July 13, 2024
Ancient Sites And No Crowds: This Beautiful Border Town In Spain Is The Anti-Barcelona

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Both Spain and Portugal have seen massive hordes of tourists, so how do you pick between the two?

The better question might be, how do you avoid the crowds?

With iconic cities like Barcelona experiencing a bout of overtourism, more hidden gems are being unveiled to provide more space and culture.

Sweeping views of Badajoz, Spain at sunset

Hugging the border of this pair of incredible European countries is a city that has been flying well below the radar—until now.

Home to ancient sites and virtually no crowds, the beautiful city of Badajoz is calling your name this summer.

Not Your Average Border Town

“Border town” can be a trigger word in the U.S., instantly portraying run-down, dirty cities only good for a dental check-up or pharmacy run.

The Palacio Municipal in Badajoz, SpainThe Palacio Municipal in Badajoz, Spain

In Europe, however, it’s a whole different story as border towns can be the best of both worlds exuding multiple cultures in one spot.

That’s the case for Badajoz less than 2.5 miles from the border of Portugal. Of course, it’s safe to say both Spain and Portugal contain many of the same characteristics.

You know, breathtaking historic cities, world-class beaches, and food and wine to die for. Some destinations are more well-known than others, but it’s time to shine a light on Badajoz.

This inland city of 150,000-ish residents is more than meets the eye with incredible historic sites and can even serve as a gateway to Portugal or other Spanish delights, both popular and off-the-beaten path.

Festive street in Badajoz with no crowdsFestive street in Badajoz with no crowds

Badajoz Is Real Spain: Brimming With Historical Sites And Authenticity

Tourists will find fascinating sites dating back as far as the 9th century. The Alcazaba may not have Barcelona-level notoriety, but this particular site is among the most preserved ancient sites in Spain.

This eye-popping Moorish fortress is a must on your trip and is conveniently located in the walkable city center. Tickets are only about $1.50 for entry and are open for tours every day but Monday.

Without naming names, Plaza Alta is a phenomenal base from which to peruse the lovely streets of Badajoz.

Not to mention the medieval walls encircling the city with other historic attractions like the mesmerizing 13th-century Badajoz Cathedral.

Tourist visiting Castle of Albuquerque near Badajoz, SpainTourist visiting Castle of Albuquerque near Badajoz, Spain

Perhaps the top attraction, however, is the monumental Torre Espantaperros, which stands out the most among the cityscape.

This former watchtower is one of the most Instagram-able spots in the city as a small piece in the grand Alcazaba fortress complex.

Outside the city is a whole other can of worms that are well worth opening. For the more adventurous, a trek to a pair of castles in Albuquerque – no, not America’s most boring city.

Spain’s Albuquerque is just 40 minutes away. Here you will find Castillo de Luna and Cuellar Castle dating back to the 11th and 12 centuries respectively.

Torre Espantaperros in Badajoz, SpainTorre Espantaperros in Badajoz, Spain

Best of all, no matter where you go you won’t have to deal with the frustrations of crowds like Barcelona, Madrid, or even popular Spanish islands like Ibiza.

An Underrated Foodie Destination: Tapas Galore

Spain as a whole is world-renowned for it’s incredible cuisine, but there’s nowhere on Earth that does snacks justice.

Tapas are small dishes to munch on, oftentimes complimentary, accompanying an adult beverage. Could it get any better?

Beyond fresh olives, Patatas Bravas and Badajoz’s staple, Iberico Ham (Jamón Ibérico), full entrees are the way to go even though you have to pay.

Beer and olives in Badajoz, SpainBeer and olives in Badajoz, Spain

Badajoz specializes in the following savory dishes:

  • Migas Extremeñas: A hearty shepherd’s stew made filled with bread, spices, sausage, and local produce.
  • Torta del Casar: A creamy sheep’s milk cheese only for the richest of palates.
  • Cachuela: A stew consisting of pork belly, vegetables, and spices.

According to TripAdvisor, the top rated restaurant in Badajoz is La Bistro Logica backed by award-winning Chef Antonio Caro.

The Midpoint Between Top Destinations In Portugal And Spain

Toeing the line between Portugal and Spain, Badajoz makes for an awesome destination on its own, but even more so as a gateway elsewhere.

Plaza Alta in Badajoz, SpainPlaza Alta in Badajoz, Spain

Badajoz doesn’t have an airport, so in all likelihood, this will be an add-on to an already fun Euro trip.

You can continue on to Portugal with the most notable destination in close distance being Lisbon, or you can stick with Spain and head to nearby Seville – both 2.5 to 3 hours by train.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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