After traveling to Aragon on numerous occasions, I´m happy to share with you my recent road trip full of hidden gems and new surprises. This post is for those of you who want to explore Spain off the beaten track. Let me show you more of the beautiful Spanish region of Aragon.
Traveling to Aragon
My trips to Aragon
As you have probably figured out by now – during all these 15 expat years in Spain my travel plans have involved visiting the Aragon Region on numerous occasions. Some of the trips found reflection on the Blog Series Undiscovered Spain, others were only turned into IG stories.
But you know what?! – I am almost sure you did not even link Aragon to countless places I talked about on the blog.
Remember Teruel and its secret villages? the romantic legend of Diego and Isabel? my Pyrenees road trip? the most hunted place in Spain – Belchite? the stunning Cathedral of Zaragoza? my first visit to Huesca? one of the Dreamiest Spanish castles in Loarre? a road trip across Matarranya? my kids´ favorite Dinopolis park? a day trip to Valdelinares? – These travel stories have one important thing in common: all of them took place in the region of Aragon, or as it´s officially called – the Spanish Autonomous Community of Aragon (but let me simply call it Aragon in this post).
Where is Aragon
In case you are new to the topic of Spain Off The Beaten Path, let me fill you in with a few basic facts about Aragon.
The Spanish Autonomous Community of Aragon is located in the north-east of Spain, and borders quite a few other Spanish Regions – Castile-La Mancha, Castile-Leon, Rioja, Valencian Community, Navarra, and Catalonia (by clicking on each province you´ll see the collection of my posts dedicated to it – in case you want to make this Aragon road trip longer and add another Spanish Province to your itinerary).
The capital of the Aragon region is the city of Zaragoza.
Some of you might know that the Aragon Autonomous Community actually consists of the whole 3 Spanish Provinces – Teruel, Zaragoza, and Huesca. Therefore there´s honestly a lot to chew on while talking about all the must-see places in Aragon. So that you get the general view – Zaragoza is the biggest city and business hub of the region, Huesca is a must-stop in the Spanish Pyrenees, and Teruel is one of the most underrated cities in the whole of Spain.
The best way to get to the Aragon region is by flying to Zaragoza. However, you can also quickly reach Aragon by car from Tarragona, Barcelona, Reus, Castellon, or even Valencia.
Why visit Aragon
Since my last year´s road trip to the Pyrenees of Aragon has ended on my list of favorite experiences of 2022, I was daydreaming of traveling to this region again. There were simply way too many stones left unturned.
First of all, Aragon is home to some stunning Spanish landmarks and natural wonders, most of which are still in the shadow when it comes to international visitors. You won´t have to deal with lines, traffic jams, or tourist traps. This Spanish Autonomous Community still feels very local and authentic.
While spotting the remote villages in Aragon on the road, I always have a bitter-sweet feeling. On the one hand, I enjoy having it all almost for myself (I mean, who would not), on the other I feel sad that it´s so lonesome. This may only mean that the younger generations are often forced to leave the areas to find jobs in the other Spanish capitals. So, I guess, being a tourist in non-touristy Spain helps to support local communities, businesses, talents… Abandoned villages are a huge problem in Spain, even though some places (like Fanzara) manage to reinvent themselves and survive.
Did you know that Spain once began from the union of the Catholic Kings – Isabel de Castilla and Fernando de Aragon? Therefore, the Spanish Autonomous Communities of Castile-La Mancha and Aragon were both at the very origins of modern Spain. I could share with all certainty both still preserve this authentic taste and the non-touristy appeal of traditional Spain.
When to visit Aragon
This time, I was traveling to Aragon in June, but we were lucky with the weather (as it was mostly cloudy). If you plan to travel in summer, keep in mind that all of central Spain gets very hot, and you rarely find a shadow on the road to hide away. Even with the same temperatures, Valencia, Catalonia, and the Spanish islands don´t feel as exhausting in summer due to the Mediterranean Sea and relaxing beaches.
Honestly, the last time I made a stop in Zaragoza for lunch on the way to Asturias (around July) I could not even stay on the street. It felt more desert-like than the sandy dunes of Fuerteventura. For me, the best time to visit Aragon and enjoy local landmarks is spring and autumn.
Although the Pyrenees of Aragon (especially everything higher than the town of Jaca) is the whole other story. Summer is definitely the best time to enjoy the mountain landscapes to the fullest.
New Aragon Road trip
Traveling to Aragon this time was initially meant a new Pyrenees road trip (You can definitely combine it with my previous 4-day Pyrenees Adventure).
But it did not go as planned. For personal reasons we booked our stay last moment (you know my Spanish family from this post about Sundays: well, my father-in-law went through surgery and we simply could not leave my in-laws alone). Needless to say that we could not find anything with a good price-quality ratio higher in the Pyrenees mountains.
First, I could not believe it myself. You know how everyone says that the high season in the mountains is during winter in Spain and it´s all about skiing in the Pyrenees? – Well, never believe that! Actually, it´s summer that has lately been the peak season in the Spanish mountains.
Nevertheless, since we found a small traditional flat in Santa Eulalia de Gallego, I´ve slightly changed the sightseeing itinerary(took away Ordesa National Park) to make the most of this Aragon trip. As we only had 4 days for traveling to Aragon – there was simply no time to lose in long drives every single day.
Aragon Road Trip Itinerary
Traveling to Aragon – Day 1
As we were traveling to Aragon from Castellon (plus traveling with kids), it was important for me to plan a few interesting stops along the way. So, the first day of our road trip was full of otherworldly beautiful Spanish landscapes I was discovering for the first time.
Sima de San Pedro
Due to its dimensions and geological value, this giant hole is considered unique in the whole of Europe. Sima De San Pedro feels like a journey to the interior of the earth thanks to its 86 m deep and 80 m in diameter. The road toward this natural wonder was unpaved, but it was ok.
The Ruins of Belchite
If traveling to Aragon – definitely leave a few hours for visiting the old ruins of Belchite. This place always comes first on every list of mysterious and haunted places in Spain.
Built in the mid-XXth century, Belchite was once a prosperous small town of the Aragon region. However, the town was completely destroyed by the important battle of the Spanish Civil War, taking the lives of more than 5000 people.
Also read: Dreamy Travel Quotes About Spain
After the end of the Spanish Civil War, Franco ordered the construction of a new town nearby, leaving the old Belchite ( in Spanish Belchite Viejo) the status of a ghost town.
To the present day, Belchite is surrounded by countless stories from its visitors about strange war sounds, voices, temperature drops, and even the unexplainable feeling of being watched by someone.
You can only access the ruins of Belchite Viejo with a locally guided tour in Spanish (during the day and also at night). The tour hours vary: from Monday to Friday – 12h, 17h and 19h; Saturday and Sunday -10h, 11h, 12h, 17h, 18h and 19h. The tour costs 8 euros per person and you get the ticket at Belchite Tourist Office or online.
As we were on the road with small kids, a guided tour was meant to be left for the future trips. After sitting in a car for hours, no way they would stay still for the 1.30h-long historical tour. But at least we got a glimpse of the famous ruins of Belchite Viejo.
Aguarales de Valpalmas
Aguarales de Valpalmas is definitely one of the most unique landscapes in the whole of the Aragon region.
It slightly reminded me of Bardenas Reales in Navarra and Gredas de Bolnuevo in Murcia. The peculiar landforms of Aguarales de Valpalmas were created by the erosion of the sand and clay soil. You can leave your car and walk around by following a trail through the curious sand formations.
Santa Eulalia de Gallego
At the end of the first day of our Aragon road trip we arrived at our stay: a traditional Spanish house in the tiny village of Santa Eulalia de Gallego. You can check to see the details of the interiors on IG Highlight Aragon.
I have mixed feeling about this place.
On one side it made the whole experience of traveling to Aragon more authentic, but on the another – these were the most uncomfortable beds in my entire life. The small size for a double bed (around 150cm) is a usual thing for all the traditional houses in Spain. The older generations of Spaniards were not tall at all. But the mattress was giving me the feeling of sleeping directly on the floor.
Traveling to Aragon – Day 2
Alquesar and Pasarelas del Vero
One of the main reasons for traveling to Aragon this time was the hike Pasarelas del Vero (which we could not do during our first trip to Huesca). It definitely ended up as one of the highlights of this Aragon road trip for me. You can check the views on IG Reels and TikTok.
This hiking trail is located in Alquezar, one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Spain, within the Spanish natural park Parque Natural de la Sierra y los Cañones de Guara. Note, if you are not afraid of heights, this place could be a great match for the whole family (my kids are 4 and 6 years old and both loved it). The whole itinerary was 3,37 km (it took us 2h to complete the route).
The trail Pasarelas del Vero (also called Pasarelas de Alquesar) takes you to the stunning gorge via metal walkways. On the road, you’ll see lots of greenery, tiny waterfalls, and even a stunning cave Cueva de Picamartillo. The entrance fee is 4 euros per person.
It´s definitely one of the coolest Spanish hikes in my experience (plus, fits the bill for the adventure-seekers in Spain). Although, my husband said he liked better Parrizal de Beceite, we visited during our trip to Matarranya.
Quesos de Radiquero
Quesos de Radiquero is a small local cheese shop near Alquesar. I really liked it (you know how much I enjoy discovering new traditional flavors in Spain). So, we tasted and bought local thyme and vine goat cheeses to bring back home.
In case you are allowed to bring dairy products back home – this could be a great food souvenir from Spain. The shop assistant recommended we take only curado and semi-curado (e.g. matured), as we still had a long road back home. But in case you plan to stay in the region longer than we did, plus have access to fridge – stocking some fresh local cheese might work perfectly for you.
Castle of Loarre
While staying close to one of the dreamiest Spanish castles, we couldn’t miss a chance to make a stop at the Castle of Loarre. Even though we previously visited it on another trip to Huesca – you can read more about the castle in this post.
Traveling to Aragon – Day 3
First thing in the morning we headed for fresh local pastries made the traditional way. In the local Panadería César Ascaso Garulo, located in the tiny village of Ayerbe, you will find a few typical delicatessens of the Aragon region – refollado, torta de anis, torta de huevo.
Mallos de Riglos
After breakfast, it was time for another hike in the small village of Riglos. This trail will probably end up on the list of my favorite experiences of 2023.
The hike is called El camino del cielo por Mallos de Riglos. It´s a 5,4 km-long circular route. Despite everyone calling it an easy hike, this one was a bit challenging for our youngest daughter (due to the elevation). Nevertheless, I felt like the view was 100% worth the effort.
We read somewhere in the Spanish media a recommendation to do the hiking trail clockwise (despite the local sign suggesting the reverse option). By doing it clockwise you have a short and intense way up, but after reaching the peak, the rest (the largest part of the trail) is simply descending and enjoying the views.
Sos del Rey Catolico
The small town of Sos del Rey Catolico has been on my Spanish bucket list forever.
Actually, we almost visited it during a recent trip to Navarra. After enjoying the secret monastery of Leyre, Sos del Rey Catolico was supposed to be the next stop. But with kids on the road, you simply move at a different pace (no way we would ever make today the Icelandic Ring Road drive in 5 days or see Malta in 48 hours). So, on that Navarra road trip the plans we ambitious, but we ran out of daylight. It was already getting dark, so Sos del Rey Catolico was left for future road trips in Spain.
Also read: Hidden Gems of the Valencia Region
Sos del Rey Catolico has quite a remote location. Even though it´s an absolute must-stop for everyone traveling to Aragon, the village is actually far away from the major cities, on the border with Navarra. There´s even more to the story – the road from Pamplona/Navarra is way better than the one from Jaca or Huesca in Aragon. Nevertheless, technically Sos del Rey Catolico is a part of Aragon.
While I´ve always known that Sos del Rey Catolico is considered one of the most beautiful small towns in Spain, it had honestly overcome my expectations. The village has an unmatched medieval charm, which has actually inspired me to create a new freebie for my blog subscribers about Medieval Spain.
After exploring the city center of Sos del Rey Catolico, we made a quick stop to shop for local chocolates at Pastelería Delfín Puente. Also, bought there Frutas de Aragon (candied fruits with chocolate, traditional in Aragon).
Traveling to Aragon -Day 4
Even though it was time to return back home, for the last day of our Aragon getaway, I planned a few exciting stops on the road.
The Museum of the Mummies
Did you know that the only Museum of the Mummies in Spain can be found in the small town of Quinto near Zaragoza? Despite my obsession with secret museums in Spain, I had no idea this place even existed before traveling to Aragon this time.
You can read more about my impressions of this place in my post about Secret Museums in Spain.
Grutas de Cristal
The last stop on this Aragon Road trip was the stunning cave Grutas de Cristal (also called Crystal Caves Natural Monument in English). In order to visit this place you need to buy an entrance online (at least one day in advance).
All the tours are guided in Spanish and no photos or videos are allowed inside. But the caves are stunning and deserve your attention for sure. After a visit, we headed for lunch in the nearest small town of Molinos and also walked around for a while. This village has a charming church Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves and an interesting hike El Pozo del Salto (unfortunately we had no time to test it).
Anyway, I´m sure in the nearest future you´ll see me traveling to Aragon again and we´ll discover more secret gems of the region.
Have you ever been somewhere in Aragon? What do you think of this lesser-known Spanish region?