The historic city of Segovia is located in Castille and Leon region in Spain. It is about 97 kilometres northwest of Madrid, the capital of Spain. The Spanish city is most famous for the Roman Aqueduct, an engineering marvel dating back to the first century. Plus, Segovia has an impressive fairy-tale Alcazar (fortress), said to be one of the inspirations for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle. Another gem in this city is the Segovia Cathedral, the last Gothic cathedral in Spain. The old city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Clearly, Segovia is a top tourist destination in Spain.
Segovia has a riveting history of over 2000 years. The Romans occupied Segovia in 80 BCE. In the 8th century, the Moor captured the city and reigned here over 400 years until the Christian Reconquest. Then during the reign of Catholic Monarchs, the Spanish inquisition happened in the 15th century and the Jewish population was enclosed to the south of the city wall. Segovia is so steep in history.
Not just the history and architectures, Segovia has tasty treats for you as well. It has a famous delicacy named, cochinillo or Suckling pig. Segovia should come at the top of our itinerary in Spain. Read our article about 17 top things to do in Segovia, Spain.
Getting in Segovia:
By public Transport
It typically takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach Segovia from Madrid Moncloa Bus station. You can book the tickets from the Avanza website or their office at the bus station.
You can also come by train. RENFE runs high-speed train services from Madrid Chamartín train station to Segovia Guiomar station. It takes about half an hour to reach. But the station is around 8 km away from the Segovia town centre. You would need to take Bus 11 or 12 to go to the town centre. So, if you decide to come by train, the journey time would be almost a little less than an hour.
Coming by bus would be a better choice considering it would be much cheaper compared to the train. There is not a big difference if you look at the overall journey time.
18 Best Things to Do in Segovia, Spain
1. See the Roman Aqueduct of Segovia
Roman Aqueduct (locally known as El Acueducto) is the most important landmark in Segovia. It was built in the second half of the first century during the Roman empire to carry water into the city from the Frio River, which flows 10 miles off the city. This well-preserved Aqueduct was actively in use until the mid-19th century. The Aqueduct has a two-tier structure with 167 arches spanning over 813 metres. More than 20,000 blocks of granite were used to construct this without any mortar. It was a pure engineering marvel of the Roman period.
Make sure you climb up the stairs near the Segovia tourist office to reach the viewpoint, Mirador del Acueducto. The view over to the Aqueduct is simply stunning.
2. Visit the Alcazar of Segovia
Located on a rocky outcrop near the Guadarrama Mountains, Alcazar of Segovia is one of the finest castles in Spain. By the look of it, it’s like the bow of a ship. This castle (along with many others) is believed to be one of the inspirations for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle.
Romans built the foundation of this castle. Then Moors constructed a wooden fortress (Alcazar is the Moorish term for fortress). The present-day Alcazar was built in the 1100s during the reign of King Alfonso VIII. In the middle ages, it was the seat of the royals during Castile Kingdom and Transtamara dynasty. In the 1400s, Queen Isabella I was crowned here. That was one of the significant moment in Spanish history.
After the royal court moved to Madrid, it was used as a state prison and Royal Artillery school and military academy.
Highlights of your visit would include the Hall of the Kings, Armoury room, Throne room. The grand tapestries in some of the rooms were decorated by the Mudejar artists. Broadly speaking, Mudejars were the Muslims (Moors) who remained in Spain after the Christian reconquest in the 700s AD. Their art form is heavily influenced by Islamic arts.
Lastly, climb up the Tower of Juan II via 152 steps. You would get a cracking view of the city, particularly the cathedral.
3. Visit Segovia Cathedral
Segovia Cathedral is a must-visit place when you are in this city. Built in the 1500s, Segovia Cathedral is the last gothic cathedral in Spain. It took over 50 years to complete the construction. There are about 21 chapels inside this cathedral.
Step inside and enjoy the stained glass windows, beautifully ornated chapels and tapestries of the Chapter Hall. Plus, the cathedral museum has a great collection of Spanish renaissance paintings.
Lastly, make sure you climb up to the bell tower which can only be accessed by their guided tours. They run both Spanish and English tours available a few times a day.
From the top of the 90-metre high tower, you will get a gob-smacking view over to the city landmarks and the surrounding countryside.
4. Wander along the Walls of Segovia
Segovia is a walled city dating back to the 2nd Century when the Romans first built the foundation of the wall. The wall that you can see today was built in the 11th century after the Christian reconquest, mainly to protect the city from the Moors. There are about 86 towers on the wall. On average, the wall is 9 metres high and stretches over 2 km. On your walk, you will be blessed with a beautiful view of the Alcazar and the surroundings. Plus, you would come across some impressive gates such as Puerto de Santiago and Puerto de San Andres.
5. Explore the Jewish Quarter of Segovia
Tucked away in the south of the city wall, the Jewish quarter is one of the top places to visit in Segovia. This part of Segovia had a more Jewish population dating back to the 1200s. In the early 1400s, the main synagogue was accused of desecration and was transformed into a church. Then, in the late 15th century, catholic kings came to the throne, and this area was cut off from the rest of the city by the eight gates of the wall.
A stroll along the historic Jewish quarter would definitely be a highlight of your visit to Segovia. Also, visit the Jewish Quarter Education Centre, which is located in the house of Abraham Senior, a very influential Jew who held a high position in the kingdom of Castile in the 15th century.
6. Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor is the main town square and meeting place in Segovia. There are lots of lovely shops, cafes and tapas restaurants in this bustling place. At one side of this plaza lies the Segovia Cathedral. You will get a superb view of the cathedral from here.
Juan Bravo Theatre, San Miguel Church and the town hall are the other landmarks around Plaza Mayor. There are plenty of benches on this plaza to take some rest for the weary legs and watch the world go by. It becomes more beautiful and atmospheric at night.
7. Marvel at the view from Mirador del Alcazar y los dos Valles
Mirador is the Spanish term for viewpoint. This is one of the best viewpoints to admire the Alcazar. From the Puerta de San Andres, take the signposted path that goes through the valley of the Clamores. After crossing the main road, climb a small hill and keep walking until you reach this viewpoint which lies exactly west of the Alcazar.
As you walk along, you would have many gorgeous views of the Alcazar and the Segovia cathedral.
8. Get a view of the city from Mirador de la Canaleja
This secret viewpoint is located near the Casa de los Picos (the House of the Peaks). You would get an amazing view over to the red-tiled roofs of the city with the ‘La Mujer Muerta’ (The Dead Woman) mountains in the backdrop. The shape of the mountain looks like a (with a bit of imagination of course) reclining woman.
9. Iglesia de San Martin
Located on the west side of Plaza de Medina del Campo, you will find this beautiful church on your way to the Alcazar from the Roman Aqueduct. The bell tower of this 12th-century church has a blend of Romanesque and Mudejar architectural style, as seen in many Spanish churches. The most striking feature that stands it out from the other churches in Segovia is the arched galleries covering three sides of the church. Also, don’t miss the beautifully ornated archivolts at the entrance. The interior is quite simple though, except for the chancel screen. This church is completely free to visit.
10. Take in the view from Mirador de la Pradera da San Macros
Mirador de la Pradera da San Macros is a public park (Pradera in Spanish means meadows) that offers a smashing view of the imposing Alcazar. From the Alcazar, it would take about 15 minutes to reach here. It’s a great spot to rest and relax and enjoy a picnic with the view. Plus, a very short walk from here lies the Iglesia de la Vera Cruz, a Roman Catholic church shaped like a 12-sided polygon.
11. Plaza de Medina del Campo
Plaza de Medina del Campo is a public square in the heart of old aristocratic quarters. On the west side of the square lies the Romanesque church of San Martin. To the east lies the Tower of Lozoya.
The centrepiece of the public square is the monument of Juan Bravo, a leading figure in the failed Revolt of the Comuneros in the 1500s. There is certainly a laid-back charm in this picturesque plaza of Segovia.
12. Try out the tasty suckling Pig
Segovia is famous for Cochinillo or Suckling Pig. Suckling pig is a baby pig which is slaughtered before it’s three to four week’s old. It’s then roasted in a special oven making the meat very tender.We went to a restaurant called Casa Duque, a short walk from the Roman Aqueduct. Their suckling pig roast was very delicious – slightly overpriced but totally worth it. Restaurants Meson De Candido and El Redebal also have a great review of their suckling pigs.
13. Puerta de San Andres
Puerta de San Andres is a gate on the south side of the walls of Segovia. This used to be one of the gateways to the Jewish quarter in past. There is a tourist office close by. You can collect the access code to open the stairgate and walk onto the city walls.
14. Visit the Segovia Museum
Segovia Museum is located near the Puerta de San Andres. You would find more than 1500 interesting artefacts (including coins, potteries) and paintings in this small museum. The key facts are written both in Spanish and English. The entrance fee is 2 euro per adult. Allow about an hour to explore this museum.
15. Iglesia de San Millan
Iglesia de San Millan, or the Church of Saint Millan, is located quite close to the Roman Aqueduct and the central bus station of Segovia. This church is sort of a hidden gem in Segovia. The bell tower, the oldest part of this church, was built in the 11th century in Moorish style. The rest of the building was constructed in Romanesque character in the 12th century. The interior of this church is really impressive – definitely worth a visit. This church has a free entry.
16. Iglesia de la Vera Cruz
Iglesia de la Vera Cruz or the Church of the True Cross is located a bit outside the historic heart of the city where most of the attractions are located. This Roman Catholic church was built in the 1200s by the Knights Templars. They designed the 12-sided polygonal structure based on Jerusalem’s church of the Holy Sepulchre. It used to house a relic of the True Cross. That’s why it got the name, Church of the True Cross.
17. Take a ramble along Calle Juan Bravo
Calle Juan Bravo is one of the main streets in the historic heart of Segovia. When you would be exploring the attractions in Segovia, you would have to walk along this street.
It was was earlier called Calle Real. Look out for the beautiful century old buildings, plazas. The street is lined with many clothing and gift shops, cafes and restaurants.
18. Admire the unusual architecture of Casa de los Picos
Located on Juan Bravo Street in the historic heart of Segovia, Casa de los Picos is one of the top attractions in the city. If you are a fan of unusual architectures, prepare to be amazed. Built in the 1400s, the façade of this building has 617 pyramid peaks made of granite. That’s why it’s called Casa de los Picos, or the House of the Peaks. This building is now the headquarter of the Segovia School of Arts.
Best Time to Visit Segovia:
The busiest tourist season in Segovia, Spain is from February to May. The temperature remains quite pleasant, and the days are long enough to explore most of the attractions. September and October are a great choice too. You can come here between June and August as well, if you are okay with the heat. It’s better to avoid between November and February. It can be very cold and foggy very frequently. We went there in March and got a lovely pleasant weather.