The historic town of Segovia (population 50,000) is located in the province of Castile and Leon in central Spain. Until recently, we didn’t know that Spain has 48 UNESCO World Heritage Sites or that the Old Town of Segovia is one of them. We’d heard of its famous Roman aqueduct but never imagined we’d actually visit someday. It was our Spanish friend Alicia who told us we absolutely had to spend at least a day in Segovia during our 10-day road trip from Switzerland. She was so right!
Despite a flat tire that almost prevented us from getting there, we saw enough to know the city has earned its place on the UNESCO list. In just one day in Segovia, we were able to visit its three most incredible highlights: the Roman Aqueduct of Segovia, the Alcázar of Segovia, and the Segovia Cathedral. And thanks to some insider tips from Alicia, we visited several other neat places we wouldn’t have found on our own. Keep reading for all 11 of the best things to do in Segovia.
Since we know some of you are just here for our free self-guided walking map of Segovia, here it is. We hope you find it useful!
The map is best viewed in full size. Just click on the square icon in the upper right corner to enlarge it and you’re all set.
1. Start your day with a Spanish churro – breakfast of champions.
Before you can tackle the entire list of things to see in Segovia, you have to start your day off right. And a trip to Spain really isn’t complete without having at least one – or ten – churros!
These fried pastries are pretty much synonymous with Spain. Though their origins aren’t entirely clear, many believe Spanish shepherds invented them as long ago as the 16th century, perhaps earlier. With just two ingredients – flour and water – they were an easy snack that could be fried over an open fire in the mountains.
With the discovery of chocolate, it was inevitable that churros dipped in chocolate would eventually become a classic Spanish breakfast.
On the morning of our trip to Segovia, Travis and I slept in like royalty. We eventually woke up without an alarm, showered, then headed downstairs to put some coffee on.
With perfect timing, our friend and personal tour guide for the day, Alicia, arrived back at the house with a bag in hand. She had walked down to the local pastry shop in the freezing rain to buy us fresh churros, which I especially love.
Though some are filled with fruit, cheese, or dulce de leche and come in different shapes and sizes, the Spanish churros Alicia brought for us were fairly thin, coated with sugar, and curled into twists.
Did I already mention how much we love churros?! SO good.
Foodie Tip: Two of the most popular restaurants in Segovia for their churros are the Santamera and La Churreria, south and southeast of Old Town, respectively. Both are pinned on our map above.
Over breakfast, we decided we’d spend the day in Segovia sightseeing.
We were currently at Alicia’s summer home in Collado Mediano, about half way between Madrid and Segovia. Her family was kind enough to let us stay there for a few days to use as a base for visiting both Segovia and The Royal Monastery of El Escorial, which we had visited the day before.
It was closer than taking multiple day trips from Madrid (which is still very doable).
Budget Travel Tip: If you’re driving from Madrid to Segovia, don’t take the AP-6/AP-61 autopista (freeway) route if you want to avoid road tolls and save a few euros. Instead, take the A-6 from Madrid to Collado Villalba and then the M-601 highway to Segovia. The cheaper route takes about 90 minutes instead of 75.
The Flat Tire Fiasco: A Personal Tale of Woe & Snow
So, on to Segovia then! With really no idea what to expect, Trav and I gathered our things and we all headed out into the cold, blustery day.
Rounding the car to the passenger side, I was bummed to see we had a flat tire. Not a leaking tire or a low tire, but a tire so flat it looked like it had been gashed.
Fate tries to prevent us from getting to Segovia. Boooo, Fate! You’re lame.
We were parked in the gated driveway of Alicia’s family’s home, which was securely locked up. We assumed we must’ve run over something that punctured the tire when we pulled in the night before.
Luckily these Two Small Potatoes have changed lots of flat tires. Without missing a beat, we unloaded the back of the VW. Alicia held an umbrella to keep the rain at bay while we hauled out the jack and the spare. We jacked up the tire, loosened the bolts, and pulled.
Unconcerned, we yanked on it and kicked at it to loosen the tire from the car.
We then proceeded to try every trick in the book to get a tire off.
We used the jack as a pry bar.
We put the bolts partially on and lowered the tire to get the weight of the car to pop it free.
We put the bolts back on loosely and drove the VW forward and backward while hitting the brakes to try to dislodge the tire.
We used a giant branch under the tire to try to create leverage to wedge it free.
An hour later, the cursed tire still hadn’t budged.
Instead of getting mad or impatient, Alicia took it all in stride, merely laughing along with us when the rain turned to snow and the hills above town turned white.
She then had the presence of mind to ask if we had any kind of roadside assistance.
Lo and behold, we actually DID! Never have we been so grateful for an insurance agent.
Admitting that for the first time ever a flat tire had defeated us, I called the phone number on our Helvetia Swiss insurance card. Not only was the call free despite my fears that we’d be hit with massive roaming fees to Switzerland, but the gentleman spoke English flawlessly. He assured me he’d call around and have a tow truck sent to our address asap.
When the tow truck driver showed up, we were chagrined but also a bit relieved that he too was unable to loosen the tire. Even a professional couldn’t get it off!
He blamed it on Swiss roads that’re salted in winter, essentially creating a kind of glue when the salt mixes with dirt from the road. He also finally gave up, loaded our poor VW onto a small flatbed, and drove off to a nearby shop with Alicia and Travis.
By the time the car reached the auto shop, it was nearing 2 pm – precisely when their two-hour daily lunch break starts. We were in for a wait.
Who loves Spanish siesta?
Two Small Potatoes!
No sooner had I started a roaring fire and shed my soggy clothes than Trav and Alicia arrived back at the house. We made lunch and consoled ourselves about the “wasted day” by lounging in front of the toasty fire, enjoying a chance to just relax.
The living room with its collection of colorful plates and cozy couches was a welcome relief from the tardy winter storm raging outside the door.
Trav and I both grew up with wood heat in North Idaho, and a wood fire always feels homey and nostalgic.
When the shop finally called around 5 pm, it was difficult to haul myself off the couch. Thanks to Alicia’s enthusiasm for Segovia, we couldn’t say no!
Even though it was late in the day, we still wanted to see as many attractions in Segovia as we could. Which finally brings us to the rest of our list of the best places to visit in Segovia.
2. Walk the length of the Aqueduct of Segovia, a feat of Roman engineering.
Less than an hour after leaving Collado Mediano, we arrived in Segovia’s Old Town. After parking the car, we set off to explore on foot. It’s definitely the best way to see town.
In no time we were staring up in amazement at the imposing monstrosity of the Aqueduct of Segovia, the symbol of the city. Likely constructed around 50 AD, the massive two-tier Roman aqueduct with its glorious arches cuts right through town.
This insane feat of engineering was built to transport water from the Río Frío in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains for 18 km by canal to the city of Segovia.
At its highest point, the aqueduct towers almost 100 feet (28.5 meters) above the ground.
The aqueduct stretches across the city for 813 meters – almost a kilometer. It takes a decent chunk of time just to walk the full 2667-foot length of it.
With 221 pillars and a total of about 24,000 blocks of granite, the thing is just a beast.
The twin arches of the Segovia Aqueduct tower above Alicia.
What’s especially impressive is that the aqueduct was still in use right up until the 19th century.
Yet despite how well preserved it is, it has recently suffered from pollution, degradation of the stone, and water leakage. It was listed on the 2006 World Monuments Watch List of endangered historical and cultural sites.
Hopefully experts will be able to protect it so it will still be standing for future generations. It’s really a must see in Segovia.
3. Climb up to the Mirador del Acueducto observation deck.
One of the best places for scenic views of Segovia and the aqueduct is from the Mirador del Acueducto, an overlook adjacent to the upper level of stone arches in the aqueduct. You can’t miss the set of wide stone steps to the viewpoint at the north end of the aqueduct.
From the observation deck, it’s impossible not to be charmed by Segovia’s warm terracotta buildings set against the bright green Guadarrama mountains in the distance.
If you’re wondering if you can walk across the top of the aqueduct, the answer is most definitely not.
Since we were quickly losing what was left of the day, we set off through the streets of Segovia’s Old Town at a faster pace than our norm.
Hopefully during your own trip to Segovia, you’ll have plenty of daylight left after visiting the aqueduct. There are still so many things to see and do!
4. Photograph the Calle Obispo Gandaseguí.
Segovia is filled with really cute stone streets, impossibly narrow and picturesque.
One of the most photogenic of them all is Calle Obispo Gandaseguí. Photographers won’t want to miss this little gem.
The street is just past the Mirador overlook.
5. Visit the Segovia Cathedral.
The 16th-century Gothic cathedral in Segovia is another of the three most famous monuments within the town’s UNESCO center. It’s definitely a sight to behold.
Commissioned in 1525 during the reign of Charles V, it was the very last Gothic cathedral to be built in Spain. Known in Spanish as the Catedral de Segovia, many consider it the most stunning cathedral in Spain. When you see it, you’ll see why it made our list of the best places to see in Segovia.
Budget Travel Tip: Segovia Cathedral offers free entry on Sundays from 9:00 – 10:00 am from April through October and 9:30 – 10:30 am from November through March. This excludes the cloister, tapestry room, Bajo Clastro painting room, and chapels.
The large square in front of the cathedral is the Plaza Mayor, the very heart of Old Town Segovia.
A handful of other churches and important attractions surround the square, including the town hall, the Iglesia de San Miguel, the Juan Bravo Theater, and the Calle Real, one of the most famous streets in town.
Price: €3 for adult ticket (kids under 10 are free), €6 for a guided tour (kids under 10 are free), and €7 for a guided tour + tower visit (kids under 6 are free). Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 9:30am-6:30pm, Saturday from 9:30am-5:30pm, and Sunday from 1:30pm-6:30pm Official Website:Segovia Cathedral
6. Re-trace history at the Church of San Miguel.
The Iglesia de San Miguel is a small stone chapel on the Plaza Mayor just across from the Segovia Cathedral.
Next to the grandeur of the Segovia Cathedral, the chapel seems rather small and plain. But historians and history buffs will be interested to know that it was at this site on December 13, 1474 that Isabel la Católica was named Queen of Castile.
She would go on to rule as queen for 30 years, during which time she and her husband, King Ferdinand II of Aragon, are credited with reorganizing their debt, reducing crime, funding Christopher Columbus’s voyage in 1492, and uniting Spain to become a major power in Europe.
7. Explore your very own fairytale castle, the Alcázar de Segovia.
The Alcázar de Segovia, or Segovia Fortress, is the last of the top three landmarks to visit in Segovia. It’s also one of our personal favs. If we had to pick just two Segovia tourist attractions to see, the Segovia Aqueduct and the Alcazar would be the two.
An alcazar is a fortress or castle with Moorish origins.
Not terribly common, they mostly exist in Spain and date from the 8th through the 15th centuries. The most famous and well preserved are the ones in Segovia, Seville, and Toledo.
The Alcazar of Segovia is located in the very northwest corner of the edge of town, high up on an elongated rocky outcropping.
Uniquely shaped like the bow of the ship, the fortress overlooks the confluence of the Eresma and Clamores Rivers. With far-reaching views of the surrounding countryside, its royal turrets, spires, drawbridge, and moat make it one of the most unique castles you’ll ever see.
Photography Tip: While the views of the Alcazar at the visitors’ entrance are stunning, the best views are from the adjacent hill to the northwest. From there, you can see the fortress grounds zigzagging down in multiple levels like giant stone terraces.
Insider Tip: The Alcazar of Segovia is free on Mondays from 6:00 – 7:00 pm from April to September and from 4:00 – 5:00 pm from October to March.
It probably goes without saying but the fortress was closed when we got there. We’ll always be sad that we visited such an incredibly magical, beautiful place and weren’t able to go inside.
Instead, we wandered around the grounds and appreciated having it to ourselves. We would definitely go back to Segovia just to be able to go inside the Alcázar.
Price: €13.50 for regular admission, adult ticket Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 9:30am-7:00pm (April 1 to September 14) and Monday to Sunday from 9:30am-5:00pm (September 15 to March 31) Official Website:Alcazar of Segovia (ES, EN, FR)
8. Pass through the charming Gate of Saint Andrew.
One of the other monuments in town that is also really old and just incredibly charming is the Puerta de San Andrés, or Gate of Saint Andrew.
The gate makes up part of the outer medieval fortifications of the city. Sometimes also called the Puerta de la Judería because of its proximity to the old Jewish Quarter, the massive double towers joined with an arch are unique in how different the gate looks on the front and back sides.
From the outer wall, the gate looks like a typical entrance to a castle. From the inner walls though, it simply looks like typical living quarters for inhabitants. You wouldn’t even know it’s a gate through the old city walls.
9. Appreciate classic Mudéjar architecture at the Church of San Martin.
The Iglesia de San Martín is an iconic Romanesque church in Old Town Segovia.
Dating from the 12th century, the Romanesque church was built in the Mudejar style of architecture, which mixes elements of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim cultures. Buildings in this style are primarily stone or brick and often have large square towers decorated with brightly colored glazed tiles and intricate motifs.
Classic features of the Mudejar style include elaborately embellished archivolts, the styling that runs along the underside of arches. Another is the use of ashlar masonry, where stone or brick walls are perfectly fitted together to form smooth faces and square corners.
These architectural elements are plainly visible in the exterior of the Church of San Martin.
10. Lay eyes on the “Sirens of Segovia” – and scratch your head.
If you’re looking for odd or unusual attractions in Segovia, we’ve got one for you. When you leave the Church of San Martin, don’t miss the peculiar mermaid sphinx statues in the plaza in front of the church.
Apparently the sculptor, Francisco Bellver y Collazos, was hired to create statues of mermaids, or sirens – creatures in Greek mythology who sang to sailors, luring them to a watery grave. Instead, he created…sphinxes? Either he didn’t know what sirens look like, or he just really had a thing for sphinxes.
The Sirens of Segovia are even listed on Atlas Obscura if you want to check them off your bizarre travel bucket list.
11. Grab dinner at La Bodega del Barbero, one of the best restaurants in Segovia.
Make sure to leave time for one last unique cultural experience in Segovia, this time for dinner. Your trip isn’t complete until you’ve sampled some of the regional specialties.
The smoked fava bean soup with pork at La Bodega del Barbero is delicious. Known as Fabada Asturiana, it’s a culinary specialty.
With stomachs ferociously growling, Travis and I followed Alicia back through town after leaving the Church of San Martin. Travis looked a bit confused when she stopped in front of a tiny store front called La Bodega del Barbero. He assumed from the name that the shop must be a hair salon – understandable since barbero means barber.
Decorated with hair-themed drawings and art, the interior really does resemble a barber shop.
Before going inside, Alicia showed us a menu posted on the sidewalk. As soon as Travis realized it was a restaurant, he looked relieved. We were so hungry! Alicia pointed out several Spanish specialties we hadn’t tried, including cochinillo, and we were sold.
Cochinillo is suckling pig. Suckling pig – as in baby pig.
We each ordered a main dish with appetizers to share, and I ordered a really good Rioja, a local red wine. Torn between guilt and curiosity, I decided to try the cochinillo.
When it arrived, I was grateful that it was merely chunks of tender pork, bone-in, rather than an entire baby pig on a platter as it’s sometimes served.
Cochinillo (suckling pig) is a popular regional specialty in Segovia.
We’re clearly not vegetarians, but it somehow seems sacrosanct to eat baby animals, as if they deserve to survive at least to adulthood before they’re slaughtered. Or perhaps these are merely the empty justifications of a carnivore.
Regardless, the small amount of meat was tender and tasty, though most of the portion was bone, much like eating chicken feet, so I instead filled up on the bite-sized ham-filled appetizers, tasty samples of Alicia’s Jurassic-sized-bean soup, and Trav’s bowl of egg, chorizo, and bread soaked in a spiced broth.
Bottom line, dinner was really good. We definitely recommend La Bodega del Barbero if you’re looking for a good restaurant in Segovia.
Final thoughts on a day in Segovia…
By the time we left the restaurant, it was almost midnight. Walking back to our car, I was so stuffed I feared I was actually in danger of rolling down the hill to the car. The brisk walk through deserted streets in the cool night air felt heavenly.
Arriving back in Collado Mediano, we all tiredly said goodnight and fell exhausted into bed.
Before we visited Segovia, it was mostly a blank slate. We hadn’t known what to expect, which made each new discovery that much more exciting. As with any place, we visited some things that didn’t make the cut for this post. And I’m sure that if we ever find ourselves there again, we’ll discover new hidden things to do in Segovia that we missed the first time around. After all, we’d love to go on a hot-air balloon ride over town!
If you just have one day to explore Segovia though, this list is a great place to start.
For more really cool places to visit in Spain, try these!