Segovia is a small city, which is about an hour outside of Madrid. It is located in the region of Castile and León. The city is interesting for many reasons, but mainly because it has some of the best Roman ruins in Europe. Segovia, typically an afternoon stopover for many tourists, has much more than meets the eye.
The city actually started as Celtic. It was not Spanish nor Iberian, as we think of it today. Interestingly enough, the Celtic culture has had an influence on many of the northern coastal regions between France and Spain. Regions such as Bretagne in France or Galicia in Spain have many cultural customs that can be traced back to the Celtic people. Through the years Segovia has seen Roman and Arabian influences in addition to its modern Spanish culture. It is also listed as a World Heritage City, thanks to its Roman aqueducts that still stand.
Segovia is unfortunately one of those cities where it is hard to get out of the tourist limelight, but it is not impossible if you choose some of the lesser used streets. Here are some suggestions on the things to do in Segovia Spain that I most enjoyed after I will give you some suggestions on how to get to Segovia Spain.
1.) Roman Aqueducts – When you first arrive to the old town of Segovia, it is likely that you’ll see the aqueducts first. Romans built the aqueducts around the 1st-2nd Century. When you see them, you’ll be amazed that they are as old as they are. I followed the aqueducts to where they were at eye level with me and I was absolutely amazed at how precisely cut and even the entire system was. I am pretty sure that the aqueducts would still carry water to this day. They certainly appear to be able to. It was a fascinating feat of engineering and a tribute to the might of the Roman legacy.
2.) Segovia Cathedral – Segovia has one of the largest Gothic-styled Cathedrals that I have ever seen. It is a unique yellow color and it is quite nice to look at both from the outside and in. The area around the Cathedral is nice as it is filled with many little shops and restaurants. You can do some souvenir shopping while you check out the Cathedral.
3.) Alcázar de Segovia – The Alcázar de Segovia, or Castle of Segovia is an Arabian palace left behind by the times of the Moors. The Moorish history of Spain is absolutely fascinating and Segovia is where I started to discover it. From there, I went to Granada and other cities that evoked my interest in the history even more. Like most Arabian palaces in Spain, the palaces have been used for multiple things over the years: royalty and nobility, meeting places, and modernly for tourism. Walking through the castle was interesting as I got to see a variety of things such as the armory room, artwork, rooms left by royalty, and more.
4.) The Jewish Cemetery and Neocropolis Judia – One of the things that I believe few people do is walk outside of the old town city walls to see the Jewish cemetery area. This area is not something that you would notice unless you were looking for it. I found it interesting to see, and there were virtually no people there. They had caves or rooms carved into the hill-side where people used to live and hid out. They are still intact although you cannot enter them.
5.) Random walk – I ended up walking along some back alley along the city walls. Although there were other people, I did not find it to be as touristy as the central parts in the city. I also got some unique views of the architecture and neighborhoods while doing so.
6.) Gardens – Another thing that I enjoyed doing in Segovia was walking through some of the many gardens around the city. Segovia has a multitude of gardens that you may stumble upon while walking around Segovia.
7.) El Parral Monastery and other churches – There are a few other smaller churches around the city as well as a monastery that you may enjoy if you are interested in religious things and/or architecture.
One of the unique things to do in Segovia that I wish I would have been able to do were definitely to try the cochinillo asado. Cochinillo asado is a dish created from baby pigs. It is a dish that is unique to Segovia. They cook the pig until it is very tender, then it is cut with a glass plate. Yes, no knife is used. It is much like a cochon du lait in Louisiana, if you have had one before. Here is an article with some pictures of it. I missed out on that for sure. However, missing out on Cochinillo asado taught me a lot about Spanish eating culture. For starters, the kitchens in many formal restaurants in Spain are rarely open before 8pm (20:00). So no luck eating early most of the time.
There is likely a ton of other things to do in Segovia, but these were the ones that I enjoyed the most and actually did for myself.
Getting to Segovia
I took the fast train (Ave) from Madrid to Segovia, which took all of about 30 minutes. I was impressed with how fast it was actually, but it costs around 20€. If you would like to look at other options, then I’d recommend the Avant train or Regional, which both take longer however you save big. The Regional for example costs around 8€, but it takes a long time possibly up to 2 hours. The train will drop you off at a station where you will have to take a city bus to the old town of Segovia. The ride takes about 15 minutes and costs about 1-2€.