Even Madrileños need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life sometimes. Explore the cities surrounding the Spanish capital with our guide for the five best village day trips from Madrid!
Did you know Madrid hasn’t always been the capital of Spain? With its stunning (and strategic) panoramic views, the hilltop city of Toledo had the honor until 1561. It won’t take you long to see why this city is arguably the most popular and undeniably one of the best village day trips from Madrid. Wander the winding streets of this charming historical city where, at one time, Christians, Muslims and Jews all co-existed harmoniously. If you’re in search of a special souvenir, Toledo has a rich history in the production of medieval swords!
Must-see attractions: Cathedral of Saint Mary, Alcázar fortress, El Greco museum, Church of Santo Tome, Museum of Santa Cruz.
How to get there: Take the AVE high-speed train from Madrid’s Atocha station. You’ll arrive at the Estación de Toledo 35 minutes later. From there, take bus 5, 61 or 62 to Plaza de Zocodover (city center) or enjoy the 15-minute stroll from the station, along the river and across the ancient draw bridge into the medieval city.
Another incredibly popular day trip from Madrid is Segovia. At the end of the Middle Ages, the city, which was an important center for trade, experienced something of a golden age. The impressive Segovia cathedral is one of several works of breathtaking Gothic architecture that were completed during this period. With so much to see and do, Segovia is any easy choice for one of the best village day trips from Madrid! In addition to its famous Roman aqueduct (which has towered over the city for nearly 2,000 years!), Segovia is known for its culinary specialty, cochinillo (roasted suckling pig). Meat eaters, welcome to heaven! Don’t worry, vegetarians. Madrid has you covered with some vegetarian-friendly treats.
Must-see attractions: Roman aqueduct, Alcázar of Segovia, Plaza Mayor, Segovia Cathedral.
How to get there: Take the AVE high-speed train from Madrid’s Chamartín station. You’ll arrive at the Estación de Segovia-Guiomar 30 minutes later. From there, take bus 11 to the Roman aqueduct.
Venture northwest of Madrid, and nestled at the foot of Mount Abantos in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, you’ll find a small Spanish village that’s home to a giant royal complex. The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, or simply referred to as El Escorial, dates back to the 16th century. The complex, which includes a royal palace, a monastery, a school, a basilica and a Royal Pantheon, is one of the several historical residences of the King of Spain. More than 500,000 visitors make the trip to El Escorial every year, making it one of the most popular day trips near Madrid by bus.
Must-see attractions: Courtyard of the Kings, basilica, Hall of Battles, Pantheon of the Kings, Palace of Philip II.
How to get there: Take bus 661 or 664 from Madrid’s Intercambiador de Moncloa bus station. You’ll arrive at the San Lorenzo de El Escorial bus station one hour later.
Our next day trip from Madrid is for medieval history buffs, who will positively delight in Ávila’s ancient city walls, some of the best-preserved ancient city walls in the country. Sometimes called the Town of Stone and Saints, Ávila is without a doubt one of the most enchanting 16th-century towns in Spain. Climb to the top of the city’s walls and enjoy the captivating views of the quaint town below. As if the vibrant village wasn’t enough, the town is set against the gorgeous backdrop of rolling hills. Ávila an easy day trip from Madrid by train or bus, both of which take about 1.5 hours. Another option is to rent a car and make the 1.5 hour drive without having to stick to a bus or train schedule! Whatever mode of transportation you choose, there’s no question Ávila is one of the best village day trips from Madrid!
Must-see attractions: The Walls of Avíla, Cathedral of Avíla, Basílica de San Vicente, Plaza de Santa Teresa.
How to get there: Take the train from Madrid’s Chamartín station. You’ll arrive at the Estación de Avíla 90 minutes later. It’s a 12 to 15 walk to the city center.
Alcalá de Henares
Make the day trip from Madrid to Alcalá de Henares, and see the birthplace of Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. Although his family moved long before he penned Don Quixote, you can still visit the Church of Santa María where Cervantes was baptized in 1547. The local university, which is one of the oldest in the world, is a global leader in the study of Cervantes and his work. Once you’ve had your literary fill, check out the city’s many tapas bars. You can use the same approach to ordering tapas as you do in Madrid!
Must-see attractions: University of Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares Cathedral, Plaza de Cervantes.
How to get there: Take the C2 or C7 commuter train called the Cercanias from Madrid’s Atocha, Chamartín or Nuevos Ministerios stations. You’ll arrive at the Estación de Alcalá de Henares 45 minutes later. It’s a 10 to 12-minute walk to the city center.
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Alex’s first taste of Spain was Basque Country, and it was love at first sip…of txakoli! Too obsessed with tapas to even consider returning to the States, Alex moved to Madrid and continued exploring Spain. Read more about her travels and expat adventures on her blog: Backpacking Brunette.