Top 15 Best Day Trips from Madrid for A Perfect Spanish Escape

Madrid is located at the heart of Spain which makes it the perfect starting point to discover the rest of the country. With the affordable car rental services and fast-moving trains, multiple day trips are possible to historic cities, coastal hideaways, wine regions, and more.

That’s what’s great about European countries. It’s packed with heavenly cities at proximity, with its brilliant architecture worth making a tour. Besides, every place is filled with fascinating history, stunning art, and exquisite food.

Top 15 Day Trips from Madrid

So once you’ve absorbed the beauty of the Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, and the Buen Retiro Park in Madrid, it’s time to head out the city and explore its breathtaking surroundings. 

1. Segovia

Segovia
Source: Arrano/Flickr

Segovia is a picturesque city located less than 100km away from Madrid and can be reached by the high-speed AVE train in just 27 minutes. The city’s medieval charm is portrayed in every monument, especially the Aqueduct of Segovia which is one of Spain’s best-preserved monuments. This has made UNESCO consider it as a World Heritage Site.

The other absolute must-visit sites in Segovia include the Plaza Mayor, the 16th Century Gothic Cathedral, and the Alcázar. There are multiple monasteries and convents bound with a rich history that is worth checking out as well. Also, if you want to expand your cultural knowledge, you should check out the Casa-Museo Antonio Machado which was built in remembrance of the famous Spanish poet. 

Travel Tips:

  • If you want to thoroughly learn about the interesting local and historical facts, make sure to opt for a guided tour that would last about 10 hours including the travel time from Madrid and back
  • Best time to visit Segovia would be from March to September

Where to Eat:

You must try the local specialty ‘cochinillo’ which can be found in multiple traditional restaurants around the city. However, if you wish to go to a fancy place, Asador Maribel caters delicious food with traditional ingredients.

2. Toledo

Toledo
Source: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Known as “The City of Three Cultures”, Toledo is the former capital of the Kingdom of Spain where people from three religions, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, have been living peacefully for years. It is situated at the top of a hill that provides an amazing view over the Río Tajo.

The city is filled with architectural features such as the Bisagra Gate, the Alcántara bridges and the San Martin. But one place that you must head to is Plaza de Zocodover which refers to the “market of the beasts” in Arabic. Art history buffs should check out the El Greco Museum as well. Moreover, the city is packed with towers and chapels in every corner that will ensure a picture of what Spain looked like in the 16th Century.

Travel Tips:

  • Take the high-speed AVE train from Madrid to reach Toledo in 33 minutes
  • You can find handmade Spanish armor and swords in multiple shops in the city

Where to Eat:

If you can luckily squeeze into the opening times from 2 pm to 4 pm at Escuela de Hostelería Toledo, you should not miss it. Also, an authentic Spanish restaurant, Lo Nuestro is worth a try. 

3. Burgos

Burgos
Source: Alamy

About 2.5 hours away from Madrid, is the magnificent city of Burgos that is popular for the Gothic cathedral, located at the center of the city. Starting from monasteries and churches, to caves and vines, Burgos has got it all. Out of the many possibilities of exploration, the must-visit places include the Plaza Mayor, the Arch of Santa Maria, and the Real Monasterio de las Huelgas.

Travel Tips:

  • Tour the vines and make sure to try one of the bodegas – Vega Sicilia, Arzuga, or Villacreces. 
  • Since it’s a bit further away from Madrid in comparison to the other cities featured here, try the Landa hotel (rebuilt from the remnants of a castle) if you want to stay the night

Where to Eat:

La Fábrica restaurant creates traditional dishes with a modern touch. For a more refined experience, you may try Cobo Vintage.

4. Cuenca

Cuenca
Source: leoks/shutterstock

Cuenca is a fortress town located on the top of a rocky hill. The most noteworthy feature of the town is the Hanging Houses which is a cluster of buildings overlooking the Huécar River. If you’re not scared of heights, you can visit the Bridge of San Pablo. Moreover, science and paleontology lovers must check out the array of museums to fulfill their thirst for visual knowledge. 

Travel Tips:

  • Take the high-speed AVE train for a 55-minute ride from Madrid to Cuenca
  • If you are an art fanatic, make sure to visit the Antonio Pérez Foundation, and check out 35 rooms filled with modern art for just 2 euros

Where to Eat:

Try Olea Comedor for contemporary dishes. However, you must reserve seats in advance as it’s a small restaurant.

5. Cordoba

Cordoba
Source: cge2010 / shutterstock

Located in the region of Andalusia, Cordoba is a southerly city with a rich history that is portrayed by the intricate architecture and photogenic courtyards. A highlight of the city is the Mosque of Cordoba. The Moorish style mosque is considered as one of the greatest Islamic structures. Other exceptional places to check out are the Calahorra Tower and Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos.

Travel Tips:

  • To receive a first-hand visual of the nooks and crannies of the city, ride around on a bike preferably late in the evening when all the mosques are lit up
  • If you are in the area from June to mid-September, you can watch movies in the open air at Delicias or Coliseo San Andrés. Check this out for schedules. 

Where to Eat:

If you’re willing to spend a little extra, you must try the Michelin-starred Noor Restaurant that will serve you dishes with avant-garde recipes. But make sure you book in advance!

6. Avila

Avila
Source: Marques / shutterstock

Avila, known as the town of stones and saints, has a huge collection of Gothic and Romanesque churches as well as narrow alleys that portray the medieval era. The city is covered with lined walls with 80 towers and 9 entrances (two of the most incredible ones are the Puerta del Alcázar and Puerta de San Vicente). The other popular attractions include the Mercado Chico square and the monastery of Santo Tomas.

Travel Tips:

  • To go to Avila take a 1.5-hour ride on the high-speed AVE train from the Chamartin station in Madrid 
  • Since it’s an old walled city, the best way to check it out is by walking especially the 2.5 km wall that is an 1884 listed-monument 

Where to Eat:

You must try the Iberian Avileña-Black bred beef which can be found all over the city in various restaurants and steakhouses. 

7. Chinchon

Chinchon
Source: M.Peinado/Flickr

Chinchon is one of the rustic towns in Spain that you simply shouldn’t miss because of its beauty. The most famous place to visit is the Plaza Mayor which is renowned for its uneven shape formed by the balconies of the houses formed since the medieval age. These balconies (known as “claros”) date back to 1713! Apart from that, the town’s charm is spread across every corner. You can either walk around the beautiful streets or let the view sink in from the old clock tower. 

Travel Tips:

  • By a 50-minute ride, you can go to Chinchon from Madrid’s Conde de Casal metro stop; you may check the schedule here
  • Be sure to buy handicrafts from the local shops that can be found almost in every corner in the center of Chinchon

Where to Eat:

You must try the restaurant La Recua Del Pelicano that serves traditional food with a twist. With a simple exterior, this restaurant is a hidden gem for food lovers. 

8. Salamanca

Salamanca
Source: Lorenmart

Salamanca is another UNESCO-listed city in Spain that has gained its popularity among tourists mostly from the University of Salamanca which was built in 1094! The University’s crafted exterior has made it one of the most beautiful university buildings in the world. You must also check the incredible view from the Tower of Clerecia. Besides, the Plaza Mayor is worth a visit. 

Travel Tips:

  • From Madrid, Salamanca is 2.5 hours away by car or 90 minutes away by train; check the train schedule in advance because if the time is suitable it’s preferable to opt for the train instead of a car
  • You must check out the Roman bridge which ensures a different view at day and night

Where to Eat:

Hornazo, a meat pie, is a traditional dish that is the highlight of all the baked foods. You can find it multiple bakeries, and well is supermarket chains. Also, you must try the food at Río de la Plata (for traditional Spanish house interior) and El Corrillo (for music lovers).

9. Aranjuez

Aranjuez
Source: milosk50 / shutterstock

For gardening lovers, Aranjuez is the perfect place near Madrid that is filled with luscious greenery. The highlight of the city is the Royal Palace of Aranjuez that is lined with beautiful vegetation starting from the Gardens to the Island, followed by the Parterre. You must also visit the Museum of Royal Feluccas to let the intricate artifacts sync in. 

Travel Tips:

  • Aranjuez is just 40 minutes away from Madrid by train or car
  • For a vintage and fun experience, take the Strawberry Train from  Principe Pio station to Aranjuez where you will be served delicious strawberries (only during May, June, September, and October) 

Where to Eat:

For authentic food, check out Restaurante el Patio del Mercado and Casa Pablo Restaurant. 

10. San Lorenzo de El Escorial

San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Source: Marques / shutterstock

San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a hill-town dominated by the palace-monastery built for Phillip II, making it one of Spain’s most beautiful monuments. The day trip can be packed with covering the following features of the incredible Renaissance monument – 9 towers, 15 cloisters, 13 oratories, 88 fountains, 73 sculptures, a library with 40,000 books, and more than 1,600paintings!

Travel Tips:

  • The town of El Escorial is an hour away from Madrid’s Atocha station
  • If you’re traveling with children, make the day trip a little more interesting by a visit to the Insect Park 

Where to Eat:

The town of El Escorial is packed with little cafes and restaurants lined with trees to provide a pleasant experience while you enjoy the food and the view!

11. Alcala de Henares

Alcala de Henares
Source: M.Peinado/Flickr

Alcala de Henares, holding its medieval charm, is located in the east of Madrid. The popular attractions in the city include the Universidad Complutense and the Gothic Cathedral. You should also visit the museum at Calle Mayor which is lined with pillars supporting the magnificent arcades. 

Travel Tips:

  • Take the Cercanías train from Madrid’s Atocha station to reach Alcala in 40 minutes
  • If you fix a day trip on a Saturday, you can take the Tren de Cervantes from Atocha station

Where to Eat:

You can have your meals at the Parador, try specialties like costrada pastries in the town’s convents, and try one of the pavement cafes in the Plaza de Cervantes for an afternoon coffee.

12. Consuegra

Consuegra
Source: Zoi Koraki/Flickr

Consuegra is a beautiful town famous for its white windmills built in the 16th Century. If you’ve watched Don Quixote, the battle between the knight and the sails (mistaken as giants) took place in Consuegra. While you’re at the picturesque town, make sure to head to the Renaissance-style town hall and the Castle of Consuegra. 

Travel Tips:

  • By a little over 2.5 hours, you can reach Consuegra from Madrid by a bus or a car
  • You can rent a car at a reasonable price from one of the companies in Madrid’s Atocha station

Where to Eat:

For authentic food, you can try La Bodeguita that serves the amazing traditional dish, Gachas, which is a must-try if you are in Consuegra.

13. The Ribera Del Duero Wine Region

The Ribera Del Duero Wine Region
Source: Alfonso de Tomas / shutterstock

The Ribera Del Duero is a heaven for wine lovers as there is a myriad of wineries and types of wine that has allowed the region to gain prestige. Make sure to visit the castles and villages in the region as well. However, if you want to limit yourself to every aspect of wines, stick to Valbuena de Duero or Pesquera de Duero.

Travel Tips:

  • Although it should be a stay-over trip, you can fit Ribera del Duero into a day trip but make sure to hire a private driver so that you can make the most out of the wine region
  • You must pre-book a wine tour and wine tasting preferably in two different winery

Where to Eat:

You must try the regional roast meat at any “Asador” Restaurant, after you’ve completed the wine tasting. 

14. Valencia

Valencia
Source: karnavalfoto / shutterstock

Offering beautiful architecture, fascinating history, and delicious food is a sparkling city on the east coast of Spain, Valencia. Due to its laidback atmosphere, it might be hard to make a day trip to Valencia but if a coast day trip is what you need, there’s no way you should miss it.

Travel Tips:

  • You can take the high-speed AVE train from Madrid to reach Valencia Joaquín Sorolla station in 1 hour 35 minutes
  • You can also take a bus from Madrid; check this website to purchase tickets

Where to Eat:

Indulge in Paella, a traditional Spanish dish that is known to be served the best in Valencia; you can either go to the Restaurant Mateo or Casa Carmela.

15. Pedraza

Pedraza
Source: Marques / shutterstock

Located 37 km from Segovia, Pedraza is a small rustic town that is vibrant in history and culture. The spotlight of the town is the Pedraza Castle, a structure of ancient medieval architecture. You must also walk around Calle Mayor to take in the beauty of one of the best-preserved towns in Spain.

Travel Tips:

  • The quickest way to travel to Pedraza from Madrid is by car in 1.5 hours
  • Although it’s a small town, the population increases drastically in weekends so if you’d want to experience a more peaceful trip try to fix a weekday

Where to Eat:

The best place to eat in Pedraza is La Olma, which has a rustic styled interior and serves traditional cuisines. You may also find authentic tapas in multiple cafes in the cobbled streets. 

Conclusion

Each day trip recommendation featured in this article will surely make your day eventful. If you have multiple days at hand, try to cover most of the places mentioned here, as they are nothing short of mesmerizing beauty.

However, if you have just a day or two to spare, make sure you select the cities or towns that have the most appealing feature according to you, be it architecture, nature, or food. 

That being said, any place you visit in this list will leave you spellbound. So, go ahead and start planning your next day trip to unravel what it has in store for you.

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