When I got word that I was moving to Burgos, Castilla y Leon I was so nervous. I have been obsessed with Spain for the past 14 years and I’ve seen just about every single travel video about almost every city here but for some reason I skipped over this one. When I first looked up Burgos online I saw the cathedral, those weird looking trees, and morcilla and thought “ohhhh no.”
I had no idea what to expect coming to Burgos from spending a full month in the bustling city of Madrid but when I got here I was blown away. Burgos is surprisingly beautiful for being such an old city and the food is incredible. Now even though those are two major pluses the Madrileños that I told about my future move told me not so great news about Burgos. They said things like “Burgos es el mas frio en Espana” and “la gente alla son frias como el tiempo.” Basically to summarize people here are pretty closed and cold. They blame it on the weather but I call bs on that. I’m from Minnesota where temperatures drop so much lower than here and we are still “Minnesota nice” The citizens of B-town don’t know cold. They don’t know my pain….
With all that aside I just want to say that I do actually love this city so much. Like I said earlier it’s B-E-A-utiful, the food is incredible (2013 champs of the Gastronomic Capital of Spain), and it’s flooded (literally the river is flooded right now) with rich history. Let’s take a look at a few of the major things to do and see here in the capital of the province.
1. Visit the Cathedral
This cathedral was built in the 13th century and took about 300 years to complete! It’s easily the city’s highlight attraction since it’s UNESCO World Heritage Site and everyday dozens of tourists and locals alike are stopping by to snap a photo or just to marvel at this amazing structure. According to my flatmate’s father, who has so much pride in his city he should be the mayor, Christopher Columbus walked through the gates in the back of the cathedral. Don’t quote me on that but he looked pretty serious. You can find the prices for admission here but it’s free from 4:30-6:30pm on Tuesdays. Fun fact: El Cid (the military leader who drove the moors out of the kingdom of Castille) is buried inside next to his wife.
2. Monastery of the Strikes
Monasterio de Las Huelgas is about a 15 minute walk from the city center. It’s strikingly beautiful on the outside and has years of history. I’m told that nuns live there now but in the past it was the site of many royal weddings and a hospital to the pilgrims that passed through Burgos on their way to Santiago. You can tour inside which will cost you 6 euros which I have not done yet but I’m sure you’ll learn a lot of information. Official website here. It’s pretty incredible and a little mysterious from the outside.
3. Walk the Paseo de Espolón
This tranquil pathway connecting the Arco de Santa Maria and the statue of El Cid is my favorite path in Burgos. The trees are so spectacular and eerie at the same time. I wrote about them here and explained that almost every tree grows into the next one so it’s easy to find yourself walking with your head up the whole time admiring this natural phenomenon. I’m surprised I haven’t fallen yet since I’m always staring at these trees. You can grab a seat at one of the many cafes that line this walkway for some awesome people watching too.
4. Try the local food
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian then skip this point but in Burgos morcilla, lechazo, and cordero dominate the food scene. I’m going to just let you try morcilla without explaining it but if you like meat you’ll LOVE the lechazo and cordero. These two juicy cuts of meat are baby lamb and sheep….cue the tears. These are found all over town and at all price points. Around the cathedral they’ll be more expensive because that’s where most of the tourist hang out but if you head over to Calle San Lorenzo you’ll find a plethora of restaurants that offer these dishes. As for the morcilla you’ll find that in almost every pincho bar or restaurant.
5. Visit the Museum of Human Evolution
Just outside Burgos is home to Atapuerca which is the site of the oldest human remains and stone tools in Western Europe. This museum was built to house some of those remains and other interesting information about human evolution. Admission fee is 6 euros for adults, 4 euros for students, and free for kiddos and the disabled. You can get in fo free on Wednesday afternoons and Tuesday/Thursday after 7.
6. Check out the castle and the mirador
What’s the coolest spot to capture a photo of this stunning city? The mirador of course! It’s a little hike from the cathedral but it’s definitely worth breaking a sweat for. Just head behind the cathedral and look for the signs pointing to the castillo then walk up the hill. After you admire the view walk behind you and make your way to the 9th century castle. There’s not much to it since it was bombed by Napoleon during the French occupation in the 19th century but it’s still pretty amazing to see. Go inside and grab a helmet because the highlight of a visit to this castle is going down the original well!
7. Arch of Saint Mary
The Arco de Santa Maria is a decorated entryway to the cathedral and the square that holds it. There is so much detail in this arc that you could easily spend half an hour looking at it. Fun fact though..you can go inside it! To be honest I didn’t know that this was possible until a friend and I (who had two too many glasses of vino tinto) stumbled upon the entry way and we both decided to explore. From what I remember there’s an exhibition room where artifacts and art is held and then you climb up stairs to get a great view of the Paseo de Espolon. Best part? It’s totally free.
8. Main square and the old town.
The plaza mayor’s and the old towns of Spanish cities are my favorite parts of any visit. Watching the older residents of the town catch up on their gossip and seeing the little kids playing fútbol have become favorite past times for me. Side note: That sounds a little creepy but you’d probably do it too. Anyway, most people like people watching and grabbing a seat on the plaza with your cafe con leche is the perfect way to do so. It’s also the main spot for the teens to meet up with their friends so beware you might see your students #auxproblems. I also wrote about the things to do around this square right here so check it out! The old towns here are always so charming. The stone buildings with flowers everywhere and balconies so close that you could borrow your neighbors sugar is the kind of sh** I live for. I always catch myself smiling when I wander around these areas.
9. Museum of Burgos
This museum is really special to Burgos because it showcases everything that this city has been through. It has artifacts from the pre-historic ages to present. El Cid’s sword is kept here for you to see and it has an amazing courtyard. It’s a short walk from the city center and admission will only cost you 1,50. The hours follow the Spanish siesta time so just keep that in mind if you want to go.
Have you been to any of these places? I think Burgos is a pretty beautiful and underrated city. If you find yourself around the northern part of Castilla y Leon region definitely make your way to this adorable little city.