Day trips from Madrid are incredibly rewarding and, in most cases, just an hour away. If you are visiting the capital you should organize your agenda to visit at least one of these historic towns.
All of these day trips are perfectly doable by train or bus so you won’t need to worry about renting a car, driving around, looking for directions or parking –which is a terrible hassle in most of these places. Use public transportation and forget about the rest.
The towns listed here are not arranged in any particular order. The question of which of these trips to do when time is limited is very personal, so choose those that suits you best according to the time you have available and your tastes.
- Toledo. More than 2,000 years of history and a mix of the three major religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) is what make Toledo one the most important cities in Spanish history and the country’s spiritual heart. The impressive location of this medieval city makes it also a unique place full of tales and tradition.
- Segovia. UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, Segovia has one of the most strikingly beautiful historic districts in Spain. Well known for its stunning Roman legacy – an incredible aqueduct, it features other notable landmarks such as the Cathedral, the Alcázar and the Walls.
- Ávila. The city lies enclosed within its perfectly preserved medieval city walls, a symbol of the Romanesque architecture and probably the best City Walls that you can see all over Spain. Its tranquil and peaceful atmosphere will make you travel back in time to Medieval Spain.
- San Lorenzo de El Escorial. This rather small town, less than a 30-minute drive away from Madrid is famous for El Escorial – the Royal monastery of San Lorenzo. This monumental complex commemorates the victory of the battle of San Quentin in 1557 and with time became the royal mausoleum.
- Aranjuez. Nestling in wide and exuberant valley, Aranjuez was once the exclusive summer residence of the Bourbon family. It is the perfect city for those who seek to know the history, architecture, and the culture that created its incomparably sublime palaces, and gardens.
- Alcalá de Henares. A quiet suburb of Madrid today, Alcalá was once settled by Romans, Moors and conquering Christians. As a former royal residence, it is where Columbus met Queen Isabella for the first time. In 1547, it even saw the birth of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote.
- Chinchón. This typically Castilian village is known for its famous 15th century Plaza Mayor, which is converted into a bullring for the summer corridas. Enjoy a nice stroll in the maze of cobbled streets, and take some rest at one of the bars, restaurants and taverns that are hidden in the shade of the major square’s arcades.
- Real Sitio de San Ildefonso. Tucked away in the Guadarrama Mountains is one of Spain’s most decadent treasures: the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso (more commonly called La Granja). Modeled after France’s Versailles, the estate features European palatial grandeur at its best, ranging from an interior packed with all the royal amenities and some beautiful gardens.
- Pedraza. Just 37 km from Segovia to the north east, this charming, rustic town is rich in history and culture. With cobbled streets and plenty of cafes serving up traditional tapas, Pedraza offers you the opportunity to get at one with the Spanish pace of life and experience the culture at its most authentic.
The map below marks the location of each destination and gives you a good idea of the distance between Madrid and the place you intend to visit.