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Valladolid - Spain

An hour from Madrid, this elegant Spanish city offers glorious art, sprawling parks and historic architecture, plus hearty dishes and great local wines. Imogen Lepere explores

Travel Time 3hrs 30min

Why go?

Sophisticated Valladolid offers an authentic Spanish city experience in the country’s traditional Catholic heartlands. Despite the fact it is a name few travellers are familiar with, it has hosted some key events in European history: Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, the great unifying monarchs, were married here; Philip II – creator of the Spanish Armada – was born here; and Christopher Colombus died here. While only an hour by high-speed train from Madrid, the city’s palace-lined plazas have a timeless, mystical quality to them, helped by their association with the birth of the Castilian language. The celebrations during Holy Week (5-12 April) are among the most colourful in the country, with Good Friday’s Passion Procession seeing priceless baroque statues paraded through the streets and the city’s 21 brotherhoods making proclamations from horseback.

What to do

Crouching in the centre of the city, the cathedral is a mishmash of styles and remains only 45 per cent complete – despite building having begun more than 500 years ago. Take the lifts and stairs to the top of the bell tower to orientate yourself. A short walk away, the ornate National Sculpture Museum is filled with 17th-century statues, works by masters like Alonso Berruguete and altar pieces plundered from convents that were forced to close across the country during the 1800s. Often likened to Shakespeare because he died the same week as the bard and produced works of equal influence, Miguel de Cervantes lived in Valladolid when the first part of Don Quixote was published. Visit his house with its humble wooden writing desk still in place, then retire to the Campo Grande Park to reread the masterpiece. This triangular Eden luxuriates over 100,000 sq m and has an aviary, pheasant sanctuary and dovecote dotted among its flowers and fountains. To enjoy the balmy April weather, head to Playa de las Moreras, a man-made beach with unspoilt golden sands on the Pisuerga River that’s perfect for long strolls.

Where to stay

There are plenty of traditional, intimate hotels to choose from here, but they tend to share common features, as if imagined by the same moustached Forties designer: dark furniture and heavy curtains, historic settings and warm, if slightly formal, hospitality. AC Hotel Palacio de Santa Ana – a converted monastery perched on the banks of the Pisuerga, is an exception. Rooms are generous and contemporary, with black-painted shutters and polished floorboards, plus pretty gardens and a Turkish bath. Ideally situated next to the cathedral, Boutique Atrio Hotel is a four-floor modernist house with cosy bedrooms, while its more elegant older sister, Colón Plaza Boutique Hotel overlooks the Campo Grande. Or for haute cuisine feasts, try the restaurant of Meliá Recoletos which also boasts sizable rooms.

Where to eat and drink

Valladolid’s food scene is as drenched in history as everything else in this city. Hare à la royale at El Trigo is as rich as one of Isabella I’s ermine-trimmed cloaks, while El Mercado de tu Vida has been selling everything from suckling pig to local sobao bread since the 1800s. The area is famous for its hearty meat dishes and La Parrilla de san Lorenzo does a mean line in kid goat served with red wines from the Ribera del Duero. Cerveceria el Trebol’s street tables are ideal for a well-poured caña of beer and langoustine lunch, Señorita Malauva is a buzzy spot in which to taste local wine paired with sheep’s cheese and Los Zagales Tapas does a creative black bread take on the classic morcilla (blood sausage).

Time running out?

Combine wellness with wine at Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine, a spa hotel that offers vinotherapy treatments – it’s well worth the 30-minute drive.


Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the euro (EUR). Time is 1 hour ahead of GMT. There are no direct flights. Flight time from London to Madrid is 2 hours 25 minutes, from where the train takes 1 hour.

Getting There

Iberia flies from London Heathrow to Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport.
Vueling offers flights to Valladolid from London Gatwick with a short layover in Barcelona.


Discover Valladolid is the official tourist board and provides essential travel tips, plus a wealth of accommodation, restaurant, and event information.

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

Min Temp-101369121210620
Max Temp8111516212630302619139

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