Are you visiting Madrid and looking to explore the beauty of Spain beyond the bustling city? You’re in luck! The Spanish capital serves as a perfect starting point for incredible day trips to nearby towns and cities, each offering its own unique charm. Here are the 15 best day trips from Madrid.
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Table of Contents
Best Places to Visit on a Day Trip from Madrid
In the quaint, small town of Segovia in central Spain, you’ll be transported back in time as you visit the stunning Alcázar Castle of Segovia. This medieval castle is known throughout the world.
It is a fairytale-like castle perched on a rocky outcrop, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Don’t forget to also make a stop at the Plaza del Azoguejo and stroll through the historic old town, where you’ll find the awe-inspiring Roman ruins, the Segovia Cathedral, and the Roman Aqueduct, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is one of the most popular day trips from Madrid for good reason.
For a memorable meal, head to the renowned Restaurante José María for their succulent roast lamb or deep-fried suckling pig.
How to reach Segovia: From Madrid, you can catch a high-speed AVE train to Segovia, and the journey takes around 30 minutes.
Toledo, known as the “City of Three Cultures,” boasts a rich history and cultural heritage as well as numerous churches. Explore the majestic Toledo Cathedral, which is an architectural masterpiece. The city was formerly the capital of Spain and is a must-visit on any Spain itinerary.
On your Toledo day trip, wander through the cobblestone streets and take in the views of the Alcázar of Toledo. Don’t miss the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz, the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, and the church of Santo Tomé which houses the famous El Greco painting, “Burial of the Count Orgaz”. (There’s also an El Greco museum in Toledo if you’re a fan).
Before leaving the city be sure to stop at the Mirador del Valle which offers stunning views of Toledo on the hill overlooking the Tagus River.
After your adventure, savor traditional Spanish cuisine at Restaurante Adolfo, known for its delicious partridge stew. Be sure to make a reservation.
How to get there: The easiest way is to take a high-speed AVE train from Madrid that will get you to Toledo in just 30 minutes.
Cuenca will amaze you with its hanging houses that are perched precariously on the edge of a ravine. Take a walk across the famous Puente de San Pablo and admire the breathtaking views of the Huecar Gorge.
Inside the Hanging Houses Museum, you’ll discover the history of this unique town.
Enjoy local cuisine at Mesón Casas Colgadas with traditional Manchegan dishes. If a drink is all you’re looking for, settle in at the downstairs tavern.
How to get there: Reach Cuenca from Madrid via a high-speed AVE train in about 55 minutes.
The enchanting city of Cordoba is a testament to the coexistence of cultures in Spain. Visit the magnificent Mezquita-Catedral, a mosque-turned-cathedral with a stunning forest of columns and red-and-white arches.
Stroll through the alleys of the historic Jewish Quarter, known as the Judería, and explore its charming streets.
Don’t forget to visit the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, a palace with beautiful gardens and historic significance. We also recommend walking to the historic Roman bridge built in the 1st century and taking in the views overlooking the Guadalquivir River.
For a delicious meal in a comfortable setting, try Taberna Sociedad Plateros María Auxiliadora, known for its traditional Andalusian cuisine.
How to get there: Travel from Madrid to Cordoba via a high-speed AVE train, and in approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, you’ll be immersed in the heart of Córdoba’s history and culture.
Known for its remarkably well-preserved medieval city walls, Avila is a true gem of Spanish history. Explore the medieval walls that encompass the old town, offering panoramic views of the city.
Visit the Gothic-style Avila Cathedral and the Basilica of San Vicente, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. Wander through the streets and take in the authentic atmosphere of this medieval town.
For a taste of local cuisine, dine at Restaurante Mesón La Bruja, where you can try delicious dishes like ‘chuletón de ternera de Ávila’ (Avila-style T-bone steak).
How to get there: Take a high-speed AVE train from Madrid to Avila, and in just under an hour and a half, you’ll be within the walls of this historical treasure.
6. El Escorial
El Escorial is not only a town but also the location of the stunning Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The grandeur of this architecture, constructed under King Philip II, will leave you awestruck. For centuries it has been the historical residence of the Spanish royal family and is the final resting place for many former monarchs.
Explore the vast library, the beautiful basilica, and the royal palace. Take a leisurely stroll in the surrounding gardens, La Granjilla de La Fresneda.
For a delightful meal, visit Cava Alta, offering traditional Spanish dishes and a charming atmosphere.
How to get there: Reach El Escorial by taking a Cercanías commuter train from Madrid, and you’ll arrive in about an hour.
Chinchon is a quaint and picturesque village known for its charming Plaza Mayor in the city center. It’s one of Spain’s most scenic squares. Surrounded by historic buildings with wooden balconies, this square is a perfect place to enjoy a coffee or a leisurely meal.
Visit the 15th-century Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, and don’t miss the opportunity to explore the countryside surrounding Chinchon, known for its vineyards and olive groves.
Sample offerings from the local wine region and savor the food at Restaurante La Balconada. The restaurant offers a traditional Castilian menu, and it’s one of the best places to sit and overlook the plaza.
How to get there: A quick drive from Madrid, Chinchon is accessible in around 45 minutes.
Aranjuez is famous for its stunning Royal Palace and the beautiful gardens that surround it. Explore the lavish interiors of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, which served as a spring residence for Spanish royalty.
Stroll through the impressive Jardín del Principe (Prince’s Garden), with its gorgeous fountains and beautifully landscaped grounds.
For a memorable meal, consider dining at the classy Casa José which has a captivating menu in an upscale environment.
How to get there: Take a Cercanías train from Madrid to Aranjuez, and you’ll reach this delightful destination in a little over 30 minutes.
Salamanca is renowned for its historic university, stunning architecture, and vibrant atmosphere. Visit the University of Salamanca, one of the oldest universities in Europe (and the oldest university in Spain), and take a tour of its beautiful Renaissance style buildings. Don’t miss the Casa de Las Conchas which dates to the late 15th century and houses a public library.
Stroll through the Plaza Mayor, one of Spain’s most impressive town squares, and admire the intricate facades of the Salamanca Cathedral.
When in Salamanca, try Restaurante El Meson de Gonzalo for tapas and roasted meats you won’t soon forget.
How to get there: Reach Salamanca from Madrid via an Alvia train, and in about 1 hour and 30 minutes, you’ll be in this lively city.
Valladolid is a city that seamlessly blends history and modernity. Explore the historic Plaza Mayor with its stunning architecture and lively atmosphere. Visit the National Sculpture Museum, home to an impressive collection of sculptures from various periods.
Don’t forget to explore the iconic Cervantes House Museum, dedicated to the famous author Miguel de Cervantes (his birthplace of Alcalá de Henares is another worthwhile day trip from Madrid).
For a delightful dining experience, Restaurante Trigo offers a contemporary twist on traditional Castilian cuisine.
How to get there: A high-speed AVE train from Madrid to Valladolid will get you there in about an hour making it perfect for a quick day trip.
Burgos is famous for its magnificent Gothic cathedral, a UNESCO site. Explore the awe-inspiring interior of the cathedral, including the Golden Staircase. Wander the charming streets of the historic district, where you’ll discover delightful squares and cozy cafes.
For history buffs, Burgos Museum is definitely worth visiting.
For a memorable meal, Casa Ojeda serves incredible Castilian tapas and is known for its roast lamb.
How to get there: Take an AVE train from Madrid to Burgos, and in an hour and a half, you’ll be in this historical city.
A longer but still feasible day trip, Barcelona offers a myriad of attractions. Explore the amazing architectural style of Antoni Gaudí, such as the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, or sign up for a guided tour. There are plenty of things to do in Barcelona, so don’t miss an opportunity to explore this fabulous city.
Stroll down La Rambla, the city’s bustling boulevard, and enjoy street performances and shopping. Don’t miss the chance to taste authentic Catalan cuisine in one of the city’s many restaurants.
While in Barcelona, consider dining at Disfrutar, a renowned restaurant offering incredible Spanish cuisine in a gorgeous space.
How to get there: You can reach Barcelona from Madrid in approximately 2 and a half hours by taking a high-speed AVE train.
Barcelona Tours We Recommend
Valencia is known for its City of Arts and Sciences complex, featuring an opera house, science museum, and aquarium. Visit the historic Silk Exchange, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and explore the vibrant Central Market.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Turia Gardens, which were once a riverbed.
For a beachfront meal, try Casa Carmela, known for its traditional Valencian dishes, including paella.
How to get there: Take an AVE high-speed train from Madrid to Valencia. The travel time is about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Leon is a city steeped in history and architectural beauty. Visit the Leon Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece, and explore its remarkable stained glass windows. The Casa de los Botines, designed by Antoni Gaudí, is another architectural gem worth seeing.
Enjoy a relaxing walk through the Barrio Húmedo, the city’s historic district, with its charming squares and tapas bars.
For an authentic dining experience, Restaurante Cocinandos offers contemporary takes on traditional Leonese cuisine.
How to get there: A high-speed AVE train from Madrid to Leon takes approximately 2 hours.
This historic town is full of cultural treasures. Visit the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, a stunning Baroque church located on the banks of the Ebro River. Explore the Aljafería Palace, an exquisite example of Islamic architecture.
Take a leisurely stroll along the Ebro River and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the city.
For an amazing meal in an elegant atmosphere, Restaurante El Chalet offers a mix of traditional and contemporary Aragonese cuisine and is known for its steak tartare.
How to get there: From Madrid, you can reach Zaragoza in about 1 hour and 15 minutes by taking a high-speed AVE train.
Each of these picturesque destinations is just a short train ride from Madrid, offering an escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Whether you’re into checking out world heritage sites, historic cities, architecture, or simply seeking a taste of authentic Spanish cuisine, each of these day trips promises an unforgettable experience.
So, hop on a train, explore, and make the most of your time as you work your way through this list of the best day trips from Madrid.
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Book Your Flights – You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Expedia.com and Hotels.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service. If you need airport transfers, we recommend Welcome Pickups.
When traveling in Europe, we use AutoEurope to make our bookings. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. Europcar is another option. If you plan to take the train, we recommend using Rail Europe.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Both are worthwhile investments.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours. For unique, curated activities, check out Headout.
One of our favorite things to do annually is taking photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master or World Nomads to find the best policy for your group.