Tips for Visiting Monasterio de Piedra: Spain Family Travel

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The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did.

Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Despite being close to several major cities, driving to Monasterio de Piedra seems far removed from urban life. Located in one of Spain’s most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world.

Spain Road Trip: 10 Tips for visiting the Waterfalls of Monasterio de Piedra Park

There are a number of things to see and do at Monasterio de Piedra, but the main attractions here are the waterfalls. Painstakingly arranged and maintained, the walking path through Monasterio de Piedra’s grounds takes you by one breathtaking waterfall after another. The trail is flat, often paved and well-maintained. The grounds feel less like a forest and more like a manicured garden. Because they kind of are. Read on.

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The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The pictures you see here do the waterfalls and Monasterio de Piedra some justice, but they’re even more beautiful in person. Moreover, what the images can’t capture is the feel and the smell of Monasterio de Piedra’s waterfall trail — with that amount of running water, there is a scent and a sense of calm that we all wished we could take with us.

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

10 Tips: Visiting the Waterfalls of Monasterio de Piedra

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

#1: Buy your tickets ahead of time

This is a popular spot, so it’s worth buying tickets to Monasterio de Piedra Park online beforehand. That way they’re 10% cheaper, and you won’t have to wait in line at the entrance if there’s a crowd.

It isn’t always crowded at Monasterio de Piedra, but tour groups and locals show up in the afternoon or after siesta time, which brings me to…

#2: Arrive early

This is a beautiful and peaceful place. Peace and beauty like this is easily interrupted by half a dozen tour buses unloading simultaneously. Moreover, if you want to photograph these waterfalls without people in your shot, arrive early at Monasterio de Piedra Park. I’m not talking crack-of-dawn early — I’m talking “Spanish” early: 10 or 11 am (Spain time takes some getting used to).

#3: Bring an audiobook for the drive

Whether you’re on a tour bus or driving yourself like we did, the road to and from Monasterio de Piedra Park and the waterfall park is…empty. Really empty. Most of it anyway. With such a barren drive, plan on listening to an audiobook or some other form of entertainment, because the kids will not find much to see out the windows.

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

Monasterio de Piedra Park is 90 minutes from Zaragoza, 2.5 hours from Madrid and 3 hours from Valencia. The roads are simple and easy to navigate, and there is adequate signage as you get closer. Be warned, however, that the speed limits often change suddenly and dramatically as you pass through seemingly abandoned towns.

#4: Give yourself (at least) 2-3 hours to see the waterfalls

Some people need more time, some have seen enough in 90 minutes, but we recommend giving the Monasterio de Piedra waterfall path at least two hours. Of course, there are many other things to do here (some of which are mentioned below), but the waterfall trail is why we’re recommending Monasterio de Piedra Park and we’d recommend two hours or more. Otherwise, you’d have to hustle and never stop to soak up the atmosphere.

Once you finish the trail, there are remarkably clear trout ponds in the back that are a nice spot to sit, rest, and let the kids watch the fish dart back and forth.

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

#5: Prepare for stairs

Most of the Monasterio de Piedra waterfall path is flat and paved, but there are a number of places where you need to climb several flights of stairs to continue on. I saw at least one tunnel that appeared to allow people to reach the same place without stairs, but I’m not sure everything would be accessible like that.

One set of steps hugs the side of a cliff so you can get close to the top of a high waterfall — those with a fear of heights might find this challenging. There are also a handful of dark tunnels to pass through. They’re short, but claustrophobics beware.

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

#6: You may get wet

Not really wet, but tunnels and stone ceilings drip in places. The path is also wet occasionally. This could cause someone to slip if they’re not careful. For parents of young kids, I should mention that we saw guardrails in most places. That said, keep an eye on your brood, of course.

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

#7: The monastery is worth a visit, but not required

The monastery part of Monasterio de Piedra is nice, but not crucial to your visit. If you like visiting old buildings or have an affinity for places of worship, you might feel differently — after all, the place has been around since 1194, right? However, if your kids don’t want to see any more cathedrals today, let them skip this one.

There is also a wine museum and a chocolate museum. In fact, Monasterio de Piedra is where Europeans tried chocolate for the first time, as missionaries to the Aztecs brought it back to Spain with them. Where did they go first? Monasterio de Piedra.

Keep in mind that the monastery is closed between 1 – 3pm, which may be an ideal time to break for lunch.

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

#8: Bring a picnic

There are a restaurant and cafe at Monasterio de Piedra. However, the park provides several places to eat on your own. A large covered area with tables is near the entrance, as well a handful of picnic tables here and there. Unfortunately, you can’t eat on the grass alongside the trail, but that’s probably the reason why everything looks so pristine in there.

#9: There is a bird of prey show

Just as you begin the Monasterio de Piedra waterfall trail, near the entrance, you may encounter someone standing with an owl or hawk. They will ask you if you want your photo with the bird, which they will happily sell to you later. In the building a few meters away you will find regular bird shows. We’re not crazy about most these kind of activities so we skipped it, but completely understand how they can thrill kids.

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

#10: Psst…these waterfalls? They’re kinda fake. Get over it & enjoy

If you think that the waterfalls at Monasterio de Piedra look too perfect to be real, you’re right. Monks have inhabited this place since 1194, but the waterfall construction and augmentation happened in phases in the recent past. I read complaints online from people disappointed in the pre-fabricated element of the beauty here. It’s not hard to see if you’re looking for it. The concrete framework will give it away.

I suggest altering your expectations now. If you show up expecting the 7th wonder of the world, you’ll feel let down. Instead, consider Monasterio de Piedra like your great aunt’s back garden…multiplied by a thousand. Sure, most of it is man-made or at least augmented by the monastery. But you know what? I don’t care. I wish this was my backyard. Hell, I would totally live in a place like that if I could.

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

The Monasterio de Piedra Park is an incredibly beautiful place. We stopped by on the way back to Valencia from Zaragoza, and were glad we did. Founded in 1194, this monastery and the land surrounding it are a lush nest of green in a desert of crumbling yellow. Located in one of Spain's most barren corners, Monasterio de Piedra feels like a magical place hidden from the rest of the world. Spain Road Trip | Northern Spain with Kids | Spain Family Travel | Hiking | Nature

HAVE YOU BEEN TO MONASTERIO DE PIEDRA?

What season did you go? Was Monasterio de Piedra crowded when you visited? Did you see the wine museum or the chocolate museum? I’m also curious about the hotel/resort here, as well. Tell me what you think in the comments or contact me directly.

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Image credits: #2, #4, #9#15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #26

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