6 Day Trips from Madrid
In case you haven’t caught on from the million and one times I have talked about it on my Instagram stories and page and the countless posts where I refer to that one time when I used to live in Madrid, I used to live in Madrid. And I absolutely loved it. Every last second of it and every single thing about it. While I could probably write a whole book just talking about all of the reasons why I love my soulmate of a city, I won’t because well that would require me to have the time to do that first. I will tell you though one of the main reasons why I loved it so much--the fact that it was at the center of the Iberian Peninsula (in the center of the city there was a plaque the said Kilometro 0 signifying where all roads of the Iberian Peninsula started). So do you know what this meant?! CHEAP TRIPS (to all parts of Spain) GALORE. And even better: countless day trip options available.
One of the most recurring pieces of advice I was given before I left for Spain was to enjoy the country I was in before occupying myself with being in a different country every weekend. So I did just that. I spent my first few weeks in Spain taking trips to nearby cities and these were the ones I was able to conveniently do in a day!
6 Days Trips from Madrid
Segovia was actually my first ever day trip from Madrid. I went on the trip the week after I arrived and it definitely gave me such high expectations of not just Spain, but Europe in general. The city itself was filled with so much history. Segovia is an ancient city that over the centuries has belonged to the Celts, the Romans, Islams and Christians. So you can just imagine the amount of cultures and influences that existed here. The thing that amazed me the most though was the massive aqueduct that stood in the city center. It was in this moment that my love for architecture started. It was incredible and larger than life and basically anything I had ever seen in my life.
How to Get There: 1 hour by bus or 30 mins by high speed AVE train
Must See: Aqueduct of Segovia, Alcazar of Segovia, and Mirador de la Canaleja
Must Eat: Cochinillo a.k.a. Suckling pig (it is a local delicacy--for filipinos it is basically lechon)
Bonus City: Pedraza
When I visited Segovia, I was fortunate enough to be able to stop in the 100 person town of Pedraza. The whole town only has one gate to enter and exit the town, so basically if you get locked in after the gate closes there is no way out, ahhh! There is not much to do in the town itself but look. I mean I was able to get around the whole town in about 30 minutes or maybe even less. Most of the people that live there are older and are retired.
Note: This town is a little harder to get to though, only accessible if you are driving there.
Toledo is known to be a city of 3 cultures because of its Christian, Arabic and Jewish influences. The center of the city is situated in between the valleys because in the past this made it harder for enemies to reach the castle (reaching the castle meant conquering the kingdom). I loved walking around here because there was so much history at every corner. This city was probably my favorite day trip. It may or may not have to do with the fact that I found a pastelería that sold macarons for such a cheap price. I also may or may not have bought a dozen and devoured them immediately.
How to Get There: 33 mins by high speed AVE train leaving from Atocha
Must See: Catedral (the interior architecture was amazing) and the Alcazar
Must Eat: Marzipan (trust me you won’t want to skip out on this one)
Salamanca, known as Spain's "golden city" and home to the oldest university in the Hispanic world and the third oldest university in the entire world still in operation, is probably one of the most exquisite day trips you can take from Madrid in terms of architecture. Not only that, but the religious influences still reign greatly over the town and the gastronomic culture is very much alive. If you are a UNESCO World Heritage site aficionado, this Old City is definitely on there and well worth the visit. One of my favorite parts of this trip was comparing the differences between a new and the old cathedral--definitely a must during your trip.
How to Get There: 1 hour and 40 min by train leaving from Madrid-Chamartin station or 2 hr 45 min bus ride
Must See: Old Cathedral of Salamanca, New Cathedral of Salamanca, and Casa de las Conchas
Must Eat: Jeta (meat-based recipe consisting of roasted pork cheeks served in bite-sized portions), hornazo (mostly available at the end of easter is a popular meat pie)
Avila is a little town about 2 hours away from Madrid. Most of the city is encased within castle walls, which in the past was built to make it harder for enemies to attack. I went to Avila during Carnaval season so the streets were full of life and there were little kids running around everywhere in cute little costumes. I definitely suggest visiting during this season! The town itself is not very big and I was able to walk around the main area within the castle walls in about an hour and a half. I was lucky enough to be brought here by a local so I was really treated like an Española.
How to Get There: My friend and I rented a cheap car to drive here (which I suggest), but if you don’t want to drive you can take a 1 hr bus from Estación Sur or take the 1 hr 30 min train ride from Madrid Chamartin Station
Must See: Catedral (the interior architecture was amazing) and climb up the castle walls
Must Eat: Chuleton (a typical dish in Avila of vaca or ternera) and Yema ("Yemas" in Spanish means "egg yolks" and also refers to a very rich and creamy, traditional Spanish dessert made very simply of egg yolks, granulated sugar and water, then coated in powdered sugar)
5. El Escorial
The Escorial is a vast building complex located in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, near Madrid, in central Spain. The building is the most important architectural monument of the Spanish Renaissance. This town is looked over so often that before going there, I had personally never heard of El Escorial before, which is unfortunate because it was beautiful. But, I was lucky to know a local that told me about this beautiful hidden city. The town itself is pretty small but what will definitely take your breath away is the Monasterio de El Escorial. In other words, the palace. The palace is huge. I suggest touring around the palace sans tour guide so you can really take your time in seeing all the rooms, the mausoleum, La Biblioteca (the famous library), and so much more. Trust me, this is a place you won’t want to be rushed at.
How to Get There: My friend and I rented a cheap car to drive here too (which I suggest), but if you don’t want to drive you can take a 1 hr RENFE train for $3
Must See: Monasterio de El Escorial
Must Eat: There is nothing specifically notable to this city, but the chocolate con churros right outside the Monasterio are amazing
6. Valle de Los Caidos
Last, but certainly not the least, you MUST visit el Valle de Los Caidos. Valle de los Caidos is a very controversial landmark among the Spaniards. Literally translated it means “Valley of the Fallen”. However, what was supposed to represent the millions of fallen people during the civil war was turned into the main symbol of Francoism in Spain as it is where former dictator Francisco Franco was buried as well as Jose Prima de Rivera a Falangist during the Franco era. Some Spaniards feel so strongly towards this valley that if you ask them to visit it with you they will immediately tell you ni muerto meaning not even when I am dead. Nevertheless, it is one of the most phenomenal things I have seen in my life to date. The valle as well as the basilica with the cross that sits atop the hill is larger than life. And when I say larger than life, I really mean LARGER THAN LIFE. At first glance I had to take about 10 minutes to just stare and appreciate the intricate beauty and grandeur of the Valle (and then proceeded to stare even more shortly after). If there is one thing that should be on your day trip’s from Madrid bucket list, this should be it!
How to Get There: It is a little harder to get here because it is far up in the mountains, so your best bet would be to drive. But, there are public transport options.
-2 hr bus ride from Moncloa→ Guadarrama→ Valle de Los Caidos
-2 hr train ride from Sol→ El Escorial then Bus from El Escorial → Valle de Los Caidos
Must See: Basilica (where the cross sits and where Franco is buried)
Must Eat: It’s on a mountain, your closest food place is El Escorial
There are so many other possible day trips from Madrid (like Zaragoza--you can read about it in this post), but I chose these 6 because they are fairly close and super easy to get to. But then again, pretty much anywhere is easy to get to from Madrid since it is the center of the Iberian Peninsula.
I hope these help! Enjoy!
Til’ Next Time,