of galleries full of stalactites.

Santa María de Mave Monastery. From the original factory only the Romanesque church is preserved. It is worth a visit and a visit to the hotel-restaurant which now occupies part of the original premises.

Where: 7 kilometres from Aguilar de Campo in Palencia.

How to get there: the best way to get there is from the AP 67. One hour from Palencia and Burgos.

Arribes del Duero (Salamanca), panoramic viewpoints

Arribes are in Zamora and Salamanca. Both are recommended as essential of Castilla y León. At the moment, I only know the people from Salamanca, and I can assure you that it is a trip that is very worthwhile.

What are you going to need in this route? Car, comfortable footwear and photographic material (camera, mobile, stabilizer, tripod…). The plan is to go from one viewpoint to another and not miss any. The Aldeadávila, the Fraile, the Picón de Felipe… You have to try them all. And you must also get close to one of the most famous waterfalls in the region and an outstanding spot in the Arribes del Duero Natural Park, the Pozo de los Humos (Smoke Well).

All along the way you will see the Duero. Maybe you want to watch it up close, I recommend it. From Playa del Rostro you can take several boat routes to admire the grandeur of these gorges.

Where: Northwest of the province of Salamanca. Towns of interest: Mieza, Aldeadávila, Masueco, Corporario and Vilvestre.

How to get there: From Salamanca it is one hour and twenty minutes by car on the SA-320 and CL-517.

What to eat in the Arribes del Duero: cheeses, Iberian sausages, meats such as sayaguesa veal. Their oils and also the wines of the D.O. Arribes del Duero have great fame.

Cascades of Burgos (Burgos), the Castilian Niagara

There are many and all over the province. Although some of the most spectacular waterfalls in Burgos are in the north, in the Merindades. Spring is the ideal time to visit them, after the melting of the peaks and the rains. Autumn is also a good time.

3 waterfalls in Burgos that you are going to love

The Nerve Jump. 222 meters of fall. Without water it is spectacular, with it… It is in Berberana, on the border of Castilla y León and the Basque Country. Half an hour by car from Miranda de Ebro. And an hour and a quarter from Burgos.

Orbaneja del Castillo. This waterfall is really unique. Do you know why? Because it is inside the village of the same name. If you’ve come this far, you should go to the Ebro Canyon, I’m sure you’ll thank me for it. Orbaneja is one hour from Burgos on the BU-643.

The waterfall of Las Pisas. It is one of my favourites. Located between the Valdebezana valley and the Merindad de Valdeporres. To see them you have to do a simple hiking route full of charm. The point of departure and arrival is Soncillo, one hour from Burgos.

La Fuentona (Soria), a magical sea eye

I like Soria very much. Its province is full of charming villages like Calatañazor and natural wonders like the Lobos River Canyon and La Fuentona. All of them must appear by right among the essential ones of Castilla y León.

The Natural Monument of La Fuentona is a well visited destination in bridges, summer and Easter. For that reason there is a regulation at the time of parking. In this other article I explain you how much it costs and I give you more practical details to prepare your visit.

The route up to the spectacular eye of the sea is quiet, suitable for the whole family and full of surprises such as the waterfall.

Where: in the province of Soria. Near Calatañazor. 36 kilometers from the capital.

How to get there: From the city of Soria, take the N-122 towards Valladolid. From Burgos, take the N-234 towards Soria. From Madrid, take the A-1 towards Burgos. Take exit 103 and continue along the N-110 until you pass San Esteban de Gormaz, where you join the N-122.

What to eat in La Fuentona: the ideal place to eat on this excursion is Calatañazor. A town full of charm and with magnificent views from its castle. There is a good gastronomic offer. If you go in winter (in this area its duration is indeterminate and I can assure you that they are more than the official 3 months), a good “puchero” can be a great option. Also keep in mind that you are in one of the mushroom areas par excellence of our country.

Where to sleep in La Fuentona: when I was in Soria, I stayed in La Casona de Navaleno. It has a good value for money, a perfect location and with the breakfast you are prepared you can endure the rest of the day without trying snack.

Route of the wine of Cigales (Valladolid), between drinks

Wine is the soul of Castilla y León. There are 8 D.O. in the region: Arlanza, Arribes, Bierzo, Cigales, Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Tierra del vino de Zamora, Tierra de León and Toro.

All of them begin to work enotourism as one of the future essential resources of Castilla y León. One of the most active in the region is the Cigales Wine Route. Culture, history, heritage, tradition, gastronomy and landscape. Although the most famous are its rosés, there are also high quality whites and reds here.

There is a Cigales wine museum, wineries that carry out guided tours and throughout the year prepare various activities to promote their wines.

Where: eleven municipalities: Fuensaldaña, Mucientes, Cigales, Corcos del Valle, Trigueros del Valle, Cubillas de Santa Marta, Valoria la Buena, San Martín de Valvení, Cabezón de Pisuerga and Santovenia de Pisuerga in the province of Valladolid, and the Palencia city of Dueñas, located between Palencia and Valladolid.

How to get there:What to eat on the Cigales Route: getting close to Valoria la Buena is a great idea. Here is the Concejo Hospedería. Wine and good food maridan wonderfully in its restaurant where you can try dishes such as the salad of crispy prawns Confitados al Eneldo or octopus with Parmentier de Pimentón and cured bacon.

Where to sleep on the Cigales Route: doing it in Valladolid can be a great idea. A good way to get to know the city and enjoy its famous tapas, as this is where the national “pincho” competition takes place. Whenever I have to go to this city, I stay at the Boutique Gareus Hotel. Next to the centre, with an original decoration and spacious rooms. Your booking score is 9.

Aqueduct of Segovia (Segovia), those crazy Romans

The aqueduct of Segovia is the emblem of the city and also one of the essential ones of Castilla y León. This Roman aqueduct dates from the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. It was built to bring water from the Fuenfría spring (17 km away) to the city. It is 28 metres high, at the highest point, and has a total of 167 arches. Perhaps the most original thing is that the granite ashlars do not carry any type of mortar between them, they are settled by their own weight.

As I explained in the first paragraphs, Segovia is a World Heritage Site. Without a doubt, it has done so for this marvellous architectural work, but also for its Alcazar and the Cathedral.

Where: in the centre of Segovia.

How to get there: from Valladolid, on the A601 and from Madrid on the AP61.

What to eat in Segovia: it seems obvious, but the piglet here is the king. The restaruante José María or El Sitio are two good places to try it. Also the lamb of Segovia has international fame and is the other option more chosen by tourists.

Ávila, the shadow of the Saint is elongated

Ávila is also a World Heritage Site, such as Segovia, of which we have already spoken, and Salamanca, another jewel of the region. In Spain there are 15 in total. The city of Santa Teresa is a world reference for its walls (88 towers and new gates distributed over its two and a half kilometers in length), but its distinction is for “Old City of Avila and churches outside the walls. It is convenient to emphasize the great value of the religious buildings that are outside of them.

Ávila is part of the Network of Spanish Jewish Quarters. Thanks to the medieval Ávila – an event of regional tourist interest – held on the first weekend of September, it is a reference point for coexistence with the great market of the three cultures: Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

In your visit to Ávila you should include the Convent Museum of Santa Teresa, the Cathedral, the Military Archive of Ávila, the Basilica of San Vicente, admire the views from the Four Posts – the viewpoint of the city – and end the day with the night lighting.

How to get there: from Madrid take the AP 6 to Villacastín and then the AP56. From Valladolid on the N601.

What to eat in Ávila: The gastronomy of Ávila is based on the richness of the product. Highlighting as its three most typical dishes that you must try: the revolconas potatoes, mashed potatoes with paprika and garlic to which are added a few torreznillos on top, the Chuletón de Ávila, an exceptional meat, also notable for the quality of tenderloin and entrecot, and finally, the yemas de Ávila, ideal for the most greedy.

What did you think of this tour of my 9 essential wines from Castilla y León? I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I’m sure you can think of someone who wasn’t on my list. You can tell me what they are, below, in the comments.

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