Vía de la Plata Stage 2: Mérida to Cáceres

Photo by Melanie Radzicki McManus

A very pleasant stroll

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Stage 2 from Mérida to Cáceres is pleasant, although there is no exceptional site like the ruins in Mérida. Heading out of town, the park-like Embalse de Proserpina (dam/reservoir) makes a nice stop to rest a bit or have a snack. When you reach Aljucén after passing through pint-sized El Carrascalejo, stop at the Roman thermal baths at Aqua Libera. The owners also rent out two pretty apartments. If you’re looking for a place to stay the night, check it out.

Shortly after heading out of town, look for the ruins of a Roman bridge under excavation. Then turn your eyes to the scenery, as you’re led through Cornalvo’s Natural Park for much of the route to Alcuéscar.

Don’t miss the right-hand turn!

The 5-mile (8 km) stretch from Alcuéscar to Casas de Don Antonio is pretty. But watch out for one right-hand turn onto a small dirt road. It comes right as you head out of town. The arrows will direct you along a semicircular path before dumping you back onto the road you started on. This smaller path is rutted, so avoid it during rainy weather. If you don’t, you’ll have a slog through the mud.

Continuing on this stage from Mérida to Cáceres, you’ll be heading toward Aldea del Cano. Your hike will mostly be on paths running alongside the N-630 highway. While that’s not the most scenic, the path features several tree-shaded areas with hito-type blocks set out if you need a rest stop; one area actually has a shelter.

A choice of overnight stops

The Camino doesn’t run through Aldea del Cano, but instead passes west of the town. But if you’re looking for a place to sleep, Casa Rural Vía de la Plata is lovely. Pilgrims also give the Miliario del Verdinal municipal hostel good reviews.

The route to Valdesalor can be flooded in spots if there’s been a lot of rain, so be prepared. At one point during this 7.1-mile (11.4 km) stretch, you’ll cross a tiny airstrip.

Valdesalor is a cute little town, but you’re almost at Cáceres, so keep going! The 7.3 miles (11.8 km) to Cáceres features some rather steep, rocky sections, so be prepared. Also, the route here coincides with the Camino Naturales, a local hiking trail marked with red signs on tall, wooden posts. Don’t worry about those signs. Just watch for the yellow arrows. Before you know it, you’ll be in beautiful Cáceres.

Mérida to Cáceres by the Numbers

Mérida’s altitude: 662.7 ft / 202 m
Cáceres’ altitude: 1,476.4 ft / 450 m

Cumulative distance hiked for this leg: 47.3 mi / 76.2 km
Cumulative distance hiked for entire trail: 182.2 mi / 293.3 km

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