IN PARTNERSHIP WITH #SPAINBYTRAIN
The nearest airport to Valladolid is Valladolid Airport. However, it is mainly used for domestic flights. If you choose to fly, then opt to arrive in Madrid, and from the airport, it’s about 90 minutes by train connection to the city.
The courtyard of the Palacio is particularly impressive, with Renaissance-style pillars and neoclassical windows. The building also houses the Museum of African Art (open until 7:30 pm), housing an extraordinary collection requiring at least an hour to appreciate fully.
Exploring the city centre is easily done on foot, although if you plan to cross the river and head further afield, you might want to use the city bus network. Some public buses leave the city to small villages near some vineyards, but always check the weekend schedules as services can be reduced or non-existent, compared to the weekday routes.
An alternative is to take the ferry from the UK, operated by Brittany Ferries, either to depart Portsmouth or Plymouth (though some sailings are only in summer) and arrive in Santander or Bilbao. Both journeys involve two nights aboard the ship. From either arrival point, you can continue by car if driving or take an approximately 3-hour train journey to Valladolid.
As it turns out, tasting is very much a part of life here, especially regarding vino. With five Designation of Origin (DOP) appellations – and twenty grape varieties – within Valladolid province, it’s a wine aficionado’s paradise. While the vines might be aged, the city’s energy remains relatively youthful, thanks to the large student population of one of Spain’s oldest universities.
Day one: arriving in Valladolid, Spain
Just around the corner, Melêl restaurant hides its trendy interior behind its external terraces. It’s inside, around a large, communal dining table, flanked by video screens projecting the staff eating and drinking so that you are all ‘part of the experience’, that you’ll find the magic starting..
Arrival: Stroll through Campo Grande and by Academia de Caballería
As this schedule is based on a Saturday stay, you’ll want to check opening hours should you be visiting on another day. The cooking school, for example, currently only offers public classes on Saturday mornings.
Late-afternoon: Palacio de Santa Cruz
Established as a college, the building still retains its historical roots, as, alongside new governmental offices, it remains a student residence with a breathtaking library (requiring a pre-booking to visit).
On the same streets as Melêl, a handful of late-night bars will be closing their terraces post-dinner, with the party continuing inside.
The city’s surroundings are awash with castles and vineyards and the artificial Canal of Castile, a dreamy setting to cycle along and see little villages alongside aqueducts and castles. The five appellations and twenty grape varieties make the vineyards equally tempting. However, you’ll need to check if any are open on a Sunday (or whichever day you are visiting) in advance.
Pre-dinner drinks and tapas: Calle Cascajares
Prefer to head out of the city?
If you opt for the wine-pairing menu, you’ll enjoy a serenade for your palate. Innovative dishes with modern presentations are matched with quality wines from the region and beyond, and the atmosphere is fun with sharing the space with fellow diners. This was my favourite spot I ate in the city, and reservations are highly recommended.
Mid-range: Hotel Boutique Gareus I spent my visit in this hotel and found it a good choice. The rooms were very spacious, good blackout curtains, mid-way between the main centre and the train station, and the public spaces were nicely decorated.
If you want to visit Valladolid from the UK without flying, you have two options.
Drinks: Bizarro Bar Independiente
Budget: Hostal Ramón y Cajal Valladolid isn’t the cheapest destination for accomodation, and the most affordable options are usually far from the centre. These basic rooms therfore are a reliable choice.
Summer is a very hot and dry time to visit Valladolid, Spain, although the evenings can still be quite chilly. The average daily temperatures of 30°C in summer seem okay, but they can often peak much higher.
Day two: things to do in Valladolid, Spain
While the city might be most famed for its religious and sacred art or the vines on its peripherals, there’s plenty more to enjoy over a weekend visit to Valladolid, Spain. My suggestions below are based on a Friday arrival and Sunday departure and should work with the varied opening hours. Still, it’s always best to check closing times (and remember Spain’s afternoon siestas) in advance.
Morning: Cooking Workshop
Late-morning: Iglesia de Santa María la Antigua or Museo Patio Herreriano
Lunch: Wine Tasting at Vinoteca Señorita Malauva
Late Afternoon: Iglesia de San Pablo and Museo Nacional de Escultura
Pre-dinner drinks and tapas: Pasaje Gutiérrez
From the train station, the shaded park of Campo Grande provides a nice arrival walk to the historic centre. Passing peacocks roaming free and pretty fountains, you’ll exit the parking with a view of the imposing Academia de Caballería, the cavalry academy.
Day three: things to do in Valladolid, Spain
While I’d spent time in some other cities in Castilla y León (Spain’s largest autonomous community), such as Salamanca and Segovia, this architectural-feast of sacred statues and grandiose renaissance architecture was new to me, and a weekend in Valladolid seemed the perfect amount of time to get a taster.
Luxury: AC Hotel Palacio If you don’t mind being a little out of the centre, this incredible 5* hotel in a converted 18th-century monastery provides a rather grand and tranquil retreat.
Read more: A guide to travelling in Spain by train
Morning: Visit the El Palacio Real
Late-morning: Tour the Cathedral’s Tower or Casa de Cervantes
Lunch: Plaza Mayor
Afternoon: Real Monasterio de San Joaquín y Santa Ana
Where to stay in Valladolid, Spain
Leading its way to the cathedral’s facade, this spot has a handful of terraces perfect for a warm-evening pre-dinner drink, and with Vermouth making a big comeback in Valladolid, a fortified wine-based cocktail is the perfect pairing to your tapa.
Born from a 10th-century village, Valladolid’s importance started to really grow in the 15th century. Plenty of money followed, leading to the countless Renaissance-period buildings gracing the city. For a brief moment, between 1601-1606, it even became the de facto capital of Spain.
Enjoy a lazy Sunday breakfast before enjoying the few attractions in the city that remain open all weekend, although you’ll need to keep an eye on the watch for closing hours.
This article was written as part of my #SpainByTrain trip in autumn 2022 in partnership with Spain Tourism and Castilla y León Tourism.
When to visit Valladolid, Spain
Personally, I’d suggest heading here in Spring or Autumn when the weather isn’t as intense. In October, the wine harvest takes place, so this could be the best time to visit Valladolid if you want to be a part of these events in the vineyards.
If you’re coming from elsewhere in Spain, then using the train service is likely the best connection, with buses being a decent alternative. From Madrid, the journey by train takes around 90 minutes on Renfe’s Avila service (high-speed rail), while from nearby León, you can reach Valladolid in less than an hour. Tickets can be booked on the Renfe website (usually cheapest), or on popular apps like Omio.
How to get to and around Valladolid, Spain
Valladolid is very proud of its tapas (small snacks served with drinks) culture, even playing host to the World Tapas Championship – so, settle in for a pre-dinner drink at one of the lively bars and taverns along Calle Cascajares and dive in.
Travelling to Valladolid by train
The first is to take the Eurostar from London, and from there, the train to Hendaye, followed by another train from San Sebastian. Alternatively, you can take a two-bus connection from London via Bilbao (likely slightly cheaper).
Valladolid has a varied choice of accommodation, here are a few suggestions right in the heart of the city,
Travelling to Valladolid by plane
Open until 9 pm on Friday evenings; the 15th-century Palacio de Santa Cruz provides a little pre-dinner culture.
Travelling to Valladolid flight free from the UK
Bizarro Bar Independiente, a welcoming-to-all space, is a good starting point for a post-dinner drink, with plenty more late-night options in this student-heavy city should you want to keep the party going.
For dinner, take your pick of the many restaurants across the city, or consider an evening slice of culture at the Teatro Calderón de la Barca, a magnificent theatre of rich-ruby seating that opened in 1864.
Whizzing through the arid fields appearing like a golden mirage on the horizon, a weekend in Valladolid, Spain, was awaiting. Just a short one-hour journey from Madrid – courtesy of the country’s high-speed rail network – somehow, this storied spot had slipped my radar on previous trips.
If you’re arriving in Valladolid on a Friday afternoon, take a brief orientation walk, admire some of the city’s wealth of architecture, and dive straight into trendy dining and wine pairing.