7 Easy Day Trips from Madrid
Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Spain's bustling, cosmopolitan capital of Madrid is a great place to use either as a base for traveling around Spain or as a temporary home while traveling, studying, or teaching abroad. Madrid's relatively low cost of living combined with all of the big city amenities and cultural opportunities it provides makes it a great spot to spend a significant amount of time.
If you happen to be in Madrid, consider adding on a day trip! There are some great destinations nearby that can be visited very easily via bus, train or car. Renting a car is not necessary for any of these trips, and they can all be done very easily on public transport, which is what I recommend. Especially since Madrid has such great public transport, I don't recommend bringing a car there in the first place.
As you may know from reading this blog, I taught English for a year in Madrid. During this time, I was able to really get a feel for the city and it's surrounding areas. Luckily, Madrid has so many incredible day trips from the city, so I've made this comprehensive guide to help you find actual, realistic day trips from Madrid. I've seen posts that have suggested places like Salamanca, Cordoba, and Valencia as day trips, but to be honest those are just way too far to comfortably make a day trip out of.
Toledo. This small city feels like you're stepping back in time to a medieval village, and feels a world away from Madrid. This beautiful old city is full of sights to see, such as a magical old cathedral and the museum of the famous artist El Greco. Toledo is a quick 30 minute train ride from Atocha on the Renfe, or a 1 hour bus ride from Estacion Sur on ALSA. Check out my post on Toledo here.
Segovia. If you felt like you were stepping back in time in Toledo, Segovia will surprise you even more. Another beautiful old city, you will feel like you are in a medieval village, but this time you're deep in the mountains. Segovia has plenty of great sights to see, such as an ancient Roman aqueduct that's still very much in tact and a fairytale castle that Walt Disney allegedly took inspiration from. It's beautiful old town has tons of great restaurants and shops were you can buy plenty of local artisan goods, as well as food and wine from the region. Segovia is a 30 minute train ride on the Renfe from Chamartin, and I believe a 1 hour bus ride on ALSA as well. Read my post all about Segovia here.
Cuenca. A more unique and less touristed destination, Cuenca is a tiny town that's basically out in the middle of nowhere in the Castilla-La Mancha province. Nonetheless, Cuenca is well-known for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as it's Hanging Houses or "Casas Colgadas". These houses seem to hang off a cliff, and it's a pretty cool sight to see. Cuenca's Plaza Mayor is one of the smallest I've visited in Spain, but it's beautiful and full of colored buildings. This town is pretty tiny, but it's a great spot for a chill day trip from Madrid. This is the one destination I would recommend renting a car for, since there are some really cool caves that are about a 20 minute ride from town. If you just wanna see the city, you can take the Renfe from Atocha for a 1 hour trip. There are some bus options, but they take 2 hours. Stay tuned for a separate post on Cuenca!
Alcala de Henares. The old university town of Alcala is the perfect day trip from Madrid, especially given it's location. Known for the Universidad de Alcala, this town has a very old feel to it while still having the vibrancy of a young, university town. Come here to see some beautiful old buildings and explore the university! Alcala is super accessible from Madrid, as it is directly on the Cercanias, Madrid's commuter rail network, so getting here is super easy and simple from anywhere in the city.
El Escorial. Another town just outside of Madrid, the town of El Escorial is known for it's beautiful old monastery in the mountains. Most people come here solely to visit the monastery, and it's a great way to get out of the city and into the mountains. El Escorial is also conveniently located on the Cercanias, which makes it a really easy trip.
Colmenar Viejo. Another small town in the mountains, Colmenar Viejo and it's surrounding area is the best spot to hike in the Comunidad de Madrid. Located directly on the Cercanias, you can find plenty of great hiking trails up in this area as well as winter sports. This is a great place to visit when you're missing the outdoors after being in the city for so long!
Avila. This one might be my personal favorite, but it is the farthest away. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the beautiful old walled city of Avila is honestly breathtaking. This small city is well-known for it's famous walls, where you can climb up for incredible views of the city. There are also some cool museums here and tons of old architecture. Avila is about a 1 hour and 30 minute train ride on the Renfe from Principe Pio. There are bus lines that take the same amount of time, but I don't know of any that leave from the city center. I'll be making a post specifically on Avila in the near future, so stay tuned for that!
I hope you can take one of these day trips from Madrid! If you do, DM me a picture on Instagram @bloggingintransit.