Once part of the ancient Roman province of Lusitania, Extremadura, along with neighboring Portugal, is an old-world land in southwestern Spain with a rich layering of ancient cultures whose stories are rarely written in guidebooks.Â Today, from one city to the next, there is plenty for one to see, from cutting-edge contemporary art, chic shops, ancient ruins, and more.
Places of note:Â In the city of CĂˇceres, be sure to try the dining room at Atrio Restaurante Hotel, where chef ToĂ±o PĂ©rezâ€™s two-Michelin-starred cuisine is matched by a stellar wine list that Wine Spectator has ranked as one of the worldâ€™s best.Â Seasonal produce also stars in the dishes at Restaurant El AlmirezÂ in the city of HervĂˇs, while the dining room at Plasenciaâ€™s 15th-century convent turned inn Parador de Plasencia, turns out regional specialties like honey-roasted lamb and pickled partridge.
Stay at El JardĂn del ConventoÂ a former manor house in HervĂˇs that is now a charming seven-room inn. Another historical conversion is Plasenciaâ€™s atmospheric Hotel Palacio Carvajal GirĂłn, a 16th-century former palace where 28 rooms and suites offset exposed stone walls with plush furnishings; the restaurant here is also worth seeking out.
How to get there:Â From Madrid, rent a car and head southwest along the A-5 freeway; the 290km drive to HervĂˇs, near Extremaduraâ€™s northern border, should take about three hours.
When to go:Â As its name suggests, Extremaduraâ€™s climate runs to the extreme, with sweltering summers and frosty winters. The milder seasons are a better time to visit. In the spring, the regionâ€™s flora and fauna put on a spectacular show, while in the fall, the area is blanketed in a palette of autumn colors.