Things to Do in Zaragoza – Zaragoza Hotels, Museums, Tapas & More

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There are so many fun things to do in Zaragoza Spain — with kids or without. We last visited at the end of a month-long road trip through Northern Spain, and to tell the truth, I feared that the kids would be burned out. However, we found so many great things to do in Zaragoza that we ended up wishing to stay a few more days and fit it all in. Here are our tips on Zaragoza hotels, restaurants and more.

Things to Do in Zaragoza Spain downtown

Things to Do in Zaragoza Spain

We’ve never spent more than 48 hours in Zaragoza. That said, you can cover a lot of ground in that time, and it’s totally worth the stop. As you can imagine, we left wishing we had more time. Below are a few recommendations for what to do in Zaragoza Spain, including Zaragoza hotels, museums, and food.

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Cathedrals, Churches, and Religious Art in Zaragoza Spain

Like most of the country, Zaragoza Spain is filled with massive stone monoliths to Catholicism. However, one unique aspect of Zaragoza’s Cathedrals and Basilicas are that many of them house some of the most famous frescoes painted by Francisco Goya. One of the most famous people to come out of Zaragoza Spain, Goya was one of the most famous painters of his day and a local hero.

Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar

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This massive, jaw-dropping structure looks more like a castle than a cathedral, and inside its cavernous interior are some of Francisco Goya’s most famous frescoes. This place could take a day to explore. Because of time constraints and a visiting number of other cathedrals before it, we didn’t spend nearly enough time here. After an hour of wandering around, the kids were ready to head straight for the elevator to the top. More on that below.

Ascensor del Pilar

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This elevator is in the Basilica but you don’t have to enter the church or be a fan of religious art to appreciate it. The elevator takes you to the top of one of the churches towers for a stunning view of the Basilica and surrounding Zaragoza cityscape.

Actually, the elevator takes you almost all the way. Once at the top, check out the view from here, and then take a spiral staircase another 15 meters to the very top for a panoramic view. If you’re afraid of heights or strong winds, consider yourself warned. This must rank as one of the scariest things to do in Zaragoza Spain for those with acrophobia.

  • Admission: 3 euros per person / Free with Zaragoza City Card
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Le Seo del Salvador

Another stunning cathedral less than 200 meters from the Basilica, and one of the reasons our time was cut short in the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar. We spent a long time looking at the intricate stone carvings here, often of life-size people. Then we discovered the adjoining tapestries museum.

  • Admission: 4 Euros / Free for Zaragoza City Card holders
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Museo De Tapices Y Capitular De La Seo

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This extension inside Le Seo is full of restored Medieval tapestries that are fascinating in their detail and the stories they tell. This alone was worth the price of admission for me and was one of my favorite things to do in Zaragoza Spain. The museum is tucked away in a corner of the Cathedral and up several flights of stairs (I didn’t see an elevator). At the entrance, there is a video showing museum how the tapestries were restore, and it’s worth a look before you go in. Upon viewing, it’s hard to believe just how old and vivid they are.

The video and all signage are in Spanish only, but if your kids are into Greek and Roman history, it’s worth remembering the Roman gods are often portrayed in these incredibly detailed tapestries. Their Spanish names are often identical or very close to the English/Roman names: Jupíter, Minerva, Neptuno, etc.

  • Admission: 4 Euros (included in La Seo admission above) / Free for Zaragoza City Card
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Museo de los Faroles y Rosario de Cristal

Museo de los Faroles y Rosario de Cristal

This was (surprisingly) one of the kids’ favorite things to do in Zaragoza Spain. Instead of stained glass windows, this place has large and intricate stained glass lanterns. Some are a large as an refrigerator, while others are much larger. These lanterns are paraded through town once a year in October, but you can see them all up close in this darkened cathedral interior. The tour is automatic with a (Spanish only) recording explaining each lantern in succession as it lights up. There are dozens, with some of the most spectacular at the very end.

TIP: You will probably want to photograph them, but keep in mind that they light up briefly one at a time until the very end. Then they all light up simultaneously for a moment and then the tour is over. I almost wanted to take the tour a second time just to get more shots.

  • Admission: 2 euros / Free with Zaragoza City Card
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History and Museums in Zaragoza Spain

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Zaragoza Spain was part of the Roman Empire, and there are reminders of this everywhere. The impact of Caesar Augustus on the city is well-preserved in a number of museums around town. There’s even a statue of him near the Central Market downtown. If you’re a history buff or have any interest in the Roman Empire, then this is what to do in Zaragoza Spain.

Museo del Foro de Caesaraugusta

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Directly off of the main plaza, this museum preserves the remains of what was the city’s Roman forum. In addition to the ruins themselves, make sure to watch the video presentation of Roman influence in Zaragoza. It’s in Spanish, but many of the exhibits have English explanations as well.

  • Admission: 3 Euros adults, 2 Euros kids / Free with Zaragoza City Card
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Museo del Teatro Romano de Caesaraugusta

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This was my favorite of the Roman Museums we saw in Zaragoza Spain. These are remarkably well-preserved ruins and a nicely constructed model of what the theater would have looked like in its prime. Upstairs there is more information about Rome’s main man at the time, Caesar Augustus. There are also reconstructions and a video representation of how parts of the city evolved: from Muslim quarters to Jewish quarters and so on.

  • Admission: 4 euros adults, 3 euros kids / Free with Zaragoza City Card
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Museo Termas Publicas de Caesaraugusta & Museo del Puerto Romano

While both are quite small, these can be interesting to help kids understand the customs, culture, and commerce of Roman society. Not the top thing to do in Zaragoza Spain (we didn’t have time for them), but worth a mention.

Palacio de la Aljaferia

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The Romans weren’t the only ones in charge of Zaragoza. The Moorish empire conquered these lands as well, and this fortified palace is a testament to their influence on Zaragoza Spain and the region as a whole. Don’t expect it fully restored to its past grandeur though. While some rooms are architectural marvels, others are bare or in use by the local government.

  • Admission: 5 euros for adults, 1 euro for students, free for under 12 / Free on Sundays / Free with Zaragoza Card
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Art, Outdoors & Other Attractions in Zaragoza Spain

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Not all things to do in Zaragoza involve Romans, Christians or Moors. Below I’ve listed up a few activities that deserve to be in a category unto themselves.

La Lonja

Once home to a thriving silk exchange, La Lonja now serves multi purposes, including artistic events. It’s free, climate controlled and next to the Plaza del Pilar in the center of town. Drop by when you’re in the area, even if you don’t know what’s happening there. For instance, we went in the hottest part of the summer, basically just to step into air conditioning. Instead, we stayed for nearly an hour looking at impressive photography exhibit on display.

Museo Goya – Colección Ibercaja

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Francisco Goya was one of Spain’s (and Europe’s) most important painters. You’ll see his work in many major cathedrals in town, and his later-period work is in art history classes the world over.

Born just outside of Zaragoza, he spent a considerable part of his life in the city. Some of his most important work is still here. I suggest visiting this museum before going to the Basilica and the other places where his work is on the walls and ceilings.

In the basement of the museum, they regularly show a short and well-produced movie about his life and work (check for times in English). I highly suggest starting here, as it will give kids context and hopefully pique their interest.

  • Admission: 4 euros for adults, under 16 free / Free with Zaragoza City Card
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Parque del Agua

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For outdoor things to do in Zaragoza without heading to the mountains, this is your place. Spread out across a large swath of land in the northwest part of the city, the Parque del Agua has open space and lots of fun stuff for families.

You’ll find the Zaragoza Aquarium nearby (discounted tickets via Zaragoza City Card), as well as lots of water and outdoor-related activities such as mini-golf, paddle boats, playgrounds and bike/kayak rental. In the summer months, one of the canals has an inflatable playground all its own (fee required). If you enjoy unique places for photos, the statue in front of the Palacio de Congresos de Zaragoza is a great spot for a family portrait.

The Zaragoza City Card – Zaragoza Spain Made Easy

For our trip to Zaragoza with kids, we talked to the local tourism board about what to do. Their main office is in the Plaza del Pilar downtown next to most of the big-name things to do in Zaragoza Spain. The city offers three different cards for tourists who want to see and do a lot during their stay. These are the Zaragoza City Cards mentioned in the fees above. There’s the 24-hour card and a 48-hour card. There’s also a tapas card specifically for those who just want dining discounts.

Here’s what the 24hr and 48hr City Cards give you:

  • Free or discounted admission to most Zaragoza attractions: museums, cathedrals, historical sights, an amusement park and more
  • Access to the hop-on-hop-off tourist bus
  • Discounts and other incentives at dozens of hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops, tours and other Zaragoza attractions
  • Free rides on public transportation: five rides for the 24hr card, seven for the 48hr card

If you’re in town for just an afternoon, this card may not be for you. However, there are so many things to do in Zaragoza Spain that you should stay for at least a day. If you do, then you can really save some money with these cards.

Read more about the Zaragoza Card Here

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Planning: Things to Do in Zaragoza Spain

  • As you can see above, since it’s only a few euro more, the 48-hour card is the best deal by far, even if you don’t use it for the full two days. For example, we really only used our cards for about 36 hours, but my conservative estimate is that our family saved over 50 Euro in food, transportation and admission costs.
  • The Zaragoza City Card comes with a nice map that indicates everything that comes with it. Use this map to plan accordingly, or simply go to the tourism office in Plaza del Pilar and they can map out everything for you.
  • For the card to really save you money, you need to be ready to visit a lot of places. This was an incentive for us, and it made us go to several places that we might have otherwise overlooked or ignored. For example, the Museo de los Faroles y Rosario de Cristal (mentioned above) wasn’t on my radar, and I probably would have just skipped it otherwise. With the Zaragoza Card, however, I thought “What the hell, we’re walking by it and it’s free with the card, let’s step inside.” It ended up being one of my favorite things to do in Zaragoza Spain.

Timing: Things to Do in Zaragoza Spain

  • The card is active after your first use, not when you buy it. Once the card is zapped on a bus, at the museum ticket booth or at some other thing to do in Zaragoza, the clock starts ticking. Try to time the beginning to your advantage.
  • Check opening & closing times beforehand. Some venues are closed on Mondays, and many places close for several hours in the afternoon for lunch/siesta. This is Spain, after all. Try to time your visits accordingly.
  • Rides on public transportation don’t have to be taken by the specific cardholder. As long as one card taps and beeps on the sensor for each person riding, it doesn’t matter. You can share these rides, or use them up for whoever needs them.

How to Get Around Zaragoza Spain

We rolled into town in a rental car, but once we arrived we didn’t drive once until we left. Zaragoza Spain is very walkable, but for longer distances and tired little feet, I recommend the below.

Tranvia Zaragoza

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This is the tram system for Zaragoza Spain, and it runs right through the center of the city. It’s safe, clean, cheap, and easy to use. I’ve already talked about how much we love Valencia’s bus system, but Zaragoza’s tram line looks even nicer.

The Tranvia Zaragoza Spain is a pleasure to take. The seats and interior design look new, and lush green grass even covers some of the paths it runs over. Large screens indicate where the next stop will be, and since it only goes one way, it’s pretty hard to get lost.

Things to Do in Zaragoza with Kids - Zaragoza Spain Family Travel

The city has a strong cultural connection to the cinema, and many of the tram stops are movie titles. For example, Casablanca is one, and “Mago de Oz” (The Wizard of Oz) is another.

Admission per ride: 1.35 Euro with cash, 0.74 Euro with your own bus card (purchased at Tobacco shop or elsewhere. Zaragoza Cardholders get 5-7 free rides.

Public Buses in Zaragoza Spain

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The public buses in Zaragoza Spain are clean, reasonably punctual and go all over the city. We used Google Maps to find routes and where the stations are and used them several times. It’s best to use a Zaragoza City Card or buy a local bus card and charge some money on it.

These bus cards are sold at tobacco shops, which are everywhere (big signs out front say “TOBACCO”). Using a bus card basically cuts the fare in half and makes it easier when getting on the bus — just zap the card and board instead of digging for change, waiting for the receipt, etc.

Admission per ride: 1.35 Euro with cash, 0.74 Euro with your own bus card (purchased at Tobacco shop or elsewhere). Zaragoza Cardholders get up to 7 free trips.

Taxis in Zaragoza Spain

Some of the best things to do in Zaragoza with kids are clumped together, while others are spread fairly wide. Taxis can make this easier. Like most major Spanish cities, taxis are plentiful and straightforward. I’d recommend having an address in Spanish ready to show the driver because there’s a good chance that he/she can’t speak English.

The Zaragoza Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

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This is a great way to check off more of the best things to do in Zaragoza. There are stops all over town, and always near the attractions. Use the provided headphones to listen in on interesting aspects of the city. On the first day, we got on the bus at its starting point in the Plaza del Pilar and rode it the entire way.

To be honest, there’s a lot to see in Zaragoza Spain and so it’s a long ride. Instead, I recommend breaking up the drive by getting off here and there along the way. There are 19 stops, and buses come every 30-40 min. Time your stops well and you can be waiting when the next bus arrives.

  • Admission: 8 euros adults, 6 euros kids (if bought at a tourist office), free for under five. Also free with the Zaragoza City Card.
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Where to Eat in Zaragoza Spain / Zaragoza Restaurants

One of the best things to do in Zaragoza Spain is to eat. Like most cities Spain, we found great food all over Zaragoza. Here are just a few recommendations for Zaragoza restaurants.

Mercado Central

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Zaragoza’s main market is a striking building full of beautiful produce. Unlike La Boqueria in Barcelona, this market is really for locals, so don’t expect the same kind of fancy displays. If you like markets, however, this is a great place for a snack and a window into how locals shop for food.

Admission: free

The El Tubo District for Tapas Bars & Restaurants in Zaragoza

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The El Tubo district is where Zaragoza’s main dining scene resides. Lots of Zaragoza restaurants to check out, but we suggest going for Zaragoza tapas. Simply enter a place, order a drink, eat one or two tapas and move on. Or if you’re like us and you walk into La Republicana, then you may stay put and  proceed to eat until you can’t eat anything else.

Things to Do in Zaragoza with Kids - Zaragoza Spain Family Travel

Zaragoza Spain Hotels – Where to Stay in Zaragoza Spain

Whether you’re staying for a day or a week, here are a few recommended Zaragoza hotels and apartment rentals. Whether you choose a Zaragoza hotel or an apartment rental in Zaragoza Spain is up to you.

Hotels in Zaragoza

Hotel Pilar Plaza: Well-located Zaragoza hotel very close to El Pilar Basilica. Every room has a king size bed and allowed to have an extra bed with extra 10 euro for kids 2-16 y/o

Hotel Sauce: This Zaragoza hotel is only a few meters from the Goya museum. The Zaragoza tapas bar district of El Tubo is about 300m away. A family room is available at reasonable prices.

Apartamentos Sabinas Zaragoza Centro: Centrally located Zaragoza apartment rental close to the Goya museum. The kitchen is tiny, so only light cooking recommended. Breakfast is available for extra.

Apartamentos Sabinas El Pilar: This Zaragoza apartment rental has a great view of El Pilar Basilica from the window. Reasonable family rooms are available, but without a kitchen. One child under 6 is free if using existing bedding.

Things to Do Near Zaragoza Spain

Once you leave Zaragoza, there are lots of places to go next. Barcelona is to the east, or if you drive west you’ll soon reach Bilbao and San Sebastian in the Basque Country. But before you do, we have one stop close to Zaragoza worth checking out.

Monasterio de Piedra

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Out of all the things to do in Zaragoza Spain with kids, this was a highlight for us thanks to its sheer natural beauty. The Monasterio de Piedra Park is about 90 minutes from Zaragoza by car and it is definitely worth the drive. A beautiful blanket of green in an arid red desert, the park’s main attraction here is a nature trail full of spectacular waterfalls.

What Would You Do in Zaragoza Spain?

Have you been to Zaragoza Spain? If so, what did you do? What Zaragoza hotel did you use? Did you try tapas in Zaragoza? Or other Zaragoza restaurants? Tell us about your time.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book Zaragoza hotels using our links. The Zaragoza Tourism Board provided the Zaragoza City Cards used in this post. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your get the most out of Zaragoza Spain, including Zaragoza Hotels, Zaragoza restaurants, and tapas in Zaragoza Spain. 

Photo Credits via Creative Commons CC BY or other Royalty-free image sites: #1, #3, #12, #17, #22, #23

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