Segovia, Spain Destination Guide
Getting to Segovia
You can take a bus from Madrid to Segovia or you can take a train and the bus. Personally, with kids, I will always opt for the train. My boys could stretch out, walk around if they need to, and really, trains are just more fun. Whether you take the bus straight to Segovia or the train, it will take about the same amount of time.
Buying tickets: You can buy tickets at the train station directly through Renfe (Spanish rail line), or you can go to El Cortes Ingles (a large department store) near Puerta Del Sol in Madrid and visit their travel agency. They also have a smaller office at the Chamartin train station where you will hop on the train to Segovia. If you need a little hand-holding, go to El Cortes Ingles. It will only cost you about one euro more per ticket.
Arriving by metro, train and bus: It may sound daunting, but it’s pretty easy to get to Segovia.
Metro: Take the Pinar de Chamartin line (line #1 on the metro map) to the Chamartin station north of the city. You can pick up the Pinar Chamartin line at the SOL metro stop in Puerto Del Sol.
AVE train station: Walk to the AVE train station from the Chamartin metro station (there are easy-to-follow signs) and get on your appointed train.
Renfe train to Segovia: Your train number (Avante) will be on your ticket. The trip will take about 30 minutes from Madrid to Segovia.
Bus into Segovia: Once you get to the AVE train station in Segovia, hop on the #11 bus. Do not get off until the end. You will see the aqueduct and this is where the bus turns around to head back to the train station.
Where to eat
Roast Suckling Pig: As previously mentioned, roast suckling pig is a pretty big deal in this town. There are more than enough restaurants that catered to tourists along the main road into town, but we wanted to find some place special. According to my guidebook Meson de Candido was the place to go, but we wanted something a little less flashy. We opted for the equally good (with a mix of locals and tourists) Jose Maria. Reservations were recommended, but at lunch we didn’t find it necessary. It is located across the square from the cathedral, making it a great location to stop in the middle of our explorations.
Ordering: Note that when you order cochinillo (roast suckling pig) that is all you will get– just meat on a plate. And it won’t be cheap (about 24 euros per person). If you want any sides you will have to pay extra.
Desserts: Segovia does not lack in the sweets department. Simply stroll down the main drag and you will find donuts (called Berliners), cookies, croissants, marzipan, cakes and more to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Market days: Thursday is Market day in Segovia. You can pick up fresh produce in Plaza Mayor from about 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Alcazar café: If you have ever been to a museum, you know that their cafés aren’t always the best, especially in the United States. They can be overpriced with mediocre food. The café next to the Alcazar is worth the walk for a cup of chocolate and a few churros. We aren’t sure if they are the best around, but they sure were delicious after a morning of exploration, cold temperatures and low blood sugar. The service was quick and there was a beautiful outdoor patio to sit at while you sip with views of the landscape below town.
What to do
Segovia has three main attractions — the Alcazar, cathedral and Roman aqueduct. Each deserves plenty of time to explore, and can fit into a long day. I suggest starting at the Alcazar, farthest from the bus stop, and making your way back so you have plenty of time to sight see, eat and shop before heading back to Madrid.
Alcazar. The Alcazar, originally a palace in the middle ages, has also been used as a prison and the Royal Artillery School. Sadly, a fire swept through in 1862 and since then the Alcazar has been kept as a museum. What you will see is a grand reconstruction of what was once more humbly built on that spot. Your tour through the Alcazar is one-way with beautiful Moorish décor and Mudejar (Iberian decorative style of the 12th to 16th centuries) ceilings. Enjoy the views from the terrace, the armory complete with crossbows and cannons, and the Hall of the Monarchs that features 52 busts of rulers from Castile and Leon who ruled during the Reconquista (711-1492). To enter the tower you will have to exit the main Alcazar and pay a separate, nominal fee (grab a combo ticket for both from the Real Laboratorio de Chimia to the left of the palace). Walk up 152 steps in the spiral staircase to get a total view of the city and surrounding countryside. You will be sorry if you miss this perfect spot for a photo op.
Segovia Cathedral. The cathedral was built to impress during the Renaissance, but has many Gothic features that take on a life of their own, including flying buttresses. The soaring interior may seem simple to some, but you are sure to find a few hidden treasures the longer you explore. Make sure you look up to take in the ceilings; one of my favorite parts of any religious building, but especially cathedrals. Take a peaceful stroll through the cloisters (closed on Sundays) as you reflect on the lives of those who came before you.
Roman Aqueduct: As soon as you arrive in Segovia you will see the aqueduct. It’s hard to miss. This 2000-year-old attraction was built by Emperor Trajan’s engineers to bring water to the Roman military base of Segovia. You can walk up a stairway from the Plaza del Azoguejo to the top to get a closer look at the stonework and views of the town below. Best of all, it is free and open year round. It’s a stunning way to take in the views and get up close with some Roman history. My dad was thrilled.