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Càceres beeindruckt mit einer tollen Altstadt, Bild: Dolores Giraldez Alonso / shutterstock

Extremadura-Spain’s Jewel of the West

Spain. Mallorca, Costa Brava, the Canary Islands, Barcelona, Andalusia and many more. Cities and places that we all know at least from hearsay and that attract thousands of tourists every year. They are geared towards tourism and holidaymakers from all over the world are welcomed with open arms every year. However, the beautiful west of Spain on the border with Portugal is often forgotten. At best, the vacation should take place by the sea and for any city trips, large and well-known cities are preferred. Yet right here, in the unknown west of Spain, you have the feeling of discovering an original and old part of the country. So if you are looking for old cities, scenic seemingly eternal expanses, little tourism and delicious pinchos, you should undoubtedly pay a visit to this region.

I’m Mel, yoga teacher, social worker and travel around Europe together with my better half in our camper (“Erwin”). We surf, work on “Workaway” from time to time and enjoy every new adventure. I love to record my experiences, experiences and encounters in writing and share them with others. The motto “Sharing is caring” is very important to me and I would like to give others the opportunity to inform themselves in advance about a place or a country, because I myself love to read in addition to writing and of course stock up on reports and tips about the respective country before every trip.

Extremadura Landscape
The Tagus River in Spain’s Extremadura region, Image: abriendomundo / shutterstock

After leaving the wild, green Atlantic coast in Spain’s north behind us, we are now more or less unplanned and involuntarily stranded on our way to Andalusia , but fortunately in the region of Extremadura, which includes the provinces of Cacerès and Badajoz. Our Erwin had problems with the clutch and had to go to the workshop. All good, the insurance covers most and we are first accommodated in a hotel in Càceres. After it turns out that we will be here for at least 10 days (in Spain everything happens with a lot of peace and comfort), we move into a great Airbnb apartment and can explore the city without time pressure.

One of the best tips for me personally when it comes to city trips is always Airbnb. Absolutely reasonably priced, you have a large selection here, your own four walls and can do whatever you want. Especially for vegetarians and vegans, having their own cuisine is worthwhile, especially in countries like Spain, which are very much geared towards meat and fish. So we get hold of an absolutely lovingly furnished small apartment in the middle of the city center and thus have the perfect base for a nice time here. Of course, Càceres also has enough hotels and since the city is not too big, the center of almost every one of these hotels is within easy walking distance.

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Cacerès, the capital of the province of the same name, is therefore located in the middle of the Extremadura region, which is known for its remoteness, its lakes and mountains, nature reserves, acorn groves and the Iberico pigs. The capital of the region is Merida, which is definitely worth a visit with its Roman ruins and monuments. Extremadura’s capital is about 45 minutes by car south of Càceres and can be easily reached by train for about 5€. So no matter which city in the province your city trip takes you to, the cities are relatively easy to reach and definitely worth a visit.

Temperatures in the region can quickly climb above the 30 degree mark in summer, so the low seasons are recommended for a city trip with milder temperatures.

The fantastically beautiful old town of Càceres, which has a population of about 100,000, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 and was destroyed in the 15th century by the ordered destruction of Isabella I. From Castile the nickname “Decapitated Capital”. The two palaces, which were intact, are still part of the old town today. If you are interested in the history and culture of the city, you should not miss the “Museo Guayasamin” (dedicated to the painter Osvaldo Guyasamine) and the cistern “Aljibe vin Cáceres”, built at the highest point of the city.

Of course, in addition to the historic old town, Càceres offers countless opportunities to enjoy the famous and lovingly prepared pinchos (the tàpas of the north) with a good glass of wine or cold beer, in one of the restaurants or bars. In the cozy bar “Lizarran” we unexpectedly even found two very tasty vegetarian dishes. This may sound strange, but it is not a matter of course in Spain. Normally, vegetarians eat “patatas bravas” or fries here. Nightlife is also not neglected in Càceres thanks to its countless bars. At the Plaza Major there is an open-air cinema every now and then on weekends, of course in Spanish, but sitting between the ancient walls the whole thing is undoubtedly an experience. Not to be forgotten, of course, are the ice cream parlors, which are essential for every holiday, and offer many different varieties.

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Cacares
Càceres offers great shopping, Image: Melanie Stampfl / Grounding Elements

As an additional pastime, there are plenty of shopping opportunities. Whether you look around the small, lovingly designed shops of the old town, where you can get everything from Spanish delicacies to handmade jewelry, or whether you want to browse through well-known clothing brands in larger shopping centers, Càceres offers everything and more. The city is remarkably clean and in the lovingly landscaped park/green strip you can relax wonderfully in the shade of the trees.

However, a rental car is definitely recommended in the Extremadura region, as the landscape outside the cities also proves to be beautiful. We are lucky enough to be on the road with the van and are therefore allowed to discover incredible expanses between acorn trees and cows, lakes and mountains. Balmy summer nights with picturesque sunsets and a completely different Spain are granted to us when our camper is not making a detour to the workshop.

So if you are in the mood for a somewhat different and more original holiday in Spain, you should definitely think about a trip to Extremadura. Even if it’s just a short or city break, it’s beautiful. And for all those who have already read the article “Stay free on holiday – drive to the sea with a rental car” – from the coast of Andalusia it is only a few hours to Extremadura. Portugal is also only a few kilometres away, so the region is perfect as a starting point for all surrounding holiday destinations. Enjoy the original and somewhat different trip to Spain, away from mass tourism.

Extremadura
Image: Melanie Stampfl / Grounding Elements

One last short note, as the times, especially when it comes to traveling, are a bit special with COVID-19: In Spain, masks are mandatory no matter where you move, which makes walking through the city a bit more unpleasant than usual. In restaurants and bars, no mask is necessary as long as you remain seated at the table. All of Spain seems a bit more extinct than usual, some restaurants and bars didn’t survive the whole thing. Nevertheless, it is still worth a visit. The people are friendly and public life continues in the best possible way. The only restrictions we have to “complain about” as tourists are the constant wearing of masks and that all bars have a curfew from 01:00. I think these little things are absolutely acceptable in return for beautiful scenery, little tourism, delicious food and great cities.