Burgos, the land of the Cid Campeador, crossed by the Arlanzón River, is a charming city full of surprises that you will want to discover. Its Cathedral and historical center are cultural treasures declared World Heritage Sites. Taking into consideration its exceptional gastronomy and the fact that the city is easy to walk around, we have the winning combination for a perfect getaway. In this guide, I will give you 13 reasons for visiting the city on your next trip.
Did you know Burgos has three cultural assets declared World Heritage Sites? The first is, as I mentioned above, its cathedral and its historical downtown. The other is the French Way of Saint James that runs through Burgos and finally, in the year 2000, the Atapuerca mountain range sites were added to the list.
Before we dive into the reasons to visit Burgos city, here are some useful tips to organize your visit:
Where to stay
I suggest staying at the NH Collection Palacio de Burgos, in front of the cathedral. The hotel occupies a 16th century building with a beautiful cloister, which gives it an original touch. It also features large and clean rooms and helpful staff.
Gastronomy and Tapas
In Burgos, you will enjoy its tasty culinary art. Going for tapas and bars is a must, and it is also inexpensive.
Typical dishes are rice blood sausage, Castilian soup, roasts (suckling lamb and suckling pig), The cheese of Burgos, and for dessert: “leche frita” (made from flour cooked with milk and sugar) and “mantecados”.
Burgos offers plenty of great options for tapas, but to name just the most central and popular ones: Diego Porcelos Street, Sombrerería Street, San Lorenzo Street and Avellanos Street, among others.
In my opinion, the best way to approach the city is to hire a free tour, since the guide explains the history and legends of the city. If you are interested, you can hire it at this link.
As for me, I took a tour early in the day and then I headed off to explore the city on my own. This is the itinerary I chose to maximize my stay in the capital, and I really made the most of it.
Cathedral and surroundings
Gate of Santa María
The Paseo del Espolón
Casa del Cordón
Plaza Mayor and surroundings
Churches: San Esteban, San Nicolás de Bari and San Gil.
Royal Monastery of Las Huelgas
Carthusian Monastery of Miraflores
Castle, park and viewpoint
Museums: Human Evolution Museum and Museum of Burgos
When planning your visit, keep in mind that from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., the stores and most tourist attractions are closed.
So now, without further ado, let’s get to the main reasons why you should visit Burgos:
Burgos, 13 main reasons for visiting the city
1 – The Cathedral, icon of the city
When you first travel to Burgos, the Gothic cathedral is a must-see visit, not only because it is the landmark of the city with its imposing facade, but also because inside it is a unique masterpiece.
Although the cathedral was first built in 1221, it underwent important modifications during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Inside this Gothic gem dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the highlights are the Golden Staircase, the dome of the transept, the Chapel of the Constable, the tomb of the Cid Campeador and his wife Jimena, the magnificent stained-glass windows and, of course, the famous Papamoscas.
The Papamoscas is a statue that marks the hours by opening and closing its mouth while ringing the bell.
It also contains magnificent art works such as those of sculptors and painters: Rodrigo de la Haya, Juan de Ancheta, Alonso Sedano and Juan Ricci, among others.
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday – 10 am to 7 pm
- Entrance fee: 7 €
2 – Gate, Santa María Bridge and Old Town
One of Burgos’ well-known landmarks is the Gate of Santa María, built in honor of Charles V and located near the cathedral. It’s the main gate that led to the old walled city of Burgos. You will find it beautifully decorated with statues of kings and the most representative nobles of the time.
The bridge of Santa María over the Arlanzón river is right next to it and, passing under the gate, gets access to the old city center.
But first, you may be interested to know that inside, the Gate of Santa Maria hosts exhibitions open to visitors and free.
Did you know that in the Middle Ages, there were 12 access gates? However, this is the most impressive of those preserved today.
3 – The Paseo del Espolón and Cid statue
The Paseo del Espolón, created in the 18th century, connects the Arch of Santa María with the Main Theater and is one of the city’s landmarks.
The promenade is remarkably charming, with its intertwined plane trees, statues, a pavilion and ponds. You will also find the Teatro Principal, the Casa Consulado del Mar, as well as old stores and several cafes where you can make a stop for drinks.
Next to the Teatro Principal, in the Plaza del Mío Cid, stands the bronze equestrian statue of the historic hero Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, the Cid Campeador. Holding his sword aloft and in combat readiness, this is one of the city’s highlights.
4 – The Plaza Mayor
Another historic center landmark is the Plaza Mayor. Today, it’s the administrative headquarters of the city. It is a very wide square with arcades, where the seventeenth-century Town Hall is located next to traditional stores and buildings with facades of different colors. It is a pleasure to stop there to relax for a while.
5 – The Plaza del Cordón
It’s one of the most important buildings in the city, the Casa del Cordón or Palace of the Constables of Castile, built in the 15th century. The striking exterior features a Gothic style facade and many coats of arms. Just as a curiosity: historical events such as the reception of the Catholic Monarchs to Columbus when he returned from America on his second voyage, and also, Philip I the Castile’s death “Philip the Handsome” took place here.
6 – San Esteban Church
This church houses the Museum of the Altarpiece, which exhibits a collection of very impressive altarpieces from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday – 10 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm
- Entrance fee: 3 €
7 – San Nicolás de Bari Church
One of the oldest churches in the city, on the Pilgrim’s Road to Santiago de Compostela as it runs through Burgos, and at the same time, a popular temple for wedding ceremonies. The church is definitely worth a visit to admire its exquisite Spanish Gothic altarpiece with depictions and sculptures of St. Nicholas.
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday – 11:30 to 1:30 pm and 5:00 to 7:00. Wednesday closed
- Entrance fee: 2 €. Tuesday afternoon: free
8 – San Gil Abad Church
Located next to San Gil’s gate, this is another of the historic entrances to the walled city of Burgos. From its origins the church was united within the wall, so the exterior architecture was very sober. The surprise comes when you enter it, as it contains the richest Gothic ensemble in the city after the Cathedral.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday – 10 am to 2 pm and 4 to 7 pm
- Entrance fee: 2 €. Tuesday afternoon: free
9 – Castle Viewpoint
To enjoy the most impressive panoramic views of the city of Burgos, the best way is to climb to the top of the hill of San Miguel and reach the castle viewpoint.
Once you are in the enclosure, you can visit the remains of the fortress and access the subway galleries. The first tower was erected in the ninth century on the occasion of the Reconquest.
Later, in the Modern Age, it was used to manufacture gunpowder; the French blew it up in the 19th century when they fled the city.
Today, the surroundings of the castle are amazing, filled with green areas with beautiful walks and woods.
- Opening hours: Everyday – 10 am to 8 pm
- Entrance fee: free.
10 – Monastery of Las Huelgas
The Monastery of Las Huelgas is located 3 km from the historic center, a little farther from the center, however, it is worth a visit, as it’s one of the most important monasteries in Spain. Leonor of Aquitaine, wife of Alfonso VIII of Castile, found it in 1187.
Today, it is the home of Cistercian nuns of the congregation of San Bernardo, and its interior is open to tourists for visiting. It features a Romanesque cloister, several royal tombs, a Museum of Medieval Fabrics and the Codex of las Huelgas, a 14th century manuscript that compiles the music that was sung in the convent.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday – 10 am to 2 pm and 4 to 6:30 pm. Sunday and holidays: 10:30 am to 3 pm
- Entrance fee: 6 €
- How to get there: You can go on foot, but if you don’t feel like walking, and if you don’t have a car, you can take the bus line number 7 or rent a cab which costs 5 – 6 euro.
11 – Carthusian of Miraflores
It is a little further than the Monastery of Las Huelgas, about 4 kilometers from the historic center. The Carthusian of Miraflores is a monastery of the Carthusian Order, built on the hill of Miraflores by King John II of Castile (father of Isabella the Catholic) in 1442.
Greenery surrounds the monastery, in the grounds of the Fuentesblancas park, which provides an ambience of peace and tranquility.
It highlights the royal tombs of John II and Isabella of Portugal, the front of the Church of Elizabethan Gothic style, the main altarpiece carved in wood, as well as valuable paintings by Pedro Berruguete and Joaquín Sorolla.
- Opening hours: You will find an updated information here.
- Entrance fee: pay-what-you-feel
- How to get there: By bus with line 17 in summer and line 27 in winter.
By taxi: Radiotaxi – Abutaxi: 947 27 77 77 or also: Radiotaxi Burgos. 947 48 10 10
12 – Museum of Human Evolution
The Museum of Human Evolution, in my opinion, is one of the best archaeological museums in Spain and, as I mentioned before, the Atapuerca sites were declared a World Heritage Site in 2000.
The museum is housed in the modern building designed by the Spanish architect and painter Juan Navarro Baldeweg. Keep in mind that in order to see it at your leisure you will need about 2 hours, but it is well-worth it.
Inside you will find the most relevant discoveries that have been made so far in the Atapuerca sites, as well as an exhaustive explanation of human evolution.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday – 10 am to 2:30 pm and 4:30 to 8 pm. Saturday: 10 am to 8pm. Sunday and holidays: 10 am to 3 pm. Monday: closed
- Entrance fee: 6 €. Tuesday to Thursday afternoon: free
- To visit the Atapuerca archaeological sites, it is necessary to book in advance by calling 947421000 and 947421811 or writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. The price is 6 euro.
With the purchase of the entrance ticket to the Museum of Human Evolution, you can visit the Museum of Burgos for free.
13 – Museum of Burgos
This interesting museum is located in the palaces of the sixteenth century House of Iñigo Angulo and Miranda.
In it, you can learn about the historical evolution of art and culture through its collections coming only from Burgos. They show the progress from prehistoric times to the present day. I found it quite informative. If you have time, then it is worth a visit.
13 Reasons for visiting Burgos, my thoughts
In this article, I have shared with you the main reasons for visiting the city of Burgos. I hope I have inspired and helped you when planning your trip. Both for its architecture, vibe, gastronomy and culture, it is well worth visiting this fascinating city.
If you are looking for inspiration to explore other places, you can check out other interesting getaways in this link.
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