(Last updated on 21/05/2024)

Extremadura’s capital requires, in my opinion, two full days to leisurely see all the main sights without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted. If you’re spending three or more days in Mérida and you’ve already seen all the Roman architecture and other tourist attractions, it’s time to get out and explore the surrounding areas.

In this article, you’ll find six ideas for day trips from Mérida. I’ve divided my suggestions into two categories: full-day trips and combined trips. Full-day trips are destinations with enough to see and do to keep you busy for a full day, while combined trips include two smaller separate places or sights you can visit in a single day trip. To help you make the most of your day trips from Mérida without spending too long on the road, I’ve only selected places you can reach from Mérida within one hour by car.

Badajoz

Extremadura’s biggest city is still small, with a population of just over 150,100 and most tourist attractions dotted around a walkable city centre. Located by the Portuguese border, Badajoz is home to the largest Moorish citadel in Europe, Spain’s longest city walls, and one of mainland Spain’s most popular Carnival celebrations.

Don’t miss: its twelfth-century citadel (Alcazaba), the iconic square Plaza Alta, the Puerta de Palmas gate and the main square (Plaza de España).

Badajoz

Distance from Mérida: 63km
Mérida-Badajoz car journey duration: 50min

Tip: You can also travel from Mérida to Badajoz by train or bus.

Mérida to Badajoz by train: the morning train journey from Mérida to Badajoz takes 45 minutes; evening train journeys (after 5pm) from Badajoz to Mérida range between 34 minutes (Alvia service) and 51 minutes (Regional Exprés service). For timetables, prices and tickets, visit Renfe’s website.

Mérida to Badajoz by coach: morning coach journeys from Mérida to Badajoz range between 50 minutes to 1 hour and 50 minutes; evening coach journeys (after 5pm) from Badajoz to Mérida range from 50 minutes to 1 hour. For timetables, prices and tickets, ​visit Alsa’s website.

Cáceres

Extremadura’s second largest city (over 95,000 inhabitants) probably deserves more than a day’s visit, but you’ll be able to enjoy a well-rounded day out in Cáceres if you set off early. The Old Town of Cáceres, a World Heritage Site since 1986 and a Game of Thrones filming location, boasts noteworthy churches, convents, palaces-houses and other outstanding buildings of different historical periods and architectural styles. Cáceres is also a great food destination, with eateries ranging from old-school cafés, rustic taverns and tapas bars, to modern bistros, fashionable restaurants and even a three-Michelin-starred restaurant.

Don’t miss: the main square (Plaza Mayor), the twelfth-century tower Torre de Bujaco, the views from the Iglesia Concatedral de Santa María’s bell tower and the old Jewish quarter (Judería Vieja).

Cáceres

Distance from Mérida: 74km
Mérida-Cáceres car journey duration: 55min

Tip: You can also travel from Mérida to Cáceres by train or coach.

Mérida to Cáceres by train: morning train journeys from Mérida to Cáceres take 38 minutes (Alvia and Media Distancia services); evening train journeys (after 5pm) from Cáceres to Mérida range between 37 minutes (Media Distancia and Alvia services) to 40 minutes (Media Distancia and Regional Exprés services). For timetables, prices and tickets, visit Renfe’s website.

Mérida to Cáceres by coach: morning coach journeys from Mérida to Cáceres range between 55 minutes to 1 hour and 35 minutes; evening coach journeys (after 5pm) from Cáceres to Mérida range between 55 minutes and 1 hour. For timetables, prices and tickets, visit Alsa’s website.

Monumento Natural Los Barruecos​

This natural area is located less than 20 kilometres from Cáceres’ city centre, but don’t be fooled by the proximity – they both require a dedicated day trip. The Monumento Natural Los Barruecos features large granitic rocks and two small reservoirs, and is home to one of Europe’s biggest colonies of white stork. Choose one or more of the five walking routes available, depending on your preferences, where you’ll see be able to spot some tombs, shepherd huts, and several strange art pieces. Finish your visit at the quirky contemporary art Vostell Museum, located in a former wool-washing house (closed on Mondays). If you’re a Game of Thrones fans, you may like to know that the ‘Loot Train Attack’ battle scene was filmed here.

Monumento Natural Los Barruecos

Distance from Mérida: 80km
Mérida-Monumento Natural Los Barruecos car journey duration: 55min

Trujillo

The small town of Trujillo (under 9,000 inhabitants) is one of Extremadura’s main tourist destinations. Its location just off the A5/E-90 road makes it a great place to stop on your way to or from Madrid, and it’s also easily reachable from Mérida by car in under an hour. Known as the birthplace of conquistador Francisco Pizarro, Trujillo features one of Spain’s most beautiful squares and an old town full of fine historical buildings.

Don’t miss: Castillo de Trujillo (another GoT filming location), a castle originally dating back to the ninth century which combines old Moorish elements (the main bailey, towers, two cisterns and a horseshoe arch) with later additions (enclosing bailey, a sixteenth-century hermitage). Aim to visit the castle just before sunset to enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding area in the most amazing evening light.

Trujillo

Distance from Mérida: 88km
Mérida-Trujillo car journey duration: 53min

Combined day trips from Mérida

​Medellín + Parque Natural de Cornalvo​

Medellín is a small town of around 2,200 people with a surprising number of sights for its size. Start your visit in the main square, dominated by a statue of Medellín-born conqueror Hernán Cortés (and look out for the remains of his house). Then make your way up the hill, paying a quick visit to the Centro Museográfico before taking your time to wander around the magnificent Roman theatre. Its medieval castle atop the hill affords a great panoramic view of the theatre, the town and the surroundings. Medellin is also home to one of the best restaurants in the area (Restaurante Quinto Cecilio), with a rooftop terrace overlooking the castle and the river.

Medellín, Extremadura

Distance from Mérida: 40km
Mérida-Medellín car journey duration: 32min

Parque Natural de Cornalvo is a good place for an afternoon walk before heading back to Mérida. There are several routes available in the Natural Park, but I suggest the 7-km circular blue route (Ruta del Embalse de Cornalvo), which I have completed several times myself. It’s a very easy 90-minute route which starts by the Roman dam (presa) and continues in an anti-clockwise direction around the reservoir on flat open terrain. There are good many birdwatching opportunities along the route, so don’t forget to take binoculars with you.

Parque Natural de Cornalvo

Distance from Medellín: 37km
Medellín-Parque Natural de Cornalvo car journey duration: 32min

Distance from Mérida: 16km
Mérida-Parque Natural de Cornalvo car journey duration: 21min

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Tip: This combined trip is meant for late autumn, winter or spring. Spend the morning in Medellín visiting the sights, have lunch, and then head to Parque Natural de Cornalvo for an afternoon walk. You could swap things around, but bear in mind that the sights in Medellín close in the central hours of the day (2pm-5.30pm in autumn, 2pm-3.30pm in winter, 2pm-4.30pm in spring, 2pm to 6.30pm in summer). Avoid Parque Natural de Cornalvo during the summer months – too dry and too hot.​

Montánchez + basílica de Santa Lucía del Trampal​

​​Montánchez, a village of just over 1600 inhabitants halfway between Cáceres and Mérida, is mainly known for its Iberian ham and local wines. Located at over 700 metres over sea level, Montánchez features steep streets and amazing views from its castle which have earned it the nickname ‘Extremadura’s balcony’. The medieval castle standing today was a large extension made to an earlier Moorish fortress which was, in turn, built from earlier Visigothic remains. It’s made up of two enclosures – an inner residential enclosure including a bailey, the keep and the former chapter house, and an outer including a cistern and a seventeenth-century church. The nearby cemetery, built on terraces on the slopes of the castle hill, affords outstanding views and is another unmissable place to see in Montánchez. ​

Montánchez

Distance from Mérida: 46km
Mérida-Montánchez car journey duration: 37min

Santa Lucía del Trampal is an unusual little church still unbeknown to many extremeños. Located in the middle of the countryside south of the small town Alcuéscar, seventh-century Santa Lucía del Trampal is the only Visigoth structure still standing in the southern half of mainland Spain. It features a central nave flanked by two very narrow aisles, a seven-bay crossing with three crossing towers and an unusual east end with three independent and non-connected apses. The nearby visitor centre (a bit of an eyesore in such pretty natural surroundings) provides more information about the history of the church.

Santa Lucía del Trampal

Opening hours (church and nearby visitor centre): (from October to May) from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and from 4pm to 7pm and Sundays from 10am to 2pm; (from June to September): from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm and Sundays from 10am to 2pm. Mondays closed. Free admission.

Distance from Montánchez: 17km
Montánchez-iglesia de Santa Lucía del Trampal ​car journey duration: 23min

Distance from Mérida: 40km
Mérida-iglesia de Santa Lucía del Trampal car journey duration: 36min

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Tip: Santa Lucía del Trampal can be reached by car from Alcuéscar (3.5km) via a single-track road. Despite the signposts, from experience I know that finding your way around Alcuéscar to reach the single-track road can prove tricky. Use the street Calle Fuente del Castaño as a reference point; or, if you want to avoid the centre of town, use the local funeral parlour (tanatorio) as a reference instead. Coordinates: lat. 39.15304458476331, long. -6.22257403340206. Alternatively, if time allows, you can walk there along the single-track road.

Day trips from Mérida on a map

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Irene Corchado Resmella

Irene Corchado Resmella

Hi! I’m Irene (/ee-REH-neh/). Long since settled in the UK, I explore my Spanish home region of Extremadura with an inquisitive mind, a sharp eye, and the duality that comes with being both a local and a visitor. Then I write about it here to help you discover this beautiful yet overlooked part of Spain. If you have any questions after reading this article, submit a comment below! Read more about me.

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