One of the best parts about Madrid is that it’s smack dab in the center of Spain. This makes it an awesome base for exploring other small cities that are nearby on a day trip.
While Madrid is an endlessly bustling city, you’ll quickly find that the surrounding areas can be quite diverse in terms of what they offer visitors. There are beaches, fairy tale towns and other large Spanish cities a simple train ride away.
Visiting these places on a day trip will give you bite-sized pieces of the country while making Madrid home base.
Whether you want to explore medieval lands, hit other landmark Spanish cities, or simply seek a nice place to chill out, there are plenty of day trips worth taking from Madrid.
Quick Answer: Top 10 Day Trips from Madrid
Here are 10 of the best day trips from Madrid that you should consider adding to your itinerary. Read on to find out more about the highlights of each place, as well as tips on how to get there.
- El Escorial and The Valley of the Fallen
How to Travel Around
As like most parts of Europe, Spain is actually very well connected, allowing you to easily jump on a train, bus, or a short flight. Their high-speed trains (AVE) connect most of the tourist destinations and can be reached within a couple of hours.
Highlights: Aqueduct | Alcázar | Segovia Cathedral | Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso
To get out of big city Madrid and experience some of the fairy tale magic that Spain is known for, take a quick trip to Segovia to immerse yourself in a medieval city with plenty to do.
Brimming with grand structures and a history that dates further back than your imagination, spend your day visiting sites like the Roman aqueduct with its 167 arches, the Segovia Cathedral which looms over the city like a tremendous watchdog, and the Alcázar — a castle that inspired the home of Sleeping Beauty.
Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Royal Palace as well! Sitting just 10 kilometers outside of Segovia and easily accessible by bus or taxi, you’ll find grand halls rivaling Versailles and a surrounding landscape covered in lush, rolling hills.
In between visiting all that there is to see, be sure to stop by a local restaurant for some cochinillo asado, an authentic specialty of roast suckling pig from Segovia.
For more on Segovia, check out our recommendations of the best things to do!
Getting There: The easiest way to get to Segovia from Madrid is to hop on the AVE train, which takes less than half an hour. However, it’s important to note that the train station in Segovia is a bit out of the way, so once you arrive, you’ll have to hop on a bus to reach the historical center.
If you wanted a single straight shot from Madrid, you can take a bus rather than a train, which will drop you right outside of Old Town. The only trade-off is that you’re looking at about an hour and fifteen minute journey rather than 30 minutes by train.
Highlights: Medieval city wall | Historic town center | Convent of Santa Teresa
Another stunning medieval city that will transport you back in time is Avila, which has some magnificent draws, making it the perfect day trip from Madrid.
This wonderfully-preserved town gives you a taste of what it would be like to live in a time long ago within the massive medieval city wall and historic town center. Transport yourself by visiting the Convent of Santa Teresa, a sprawling stone building that was the birthplace of St. Teresa of Avila. For those who have read the book Eat, Pray, Love, Santa Teresa makes a brief appearance in the India section and is noted to be one of the greatest meditators of all time!
One of the best parts about Avila is that it’s located not too far from Segovia, so you can spend a few hours in each place before returning to Madrid to spend the night.
Getting There: You can easily access Avila via Media Distancia trains that run from Madrid. The ride takes around an hour and a half, and you’ll be treated to some stunning Spanish views along the way!
Alternatively, you can opt for a full-day tour of Avila and Segovia and make the most of your day out of Madrid.
Highlights: Large white windmills | Moorish castle
If you’ve read Don Quijote, a trip to Consuegra is a must. The massive windmills dotting the area are instantly recognizable as the ones identified as giants with flailing arms in the story.
Besides the picturesque white windmills spread throughout the town, there’s also a huge Moorish castle that’s worth a visit as well. There’s plenty to explore in and around the castle, such as the maze of gates, circular towers, and the snaking rooms designed to be hidden from attackers.
Before returning to Madrid from Consuegra, be sure to pick up some saffron, which is a specialty of the region!
Getting There: Samar buses run regularly from Madrid to Consuegra. The trip takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes, making it a lengthy trip but totally worth it for a day of exploring.
Highlights: Jewish Quarter | Toledo Cathedral | Mosque of Cristo de la Luz | El Greco Museum
Besides scenic little towns made for getting lost in, there are also plenty of famed cities accessible in a single day from Madrid. One such city is Toledo, which is totally worth a day trip if you’re interested in seeing the former Spanish capital.
In Toledo, you can treat yourself to some history as it’s known as the Town of Three Cultures. Within the city, you’ll be able to find a Jewish Quarter, a giant cathedral, as well as the most impressive mosque in all of Spain, signifying the harmony between the three religions in this glorious place. It’s no wonder people flock to this city to experience such diversity!
Spend a day wandering around the cobblestone streets and marveling at the nearby rolling hills at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. And don’t forget to check out the El Greco Museum, as this famous artist spent most of his life in Toledo.
Getting There: Toledo is a quick half-hour train ride away from Madrid via an AVANT train operated by Renfe.
Highlights: Sagrada Familia | Gracia | Park Güell | Camp Nou | La Boqueria
While we’re talking about other large Spanish cities, Barcelona also makes for a great day trip from Madrid, as long as you don’t mind a little extra travel time.
As Spain’s second largest city, there’s an endless amount to do, such as marvel at the Sagrada Familia, lounge around one of the city beaches, or stroll around Gracia. It’s also one of the best places to eat and drink in Spain (although you can’t really go wrong when it comes to food and drink wherever you are), so be sure to grab a meal or two during your day there.
Other awesome places to visit in Barcelona are Park Güell (an incredible famous Gaudi landmark), Camp Nou (the Barcelona FC stadium), and La Boqueria, a massive indoor food market filled with the finest Spanish delicacies.
You can certainly experience this city on a day trip from Madrid, but as there’s so much to see and do in Barcelona, I’d recommend staying for a little longer if your itinerary allows you to.
Getting There: You can take a high-speed AVE train from Madrid that reaches Barcelona in two and a half hours.
Highlights: New Cathedral of Salamanca | Casa de las Conchas | Plaza Mayor
Salamanca is essentially the academic capital of Spain. Home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, there’s plenty to see in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll find yourself so completely immersed in history and culture while visiting Salamanca that you may end up forgetting what time period you’re in!
Besides the university, you should make your way to the New Cathedral of Salamanca that’s covered in intricate carvings that are updated over the years. Keep your eyes peeled for the astronaut that was carved in the 1990s!
You can also visit Casa de las Conchas, a hidden gothic gem of Salamanca, as well as the astounding Plaza Mayor to round out your day trip from Madrid.
To get deeper into Salamanca’s history and learn about its monuments, we’d recommend taking a guided walking tour.
Getting There: To go from the center of Madrid to the heart of Salamanca, the easiest way is by train. With stops, the train takes two and a half hours, but there’s also a direct option which will get you to your destination in an hour and a half.
There are also different buses that run between Madrid and Salamanca. Typically, you’ll be able to find one operated by Avanza, and you can expect the journey to take two and a half hours.
Highlights: Hanging houses | Museum of Abstract Art | Bridge of San Pablo | Devil’s Nose Train
Best known for its mystifying hanging houses looming off the edge of a crazy cliff, you’ll find yourself gazing up the entire day in Cuenca to catch the wild views of this place.
Besides the hanging houses, which are the main draw for travelers, you’ll also find that Cuenca is a city of art. It’s absolutely teeming with museums of all different kinds that will give you a good look into Spanish life. Be sure to visit the Museum of Abstract Art or the Semana Santa Museum for some culture!
On the adventure side, there’s also plenty to do in Cuenca. Take a gander over the Bridge of San Pablo, or a ride on the Devil’s Nose Train through the Andes. This is another place you may find yourself wanting to stay for a little longer than a day.
Getting There: Cuenca is an hour train ride away from Madrid. The city has two stations: Estacion de Cuenca-Fernando Zobel which is for the high speed trains and Estacion de Cuenca for all others. Be sure to keep this in mind when booking tickets!
El Escorial & The Valley of the Fallen
Highlights: Artwork in El Escorial | Monarch’s tombs | Fascist monument from Spanish Civil War
If you’re eager to pack a lot into your day trip from Madrid, you can fit these two destinations in one go.
First, El Escorial is a giant Spanish building that can’t be missed. What El Escorial actually is is a bit of a mystery. Basically it’s a combination of a monastery, church, palace, and library all wrapped into one, dating back to the 16th century.
This massive structure was built under the reign of King Philip II and was incredibly important during the Spanish Renaissance. Today, it remains one of the most interesting destinations in Spain. It draws people in from far and wide to view the priceless artwork and explore the tombs containing Spanish monarchs.
Once you’ve finished exploring El Escorial, you can head to another fascinating Spanish monument that’s located nearby, Valle de los Caidos or the Valley of the Fallen.
If El Escorial is one of the most interesting places to visit in Spain, the Valley of the Fallen can be labeled as the most controversial. This monument is the remnants of the fascist years Spain experienced under Francisco Franco’s rule.
The structure itself is a giant cross and basilica built from stone, which was constructed by prisoners of the Spanish Civil War. Today, it’s Franco’s final resting place, along with the 40,000 people who were killed during the war.
While visiting the Valley of the Fallen, don’t expect to learn much about the dark past of this monument at the site itself. Instead, read up on its history beforehand so you understand the impact of the grounds you’ll be standing on.
Getting There: To get to El Escorial, you can take a Cercanias train from Madrid. The journey only takes an hour, and the monument is easily accessible from the station.
After El Escorial, you can rent a car or hire a taxi or driver to take you up to the Valley of the Fallen, which is only about a 20-minute drive away. You can also take Bus 660 to Valle de los Caidos o Cruce Cuelgamuros and end up at the monument in about a half hour.
It makes the most sense to lump these two destinations into one as there’s no direct route to the Valley of the Fallen from Madrid via bus or train. Instead, you’d have to make a stop in El Escorial to catch the bus or hire a taxi.
Highlights: Old Clock Tower | Plaza Mayor | Local artisans | Quirky festivals
Another charming Spanish town a quick ride away from Madrid is Chinchon, which is filled with plenty to keep you occupied for a day of exploring.
While visiting this lovely little place, climb to the top of the old clock tower to admire the town from above. Then wander around the Plaza Mayor, which is shaped irregularly due to the balconies of the medieval houses. This is also a great place to pick up some souvenirs made by local artisans, so you have something to bring back home while supporting the local economy!
Besides the lovely attractions here, Chinchon is also well-known for unique events like the garlic festival which is held in autumn and the anisette liquor festival held in the spring!
Getting There: Since Chinchon is located just outside of Madrid, it’s quite easy to get to by car or taxi. You can also take a bus from Av. Mediterraneo-Conde De Casal which departs every thirty minutes and gets you to Chinchon in just under an hour.
Highlights: Seville Cathedral | Alcázar | Maria Luisa Park | Plaza de España
A final standout day trip from Madrid (that will leave you hungry for more) is a quick visit to Seville.
Located in the heart of Andalusia, Seville lives up to Spain’s cliches: it’s romantic, passionate, and filled with the stomping and clapping of flamenco dancers. This city is a beautiful place to visit, even just for a day, as you’ll find that it’s colorful, thriving, and full of character.
While visiting Seville, you can’t miss a trip to the massive city cathedral and the Alcázar, which is one of the most picture-perfect places to ever be created. Just be sure to buy tickets in advance, as the Alcázar also doubles as the Water Gardens of Dorne, making it super popular with Game of Thrones fans.
You can also take some time to visit Maria Luisa Park for a picnic lunch, and then spend a lazy afternoon rowing down the river or exploring Plaza de España.
Getting There: Seville can be reached by Renfe AVE trains from Madrid. It’s about a two-and-a-half-hour journey, but is beyond worth it once you feast your eyes on this glorious city.
With so many destinations easily reached on a day trip from Madrid, it’s nearly impossible to choose where to start! There’s so much to see, endless exploring to be done, and bounds of Spanish culture waiting to be soaked in.
The best part about Spain is that no matter which day trips from Madrid you choose to take, you’re sure to marvel in awe at all that this new place has to offer.
PS: Have you fully explored Madrid yet? Check out our list of awesome things to do in Madrid!
Looking for more on Spain? Check out these articles
- Best Places to Visit in Spain That You Shouldn’t Miss
- Where To Stay in Spain | Best Hotels & Hostels
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