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Are you looking to explore a little bit beyond Madrid? Are you feeling brave enough to get on Madrid’s public transportation, and figure out how to get to different parts of the region?
If so, then you’re in the right place, as I am going to break down some of the best day trips you can take from Madrid!
Madrid has some of the best public transportation options within the city, and throughout into different towns within the community of Madrid, as well as to other communities like Castilla de la Mancha. The best way to travel throughout Madrid and out on these day trips is surely by its buses, trains, and metro, which you can check out here for more complete information, as well as a beginner’s guide post I created on how to best explore Madrid using its public transportation, here.
Maybe you just moved to Madrid to study, or work, or maybe you’re traveling past for a few days, and now that you’re feeling settled, you feel excited to explore more and go beyond the sites of the city.
These are my recommendations based on the day trips I went on when I lived in Madrid, so if you have any more questions about these amazing destinations, make sure to leave me a comment and I’ll answer it as best as I can!
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Within one hour to two hours, you can be staring at some of Spain’s most prized UNESCO World Heritage Sites, century-old cathedrals and buildings with amazing architecture and facades, to Spanish Royal palaces and ancient Roman aqueducts that still exist in Spain.
Whatever you’re looking for, adventure, exploration, a little challenge to get out of the city on your own – let’s go through some possible day trip ideas for you to go on and see for yourself in a day trip away from Madrid.
Let’s get started!
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The Best Madrid Day Trips
One of my favorite weekend trips from Madrid was Aranjuez, which is a short 45-minute train ride from Madrid’s Atocha train station that takes you south of Madrid city center, and throughout the countryside of the community of Madrid.
Things to see and do in Aranjuez
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez: the spring home of the Royal Spanish crown back in the day, it is very beautiful from the outside and just as beautiful on the inside. I didn’t go inside this one just because by the time I visited Aranjuez, I had already been inside 2 of the other Spanish Royal Palaces. However, if you haven’t been inside one of them, I suggest you do!
The Gardens: The gardens are stunning to walk through, have a little snack (just clean up after yourself!), and just admire the gardens. In any season that you go, I went in the spring where everything was beautifully blooming, but any season will definitely be uniquely unforgettable. It’s worth the visit!
The Old Quarter: What I loved about Aranjuez was the facade of the Royal Palace which matched the facade of the Old Quarter, and it looked absolutely stunning and aesthetically beautiful. It’s a salmon pink color that is unlike any other buildings in the list of day trips from Madrid that I am showing you. Definitely worth seeing with your own eyes!
Go inside any local bakery and ask for their local specialty bread (there is almost always a specialty regional bread or pastry) that you must try!
How to get to Aranjuez
Take the Cercanias train “C3 Aranjuez-Atocha-Chamartín-El Escorial Chamartin” with direction to Aranjuez, and get off at the Aranjuez station (9 or so stops from Atocha train station). When you get there, you may have to walk from the train station to the downtown, which will take around 10 minutes, and while it may look a bit lonely depending on when you go, don’t worry – you’ll get to the city center of Aranjuez. You may also take a bus.
Alcalá de Henares
Alcalá de Henares, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is another incredible place to travel for a day trip within Madrid! It is actually the birthplace of one of Spain’s most famous writers, Miguel de Cervantes, who famously wrote Don Quixote, a beloved and staple classic piece of Spanish literature.
It is a town that will take you back in time, especially if you go when they have one of their many different city-wide events, like the Mercado Cervantino Medieval Festival, where the town dresses up in Medieval character costumes, and the plaza and its surroundings are filled with booths selling medieval-style food, drinks, candy, and other specialties and crafts. It’s actually incredible, I accidentally happened to go on the day they had the medieval festival, and I absolutely loved it. I can’t recommend this day trip from Madrid enough!
Things to see and do in Alcalá de Henares
University of Alcalá: a public university that was founded in 1293, that is still operating today. A walk through the courtyard is a must to enjoy and look up and visualize what student life must have been back in the years of the 1200’s.
Plaza de Cervantes: A beautiful plaza to sit and observe your surroundings and take in the fact that you’re in Spain exploring outside the city center successfully.
Cervantes Birthplace Museum: A must-stop, as this is after all the birthplace of the famous writer, Miguel de Cervantes.
How to get to Alcalá de Henares
Take the Cercanias train from Madrid Atocha Station “C2 Chamartín-Atocha-Alcalá de Henares-Guadalajara Guadalajara” in the direction of Alcalá de Henares. The train ride should be a little under one hour, northeast of Madrid city center. Get off at Alcalá de Henares train stop (should be the last stop on the line) and walk around 10 minutes to the city center by following the signs signaling “Alcalá de Henares city center” along the road. Don’t worry, there will be shops and people around, so it won’t be as lonely as maybe the walk from Aranjuez train station to the city center.
Chinchon is a city that is found southeast of Madrid’s city center and serves beautiful, sleepy, and quaint small Spanish town vibes with an epic plaza that resembles a bit of a bull-fighting plaza where people gather to eat, drink, and converse with all the time in the world. It’s definitely the place to set aside one day to leisurely enjoy, distract yourself from hustle and bustle city life, and take in the fresh air while exploring some local delicacies and sights.
What to see and do in Chinchon
Hotel Rural Plaza Mayor Chinchon: This is the building that you see as you enter this central gathering space (top right corner) that is just worth seeing and maybe booking a room if you want to spend a weekend away in Chinchon.
Castle of Chinchon: Built in the 15th century, this building was once used as a bodega for wine, and it’s no surprise as this is a known region for wine. Though you can’t go inside, you can view the castle from the outside and view this and the views from here of Chinchon.
Eat! Wow, the amount of foods produces in Chinchon is amazing, everything from high-quality garlic (for super cheap) to amazing wine, and regional pastries flavored with Anis, a popular spice used in many dishes and liqueurs in Chinchon, especially in winter to warm you up!
How to get to Chinchon
Take bus 312 from a bus stop close to the metro Conde de Casal, and get off at Chinchon bus stop – you’ll know you’re there when a bunch of people also get off. It’s about 10-11 stops, and a little under one hour of a bus ride, depending on the day you go and if there are no re-routes or bus transfers due to road constructions along the way. More or less, this is the traditional way that people get to and from Chinchon from Madrid for the perfect day tour.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Commonly known just as “El Escorial” it is a popular day trip from Madrid that many expats, travelers, and students take at least once. The reason being is because of the ease of getting there, and the number of things to do/see there. I happened to go during the winter, and I got to see the city center decorated with a big nativity set, and fog around the surrounding mountains – it definitely felt like I had stepped back in time, and for that, it was a great day tour away from Madrid for a bit.
Things to see and do in El Escorial
Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (The Royal Palace): This Royal Palace was the Spanish Royal Crown’s fall home, which maybe it was the day that I went where the weather was cloudy and chilly, but it definitely felt like it could be used only in the fall – you’ll know what I mean when you visit…
Valle de Los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen): A controversial site for many Spaniards that take root back to the time of the Spanish Civil War, and the dictator, Francisco Franco, as this is his resting place, and this is his memorial monument. It is still a very interesting site to visit, and for us who are not aware of this piece of Spanish history, it’s a great learning opportunity.
El Bosque de la Herreria: A picturesque forest near The Royal Palace that walking through it, and looking up at the Royal Palace, will inspire you to visualize what life in the 15th century must have been.
The Gardens of the Royal Palace: Absolutely stunning gardens of well-trimmed green bushes, flowers, and fountains – it resembles a small french lavish garden, like the kind you’d see at Versaille, but smaller.
How to get to El Escorial
Take the Cercania train from Chamartin train station (in Madrid’s financial district) “C3 Aranjuez-Atocha-Chamartín-El Escorial” which is a ride that lasts a little under one hour, and is 10 stops going northwest of Madrid city center. Get off at El Escorial and walk a few minutes to town using the signs in the street. It’s pretty easy to follow.
Toledo is one of my favorite day trips from Madrid, simply because it’s such a beautiful city. I mean, all of the cities on this list are beautiful, but Toledo is exceptionally beautiful, in the most medieval, historically interesting, and impressive way.
Toledo is the capital of the region called Castilla La Mancha, which is outside of the Community of Madrid, and it’s a very interesting place as it is referred to as the city of three cultures.
The reason why is because historically speaking, Toledo had three major influences throughout time – Jewish, Christian, and Arab and it is very noticeable when walking down the streets of Toledo, as you look from one style building resembling a mosque, to then running into the massive Cathedral and then walking literally into the old Jewish quarters and the plaques of Stars of David on the grounds and in the walls of the homes.
It’s very interesting to see the co-existence of these influences and the overall beauty of the walled city.
Things to see and do in Toledo
Cathedral of Toledo: an astonishingly huge cathedral that you can pay a small fee to enter and gaze at the architecture and structures. For my fellow Mexican-Americans out there, if you visit and walk through, you’ll notice an image of what looks like the La Virgen de Guadalupe (The Virgin Mary), which when I saw it, I did a double-take considering how much she symbolizes for a lot of Mexicans. However I think it’s a different image of a different Virgin, but regardless, it was interesting to see!
Alcázar de Toledo: When you Google images of Toledo, you’ll see a big building that stands tall in the city that looks like 4 towers – this is it. It’s a fortification with so much history, and interestingly enough, it’s the place where King Carlos I of Spain welcomed back Hernan Cortes (the colonizer) after the conquest of the Aztecs…awk.
San Martin’s Bridge: Big and beautiful Medieval style bridge that connects the city that crosses the Tagus River. They have a zip line that you can get on that crosses the river and grants you amazing views of the city and river in all of its medieval glory. I did it, and can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for something adrenaline-inducing!
Mirador del Valle: An amazing scenic spot to get the absolute best view of Toledo, and the spot to ensure a picture with one of the most beautiful backdrops in Spain.
How to get to Toledo
There are multiple paths that you can take to get to Toledo, by bus or train. You can take the train from Madrid Atocha Train Station look for AVANT Toledo, and it’s around 33 minutes direct. Or you can also take an ALSA bus from Plaza Eliptica, a big bus station in Madrid that will take you around 1 hour to get to Toledo (unless you accidentally get the bus that will take you 1hr 30 min. to arrive).
The best way I used to travel around and make sure I got on the right bus was by downloading the app “Transporte de Madrid CRTM” which always had up-to-date information on the buses, trains, and metros running throughout the city. It is the BEST. And by the looks of it, there are more apps that further keep you updated on transportation times, bus routes, and helpful transport information such as the app called “Madrid Metro” “EMT Madrid” “Madrid Transport – TTP” “BiciMAD – EMT Madrid” “Madrid Metro Bus and Cercanias” – there’s so much, and this is only great news for you! You’ll really be connected and have more confidence to travel throughout the city and on more day trips from Madrid!
This might be a bit of a wildcard, as this place is not exactly known for being a UNESCO world heritage site, a walled-in city, or by being the birthplace of a famous Spanish writer – it is however known to be the home of the biggest mall in Madrid called Xanadú – which if you’re an expat or you’re studying abroad in Madrid, and you want to go to an American style mall with all the amenities, all the stores (even some American brands like Forever 21) then definitely come by and visit!
How to get to Arroyomolinos
Take a bus from Principe Pío, another one of Madrid’s big bus stations and transport centers, and take bus number 534 “C.C.Madrid Xanadú-Centro De Ocio to Madrid Xanadú.” It’s around 1 hr. 23-minute bus ride, but I know they also have express buses too that will get you there faster that also depart from Principe Pío.
Segovia is truly a beautiful place to visit for a variety of reasons, and one that will also take you back in time, specifically as far as 50 BC. It’s truly beautiful, especially to go on a chilly fall day and explore for yourself through the streets and the surrounding nature of all of its charm and heritage sites.
Things to see and do in Segovia
The Aquaduct of Segovia: Dating back to 50 BC the Roman Aquaduct is one of the most iconic sites to take in when visiting Segovia, as it’s still very well preserved and taken care of and it is said that some parts of the original system are used today.
Alcazar of Segovia (the castle): A beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alcazar of Segovia is a medieval-style castle that actually helped inspire Disney’s iconic castle. In the past, it has served in multiple ways such as a prison, military academy, Royal Palace, and today, a museum.
Segovia Cathedral: Another beautiful site to take in, this gothic style cathedral, one of the last gothic style cathedrals built in Spain in fact, that dates back to the mid 16th century, and it’s located right in the middle of the town square, not too far from the Aquaduct.
Try their local delicacy, Cochinillo which is a roast suckling pig originating from this region.
How to get to Segovia
Take the non-stop AVANT bus towards Valladolid from Chamartin station in Madrid, and get off at Segovia Guiomar. Then when you’re at Segovia Guiomar, walk to Estación Ave and get on bus 12 non-stop going to “Centro” (city center) and then get off at the stop called Jose Zorilla and walk about 11 minutes to Segovia city center.
Maybe you’ve been to Guadalajara, Mexico, but have you been to Guadalajara, Spain? The city center of Guadalajara is a cute little town with a mix of old architecture, a history that is well and alive, and people co-living within it. There are many beautiful sites within the province, which is really worth a visit on a day trip that you may want to go out exploring and you feel that you’ve seen a lot of the different places on this list of day trips from Madrid.
Things to see and do in Guadalajara
Palacio del Infantado: It used to belong to the Royals, but is now a museum showcasing the history of Guadalajara. If you don’t want to go inside, you can also just walk around it because it is really pretty.
Concordia Park: a beautiful park to take a stroll in, right in the middle of the city
Santa Maria Church: a Roman Catholic church that you can walk inside and browse.
Go to a local cafe, and buy yourself a Spanish jámon sandwich and a cafe con leche (coffee) and take in the site, the people, and catch up with yourself to be proud of making it to all these amazing sites throughout Madrid – one day trip at a time.
How to get to Guadalajara
Take the train from Chamartin train station in Madrid going towards Soria for 39 minutes and get off in Guadalajara.
Buitrago del Lozoya
Buitrago del Lozoya is a beautiful little town located north of Madrid city center and offers quite a beautiful sight. It’s an old town that is surrounded by walls that were built by the Arab people and a river the goes around the city. It has buildings as old as the 14th and 15th century and it’s a city that will also take you back in time and/or transport you to an episode of Games of Throne.
What to see and do in Buitrago del Lozoya
Walk the beautiful medieval streets, and step into a local coffee shop to try the local bread.
Alcazar of Buitrago del Lozoya: a castle that the Mendoza family (the same ones from Manzanare El Real) comissioned and built. Today it is a cultural center that you can step inside and learn about modern activities and events in Buitrago del Lozoya.
Church of Santa María del Castillo: a gothic style church, and one of the 4 that used to exist – this one is one of the only standing ones today. The church had to be renovated after destructions caused by the Spanish Civil War, however, the tower remains original. You can go inside nowadays and see for yourself.
Walk on the fortified walls of the city: The walls of the city are wide enough that you can actually walk on them, and take in the sights of the city on one side, and the river and nature on the other.
How to get to Buitrago del Lozoya
Take ALSA bus number 191 to Buitrago del Lozoya from Castellana – Nudo Norte ( a transportation station hub in Madrid). The bus ride is one hour fifty minutes, get off at Av.Madrid-Centro De Estudios and walk to Buitrago del Lozoya city center.
Manzanares El Real
If hiking and castles are your things, then a stop to Manzanares El Real is the day trip for you! There is a park called La Pedriza, that is located at the foothill of the famous Sierra de Guadarrama, and this place is one of the best to plan a day of hiking and walking throughout Madrid’s natural landscape, with multiple trails ranging from easy to challenging, short to long trails, so there is something for everyone. Also upon arriving you’ll notice that there is a beautiful castle, that you can actually visit today.
Things to see and do in Manzanares El Real
Go on a hike to La Pedriza for amazing views of natural geological rock formations throughout time.
Visit the Castle of Manzanares El Real: A unique and beautiful castle that was originally built to be a military fortress, which was then transformed to be the home of the Mendoza family who later on acquired the fortress, and then was abandoned for some time, and is now reopened and open for tours of the inside and the gardens.
How to get to Manzanares El Real
Take Cercanias train C4 “Parla-Atocha-Chamartín-Cantoblanco-Alcobendas-S.Sebastián de los ReyesColmenar Viejo,” for 27 minutes from Chamartin train station in Madrid, and get off at Colmenar Viejo and take bus 720 at the bus station called Collado Villalba for one hour, and then get off at Manzanares El Real-Iglesia. You’ll know you’re there when you see the Castle.
Salamanca, Spain is a stunning city, college town, and perfect day trip from Madrid, or even a weekend trip if you’d like. When I went to Salamanca, I decided to go for a weekend but looking at the distance from Madrid to Salamanca, you can totally make this a day trip and make it back to Madrid later in the night.
The stunning sights of the cathedral with an impressive and detailed facade with many hidden images and carvings draw in people from all over to gaze up and look for them, as well as the overall ambiance of life, culture, and entertainment out on the streets almost 24/7. I wouldn’t say it’s a crazy college party town, but the University which is still very much in use does bring in an air of youthfulness, curiosity, and energy to the city. When mixed with such stunning architecture, history, and landscape, you’ll probably want to extend your day trip just a little bit.
What to see and do in Salamanca
Plaza Mayor: The beautiful Plaza Mayor where everyone gathers to take a stroll, stop inside a cafe or restaurant, and/or sit out and enjoy the sights.
The University of Salamanca: One of the oldest universities in Europe, dating back to the 13th century, this university has welcomed various individuals such as Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, the colonizers Christopher Columbus and Hernan Cortes, and many others. The inside is said to give of hardcore Harry Potter vibes and dark academia energy, so if that also speaks to you, then this is definitely a place to check out!
Casa de las Conchas: A building constructed under the order of Santiago de Compostela (which describes the shells as that is a major sign tracker on the path of Santiago de Compostela). It is currently a library that you can walk in, and browse but the beauty that will catch your eye definitely goes with the shell facade.
Salamanca Cathedral: One of the two cathedrals in Salamanca, built back in the 16th and 18th century, with the option to go up to the towers and take sight of the city from above, which I recommend! You get to go to the top and visit more than just one tower, and you get to go inside the tower with the church bells and look down to see all the beautiful red and brown uniform roofs of the other buildings. Worth it!
The Roman Bridge (Puente Mayor del Tormes): An iconic symbol of the city that you can walk through, and on your way back to the city, you get some amazing views of Salamanca and its iconic heritage sites.
Stop by the miradores (viewpoints throughout the city) and read the little plaques – they give some great insight into this historical city!
How to get to Salamanca
Take the AVILA bus from Chamartin station in Madrid towards Salamanca for one hour and forty-one minutes approximately, non-stop and get off in Salamanca and just follow the crowd to the city center.
Concluding thoughts on the best day trips from Madrid
I hope this list gave you some inspiration to plan a day trip soon, whether you’re going with friends or you’re looking for some solo travel plans. Spain is incredibly beautiful, and there is so much to see within Madrid’s province, and a few surrounding provinces as well, as you now know.
If you’ve been to one of these destinations, what was your favorite thing about it? What else would you recommend others see?
If you’re planning a day trip, which one caught your eye and will most likely be planning to visit?
Let me know in the comments below, and let me know if you have any questions about these places or how to get there.
To many more travel moments like these