5 Best Day Trips from Madrid

October 11, 2022

day trips from madrid

Madrid, a dynamic city overflowing with history and gastronomy, is one of the most popular cities in all of Europe and a year-round destination with each season offering something new to explore. It’s a great place to base yourself to embark on some fantastic day trips from Madrid.

The Spanish capital has a lot to offer, but once you have visited the top ten Madrid attractions, you’ll want to escape the city limits and explore more of this amazing country with day trips from Madrid. The city is a great base and gateway to some of the most beautiful towns and attractions anywhere in the Spanish interior.

From walled historic cities to wine regions, castles, Roman ruins, and charming Spanish villages there are a lot of options for exploring captivating drivable from Madrid. Depending on your budget, you can explore several places by renting a car, using the AVE high-speed train or bus, or joining a tour. Don’t miss discovering what these fascinating nearby towns have to offer.

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Known also at the City of Stones and Saints and encircled by near-perfect city walls, Avila is a historic walled city about 90 minutes from Madrid.

Founded in the 11th century to protect the Spanish territories from Moorish invasion, Ávila is awash with churches, monasteries, cathedrals, and convents that represent a diverse range of architectural styles including Romanesque and Gothic. The town features 88 watchtowers, more than 2500 turrets, and nine arched gateways.

Visitors can walk along nearly one mile of the walls that were constructed starting back in the 11th century and offer amazing views of the town below.

Ávila is a profoundly religious city and has drawn pilgrims from all over the world. The Catedral del Salvador is a house of worship, as impressive in scale as it is in its detail. Another church to visit is the Cathedral of Avila, which is part of the city wall that dates back to the 12th century as well as several gothic palaces.



36 miles from Madrid, the former capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient walled city of Toledo is often referred to as the “City of Three Cultures” due to its long-standing harmonious community of Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

Sitting at the top of a gorge that offers magnificent views over the Río Tajo, wandering around the twisted cobblestone alleys, and exploring the kaleidoscope of colors in the Plaza Santa Clara are the best ways to discover the charms of the city.

Don’t miss the incredible medieval Alcázar of Toledo. The stone hilltop fortification is a seamless fusion of Renaissance, Medieval, Plateresque, and Purism architecture and also incorporates stunning views of the city from within its exterior.

Toledo also has a flourishing art scene and was the home of the renowned mannerist painter El Greco. If you’re a fan (or history-lover), there are three places you’ll want to visit.

  1. Museo del Greco is the only museum in Spain dedicated to the artist and exhibits his work and the effect he had on shaping the city in the 17th century.
  2. Medieval Catedral de Toledo has El Greco’s The Disrobing of Christ.
  3. Museo de Santa Cruz is where you can see his Sagrada Familia con Santa Ana as well as exhibits of art and ceramics.

Not to be missed is the climb to the Mirador del Valle viewpoint for stunning panoramic views of the city.



Córdoba, about a two-hour train ride from the capital, is filled with things to do and see. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 1000-year-old medieval city has a vibrant history drawing from diverse cultures as well as Christian, Judaism, and Islam religions, all of which coexisted in harmony.

It was an important Roman city and a major Islamic center in the Middle Ages.

There are so many reasons to visit Cordoba including La Mezquita, an enormous mosque dating from 784 A.D., featuring a breathtaking combination of Roman, Gothic, and Islamic architecture that includes a columned prayer hall and ancient Byzantine mosaics. La Mezquita became a Catholic church in 1236, and a Renaissance-style nave was added in the 17th century.

The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos and the Calahorra Tower are two additional places to put on your list.

You won’t want to miss the Calleja de las Flores (Alley of the Flowers). This narrow, cobbled street is lined with arches and traditional Andalusian-style houses which have flower boxes dripping from their windows.

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll want to head to the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge). This bridge was used as the Long Bridge of Volantis, incorporating CGI to extend the length of the bridge to make it look bigger to connect the two halves of Volantis.



Cuenca is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets. Because it’s a little farther away (just under three hours from Madrid) than some of the other city day trips, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Cuenca is often overlooked in favor of Segovia or Toledo. Set in a picturesque setting in the mountains and boasting a rich Moorish heritage, Cuenca is one of the best day trips from Madrid.

Built in the 12th century by the Moors, the fortified walls and cobbled, narrow streets reveal a city filled with Old World charm.

The Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses) is a line of houses that are located near the ravine of the river Huécar. The houses are literally hanging from cliffs and look like they’re about to topple forward. There are only a few remaining today and they have been refurbished many times. Their origin remains uncertain, though there is proof of their existence in the 15th century. You’ll get your fabulous Instagram moment here!

The Bridge of San Pablo crosses the river below and affords incredible views of the city and the casas colgadas, but it is not for those with acrophobia (fear of heights).

Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Gracia dates back to the 12th century. This was Cuenca’s first Gothic cathedral, though its designs and style have changed over the centuries.


day trips from madrid

Segovia is a historic city with a picturesque royal castle, Romanesque churches, and Gothic cathedrals. The charming UNESCO World Heritage Site lies just an hour and a half northwest of Madrid, offering gorgeous views, centuries-old architecture, medieval walls, and mystic tales about the cultural heritage of the city.

Segovia is known for its colossal Roman aqueduct which is one of Spain’s most impressive monuments. Built by the Romans in the first century, the architectural marvel features 167 arches of outstanding construction that have stood the test of time. The aqueduct was constructed with no mortar or cement between the 20,400 blocks of stone, which remain standing solidly in a perfect balance of forces.

The Alcázar of Segovia is another site not to be missed. This restored medieval castle is said to have inspired Walt Disney’s design for Sleeping Beauty’s castle (although, to be honest, I’ve heard that about at least two other castles in Europe). Inside, the rooms are beautifully decorated and the armory room contains an impressive collection of weapons. Outside, the views from the courtyards of the surrounding gardens and the Castilian landscape are stunning.

Plaza Mayor is just inside the aqueduct and is the heartbeat of the city. A 16th-century Gothic cathedral stands sentry over the activities of this busy square.

Queen Isabella, who financed Christopher Columbus’ trip to the New World, was crowned queen at the church of San Miguel de Segovia in 1474.

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About the Author

Patti MorrowPatti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and the southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials” and she was named one of the “Top 35 Travel Blogs” in the world.

She is also the star of the upcoming TV series “Destination Takeover” which is scheduled to premiere in the new few months.

Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled extensively through six continents looking for fabulous destinations, exotic beaches, and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer tribe.

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