The Best Things to Do in Astorga, Spain

January 6, 2020
christmas shop tienda navidad astorga leon spain españa
Astorga is a town in the northwest of Spain just 60 kilometers from Leon. It houses beautiful buildings like the cathedral or Gaudi's Palacio Episcopal and has lots of different typical gourmet food which makes Astorga foodie paradise. In fact, the whole town smells of delicious food: aromas of vanilla, chocolate or charcuterie greet you as soon as you set foot in Astorga.

This post is the most complete guide to Astorga you can find. Here you will learn about its history, find out the best things to do and see, where to eat and sleep, how to get there and a map to take with you. In a nutshell, everything you need to plan the perfect trip to Astorga.

Read the Complete Guide to Visiting Leon

THE ROLE OF ASTORGA IN THE HISTORY OF SPAIN

Astorga was founded in 14 BC. The Romans named Astorga "Asturica Augusta" and was an important administrative and military centre. Tha walls of the city which still stand were rebuilt by Bishop Nuño around 1242.

Astorga is considered to be the European birthplace of chocolate. In 1528 Hernan Cortes brought Mexican Cacao bean to Spain and Astorga became pioneer in the elaboration of chocolate from the 17th century.

The town of Astorga is part of Camino de Santiago (Saint James Way). This pilgrimage leads to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela where the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried.

WHAT TO DO & SEE IN ASTORGA

Palacio Episcopal by Gaudi
There have been very few geniuses like Gaudi throughout history. The Spanish architect created the most spectacular buildings in Spain. There are only three of his masterpieces outside of Catalonia: El Capricho in Comillas (Cantabria), Palacio de Botines in Leon and Episcopal Palace in Astorga.
General admission is 5€ which allows you to see the gardens and the building which is nowadays a museum dedicated to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. It houses different exhibitions: lapidary in the basement, history of the Asturian Diocese in the lower level, the first floor is dedicated to Gaudí, the Palace building and other authors who have contributed to its construction and the second floor is used to temporary exhibitions, congresses and different events.
The architecture kind of reminds you of a Disney castle, doesn't it?
episcopal palace gaudi astorga neo-gothic architecture
episcopal palace gaudi astorga hall
episcopal palace gaudi astorga chapel
episcopal palace gaudi astorga inside

The Cathedral
Probably one of the most unique cathedrals in Spain because each tower was built with a different stone hence the different color. Astorga's cathedral is a magnificent example of Barroque architecture in Spain. There are very few places that are not main cities that have a cathedral of this size.
General admission is 5€.
astorga cathedral barroque architecture spain

Chocolate Museum
Did you know there's such a thing as a Museum of Chocolate? Astorga has always been famous for its chocolate, during the peak of the industry there were around 40 manufacturers in this small town. There are still some left that make the most delicious artisan chocolate. The museum houses machines that were used back in the day and memorabilia from the golden age of chocolate in Astorga. They also broadcast a very interesting video of how chocolate was made before and nowadays.
General admission: 2.50€. Includes a tasting of artisan chocolate.
chocolate museum astorga spain
chocolate museum astorga spain
chocolate museum astorga spain

Town Hall
The beautiful Barroque town hall offers a surprise. To tell the time the two figures on top, Juan Zancuda and Colasa, hit the bell every hour. Can you spot the two automatons on the pic below?
astorga spain town hall ayuntamiento maragatos

Roman Museum and Ruins
In the museum you can find examples of the town’s Roman heritage. Then, you can find ruins and remains of mosaics on open air near the main square.

Street Art
There are several impressive murals around the town, they are so realistic it almost looks like a photograph. They are works of art worthy of any museum.

Castrillo de los Polvazares is a little village very close to Astorga that recently made it to the Pueblos Mas Bonitos de España list (The Most Beautiful Villages in Spain). It's a dreamy village with quaint houses and cobblestone streets. You can read more about it on this blog post.

Also near Astorga you can visit Las Medulas, 600 km of roman canals around the greatest gold mining complex of the Roman era.
astorga spain
episcopal palace gaudi astorga sunset

WHERE AND WHAT TO EAT IN ASTORGA

There's some typical food you can't miss when you are in Astorga:

  • Cocido Maragato: there are different varieties of cocido (or stew) that are famous all over Spain but the one in Astorga has a special significance. Regular cocido consists of soup served first and stew after as a main dish. Cocido Maragato is served the other way round. Why? The story goes back to the Spanish War of Independence from the French. During the conflict, soldiers would have to eat quickly so it was better to eat the heartiest part of the meal first just in case you couldn't finish it.
  • Mantecadas: they are sweet, spongy muffin-sized cakes, and oh so yummy! They are similar to French madeleines.
  • Chocolate: be sure to buy some chocolate from Astorga, it's one of the best I've ever had. My favorite is 75% dark chocolate.
  • Charcuterie: the most famous cold meat in the region of Leon is cecina. It's basically ham that comes from the cow. My favorite way to eat it is wrapped around a small piece of quince paste (learn how to make it here) and a little bit of olive oil.

When we visited Astorga, we had the most wonderful meal at Restaurante Serrano. They serve traditional Spanish food but in a very elaborate way. The staff was friendly and extremely efficient. It's considered the best restaurant in Astorga for good reason. On the map below you can find more eating options.
restaurante serrano astorga comida food

MAP OF ASTORGA

Here's a map of the best things to do in Astorga and the best places to eat. To take this map with you, simply click on the star next to the name and save it to your maps.

WHERE TO STAY IN ASTORGA

Planning a trip to Astorga? Check out some hotels on the map below.
Booking.com

HOW TO GET TO ASTORGA FROM LEON

It takes about 40 minutest to get from Leon to Astorga if you take highway AP-71 (toll is 5.15€). There's also the possibility to take a regular road for free but it's slower and you go through several villages.

Are you coming from somewhere else?
Astorga is about three hours from Madrid by car via the A6 highway to Galicia. Astorga is less than two hours from Salamanca, Asturias, Burgos or Valladolid, and less than three and a half hours from Porto (Portugal).

You can also get to Astorga by bus from Madrid and from almost any capital city in the Northwest of Spain (check Alsa's website) or by train from Barcelona, Zaragoza, Madrid, La Coruña and several other cities across northern Spain (check Renfe's website).

The nearest airports are in Leon (LEN, 45 minutes), Asturias (OVD, around 2 hours) and Valladolid (VLL, less than two hours).
parque primavera flores astorga

WHAT TO WEAR IN ASTORGA

The weather in Astorga is similar to that in Leon: cold. If you go in winter be sure to wear layers. In summer it's warm during the day but as soon as the sun sets, you'll need a jacket.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to Astorga. If you liked this post, you can pin it and save for later.
astorga gaudi episcopal palace chocolate museum

14 comments

  1. Beautiful buildings, fascinating history!

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  2. We were in Leon when we walked the Camino in September, but did not visit Astorga. Lost of good reasons here to go back. I would love to see the cathedral designed by Gaudi!

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  3. I can see why Spain is a prime tourist destination!!!!!


    Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2020/01/cranberry-orange-babka.html

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  4. My husband and I hope to travel to Spain someday, especially since he has cousins that moved from Italy to Valencia. I will keep all your tips about Astorga in case we get a chance to visit this town--great information!

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  5. I need to visit. Spain is calling my name.
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

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  6. Amazing architecture and Astorga sounds like the place to be! I love Gaudi's work. It is so unique and just beautiful. My hubby would love the chocolate tasting. He loves chocolate! Interesting fact about Cocido Maragato but it makes a lot of sense why it's eaten that way. I hope your week is off to a great start and happy Monday!

    Maureen | www.littlemisscasual.com

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  7. Beautiful pics and a great travelogue!

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  8. I really enjoyed reading about Astorga . Wish I could visit Spain someday.

    https://ofmiceandramen.blogspot.com/2020/01/torch-ginger-flower.html

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  9. Beautiful photos and impressive churches and buildings. Thanks for sharing

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  10. What a fabulous place! Your photos are just marvelous to see and the info is great to read, too. Chocolate....I guess it had to start somewhere and I'm ever so grateful :)


    Your post is a great addition to 'My Corner of the World' this week!

    My Corner of the World

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  11. Really amazing photos! Thanks for this guide dear.

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

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  12. Kelleyn RothaermelJanuary 9, 2020 at 3:12 AM

    Looks like a great town to visit! Happy New Year!

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  13. Wow! The architecture is truly stunning, especially that church!

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  14. Looks like a lovely place to visit. The buildings are stunning - and you are right, very Disney castle.

    Thanks for sharing with #AdventureCalling

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