What I did and saw:
Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar-
The Basilica Señora del Pilar is a magnificent building, and in my opinion the number one site to see in Zaragoza. Inside, the "Pilar" can be touched for goodluck, and the artwork can be admired. Also, it is cheap and easy to go up the tower of the basilica, and it provides great views of the city, river, and surrounding area. Just outside the basilica is the very nice Plaza del Pilar.
Zaragoza Origami Museum (EMOZ)-
The "Escuela Museo Origami Zaragoza" is a very cool origami museum. They have some very impressive origami pieces on display, as well as some insight into the history of origami. It is very inexpensive to enter, and they also offer origami workshops.
Parque Grande José Antonio Labordeta-
The Parqu Grande José Antonio Labordeta is a large, beautiful park in Zaragoza. There is plenty of space to run, bike, or do other types of exercise. There are also many beautiful gardens, statues, and foutains.
Palacio de la Aljafería-
The Aljafería Palacio is an impressive medieval Moorish palace and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I took advantage of the free entry time on Sunday and explored the inside of the beautiful building. The palace was built in the 11th century and has since been restored. It is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are able to go during the free entry time!
There are some very nice bridges that cross the Ebro river in Zaragoza. The Puente de Piedra, Puente del Tercer Milenio, and Pabellón Puente are all worth checking out if you have time. However, the Pabellón Puente can only be currently seen from the outside as the inside is currently closed. As their names would suggest, the Puente de Piedra is an ancient stone bridge, but both the Puente del Tercer Milenio and Pabellón Puente were both built in 2008. The Puente de Piedra offers some nice views of the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.
Where I ate and drank:
Izakaya and El Angel del Pincho-
The sister restuarants El Angel del Pincho and Izakaya are both excellent tapas places. The menu at El Angel del Pincho isn't super extensive, but what they have is very tasty. Izakaya puts an asian spin on their tapas and serve up some tasty Bao.
"El Tubo" is an older area of the city of Zaragoza that contains some cool places to and drink. One of these places, Casa Lac, is slightly more expensive than some of the others (although still very well priced), but also very high quality. As it opened in 1825, it is one of the oldest restaurants in Spain, and has played host to important dinners over its history.
Taberna Ordio Minero, Hoppy, and Beer Corner-
Considering the relative size of the city of Zaragoza, as well as its wine culture, I was surprised and impressed by the craft beer offerings in the city. Taberna Ordio Minero, Hoppy, and Beer Corner all offer great options for quality drinks and some tasty food, both at good prices.
As chocolate has a long history in Zaragoza (it has been made there since the 16th century), the tourism department of Zaragoza offers a "Chocopass" that allows you to try specialties from five different places of your choice for just nine euros. The treats I tried were very tasty, but my favorite was from La Alacena de Aragón.
Café Botánico, La Bendita, La Clandestina, and Doña Hipólita-
Each of these cafes are nice spots to grab a small breakfast, or to sneak into for a break from the day and a snack.
El Criollo Coffee Store-
The best coffee I had in Zaragoza was at El Criollo. They are an historic spot that has been open since 1910. Due to this past and their location, the majority of drink offered are espresso based. However, I was served a very good Chemex, and their filter coffee drink are priced incredibly well also.
Where I stayed:
Albergue Zaragoza Hostel (Be Zaragoza Hostel)-
Be Zaragoza Hostel was fairly well located and allowed me to walk to see most of the sites I wanted to in the city. However, there were only two outlets in a ten bed dorm, and there were no shelves or curtains on the beds. Also, the staff weren't very helpful in terms of local trasport and area recommendations. There was an extra cost for bedsheets, while the basement common area seemed nice, there was also a charge to enter it. The breakfast was included but it was only cereal and milk. That being said, the price for a bed was relatively cheap, but I would probably stay somewhere else next time.
How I got around:
I arrived in Zaragoza by train from Barcelona. Once in the city I walked to get around and see the sites.
My favorite thing:
Zaragoza is much less crowded than other Iberian cities such as Lisbon, Madrid, and Barcelona. Also, the food and drink in the city is realtively well priced, especially when considering the quality. The Basilica Señora del Pilar is a magnificent building, and combined with going up the tower in my opinion it is the best thing to see and do in Zaragoza.
My least favorite thing:
Zaragoza does have a lot to offer, but it does not have everything large cities like London, Barcelona, Chicago, and Rome have to offer. That being said, it is a great place to spend a number of days in, and even after a long weekend there were still more things I wanted to see, do, eat, and drink there.
For next time:
Next time in Zaragoza I would like to visit the Monasterio de Piedra just outside the city. It is said to be the home of chocolate, and that the first Europeans to taste chocolate were the monks at this monastery. I would also be interested in checking out some other museums in Zaragoza such as the Zaragoza Museum and the Goya Museum.
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