See and Do in Zaragoza
Expats moving to Zaragoza will find a thriving nightlife, there’s more than 4000 bars, and plenty to see and do, both during the week and on weekends.
Like so many Spanish cities, this medium-sized metropolis claims age-old architecture and a charming city centre, both easily explored on-foot.
The Casco Historico (old town) is also known for el tubo, an area of narrow lanes full of tapas bars. One can spend a few hours strolling from bar to bar, enjoying a beer, a glass of red wine and a delicious bite-sized snack. Serviettes should be dropped on the floor, as it’s the sign of a busy and popular bar. People love to stand on top of each other shouting animatedly on a Friday or Saturday evening.
Keep in mind that the Spanish eat late, even after 10pm, and the nightlife doesn’t start properly until after midnight. In the summer especially, it’s not strange to see many people on the streets in the centre in the early hours of the morning.
While tapas bars serve food until midnight, at the latest, music bars are open till 4.30am. For younger people, El Casco, a lane of bars/discos, is the place to go. Only a few bars and discos are permitted to stay open after 4.30am.
Sala Oasis, La Casa de Loco and El Zorro are the best venues for live music, though Zaragoza is still often ignored by the most famous bands.
Recommended sightseeing in Zaragoza
The Aljaferia Palace
Built in the 11th century as a fortified Islamic Palace, Aljaferia later became the palace of the Catholic monarchs. It now houses the Cortes, the legislative assembly for the Community of Aragon, the regional government. It is an example of Mudejar architecture. It is 15 to 20 minutes on foot from the old town.
Opening times are 10am to 2pm and 4pm to 6.30pm every day except Thursday, Friday morning and Sunday afternoon. Guided tours take place at 10.30am, 11.30am and 12.30pm.
La Magdalena/ Centro de Historia (History Centre)
The Centro de Historia is a free, contemporary art museum in La Magdalena (an alternative, multicultural area) with temporary exhibitions and a cinema. This institution is highly recommended, as it always has interesting and informative exhibitions and a modern restaurant/bar and outdoor terrace café in the summer. It can be found at the end of Heroismo Street, a cobbled lane full of tapas bars/restaurants. El Barrio, a small lively late-night reggae bar, can be found in this area too. Plaza San Bruno hosts an antiques market on Sunday mornings, which is worth a wander.
The huge square in front of the Basilica, the ‘Plaza del Pilar’ is the site of many events, from the reconstruction of a nativity scene every Christmas to concerts and markets. It was also the place where thousands gathered to watch Spain win the World Cup. When there is no special occasion, one can still enjoy the fountains, statues, outdoor bars and cafés.
In mid-October Zaragoza enjoys its ‘Fiestas del Pilar’, a week-long festival centred around a huge procession of Spaniards dressed in traditional costumes bringing flowers to the Pilar. It’s also an excuse for a huge party with drinking, eating, music, theatre, fireworks and everyone out on the streets and in high spirits.