Zaragoza is a city in the autonomous community of Aragon in northeastern Spain, situated on the Ebro river, about 3.5 hours from Madrid by car. Every year in Zaragoza, a huge festival known as El Pilar takes place every year in early October and goes on for a week, with various celebrations of El Pilar, the patron saint of Zaragoza. My friends and I went for the fiestas taking place on Saturday-Sunday with the tour group, CityLife Madrid.
The tour cost 25 euro for transportation, club entry, and a few other perks, and left Madrid early Saturday morning, giving us plenty of time to see the city of Zaragoza and tour around before the late-night festivities. I believe in being completely honest on this blog when I review different companies and experiences, and, while it was a great time, I don’t think I would recommend this particular experience to anyone else trying to enjoy Zaragoza.
The company itself has some really great tours and activities to offer, but the specific Zaragoza trip was a bit too much to handle for an all-day and late-night trip. Dealing with a mob of other young adults trying to get home at 3 in the morning on a 3-hour bus ride is not pleasant, so I would definitely give one of their day trips a chance, but decline to do another day/night experience. I also think that CityLife Madrid as a tour company leaves a lot to be desired; they were extremely unorganized at check-in, which delayed the departure from Madrid, and they were insistent on having several hundred of the people attending this event in one collective WhatsApp group, obnoxiously trying to hard to bring a gigantic group together.
Ok, back to Zaragoza.
The main focal point of the city center is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, a giant Roman Catholic church. Entry to the main floor of the church is free, but we opted to also tour the upper-level towers, which cost €3 euros. There is an elevator to the large viewing area, but to get to the very top, one has to take a few flights of stairs. Warning: It gets quite cramped up top!
Festivals in Spain
Another wonderful thing about Spanish festivals is all of the available street food and vendors in the main square and surrounding areas. Paella, various grilled meats, candy, and different pop-up bars are everywhere, providing plenty of options for hungry visitors.
Another point of interest during this time in Zaragoza is the number of parades that march through the streets, the concerts in the main square and the fireworks that take place over the government building. The atmosphere is really inviting for travelers who are not native to Spain or from Zaragoza, with the general desire of the whole crowd to just have a good time.
I would definitely add Zaragoza to any itinerary of places to see around Spain, it’s a really beautiful, laid back city to spend a day in! You CAN do it as a day trip from Madrid, but I’d highly recommend spending a whole weekend here. There are lots of bars and restaurants, night clubs, and things to see and do.