Just 1 hour away from Madrid, Avila is a perfect getaway to immerse yourself in its culture, visit its monuments, wander and enjoy endless delicious gastronomy. In this post I give you all the information you need to get to know Avila in 2 days, its must-visit attractions and my recommendations.
The historic center is small and walkable, another advantage.
◊ With the VisitAvila card you can visit the most important monuments of the city. It costs 15 euros. Visit https://www.avilaturismo.com/que-hacer/avilacard to learn more.
◊ Although you can get around the old town by foot, there is a tourist transport, Tuktuk, which takes you to visit the most emblematic monuments of the city. Its price is 6 euros.
Avila must-visit attractions in 2 days
To begin with, let’s keep in mind that the wall is the most well-known and important monument of Avila; it surrounds the medieval historic center of the city; perfectly preserved, is definitely the image of Avila. On the list of must-visits places we have to start with it.
Avila’s walled urban complex is the best preserved in the world, being declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1985.
As we know it now, dates back to the Middle Ages, built throughout the 12th century on smaller walls of a Roman origin ones that already existed. The fortification has 2 and a half kilometres of perimeter, the walls a thickness of 3 meters and a high of 12 meters. It comprises 9 doors and 87 turrets.
You can visit 2 sections of it, though 3 access points:
THE GATE OF EL ALCAZAR
The entrance to the fortress has its most important door in the so-called Gate of The Alcazar, with two turrets with battlements frame it magnificently. On the outside we have the Plaza de Santa Teresa or Mercado Grande, nerve center of the city, where festivals and markets are held. In this square stands one of the main monuments dedicated to Santa Teresa. Under its arcades you can find several restaurants and tapas bars through which to make a wine-route. And at one end of the square is the Romanesque church of San Pedro.
HOUSE OF LAS CARNICERIAS
Next to the apse of the Cathedral, where The Tourist Office is placed. From this gate you have access to the wall. Near the door you can see the back of the cathedral.
THE GATE OF EL CARMEN
This Gate’s shape differs the other fortress gates. Unlike them is square instead of circular, imitating the towers of the Muslim walls.
The Carmen arch is also known as “prison arch”. From this point you take wonderful photos with the view of the entire wall. Once you have accessed the wall, you can stroll through it and enjoy a spectacular 360-degree panoramic of the city.
Entrance Fee: 5 euros. Free: Tuesdays 14:00 – 16:00
Opening Hours: Winter 10:00 – 18:00; Summer: 10:00 – 20:00
CHURCH AND CONVENT OF ST TERESA
The legend tells that on the remains of the birthplace of Santa Teresa were built the church and the convent in 1636.
Below the church is the Museum of St Teresa, a large vaulted burial crypt.
As a curiosity, architect oriented the main altar towards the rooms where Teresa de Jesus was born.
It also has a Hall of Relics and shop.
CATHEDRAL, A MUST VISIT
Avila Cathedral is considered the first Gothic cathedral in Spain, with French influences, and stands both church and fortress being its apse is the most impressive turret of the east wall. The facade is made from granite. It was designed a National Monument in 1949.
Admission Fee: 5 euros
Opening Hours: 10:30 – 17:30, Saturday until 19:00
Walking down the street, in front of the cathedral, we come across to the Mercado Chico, a small square with medieval and arcade-style buildings. Here are located the town hall, different administrative buildings and several tapas bars in the traditional style.
BASILICA OF SAN VICENTE
Outside the walled complex, as you pass through the gate of San Vicente, come across the Basilica of San Vicente, the high-point of the Romanesque style in Avila. Was declared a National Monument in 1923.
Due to its accurate proportions make it a unique building of the Hispanic Romanesque. You can perfectly appreciate the added modifications over the centuries and admire the characteristic orange color as was built with stone from Villamayor in Salamanca.
This is a viewpoint on the outskirts of the city, crossing the Adaja River over a picturesque Roman bridge; from the top you get an amazing panorama of the entire city surrounded by the wall which gives you a precise idea of the metropolis magnitude.
Speaking about the Roman bridge was rebuilt in medieval times, and being the only access to the town, Teresa de Jesus might cross over it.
The city shows its wealth through its architecture, most of the palaces are located inside the wall as they acted as a second line of defense behind them.
Here are the most relevant ones listed by their families’ name:
- Mújica Palace (Torreón de los Guzmanes);
- Verdugo Palace
- Velada Palace
- Santo Tomás Palace
- Dávila Palace
- Núñez Vela Palace
- Aguila Palace
- Bracamonte Palace
The museum was first opened to the public in 1911 but since 1969 remains in its current location: The House of the Deanes.
The museum’s collections comprise 3 sections: Archaeology, Fine Arts and Ethnology. Touring its rooms, we will have an overview of the history and customs of Avila and its province.
I found very interesting the exhibitions as I learned quite a lot about Avila.
ENJOY TAPAS AND WINES, A MUST DO ACTIVITY
Among the essential things to do in Avila, be ready for tasting the typical gastronomy of the region and enjoy tapas and wine around the town.
The best popular dishes are, Chuletón de Avila (veal chop from 500 g to 1 kg in weight), Judías del Barco (large haricot beans from El Barco’s village) and Yemas de Santa Teresa (sweet cakes made from egg yolks).
Besides, the town is packed with traditional style bars, as I mentioned before, Mercado Grande and Mercado Chico are lively areas for having a drink; the great news: it includes a tapa with each consumption. Here are my recommendations:
Where to eat in Avila
- Parador de Avila, located in Piedras Albas palace. With a lovely terrace and a garden. Cool atmosphere, wines and excellent tapas.
Address: Marqués de Canales y Chozas, 2
- Namasté Cafe and Bar. Quiet and pleasant atmosphere for a drink. Razonable prices as well.
Address: Avda. de Portugal, 47
- Dvinos. Great variety of tapas, and good value for money.
Address: Calle Dr. Fleming, 26
- Soul Kitchen. Besides the typical dishes, has vegetarian, and vegan options. It’s all delicious. Address: Calle Caballeros, 13
Where to stay in Avila
For your reference, I recommend the hotel where I stayed in, Hotel Exe Reina Isabel, near Renfe Station. It’s worth value for money, with breakfast included and friendly staff.
Avila must-visit attractions, final thoughts
Hope this guide of Avila in 2 days must visit attractions was helpful for you in getting to know this town that breathes history in all of its corners. If you liked it, perhaps you might be interested in seeing more getaways.
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