Madrid is a city at the top of many people’s travel bucket lists because of its beautiful architecture, fascinating history, cultural traditions, and amazing food. After spending a couple of days exploring the top-rated attractions in the city, it’s also fun to check out the surrounding region, either by taking trains or renting a car. Here are exciting day trips from Madrid to make the most of your trip to Spain.
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Barcelona is another very popular city in Spain to visit, and you can visit it on a day trip from Madrid if you have limited vacation days. This is a longer day trip than many others on this list, but definitely a worthwhile one. Via public transportation, you can make the trip in about three hours. One popular destination here is Park Güell, and football (soccer) fans will want to watch a game here if possible. Depending on your interests, try to see the Basilica of the Sagrada Famiilia, the Casa Batllo museum, the Gothic Quarter, and the Mercat de la Boqueria for shopping on your day trip too.
Avila is a historic city that’s easy to get to on a day trip from Madrid. Here you can see the ancient walls and towers and learn about the region’s history, not to mention see epic views of the town down below. This is also an ideal town to simply wander around and see the small plazas as you make your way through narrow alleys. Make sure to try a local specialty food called “yemas” while you’re in Avila. These are tasty sweets made with egg, lemon, and cinnamon. You can reach Avila on a day trip from Madrid in about 1.5 hours by train.
You can also check out the amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Toledo on a day trip from Madrid. This is a gorgeous city that overlooks the river and is also an ideal place to visit if you love art. Toledo is charming with cobblestone streets and delicious regional cuisine. Toledo is also known for its mix of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths, a mix that’s evident in the city’s architecture and historic attractions. Top sights are the Castle of San Servando, El Greco Museum, and the Alcázar fortress. You can get here in just over a half hour from Madrid via high-speed train.
La Sierra de Guadarrama
Spain also has some incredible natural attractions and opportunities for lovers of the outdoors. One highly recommended day trip is the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, and snowshoeing. The best way to get here from Madrid is by car, and this trip will take you less than 1.5 hours.
Take a day trip from Madrid to Segovia to see the famous aqueduct with his iconic arches that were built by the Romans. Other top tourist spots are the Alcázar of Segovia, Plaza Mayor, and the Segovia Cathedral. Visit the Jewish Quarter and other Jewish sites in town to learn about local heritage. Roasted suckling pig is a culinary specialty in Segovia, so try some tender pork on your day trip to this Spanish city. This is an easy day trip that will just take you about a half hour via high-speed train from Madrid.
You may recognize the name, La Mancha, from the historic Cervantes novel, Don Quixote. La Mancha is east of Madrid and part of central Spain. It offers a great destination to see the Spanish countryside and also try local wines. Plan to rent a car if you want to visit La Mancha, and this drive will take you less than two hours via Route A-3.
To get a little more off the grid with your day trip adventure, head to Cuenca from Madrid. Walk across the Bridge of San Pablo and see the Hanging Houses along the river gorges here. You can also arrange for a tour of the underground tunnels of Alfonso and visit the local museums. A day trip from Madrid to Cuenca takes a little under two hours by car or around three hours by public transportation. A high-speed train can get you here in about an hour though.
Culture and history buffs also enjoy traveling to Salamanca on day trips from Madrid to see the main cathedral and gothic architecture. This picturesque city is easily reached by car in a couple of hours. You can also get here by train in about three hours. Make sure to see the Plaza Major, Convento de San Esteban, and the Casa de las Conchas here. Tapas are popular at restaurants in Salamanca, so enjoy some to take a sightseeing break while you’re in the area. A traditional savory pie called “hornazo” is popular here as well.
Cordoba is another essential place to visit on a day trip from Madrid if you love architecture and history. It is located in the southern region of Andalusia. The Mosque of Cordoba, Calahorra Tower, and Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos are top sights to see here. You should also try to visit the Jewish Quarter, explore the Palacio de Vianna museum, watch a show at an open-air cinema, and walk around the La Ribera District for bars and coffee shops. A day trip from Madrid to Cordoba will take you about two hours by train.
Madrid’s Wine Region
The area around Madrid is also a famous winemaking region, so be sure to check out some of the local vineyards and wineries when you’re here. The Ribera del Duero is a wine destination close by. You can visit a couple Ribera del Duero wineries on a day trip or choose to extend your stay overnight to visit more the next day. Either way, Madrid’s wine region makes an excellent day trip and a refreshing break from city life. This area is famous for growing Tempranillo grapes, so try some of this delicious red wine during your trip to Spain. Regional roasted meats pair especially well with these local red wines.