Ponferrada Travel Guide

Discover the medieval charm and culinary delights of this hidden gem in Spain's Northwest

Set above the beautiful Río Sil, in the heart of the Bierzo wine region, Ponferrada is famed for its storybook castle, built by the Knights Templar in the 13th century. Located about an hour and a half west of historic León, on the Camino de Santiago, this laid-back small town with Ancient Roman origins is a beautiful place for enjoying relaxing wine and tapas in the historic center.

A visit to Ponferrada begins in the city’s old quarter, where the 16th-century town hall lords over the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Just beside it stands one of the symbols of Ponferrada: the Torre de Reloj (clock tower). Begun in the mid-16th century and built atop one of the city’s medieval gates, the striking tower serves as the gateway to the historic center’s narrow, often steep streets. Among the “vinotecas” (wine bars), taverns, and traditional shops dotted along typical streets like the busy Calle del Rañadero are a few can’t-miss monuments, like the Basílica de la Encina, on the plaza of the same name, or the 16th-century Real Cárcel (Royal Jail). The “Cárcel” is now home to the fascinating Museo del Bierzo, a museum dedicated to the history of Ponferrada and the region of Bierzo.

No visit to Ponferrada is complete without a glimpse of the Castillo del Temple, the castle-fortress-monastic complex built by the Knights Templar. Seen at night, it is extraordinary. Beyond Ponferrada, you can explore natural wonders like the Médulas, a ruddy-red mountain burrowed through with tunnels dug by the Romans, who mined this area for gold. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage site and, at only 20 20-minute drive from Ponferrada, is an ideal destination for walking and hiking. In addition, an annual medieval festival in Ponferrada called “La Noche Templaria” (Templar night) takes place on the first full moon in July and features a medieval fair and festivities.

  • Michelin-starred Restaurant Mu•na (see below)
    Michelin-starred Restaurant Mu•na (see below)

    Gastronomy & Wine

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  • Restaurante Muna

    Located opposite the Templar Castle (Castillo de los Templarios), Mu•na is named after the Arabic name (meaning “wishes” or “desire”) alludes to satisfying both your appetite and taste buds. The restaurant is run by Chef Samuel Naveira in the kitchen and Génesis Cardona as sommelier and front-of-house manager. Mu•na’s tasting menu, “Entorno y Memoria,” with wine pairings, offers a modern interpretation of traditional cuisine, highlighting seasonal ingredients from the Bierzo region. In 2021 the restaurant was rewarded a Michelin Star and a Repsol Sun. The celebrate this achievement, the duo got a star tattooed on their wrists. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore their extensive wine list, featuring a wide selection of Bierzo, Toro, and national and international varieties.

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  • Torre del Reloj

    A 16th-century clock tower that was added to later centuries, this is a symbol of historic Ponferrada. An exterior stone staircase on the Calle Carnicerías leads to the tower. At the same time, an archway dubbed the “Arco de las Eras” allows pedestrians to walk under the tower and into the city’s historic center.

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  • Basílica de la Encina

    A lovely basilica tucked into the heart of the old city center.

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  • Museo del Bierzo

    Beginning with the area’s Paleolithic history and spanning historical and societal highlights leading up to modern times, this small museum inside the 16th-century Royal Jail includes art and artifacts about the town and surrounding region.

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  • Casa de los Escudos

    Home to the Radio Museum, a curious collection of antique radio memorabilia, this stone house with touches of late Baroque design makes an enjoyable visit.

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