Updated: 2 days ago
With sweat-inducing heat waves battering the country, Spain's Zaragoza (where I happen to have a part-time holiday home) is hit the hardest. My first July in Spain I told my husband, "nunca jamas" - never again. It was simply too hot, and we're from Florida.
Two years later, we found an opportunity to spend my daughter's July school break here in Zaragoza, so it was inevitable we would run into the heat waves again. Yesterday topped out at 112 degrees Fahrenheit and we were melting into puddles of goo.
So how do you keep cool in a country who believes air conditioning is set to a groovy 80 degrees indoors and the rest rely on fans for interior cooling? I've rounded up our list of favorites to keep not only my 3.5 year old happy in Zaragoza, but for the adults too.
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How To Beat the Heat in Zaragoza
Stay indoors at peak heat times, which are typically between four in the afternoon and eight o'clock at night. Good thing this also somehow coincides with siesta times and meal times.
Wear a wide brimmed hat. The humidity may not be so bad, but the UV intensity is.
Always walk or stand in the shade when you can
Drink lots of water
Where To Hide From Heat Waves With Kids in Zaragoza
For some reason all the playgrounds in Zaragoza are made with these awful metal slides, which just absorb the sun's rage and scald little heineys. Forget the outdoor playgrounds and try these options instead:
Go to IKEA at Puerto Venecia
Centro Comercial Puerto Venecia, C. Teatro Malibrán, 30, 50021 Zaragoza
Kids meals and hot dogs are super cheap, the showroom is full of great kids toys to set their imagination alight, and don't forget Smaland at the entrance, offering smaller kids a chance to color, play and interact with IKEA toys for an hour. Bring socks for Smaland or buy some near the check out lanes.
Visit the Aquarium (Acuario de Zaragoza)
Av. de José Atarés, s/n, 50018 Zaragoza
With larger than life prehistoric looking fish and amazing environment build outs, this aquarium is a great way to spend an hour or two. Marvel at the different fresh water species and the sheer size of the building. Fun for all!
Visit the Firefighting Museum at Los Bomberos (Museo del Fuego y de los Bomberos)
C. de Santiago Ramón y Cajal, 32, 50004 Zaragoza
This small museum has an interior courtyard full of large fire trucks from yesteryear and some cute little exhibits for kids, including a cool animated film about fire safety.
Explore the Ruins of The Roman Theater (Museo del Teatro de Caesaraugusta)
C. de San Jorge, 12, 50001 Zaragoza
The theater may be outdoors, but it is under shade cover and not to miss. Inside, a really fantastic film about the excavation efforts and history of the theater and Zaragoza in general entertains families for a respite from the scalding heat of day.
Hit the Beach Pool (Playas Expo (Las Playas de Zaragoza))
Pl. Fluvi, 50018 Zaragoza
A sand beach and pool in Zaragoza? Yep, it's there and it's a great spot to cool down with kids. A chiringuito beach bar serves up food and drinks all day.
Go to Restaurant and Jungle Playpark Selvatik
Av. de R. Sainz de Varanda, 18, 50009 Zaragoza
Selvatik is part restaurant part play park. With something for all ages, there are slides, play rooms and even go karts. The jungle theme is super fun and it's only 13 euros for 1.5 hrs of play time.
Get Some Legit Italian Gelato at Ferrara (Heladería Ferrara)
P.º de Fernando el Católico, 14, 50009 Zaragoza
This place has a staff of many doling out giant scoops of gelato in every flavor imaginable. The lemon is outstanding, the strawberry divine, but don't miss the strawberry-banana flavor - holy cow. It's easily accessibly along the light rail on the Gran Via.
Visit the Roman Forum (Museo del Foro de Caesaraugusta)
Pl. de la Seo, 2, 50001 Zaragoza
Much like many of the Roman ruins found in Europe, this one was accidentally discovered when builders attempted to break ground on a parking garage near the Basilica del Pilar. The entire exhibit is underground, so you are sure to beat the heat with this informative and fun step back into the past.
Get Out Of Town: Easy Day Trips From Zaragoza to Cool Off
The interiors of the 15th century parapets, turrets and castle walls are cool and refreshing after being battered by sun.
The town of Olite is absolutely a fairytale, and the reconstructed castle will make kids feel like they stepped into a Disney movie. Bonus is that Olite is only 1.5 hours from Zaragoza.
Can't find a cueva or cave to get out of the heat? A wine cellar will do!
Get to the Mountains
The Pyrenees are about 3 hours by car.
Head to the Beach
San Sebastian's basque tapas haven is a few hours away, as is Barcelona, which can be visited by train in under two hours.
Things To Know
Just remember that Zaragoza is a very arid city, so the heat will not be as oppressive as a more humid city, but the sun damage is still very real! Lather up with sunblock and stay indoors when possible.
Bring a personal fan and stay hydrated friends!