As Extremadura’s capital, Merida is a lively place with lots to see and do. I personally recommend dedicating two full days to visiting the city to be able to take in all the sights without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted.
If you’re planning to stay in Merida for longer – maybe you’re attending the Classical Theatre Festival, a conference or a business event – you’ll probably want to use any spare days to venture out of the city.
Today, I’m sharing with you a selection of destinations and itinerary ideas to help you organise day trips from Merida. The places have been divided into two categories: full day trips and combined trips. ‘Full day trips’ are places with enough to see and do to keep you busy for a full day, while ‘combined trips’ include two smaller separate places you can visit in a single day trip. To avoid spending too much time on the road, I’ve only selected places that can be reached by car from Merida within 1 hour.
If you need information about Merida, check the following articles:
Full day trips
Distance from Merida: 61km (43min)
Badajoz is a good option for a city break from Mérida. Its Alcazaba (Moorish citadel) is free to visit. Walk along city walls and enjoy some good views over the iconic Plaza Alta square and River Guadiana, before entering Badajoz Provincial Archaeological Museum, also located within the citadel. The city has other interesting museums, such as Museo de la Ciudad ‘Luis de Morales’ (City Museum) and MEIAC (Extremadura and Ibero-American Contemporary Art Museum).
Distance from Merida: 73km (52min)
If this is your first time in Extremadura, Cáceres should top your list of places to go to. Its old city is one of the region’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a GoT filming location (seventh season). It’s also home to 2-star Michelin restaurant-hotel Atrio and a good number of good restaurants and bars scattered around medieval cobblestone streets and charming squares.
Distance from Merida: 78km (53min)
Los Barruecos Natural Park is located just 16km from Cáceres. While seeing both on the same day is possible, I find it too ambitious and rushed, so my suggestion is to visit them on different days. Los Barruecos is a natural area full of enormous granitic rocks, which create an unusual sight for the visitor, and the home of one of Europe’s biggest colonies of white stork. Choose one of the six walking routes available, depending on your preferences and time available. Finish your visit at the quirky Vostell Museum.
Distance from Merida: 89km (51min)
Trujillo has one of Spain’s most beautiful squares and is one of Extremadura’s most popular destinations. The Tourist Office (main square) organised several guided tours that will take you to the main sights, such as the Santa Maria church, the Arab cistern and Trujillo’s castle. Otherwise, you can simply wander around town but make sure visit the castle – just before dusk, if you can – for some fantastic views of the town and the surrounding plains.
☛Read: Day trip to Trujillo
Medellin + Cornalvo Natural Park
Distance from Merida to Medellin: 45km (31min)
Medellin is a small town of barely 2,300 people with a surprising number of sights. There is an Arab castle, a fantastic Roman theatre built on the slopes, a church, a medieval bridge (of Roman origins) and a nice main square. Medellin is also home to one of the best restaurants in the area called Quinto Cecilio, which has a rooftop terrace with views to the castle and the river.
☛Read: What to see in Medellin
To walk off the big lunch you can stop by Cornalvo Natural Park on your way back. It’s only 15km away from Merida and a good place for walking and spotting birds. There are 7 routes to choose from, which range from 1.5km to 15.6km long. I did a 7-km circular route around the reservoir with my dad some time ago and then went to a bird observatory by car, also within the protected area of the park.
Zafra + Almendralejo’s Wine Museum
Distance from Merida to Zafra: 63km (41min)
You could spend a whole day exploring Zafra but, since most of its sights are religious, I find going from church to chapel to cathedral a bit boring sometimes.
Zafra’s main sights are displayed on this map below:
My suggestion is to locate the two main squares (Plaza Grande and Plaza Chica) and simply walk around. Stop by and enter the buildings which are most appealing to you (or the ones that are open, because opening times published on the web aren’t always correct or updated).
During my last visit to Zafra I had lunch at La Artesa, in Plaza Grande, and really liked it. We shared a platter of Iberian meats and cheeses, ‘broken’ eggs with ham, a platter of grilled vegetables and had a glass of local wine and a coffee each. All that for under €40.
On your way back to Merida, stop in Almendralejo for a quick visit to its Wine Museum (Museo de las Ciencias del Vino). Almendralejo is in one of the best wine areas in Extremadura, and this will give you the chance to learn a bit more about it. They didn’t have brochures available in English when I went (apparently, they ran out of English brochures and they were waiting for the new batch). It would be a good idea to contact them before your trip to enquire about guides or information in English.
Llerena + Regina theatre
Distance from Merida to Llerena: 97km (1h)
Llerena is one of those charming little towns with a southern feel, with its whitewashed houses and big balconies. Check my article Southern charm: Llerena to know what to see there (map included). My suggestion for lunch would be the Hospedería Mirador de Llerena, located in a beautiful former palace just off the main square.
Regina is a former Roman city just outside Casas de Reina, a 10-minute drive from Llerena. It’s an absolutely gem yet to be discovered by many, even by fellow extremeños. According to archaeological research studies, Regina was a decent-size walled city, with dozens of streets and houses and several temples and civil buildings (only 20% has been dug out). Stop by to see the main attraction – the theatre, before heading back to Merida.
It’s a pity that a place like this is barely known, even in Extremadura. The former Roman city of Regina, near Casas de Reina, has so much potential, yet so little funds and resources to continue the excavation works and protect the site against looters. Go visit, if you’ve ever in the area. Read more about Regina on the blog (link in bio). #Regina #RomanTheatre #theatre #badajoz #extremadura #instaspain #instaplaces #discoverspain #beautifulplaces #ruralspain #thisisextremadura #historicalsites #travelspain #spainlovers
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