Burgos, a city in the autonomous community of Castilla y León, makes for a fun and easy weekend getaway from Madrid. Although the length of train rides can vary, there are options that get you from Madrid to Burgos in 2.5 hours – not bad! I also think a weekend is a perfect amount of time to enjoy what Burgos has to offer at a leisurely pace. Also, Burgos BUZZES – I went in January 2022 and temps were around freezing, but that didn’t stop locals from taking to the streets for tapeo, both indoors and on terraces, all around town. Honestly, Burgos was great vibes. 💖✌🏼🏰🍻🍸
Weekend in Burgos
Burgos’ Unesco World Heritage-listed cathedral is beautiful – and that’s saying a lot, given that Spain is full of beautiful cathedrals. City life essentially revolves around the cathedral, whose rose windows and stained glass are spectacularly lit up at night, changing from orange to pink lighting at times, making it unique from other cathedrals. There was nothing like sipping a glass of vermouth at Vermutería Victoria (see below) under the illuminated rose window of the cathedral’s main entrance. From certain angles, the cathedral looked straight out of Disney’s Magic Kingdom! 🏰
I bought tickets online for the cathedral ahead of time, but that didn’t end up seeming necessary. Most people simply bought tickets upon entry. When visiting the cathedral, an audio guide comes with admission – you just need to download the cathedral’s visitor app. Unfortunately, the volume of the audioguide didn’t work on my phone, but the written info and mapping on the app was totally sufficient.
One of the elements that most struck me about the cathedral’s interior was the vanilla-colored stone used throughout the structure. This stone is a lighter color than that of many other Spanish cathedrals I’ve visited, like those in Sevilla and Palma de Mallorca. I thought the effect of the white stone complemented by the gold finishes was really stunning! In fact, when describing the awe-inspiring star-shaped central dome of the cathedral, King Felipe II is known to have said that “it seems more the work of angels than of men.” I agree! Under this central dome lies the tomb of the legendary El Cid, a famed knight in medieval Spain.
In addition to the star-shaped vault of the central dome, there are other similar vaults in the chapels throughout the cathedral. The effect of the light trickling through the windows of these starry vaults is magical. It kinda strains your neck to look up at these beautiful ceiling structures, but it’s worth it, haha.
Paseo del Espolón and the Arco de Santa María
The tree-lined pedestrian Paseo del Espolón is a pleasure to stroll down. Lined with bustling restaurants and cafes, the boulevard leads you to the Arco de Santa María, a medieval gate with a fairytale air. The Arco once served as the main gate to the old city and part of its medieval walls. While looking up at the Arco, don’t forget to look behind you for the bronze sculpture of La Castañera, or chestnut woman, dutifully roasting her chestnuts all year round. In the wintertime, a real castañera roasts her chestnuts alongside her bronze counterpart to the delight of children and adults alike. The definition of #cozy is munching on warm, freshly roasted chestnuts under the Arco de Santa María in the chilly Burgos air 😌.
Mirador del Castillo
Strolling up to the Mirador del Castillo is a great way to get a view of the city and the entire cathedral!
Eating & Drinking
When in Castilla y León, do as the castellanos do and eat as the castellanos eat. That means eating typical castellano specialties:
- Patatas Bravas. This is a typical dish in Madrid and Castilla that consists of thickly cut potatoes covered in a “spicy” sauce (real talk – if you’re American or from other cultures that are more accustomed to eating spicy food, you’ll probably agree that this sauce is straight up NOT spicy, lol. It can be mildly spicy at best, but I like to make fun of my Spanish friends’ virtual intolerance of remotely “spicy” food 🙊 – still love ya’ll tho). Orders for “patatas bravas!” roll off the tongues of patrons at essentially every hotspot in Burgos, so do as the locals so.
- Morcilla de Burgos. This is blood sausage, typical of Burgos and the region. I’m into it, but I get that maybe not everyone is, lol.
- Torreznos. For my cubanos and andaluces out there, let’s be honest: these are chicharrones “de toda la vida.” Torreznos and chicharrones may be slightly diff depending on the recipe, but madrileños and castellanos usually use the term torrezno to refer to what others would call a chicharrón – except if you’re from Cádiz. Los chicharrones de Cádiz are a whole diff thing altogether. Go to the south to try for yourself! 😉
- Ribera del Duero. This wine from the region of Castilla y León is the counterpart of Rioja when it comes to typical, go-to Spanish wines. A must-drink if you’re in the area!
Vermutería Victoria is honestly enough reason to come to Burgos, haha. This place is perfectly located: there was really nothing like the feeling of sipping vermouth under the magically illuminated rose window of the cathedral. This is a good place for picoteo and pinchos, but the real kicker here is that, every night at 10 pm, patrons loyally bust out in Burgos’ unofficial anthem. Based on the fact that almost everyone in the bar knows the words, you can tell that this is a local gem. In case you don’t know the words – no worries! The anthem is printed on the napkins, haha. Between the outdoor cathedral views and the indoor singing, this place is a vibe. In fact, I liked Vermutería Victoria so much that I went both nights I was in Burgos, hehe 🙊.
La Mejillonera is a local staple. You’ll hear typical orders for the specialty mejillones, or mussels, along with the obligatory shouts for orders of “Bravas!” This is a no-frills, castizo place – just like I like ’em, lol – where you can slam back cañas, vermouth, or Ribera as aperitivos to work up an appetite for lunch.
Restaurante Meson Burgos
El Restaurante Meson Burgos is another local hotspot to duck into for an aperitivo or lunch, right in the heart of town. As usual, almost everybody orders the patatas bravas, along with orders for other typical dishes like torreznos and morcilla. This little bar has that unique castizo feel that you only get in Spain: the decor is traditional castellano, and many locals who frequent the Meson are friends with the bartenders, who already know their customers’ usual orders. Love it.
“El Morito” is literally always packed, haha. Since the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, some locals have told me that they’ve only ever gotten to eat inside a few times! Although there is a lot of hype around the place, it didn’t seem otherworldly to me. I luckily got a table inside by arriving promptly at 1 pm (right when they open). I liked the tapa de morcilla and the tapa de picadillo – some nice winter comfort food 😌. Since most of the menu features larger raciones, I’d recommend going with a bigger group of friends and getting there early!