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Unique Day Trips From Zaragoza (Under 2 Hours Drive)

Updated: Apr 29

In the time of kings and thieves, as they say, Spain was practically the backdrop of every fairytale. Even today, you may have to pinch yourself. Wineries and vineyards dot the landscape of the otherwise arid lands of Aragon, passing hilltops are covered with castles of yesteryear, and even enchanted forest beckon in the weirdest of places. Dine in the home of a Count, hike up hillsides to waterfalls or see strange rock formations. All this and more await in the kingdom of Aragon.


Indeed, this kingdom does still have a queen and king, many from afar do not realize this. Many wonders await in these lands, and I'm here to share them with you.


If you are setting up a home base in Zaragoza Spain or perhaps just passing through on the way to San Sebastian from Barcelona, or winding your way through wine country in Rioja and beyond, you are sure to find yourself within a stone's throw of Zaragoza at some point.


And when that point comes, I've rounded up some awesome day trips for your consideration. These unique day trips from Zaragoza are all under two hours drive, making for great stops along a road trip itinerary, or just for a day out from the city when visiting the Pilar, Aljaferia, the Roman ruins and other amazing sites in Aragon's capital city. Enjoy!


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Day Trips from Zaragoza Under 1 hour (One Way)


Towns


Belchite



path through old town ruins

For an incredible day out less than an hour from Zaragoza, make plans to visit the ghost town of Belchite. A relic from the countries’ civil war, it has a bloody past and has remained relatively untouched since the city fell.


bomb holes in church ceiling


Tours run regularly and tickets can be purchased online in advance. You should definitely consider booking the tour + olive oil visit when you do make your purchase. Note that all tours are in Spanish, with the possibility for audio guides.



ruins of a church wall

After spending time exploring the ruins of the city of Belchite, take a tour of an active olive oil factory, which includes a tasting at the end. It’s just steps from the Belchite tour entrance, so you can leave your car where you parked it.


entrance sign for belchite

Afterwards, head into the modern town of Belchite for lunch. In town, find the bustling restaurant just off the main square for a wonderful meal at Restaurante Nuevo Sevilla. It’s not much for decor, but the dishes are lovely and skew a little Italian-esque (in a very Spanish way, of course). Book a table for a specific time before your visit because they will be full at the lunch hour.



Muel

For something close to Zaragoza, an easy 30 minute drive takes you to the quiet town of Muel, on the road towards Cariñena wine country.


First stop should be to the Bodegas Heredad Anson, where you can call ahead to do a brief tour and tasting at their winery, which is a great stop for families. Samples and tastings only cost 3 euros per person!


antiques line the wall inside a winery tasting room

Next, head over to the Cascadas de Muel, a small park with waterfalls. On a nice day, it offers a pleasant quick stroll through nature before lunch. The birds are friendly and may land on you, making for a few good giggle moments.



Fonda Rubio is a cute spot in town that is very homespun with a set lunch menu of only a few offerings. The decor is simple and the inner courtyard is very cute.


Look up where to get blue pottery online before leaving. We found a place where you had to ring the doorbell and a lady answered and let us into her shop, which I assume is also her home. It was a very intimate experience and we took home some awesome ceramic pieces for our apartment!



Huesca

A university town by all rights, it is also known as a foodie destination boasting numerous Michelin restaurants. With snow capped mountain peaks as its backdrop, it is also the launching point for the Pyrenees and sightseeing further into mountainous territory.


Visit the Monasterio San Pedro el Viejo, have lunch, and discover Snow White’s house in Parque Miguel Servet





Fuendetodos

Or, head to the birthplace of painter Francisco de Goya in Fuendetodos. Explore the place where he grew up and have lunch before returning to Zaragoza.



Castles, Monasteries and Spanish History


Monasterio de Santa Fe

Stumbling upon this quite by accident, we discovered the ruins of an old abbey in this Cuarte de Huerva. It's super hard to find because we didn't realize they were ruins. The Abbey, in the most part, looks in tact, however it is barred off and not suitable for visitors.



Still, get out and look around and read the signs before heading across the parking lot to the restaurant bearing the same name as the abbey for some tapas and drinks. It's literally minutes from town so this is an easy one!

Fake But Still Pretty

Driving along the highway towards Tudela, envision yourself in real castle, if not for a meal perhaps, at Hostal Castillo Bonavia. This very obviously fake castle is a hotel seen jutting out from a rather unexciting highway ride, so we ventured in to see what it was all about one day.


Boasting a lovely foyer and dining room, we have plans to go back and sample a meal, where they often have special holiday menus. If you want, go ahead and spend the night for a unique staycation!


Another falsie, the Pago de Cirsus winery and hotel, also on the road towards Tudela, is a brilliant place to spend an afternoon sampling wines from their vineyard in their outdoor terrace cafe, or in their ornate restaurant.


The hotel is built to resemble a castle, and they offer numerous tours and tastings throughout the week to fit the theme. Be sure to visit their website for information on menus and types of offerings.



Monasterio de Veruela

Featured in one of my favorite Spanish TV shows, “Ministerio del Tiempo”, the Monasterio de Veruela is a timeless example of Spanish history. The gorgeous walls house many stories and alcoves to discover, not to mention the grounds are lush with beauty in the Spring.



Visit the wine museum before leaving, and be sure to have lunch spitting distance away at El Molino de Berola, a charming old mill restaurant with fixed menus. 


Being minutes from the heart of Campo de Borja’s wine region, be sure to check out a winery or two but make reservations in advance. I recommend PRADOS Bodega Pagos del Moncayo. Their wine tasting and tour is superb!


wine barrels in a winery


Bosque Encantado

Ok, so admittedly this one is a little strange, but worth it with kids or if you want a nice stroll through a quiet town. This small park trail leads families through an enchanted forest of fairies, gnomes and little creatures tucked into the trees. It’s to boost the local economy (it’s free), so check out a coffee shop or something while you are there.



Casa Palacio de Los Condes de Bureta

This is a cool one, but I advise you to brush up on your Spanish. Visit the home of the Count of Bureta, an actual count! He will be your guide around his palace home. Arranging to meet is easy through the website instructions, but we had to cancel on him after drinking too much at Prados. Sorry, Count of Bureta. Next time, we’ll arrange for lunch at the palace, which I understand to be pretty darn good, and in a castle-like setting.



Castillo de Alfajarín 

These castle ruins are practically impossible to access with a car, but the 20 minute drive out of town is fun, and it’s great to pair with a visit to the rock garden, below. See the big black toro (bull) on the mountain top beside it, snap some photos, and if you dare, either park and hike or take a bike up there.


black bull figure on mountain aside a castle

Not for me, so we drove as far as we could and turned back. Once you get up there, I understand there are signs and descriptions of the castle and nice views.



Rock Formations and Nature


El Jardin de Las Rocas

So back when Zaragoza was host to a huge World Expo in 2008, the city built all sorts of interesting things for the visitors to come see, the Rock Garden being one of them. Easy to access just minutes from Zaragoza, El Jardin de Las Rocas is a true oddity.


Parking is easy and there’s a cafe and restrooms during opening hours, but we chose to visit on Christmas to get out of the house a little bit. It’s always open, just the facilities have specific hours.


rock garden behind a woman

When you get there, enter a gate towards what seems like an alien world. Rock circles formed from indigenous rock types of Spain are carefully placed around a massive green area, creating a path to walk through and photograph.


The rock structures are composed of varying things like granite, limestone, and so on, each getting more and more interesting as the walk continues. 


a man stands inside a white maze structure

Finish your walk near an old mill and a fun little maze, great for tiring kids out, before hopping back in the car. At the bottom of the hill, there’s a nice hotel with a restaurant, which is in fact open on Christmas too, if you wanted to have a nice meal along with your little drive out and about.  



Bardenas Reales

This unique place to visit near Zaragoza came to my attention first from its reputation as a filming location for the Game of Thrones. The Dothraki paraded through there with their newly betrothed dragon queen, so the desert-like backdrop holds up to the storyline.


rock formation

Getting to Bardenas Reales is as easy as pulling off the road towards Tudela, but once you get there it’s a 40km car ride around a loop of different natural monuments and landmarks.


Expect an hour or so of driving before spitting back out into civilization. Read more about Bardenas Reales and all the stops you’ll make on the loop, and be sure to remember to pack water for those super hot days in Zaragoza!




Other Great Day Trips Under 2 hours (One Way)


Visit Olite

Known for both their fairytale Olite Castle and their winery trade, it is easy to spend a day here.


castle with slate turrets

Any of the wineries will do, but we chose Bodegas Ochoa.


winery sign

Get lunch in town or stay overnight at the Parador de Olite, where velvet trappings meet medieval elegance. Be sure to take in a special dinner in their restaurant. 


Loarre Castle

Another fine example of Castles in Spain, this one is out towards Huesca. There are plenty of options for stumbling upon lunch before returning to Zaragoza.


Monasterio de Piedra

A personal favorite, this place will quite literally make your jaw drop. In part, this destination is home to the ruins of an old Monastery, worthy in and of itself for exploring, but that’s not all. In addition to the monastery, onsite is the Monastery hotel, which is perfect for special occasions or dining in their castle-like restaurant. 


monastery ruins

Outside the hotel you can find a ticket booth and cafeteria for lunch and a huge parking lot for visitors and guests. But what am I not calling out yet? Where’s the jaw dropping part?


interior courtyard of a monastery with green hedgerows

Ok, so now envision walking past the ticket booth, remembering you are in arid Spain, full of dry desert. Then you see it, an incredibly green and robust trail leading to open spaces and…wait…a waterfall!?


waterfall with trees around it

This grand entrance is only the beginning, as other trails lead through caves to more waterfalls and springs, ultimately guiding visitors to a breathtaking site as a massive gulch or canyon takes shape before your eyes. 


Crouching under short rock arches overhead, hike deeper into canyon views, resembling that of North America’s grandest with hues of orange, pink and cream. It’s truly spectacular.



Be aware: This is not for the faint of heart, lots of stairs! Nearly impossible with small children so leave the strollers in the car. Make sure you have good knees :-)


If that isn’t enough to get the heart racing, you can also pair this wonderful adventure with wine tasting at Bodegas Breca towards the bottom of the hill back down to Calatayud, where dozens of infamous vineyards and bodegas make their home. It is just a storefront, so pop in and ask if it's cool to try some wines.


wines lined up for tasting

It may be worth spending the night, in which case I recommend the charming and very Spanish, Hospederia Meson de Dolores. It’s extremely affordable, has nice parking, includes breakfast, and is walking distance to a quiet square with a grocery store and a few souvenir shops. Take in dinner at their Michelin rated restaurant while you’re at it.


courtyard of a hotel with blue archway and timbered beams


Towns

I admit I have not yet been to these places, but here is what I know:


Lleida

Lleida can be accessed quickly (40 minutes) by train, if you don’t have a car, making this a pleasant day trip. Visit Turo Seu Vella, Palacio de la Paeria and Gardeny Castle.


Lunch options include the intimate something different at Xalet Suis, or Els Trulls for caracoles, or for something Italian, try La Piemontesa.



Soria

Soria boasts two interesting places worthy of a visit, perhaps even overnight. First, visit the free Ermita de San Saturio which is a cave and monastery in the cliffside. This is a nice 15 walk from the river and very interesting.


Additionally, if time permits you can visit San Juan de Duero, monastery ruins on the riverbank. For overnight stays, consider the Parador de Soria with modern luxury and hilltop panoramas.




Honorable Mentions

  • Arnedillo for its natural mineral pools (check out Bodega La Petra or La Taberna Bizarra while you’re there)

  • Albaraccin, touted as the best/prettiest/insert amazingness town in Spain. Haven’t seen it, but it must be pretty!

  • Alquezar, supposedly full of history, charming restaurants and shops, great views, and a castle, I believe.


Need to Rent a Car?

Hertz is available at the Delicias train station and also at the Zaragoza airport.



Renting a car not a possibility? Some of these itineraries and places can be managed by train, in which case you can visit Renfe's website directly (which is poor at best), or just to browse you can use Omio.


I've also got a whole writeup about getting around Spain, which should prove valuable if you are clueless and carless! :-)


Lastly, please be sure to look at my recommendations for Zaragoza including where to stay and where to eat, in the related posts below.


Enjoy your travels to Zaragoza and the surrounding towns of Aragon!



2 comments

2 Comments


Guest
Apr 05

I want to visit all these places!

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Replying to

Great! These are just a few of the many wonderful places to visit around Zaragoza. All you need is a car and a sense of adventure!

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