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Aragon Foodie Guide

(What To Eat, Regional Produce, Wines, Recipes, And Travel Tips.)

Written By: Byron | September 15, 2023
A pan of Spanish chicken chilindron with lots of sauce.

Located in northeastern Spain, Aragon is a fascinating region with a rich history, diverse landscape, and vibrant culture. From the Pyrenees mountain range to the Ebro River Valley, Aragon is a place of striking contrasts and natural beauty. 

Aragon is also somewhat of an unsung hero in Spanish cuisine and culture, and many newcomers to Spain will not know of this beautiful and diverse region. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the highlights of Aragon, including its climate, geography, inhabitants, cuisine, agriculture, and industries.

Aragon regional map

Geography and Landscape

Aragon is a landlocked region bordered by Catalonia to the east, Valencia to the southeast, Castilla-La Mancha to the south, and Navarra, La Rioja, and the Basque Country to the west. The Pyrenees mountain range dominates the northern part of the region, while the Ebro River Valley runs through the central and southern areas. The landscape is varied, with lush forests, rugged mountains, fertile valleys, and arid plains.

The capital of the region is the city of Zaragoza, which overlooks the Ebro River in the city center and is known for its rich cultural heritage and a blend of architectural styles that make it a fascinating destination for tourists interested in history, culture, and tradition. The city’s historic center is characterized by charming narrow streets, plazas, and historic buildings. It’s a great place for leisurely strolls and exploring the local culture and history.

The region and cities within it are also well known as a leading agricultural zone in Spain, with numerous products and fresh produce grown in the fertile terrain. In addition to Zaragoza, there are several other sizeable cities and towns in the Aragon region of Spain, although none are as large as Zaragoza. 

Some of the best-known include:

  • Huesca: Huesca is the largest city in the province of Huesca and serves as its provincial capital. It is known for its historical sites, including the Huesca Cathedral and the Castillo de Montearagón.
  • Teruel: Teruel is another important city in Aragon and is known for its Mudejar architecture, including the Teruel Cathedral and the Torre de El Salvador. It’s also famous for the tragic love story of the “Lovers of Teruel.”
  • Calatayud: Calatayud is a historic town known for its Moorish influences, including the Colegiata de Santa María and the Castle of Calatayud. It’s also known for its thermal baths.
  • Barbastro: Barbastro is a picturesque town in the province of Huesca known for its wine production, particularly in the Somontano wine region. It also has a beautiful old town and cathedral.
  • Alcañiz: Alcañiz is known for its medieval architecture, including the Alcañiz Castle and the Santa María la Mayor Collegiate Church. It’s located in the province of Teruel.
  • Fraga: Fraga is a town in the province of Huesca known for its agricultural activities and historical sites like the Church of Saint Peter and the Convent of Saint Clare.

Climate

The climate in Aragon varies depending on the specific location within the region due to its diverse geography, which includes mountainous areas, plateaus, and valleys. Generally, Aragon experiences a continental climate with both Mediterranean and Atlantic influences. 

Here’s a breakdown of the climate in different parts of Aragon:

Zaragoza and Ebro Valley

In the central and eastern parts of Aragon, including Zaragoza, the climate is typically characterized as semi-arid or continental. Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F) in July and August. Winters are cooler, with occasional cold spells and frost. Rainfall is relatively low and concentrated in spring and fall/autumn.

Huesca and the Pyrenees

In the northern part of Aragon, which includes the Pyrenees Mountains and the city of Huesca, the climate becomes more mountainous. Winters are cold and snowy, making it a popular destination for skiing and other winter sports. Summers are milder and more temperate compared to the Ebro Valley.

Teruel and the Southern interior

The southern and southwestern areas of Aragon, including the city of Teruel, have a continental climate with cold winters and hot, dry summers. This region often experiences temperature extremes, with very cold winters and hot spells in the summer. Precipitation levels are lower in this part of Aragon.

Somontano and wine-producing areas

The Somontano wine region, located in the province of Huesca, benefits from a slightly milder climate due to its proximity to the Pyrenees. This makes it suitable for viticulture, with warm summers and relatively cooler nights, allowing for the production of quality Spanish wines.

Mediterranean Influence

Some areas of Aragon, especially those closer to the eastern borders with Catalonia and Valencia, may experience a Mediterranean climate with milder winters and somewhat higher rainfall.

 

When visiting Aragon, be prepared for the climatic variations that exist across this diverse region of Spain.

Zaragoza city center with ebro river and catherdal in backgroud.

Inhabitants

Aragon has a population of over 1.3 million people, and its capital city is Zaragoza where a vast majority of the population lives. 

  • Zaragoza: Approximately 674,000 residents.
  • Huesca: Approximately 53,000 residents.
  • Teruel: Approximately 34,000 residents.

As a prominent agricultural zone, the remaining population of the region is spread out in vast farms and small villages dotted all over the region. 

The region has a rich cultural heritage that reflects its history of Roman, Muslim, and Christian influences. Aragon is also home to several distinct dialects of the Spanish language, including Aragonese and Catalan.

Food and Drinks

Aragon is known for its delicious regional cuisine, including various tapas recipes. The region’s cities offer a great range of food markets and traditional restaurants where visitors can taste authentic Aragonese gastronomy.

Some of the region’s most famous dishes include:

  • Migas: A traditional dish made from bread crumbs, garlic, and bacon.
  • Ternasco: Roasted lamb served with potatoes and peppers.
  • Chiretas: A dish made from lamb intestines stuffed with rice, onion, and herbs.
  • Trinxat: A dish made from mashed potatoes, cabbage, and bacon.
  • Pollo al Chilindrón: Chicken stewed with tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
  • Cordero al Ajoarriero: A lamb stew made with garlic, peppers, and paprika.
  • Bacalao a la Aragonesa: Cod fish cooked with peppers, tomatoes, and garlic.
  • Borrajas: A vegetable dish made from borage leaves and potatoes.

Desserts from Aragon?

Aragon has a rich culinary tradition, and its desserts are no exception. Here are some delicious desserts that are popular in Aragon:

  • Trenza de Almudévar: This is a braided pastry made with puff pastry and a sweet almond filling. It originated in the village of Almudevar, near Zaragoza.
  • Bizcocho de Calatayud: This sponge cake is flavored with cinnamon and lemon, sometimes filled with cream. It comes from the town of Calatayud in southwestern Aragon.
  • Frutas de Aragón: These are candied fruits that are native to the region. They are made by coating pieces of fruit in sugar syrup and letting them dry.
  • Torta de Almendras: This is a dense, almond-flavored cake that is often served with coffee. It is made with ground almonds, sugar, eggs, and lemon zest.
  • Tocino de Cielo: This is a rich custard made with egg yolks, sugar, and a touch of lemon juice. It is traditionally served in small clay pots.
  • Crema de San Jorge: This is a custard made with milk, sugar, eggs, and cinnamon. It is often served with a layer of caramel on top.
  • Huesos de Santo: These are sweet pastries made with marzipan and filled with egg yolk and sugar. They are traditionally eaten around All Saints’ Day.
  • Torrijas: These are similar to French toast, made by soaking slices of bread in milk, egg, and sugar, and then frying them in oil. They are often flavored with cinnamon and lemon zest.

These are just a few examples of the many delicious desserts that can be found in Aragon. Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, these treats are sure to satisfy your cravings and provide a taste of the region’s food culture and heritage.

A glass of red wine sits on a counter with a view of a vineyard in the background

Aragon Wines

Aragon is a region with a long tradition of winemaking, dating back to Roman times. The region has several Denominations of Origin (DO) for wine production, including:

  • Somontano: This DO is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, and produces mainly white wines made from Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, and other grape varieties. It also produces red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Tempranillo grapes.
  • Cariñena: This DO is located in the southwest of Aragon and is known for producing full-bodied red wines made from Garnacha, Tempranillo, and Cariñena grape varieties.
  • Calatayud: This DO is located in the southwest of Aragon and produces mainly red wines made from Garnacha, Tempranillo, and Syrah grapes. It is also known for its high-altitude vineyards, which produce fresh and aromatic wines.
  • Campo de Borja: This DO is located in the northwest of Aragon and produces mainly red wines made from the Garnacha grape variety. It is known for producing fruity and spicy wines with a good balance between acidity and tannins.
  • Terra Alta: This DO is located in the southeast of Aragon and produces mainly white wines made from Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, and Chardonnay grape varieties. It is also known for producing full-bodied red wines from Garnacha and Syrah grapes.

If you are a wine lover, Aragon is definitely a region to explore and discover new and exciting wines!

Agriculture

Aragon has a rich agricultural heritage and is home to many crops, including wheat, barley, corn, and olives. The region is also famous for its fruit production, including peaches, cherries, plums, and obviously grapes for the wine. 

Industries

Aragon has a diverse economy that not only includes agriculture but also manufacturing and services. The region is home to several industrial sectors, including automotive, aerospace, and renewable energy. The city of Zaragoza is a hub for logistics and transportation, with a major airport, train station, and highway network so you’ll have no problems getting there.

Getting To The Aragon Region

The Aragon region in Spain can be reached through several modes of transport including train, car/bus, and by several airports. The best airport to fly to depends on your specific starting point and travel preferences. Here are the main airports serving the Aragon region:

By Flight

  • Zaragoza Airport (Aeropuerto de Zaragoza): This is the largest airport in the Aragon region and is well-connected to domestic and some international destinations. If you’re traveling to Zaragoza or other parts of central Aragon, this airport is your best choice. It’s located approximately 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the city center.
  • Huesca-Pirineos Airport (Aeropuerto de Huesca-Pirineos): If you plan to visit the Pyrenees or surrounding areas, this smaller regional airport might be convenient. It’s located near the city of Huesca.
  • Lleida-Alguaire Airport (Aeropuerto de Lleida-Alguaire): While technically located in Catalonia, this airport is relatively close to some parts of Aragon, especially if you’re planning to explore the eastern region. It can be a viable option if you’re going to areas like Teruel.
  • Barcelona-El Prat Airport (Aeropuerto de Barcelona-El Prat): If you’re flying internationally and want more flight options, Barcelona’s airport is a major international gateway. From there, you can easily reach the Aragon region by train or car.
  • Madrid-Barajas Airport (Aeropuerto Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas): Madrid’s airport is another major international hub. You could always take a domestic flight from Madrid to Zaragoza or Huesca if you prefer flying.

By Train

The train system in Aragon is part of the broader Spanish rail network, operated by the state-owned company Renfe. Trains are a convenient and comfortable way to travel within Aragon and connect the region to other parts of Spain.

Key cities in Aragon, such as Zaragoza, Huesca, and Teruel, have train stations with connections to major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and other regions of Spain. The trains in Spain are generally efficient and well-maintained.

You can check train schedules, book tickets, and get information about routes and fares on the official Renfe website or at train stations in Aragon. You can also grab a bargain to Zaragoza from certain main cities with Ouigo, although it’s not as well connected as Renfe.

By Car/Bus

From Barcelona

Driving from Barcelona to Aragon is a straightforward journey. The distance from Barcelona to Zaragoza is approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles), and it should take around 3 hours to drive, depending on traffic conditions.

  • Depart from Barcelona and head westward.
  • Take the AP-2 Highway, also known as the Autopista del Nordeste, which connects Barcelona to Zaragoza.
  • You’ll stay on the AP-2 for the majority of your journey. This highway is a toll road, so be prepared for tolls along the way. 

From Valencia

The distance from Valencia to Zaragoza is approximately 310 kilometers (193 miles), and it should take around 3.5 to 4 hours to drive, depending on traffic and road conditions.

  • Begin your journey in Valencia. Head northwest on the A-7 or AP-7 highway, which are part of the same road network. This AP-7 highway is a toll road, so be prepared for tolls along the way if you go that route.
  • Exit onto the A-23: As you approach Teruel, you will need to exit onto the A-23 highway, which will take you further into the Aragon region.
  • Stay on the A-23, which will lead you directly to Zaragoza.

From Madrid

Driving from Madrid to Aragon is very easy and is a major transit route when traveling from Madrid to Barcelona so a perfect stopover. The distance from Madrid to Zaragoza is approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles), and it should take around 3.5 to 4 hours to drive, depending on traffic and road conditions.

  • Start in Madrid, then head northeast on the A-2 highway (Autovía del Nordeste). 
  • Continue on the A-2 for the majority of your journey.

FAQs 

What are the major cities in Aragon?

The major cities in Aragon include Zaragoza (the capital), Huesca, and Teruel. Zaragoza is the largest and most populous city, known for its rich history and cultural attractions.

What is the best time to visit Aragon?

Spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) are generally pleasant with mild weather, making them good times for outdoor activities. Summer (July and August) can be hot, while winter (December to February) is ideal for winter sports enthusiasts in the Pyrenees.

What are the main attractions in Aragon?

Historic sites like the Aljafería Palace in Zaragoza, the Mudejar architecture in Teruel, and the medieval town of Albarracín. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the Pyrenees, go hiking in Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park, or visit the unique rock formations of Mallos de Riglos.

Is Aragon known for any particular cuisine or dishes?

Aragonese cuisine is known for its hearty dishes. Some popular dishes include “migas,” a breadcrumb-based dish, “teruel ham” (jamón de Teruel), “ternasco” (roast lamb), and “borracho” (a dessert made with cake soaked in wine).

What is the most popular wine from the region of Aragon?

Garnacha is a red wine grape variety that has a long history in Aragon and is widely cultivated in various parts of the region. Aragon’s Garnacha wines are known for their fruity and robust characteristics, often showcasing flavors of red berries, cherries, and sometimes a hint of spiciness.

Learn the secrets of the Mediterranean Diet –

It’s no secret that the Mediterranean diet is healthy. It has been proven in numerous studies from all corners of the world, it aids weight loss, reduces the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as a growing list of other health benefits.

Find out what’s most exciting about the diet and create some incredibly tasty and simple Spanish recipes. 

Looking for more travel inspiration?

Check out our other Regional foodie guides from all over Spain!

The Basque Country

Straddling part of the border between France and Spain, the Basque Country (País Vasco) has an incredibly diverse landscape that extends far beyond the renowned foodie capitals of larger cities such as San Sebastian and Bilbao. While the region is small, it has the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world per capita.

Galicia

Exploring the far northern Galicia region by food is like opening a foodie treasure trove. With a rugged coastline that divides two seas, undulating hills, and large fertile plains that benefit from the highest annual rainfall in Spain. Galicia is blessed with exceptional quality fresh produce, seafood, meat, and dairy products at every turn.

Galician cuisine is perhaps most famous for the stunning dessert, the Tarta de Santiago, but visitors to the region should take time to explore the many delicacies and dishes that are made in the region. 

Madrid

They say that all roads lead to Madrid and a small stone slab lies discretely within Madrid’s Sol Plaza celebrating the geographic kilometer ZERO of Spain. But, it’s just a short stroll in any direction where you’ll find the rich aromas of authentic Spanish food wafting from the alleyways and narrow cobbled streets that are lined with Madrid’s famous tapas bars and prestigious restaurants. 

Madrid is not only the geographic center of Spain but also the renowned melting pot where Spain’s culinary cultures merge. This is no more evident than in the enormous range of Spanish and international cuisine on offer throughout the capital, and with nearly 10,000 restaurants within the Madrid region, you’re spoilt for choice! 

The Valencia Region

With its white-sand beaches and turquoise water of the Mediterranean Sea, the Valencia region harbors some of the best cuisine and fresh produce in Spain. Orange groves are dotted all the way up and down the region, and the rich fertile soil makes for ideal vineyards, producing excellent wines. It’s also one of only two UNESCO-listed locations for gastronomy and is home to many of Spain’s most renowned restaurants.

Catalonia / Cataluña

The Catalonia region is perhaps best known for its thriving capital, Barcelona, but a close second when you mention Catalonia is the food. The region offers a wealth of authentic Spanish cuisine that has resonated all around the world. 

With its borders spanning from the Mediterranean Sea in the east, to the stunning rugged grazing plains of Aragón, to the picturesque mountainous zones of the Pyrenees mountain ranges, the Catalonia region has it all!

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