The Top 10 Very Best Day Trips From Madrid
The Spanish capital is located pretty much slap bang in the middle of mainland Spain. There are a host of things to see and do in the city, from the spectacular Prado art gallery to one of the most famous football grounds in the world, the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. But the location of Madrid also means there are countless towns, cities and regions which can easily be visited from the capital on a day trip, meaning a Madrid holiday can allow you to see much more of Spain than you may have first thought. In this article, we’ll count down ten of the best day trips from Madrid.
You’ll have to get up early to make it worth visiting Barcelona from Madrid, because it’s a 3.5 hour train journey to reach the city. But if you’re prepared for an early start then it is possible to take in Spain’s most popular tourist city on a day trip from Madrid. Known for the works of Gaudi, the iconic Sagrada Familia is finally nearly finished and Park Guell is home to some of the architect’s finest work. Alongside Real Madrid, FC Barcelona are the other heavyweight football team in the country, and their stadium, the Nou Camp, is open for stadium tours. A wander down the famous La Rambla is also a must.
Around 90 minutes northwest of Madrid by train, travellers will discover the historic UNESCO-listed city of Salamanca. The university here is probably the highlight, with beautiful old buildings dating back several centuries. Wonderful views of the city can be enjoyed from the Clerecia tower and the Plaza Mayor central square here is one of the most attractive in the whole of Spain.
Another of Spain’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Toledo is one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations in its own right and makes a great addition to any Madrid holiday. Just a 30 minute train from the capital, a trip to Toledo allows plenty of time to enjoy the incredible views from the top of the gorge on which the city is constructed. Toledo is known as the “City of Three Cultures”, thanks to its long-lived harmonious community of Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Valbuena de Duero
Spain is synonymous with wine and there are numerous wine regions throughout the country. Valbuena de Duero is located on the doorstep of Madrid and it is perfectly doable to hire a car and head out into the countryside for a day of exploring. There are vineyards to stroll through and wineries to visit, complete with tasting and the possibility of procuring a few bottles of Spain’s finest to take back to Madrid with you.
Cordoba can be reached in 2 hours from Madrid by train and the southern city is paradise for lovers of good architecture. The city is home to the Mosque of Cordoba, one of the greatest Islamic buildings to be found anywhere in the world. Calahorra Tower is another highlight and you’ll still have plenty of time to tuck into some tapas before getting the train back to Madrid.
The historic walled city of Avila is just an 80-minute drive from Madrid and the undoubted highlight of the city is the still intact city walls. The 12th century structure weaves for 2.5km around the city, offering amazing views of the city and the more than 2,000 remaining battlements. If you’re stopping for a spot of lunch then you’ll want to head to a steakhouse, Avilena beef is renowned as some of the best in Spain.
The golden Roman city of Segovia is just 27 minutes by high speed rail from Madrid, making it perfectly doable as a day trip. The first place you’ll want to visit in the city is the Roman Aqueduct, which dates all the way back to the year 50AD. There’s also a 500-year old Gothic cathedral and an atmospheric Jewish Quarter.
There are many highlights in Madrid, but the one thing it lacks is a coastline. If you fancy a day by the sea then Valencia is probably your best bet. Just an hour and a half from the capital you can find sun-kissed Mediterranean shores with a laid back atmosphere and a waterfront bursting with mouthwatering restaurants and bars. For some culture you can pay a visit to L’Oceanographic or the Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, a gallery showcasing a great range of modern art.
Cuenca is just 55 minutes from Madrid by train and is another great option if you want to visit a walled town. Perched on a rugged hilltop, Cuenca is famous for its hanging houses, which have been built directly into the rock face. The best view of these can be found on the St Paul’s footbridge, which offers great views of the houses – just remember not to look down! The Plaza Mayor is home to Spain’s oldest Gothic cathedral and there are a choice of restaurants serving up the game for which this region of Spain is famous.
Taking the final spot on our list is Pedraza, a medieval town which can easily be combined with nearby Segovia on a day trip from Madrid. Pedraza is like stepping back in time, with quaint cobbled streets, a well-preserved castle and hidden cafes tucked away in narrow, winding alleys. Tapas here is made with local ingredients, away from the tourist traps which can be found in some of the larger cities – you won’t regret stopping for lunch.
There’s plenty to see and do in Madrid to keep you busy, but it may be nice to spend a day or two exploring some of the surrounding areas, when on holiday in the Spanish capital. With ancient cities, wonderful waterfronts and rustic countryside, the choices are endless when searching for the perfect day trip from Madrid.
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