Although Madrid is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, sometimes you just want to get away from the city, the concrete, the traffic and all the noise, and explore something new. Thankfully, there are a number of charming towns close to Madrid that make for the perfect day-trip.
Here are my top ten day trips from Madrid:
“Toledo is set on a hill above the plains of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain. It’s known for the medieval Arab, Jewish and Christian monuments in its walled old city, and as the former home of the artist El Greco. The Moorish Bisagra Gate and the Sol Gate, in Mudéjar style, open into the old quarter, where the Plaza de Zocodover is a lively central meeting place.” (source)
Travel Time to Toledo: 33 minutes by train.
“Segovia is a historic city northwest of Madrid in central Spain. Its centuries of settlement have resulted in a rich architectural legacy, including medieval walls, Romanesque churches, a former royal palace and a Gothic cathedral. Its iconic ancient Roman aqueduct has more than 160 arches, most in the original mortarless granite, and stands above Plaza Azoguejo in the heart of the city.” (source)
Travel Time to Segovia: 55 minutes by bus. 2hr 02mins by train.
“The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as El Escorial, is a historical residence of the King of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres northwest of the capital, Madrid, in Spain.” (source)
Travel Time to El Escorial: 1hr 06 mins via Train Madrid Cercanías.
“Córdoba is a city in the southern Spanish province of Andalusia. It was an important Roman city and an Islamic cultural center in the Middle Ages. It’s best known for La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating to 600 C.E. featuring a columned prayer hall and Byzantine mosaics. A 1600s Catholic cathedral now occupies the center of the mosque.” (source)
Travel Time to Cordoba: 1hr 43mins by train.
“Cuenca is a city set in the mountains of east-central Spain. Founded by Moors, it retains its walled old town with steep cobbled streets and medieval castle ruins. Perched on a limestone spur high above the Júcar and Huécar rivers, it’s most famous for its well-preserved “casas colgadas,” or hanging houses. Cantilevered over the Huécar gorge, they seemingly cling to the cliffs’ edges.” (source)
Travel Time to Cuenca: 51mins by train.
Alcala de Henares
“Alcalá de Henares, meaning Citadel on the river Henares, is a Spanish city whose historical centre is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The city stands out for its rich archaeology and was one of the first bishoprics founded in Spain.” (source)
Travel Time to Alcala de Henares: 36mins by train.
“Aranjuez is a town and municipality lying 42 kilometres south of Madrid in the southern part of the Madrid Region or Community of Madrid, Spain. It is located at the confluence of the Tagus and Jarama rivers, 44 kilometres from Toledo.” (source)
Travel Time to Aranjuez: 37mins by train.
Travel Time to Cercedilla: 1hr 17mins by train.
“Ávila, capital of the Spanish province of the same name, is a city in the rolling hill country northwest of Madrid. It’s best known for its intact medieval walls, with 80-plus crenelated, semicircular towers and 9 gates, including the arched Alcázar, on the eastern side. Long sections atop the walls are walkable. At night, the lighted walls are a distinctive sight.” (source)
Travel Time to Avila: 1hr 30min by bus, or 2hr 48min by train.
“Salamanca, in northwestern Spain, is the capital of the Castile and León region. Ruled successively by the Celts, Romans, Muslims and Spanish, it’s known for its ornate sandstone architecture and for the Universidad de Salamanca. Founded in the 1100s and an important intellectual center in the 15th-16th centuries, the university continues to contribute to the city’s vibrancy with its international student population.” (source)
Travel Time to Salamanca: 3hrs 53min by train.
If you’re feeling incredibly ambitious, Valencia and Barcelona can technically be considered a day-trip from Madrid.
Valencia – less than 1.5 hours on the AVE train
Barcelona – approx. 3 hours on the AVE train
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