While there are so many things to do in Madrid (see my Top 10 post HERE and my restaurant guide HERE), there are also some great day trips you can take. If you plan on visiting Madrid for more than a couple days, I highly recommend hopping on a train to one (or more) of these cities!
Probably the most popular day trip destination is Toledo, a stunning hilltop town with windy cobblestone streets and plenty of picturesque views.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Take the fast train (30 minutes) from Madrid Atocha to Toledo (€20 round trip). From the Toledo train station, you can take the bus or walk (about 10 minutes) to the city entrance.
The Alcázar of Toledo is located at highest part of city; it’s a sight you won’t be able to miss. Inside you’ll find a war museum, but I opted to just soak in the exterior view from every angle. I recommend admiring the view from the Alcántara Bridge at one of the cities entrances, and the Mirador del Valle for an absolutely incredible view of the entire city.
The Toledo Cathedral is another must see. It’s considered one of the greatest Gothic structures in Europe. With an impressive exterior AND
interior, it’s well worth the €12 admission fee.
I also visited the Santa María La Blanca (believed to be the oldest synagogue in Spain with beautiful Moorish architecture), and the Puente de San Martín (another medieval bridge over the Tajo River).
• Plan on crowds unless you go in the off season. No surprise since this is one of the top day trip destinations from Madrid.
• Put the map away, and get lost on the windy streets.
It takes a little longer to get to Ávila than some of the other day trips, but it’s still very doable in one day. Ávila is famous for its ancient medieval walls that surround the town and the beautiful rolling hills of the Spanish countryside.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Take the train (90 minutes) from Madrid Chamartín Station to Estación de Ávila (€20 round trip). The city center is a 12-15 minute walk or you can grab a taxi right outside the train station.
Start by walking around the outside of the city walls toward Los Cuatro Postes (The Four Posts, E) for a spectacular view of the city and its walls.
Next head into the city and climb on the walls (La Muralla de Ávila). It’s the perfect way to admire the town and countryside. You will eventually end up at the Ávila Cathedral, which is actually built into the wall. From there you can explore the town before you head back to the train station.
• Stop by the Tourist Office of Ávila first to purchase your tickets for the wall. For €5 you will have access to 2 different areas of the wall, or for €13 you will have access to the wall and several other sights, including the cathedral.
• Pack a hat and sunscreen. You won’t find much shade on the walls.
Segovia was by far my FAVORITE day trip. . .I ended up going twice! It was so beautiful with some of the most magnificent buildings and views.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Take the AVE high-speed train (30 minutes) from Madrid Chamartín Station to Segovia (€20-30 round trip). Take bus #11 to the Aqueduct (last stop before turning back to train station) OR take a taxi all the way to the Alcazar then walk down from there. (See my recommendation below under “Tips.”)
There are three main sights in Segovia. Climb to the top of the Alcázar of Segovia for breathtaking panoramas of the city, walk through the palace and check out the incredible ceilings (in my top 3 along with the Sistine Chapel and the Royal Palace of Madrid), and wander through the paths outside the city for even more amazing views of the castle. Fun fact: the Alcázar of Segovia is said to be one of the castles that inspired Walt Disney!
Head to the Cathedral of Segovia and purchase a ticket for a guided tour up the bell tower for more great views. Grab lunch in the square by the cathedral (suckling pig is the specialty) before heading to your last stop: the Roman Aqueduct, which dates back to the 1st century. The aqueducts are truly a sight to behold. Climb the stairs next to the aqueduct for another awesome view.
• I recommend taking a taxi from the train station to the Alcazar (around €9), then walk through the city and end at the Aqueducts. From there, take the bus back to the train station (€2, pay to driver).
• Be prepared to climb a lot of steps at each location. 100% worth it because the views are some of the best.
So there you have it, three awesome day trips to take from Madrid! Have you been to any? Do you plan to add these to your Madrid itinerary? Let me know.