Badajoz may not be the most scenic of cities in the Extremadura
region, but it’s worth the detour if you’re travelling through southwest
Spain. A stroll through its old town reveals the colourful Plaza Alta
with its red-and-white facades and the medieval Cathedral of San Juan
Bautista. Up on a hill is the Alcazaba, a 12th-century Moorish citadel.
Standing here, you can see neighbouring Portugal, which sits just beyond
the borders of Badajoz. Our one-day itinerary will show you the best
things to do in Badajoz, including tips on where to eat and stay.
Start your journey at the Plaza de la Soledad, in the heart of the Old
Town. Grab a café solo (or espresso in Spanish) and take some time to
admire the surrounding buildings like the Edificio Las Tres Campanas and
La Giraldilla. Also on this square is the Ermita de la Soledad, a
stunning church with a Byzantine-like interior. It was built in two
stages, one in the 17th century and the other in the 20th century.
Inside is a statue of the Virgen de la Soledad, the city's patron saint.
Facing the Plaza de la Soledad is La Giraldilla, a replica of the
tower in Seville. Erected in the 1930s, it stands out with its
Neo-Mudéjar style. Adorning the top of the building is a statue of
Mercury, god of commerce, as this used to be the city's commercial area.
Today, La Giraldilla serves as the headquarters of the phone network
company, Telefónica, but the building is still worth capturing.
Like in many other Spanish cities, Plaza de España is among the central
squares in Badajoz. It features several historic buildings, such as the
Cathedral of San Juan Batista, the Municipal Palace, the Town Hall, Casa
Álvarez-Buiza and the Casa del Cordón. Take a walk around the square
and enjoy a drink in one of the nearby bars surrounded by orange trees.
While in Plaza de España, don't miss a visit to the Catedral de San Juan
Bautista. Established around the 13th century, it is one of the city's
top landmarks. At first sight, it may look like a fortress, and there is
a good reason for it. Initially, the cathedral was erected outside the
city's defensive walls, so it needed protection from attacks. Inside,
you can admire the Plateresque-style windows and the ornate altar.
There's also a museum featuring Renaissance paintings and sculptures.
Our next stop is the Plaza Alta, a 17th-century square that sits beneath
the walls of the Alcazaba. It is divided into two sections: the side
near the citadel is defined by a soft brown and white decoration and is
home to iconic buildings like the old town hall. Meanwhile, the other
side of the square showcases a striking contrast of red and white, with
Moorish-inspired residences called Casas Coloradas. Visit Plaza Alta in
late September and enjoy the Arab-style market held here during the
city’s Almossassa festival.
The Torre Espantaperros is one of the main towers of the Alcazaba
and served as the inspiration for the Torre del Oro in Seville. Its name
translates to “Dog Frightener” and comes from the sound of the bell
that used to call Christians to pray, while chasing away the ‘infidels’
known as ‘dogs’. Guided tours are very limited and start from the
Oficina de turismo Casas Mudéjares.
Continue towards the Plaza de San José. In this square, you can
admire a beautiful set of Casas Mudéjares, some of the oldest houses in
the city, dating back to the 15th century. Today these are occupied by
the Badajoz Tourism Office. Alongside the houses, you can spot the
striking Neogothic church, Convento de San José.
It's finally time to visit the infamous Alcazaba. This 12th-century
fortress is among the biggest in Spain. Overlooking the Guadiana river
and the Portuguese border, it was a strategic location for the Moors for
many centuries, protecting the city against attacks. You can enter the
citadel from any of the four gates. However, the most iconic one is the
Puerta del Capitel. Once inside, take your time to admire the ancient
Moorish architecture, visit the Archaeological Museum and climb up the
walls to take in the panoramic city views.
Another iconic gate is the Puerta de Palmas. During medieval times,
this was the main entrance to the city, and its two towers served as a
prison. Right in front is the Puente de Palmas, the oldest bridge in
Badajoz, joining the two banks of the Guadiana River. It was built
during the 16th century and has been reconstructed several times due to
flooding. It used to be a raised bridge, higher in the centre, and
included gates to control passages. However, those features are no
End your visit to Badajoz with a calm and peaceful stroll along the
Parque de Castellar, one of the city's green spaces. The park occupies
the old olive grove of the Santo Domingo Convent and is now lined with
tropical palm trees, benches, statues, and spaces for the little ones.
Cáceres: This historic city has been occupied since the Romans. The
old town, known as the Ciudad Monumental, stands out with its maze of
cobbled streets surrounded by palaces and churches. Cáceres is still
surrounded by defensive walls and several towers that now serve as
nesting spots for storks.
Mérida:Mérida is the official capital of
the Extremadura region. It is famous for its Roman ruins, which are
scattered around the city. These include the Teatro Romano, a theatre
that still hosts performances today and the Puente Romano, a bridge
stretching along the Guadiana for 792 metres. Other sites worth visiting
include the 9th-century Alcazaba and the National Museum of Roman Art.
As a small city, Badajoz can easily be covered on foot. Families can
learn about the city's history by exploring monuments like the Alcazaba
or the Torre Espantaperros. When you need a break from sightseeing, you
can rest in the local squares or parks like the Parque de Castelar,
which features a kiosk and a small playground for children. You can also
stroll along the Guadiana river at the end of the day.
While in Badajoz, it’s worth sampling the Extremaduran cuisine.
Iconic dishes include the patatera, a sausage made of pork, mashed
potato, paprika and Iberian ham. Other highlights include the sopa de
antruejo (a bread-based soup with pork, chorizo and onion). For dessert,
don’t miss the perrunillas, a biscuit made with cinnamon, butter and
lemon. Below are some of the best places to eat in Badajoz:
La Corchuela: Close to Plaza de España, this no-frills tapas bar is
famous for its selection of Iberian meats and cheeses. It’s open from
early morning to evening, so you can come by for any meal.
NH Gran Hotel Casino Extremadura (5 stars): This luxury hotel sits near
the Puente de Palmas. It offers 58 rooms, with the premium ones offering
views of the Guadiana river. Guests also have access to the in-house
casino, lobby bar, restaurant, gym and a terrace.
Sercotel Gran Hotel Zurbarán (4 stars): Facing the Parque de Castelar,
this modern hotel is close to many of the city's top attractions. The
rooms offer a simple decor, with some featuring balconies overlooking
the park. Facilities include a café, a gym and a meeting room.
Hotel Badajoz Center (4 stars): This four-star hotel is located slightly
further from the city centre in a commercial area. However, it offers
convenient facilities like a restaurant, an outdoor pool and a bar.
The best time to visit Badajoz is around spring and autumn. The
temperatures are pleasant enough for a stroll, and there are fewer
tourists on the streets. Between June and August, it gets quite hot,
with temperatures reaching as high as 35ºC. However, this is also the
season of one of the city's biggest festivals, the Feria de San Juan.
Another alternative is to visit in February to catch the annual carnival
Carnaval de Badajoz: Considered a National Tourist Interest, the
Carnival of Badajoz is an iconic event held around February or March. It
is one of the best carnival celebrations in Spain, attracting thousands
of people every year. Locals dress up with their favourite costumes and
take over the city’s streets, with the party lasting until the wee
Feria de San Juan: In June, Badajoz celebrates a festival in honour of
San Juan Bautista. The traditional Feria de San Juan lasts a whole week
and is one of the biggest in Extremadura. It brings together Spanish and
Portuguese citizens every year to celebrate the coming of summer. The
festival starts with the official inauguration of the alumbrado, with
lights adorning the Portada del Real. During the week, there are fairs,
street food, concerts and shows. To end the celebrations, on the night
of San Juan, the 23rd of June around 11:00 pm, you can enjoy an
impressive firework display along the margins of the Guadiana.