Avila’s walls stand around 40 feet (12 meters) high and boast more than 80 watchtowers and nine gates. Visitors can walk half their length and climb the towers for panoramic city and countryside views. Most travelers also explore in and outside the walled old town to see medieval masterworks such as Avila’s Gothic Cathedral, Basilica of St. Vincent, and Church-Convent of St. Theresa.
Numerous tours from Madrid visit Avila and include a wall walk and old town tour. Many combine the town with nearby Segovia, Toledo, Salamanca, and the El Escorial Monastery—enabling you to experience several big-hitters in one hassle-free day. For more personalized attention, choose a private tour; or, for more sightseeing time, consider a 2-day experience that covers the three cities and the monastery. Other options include Avila and Segovia combo trips that include a sightseeing tour or flamenco show back in Madrid.
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Things to Know Before You Go
- Avila’s walls are a must-see for history, military, and architecture enthusiasts.
- Wear comfortable shoes to negotiate the walls’ steep and uneven steps.
- The walls are not accessible for wheelchair-users or strollers.
How to Get There
Lying 55 miles (88 kilometers) northwest of Madrid in the region of Castile and Leon, Avila is within day-trip radius of Spain’s capital. Drivers can make the approximately 75-minute journey from Madrid using the A-6, AP-6, AP-51, and AV-20. Regular Avila-bound trains leave from Madrid’s Chamartin station, as do frequent buses from its Estación Sur-Mendez Alvaro terminal.
When to Get There
Visitors flock to Avila, especially in summer, so for minimal crowds, visit early in the day, midweek, and outside July-August. The walls look spectacular when floodlit, so you may want to consider an overnight stay. Whenever you visit, wear something warm—Avila is Spain’s highest city and walking the walls can be cold year-round.
What to See in Avila Avila’s walls are just one of its many treasures. Dubbed the “City of Saints and Stones”—it was the birthplace of St. Teresa in 1515—it boasts the stunning St. Teresa Church-Convent, which contains the saint’s relics and frescoes depicting her performing miracles of levitation. Other sights include the 12th-century Romanesque St. Vincent Basilica, just outside Avila’s walls, and built on the site of the saint’s execution by the Romans in 303.
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