It may surprise you that Spain has several capitols. There’s one for each region. Madrid happens to be Spain’s central capitol, and the first Spanish city I visited. While many tend to skip Madrid and head straight to Barcelona, I’d advise spending a few days in Madrid in addition to taking advantage of all of the day trips from the city. I promise that they won’t disappoint.
Madrid Day Trips
Although day trips from Madrid are easily accessible by train, renting a car may make your travels easier. It’s also the better option if you don’t plan to use Madrid as your base and want to road trip around Spain. Check out car rental prices here.
Segovia is located in the Castile and León region just northwest of Madrid. Like a surprising number of areas in Spain, the city center of Segovia became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. There are several historic sites and landmarks that have put this town on the map and onto bucket-list of many travelers.
Madrid to Segovia
The train to Segovia can take about 2 hours. They depart from Madrid’s Chamartín train station every hour, every day.
The drive from Madrid to Segovia only takes a little over an hour. If you want to take the scenic route or stop along the way, then renting a car is more than worth it.
Things to Do in Segovia
Here’s a great day tour straight from Madrid that takes you to Segovia and includes a walking tour.
The Segovia Cathedral just may be the most popular landmark in the city. They even offer a cool night tour of it. This Gothic style cathedral was built in the 16th century and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. I always love wandering into cathedrals during my travels and if you’re an architecture buff, you’ll love this one.
Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
If you’ve never ridden in a hot air balloon, why not take your first ride in Spain? There are several hot air balloon tours that allow you to explore the area from above. As if that experience isn’t amazing enough, you end this full day tour walking along roman aqueducts.
Located in central Spain is the city of Cuenca. This city sits in the mountains and that adds to its picturesque beauty. Cuenca was founded by Moors and has been through many captures, battles, and sieges since then.
Things to Do in Cuenca
Don’t pass up the opportunity to visit Belmont Castle. You get to roam the castle and take in all the beauty within its walls. Guests also get a history lesson on its former powerful occupants.
Self Guided Wine Museum Tour
The Pagos del Rey Wine Museum is a popular attraction is Cuenca. A self guided tour of the museum and local church should take only about 2 hours and leaves ample time to explore other parts of the city.
Toledo is at the top of every list of best day trips from Madrid. It’s known as the city on a hill and within its boundaries you’ll find medieval monuments from Arabs, Christians, and the Jewish. As of 2018 the population of the city is just under 85,000.
Things to Do in Toledo
See Toledo & Segovia
To be quite honest, you can hit both Toledo and Segovia in one day tour straight from Madrid. This 12 hour tour takes you to both cities on an air conditioned bus and conveniently skips the ticket lines. You get see major sites in each city while doing things like visiting the royal palace – Alcázar of Segovia.
7 Monument Walking Tour
If you don’t go on a full blown day tour then at least take a walking tour of Toledo. Your guide will take you around to show you 4 different famous monuments and your wristband will grant you access to 3 more that you can see on your own. This gives you a chance to break up the history lessons and take your time.
Seville is the capitol of Spain’s Andalusian region and is about a 2.5 hour train ride from Madrid. The drive is even longer It’s one of the furthest day trips but still worth taking. It’s mainly known for its castle and cathedral but it’s a gorgeous city even if you skip the landmarks. But why would you?
Things to Do in Seville
Alcázar Guided Tour
Alcázar is both a functioning royal palace and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s actually the oldest functioning palace in Europe. For my fellow Game of Thrones fans, you may recognize the castle from a few scenes. Book your tour here.
Spanish Cooking Class
I absolutely love taking cooking classes all around the world despite the fact that I hate cooking. I love to eat though. When in Seville, take a Spanish cooking class to learn how to cook local dishes while also getting to enjoy them.
Where to Stay in Seville
Just in case you’re starting out here or planning to stay here during your trip, I wanted to share where to stay in Seville.
Aranjuez is just south of Madrid and in Central Spain. You can reach this city in just under an hour whether by car or train. It’s mostly known for its French influenced Royal Palace so my castle and palace lovers will definitely want to stop here.
Things to Do in Aranjuez
Here’s a great half day tour of the Royal Site of Aranjuez. It’s just 4 hours long and you get to enjoy yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. I’m only just realizing how many of them are located in Spain. It’s crazy. You also get the chance to visit its royal gardens and the Museum of Royal Feluccas.
Salamanca just so happens to be the capitol of the Salamanca province. It was founded in the 1100s and has history that dates back to the Celtic era. This town is just 1.5 hours from Madrid which makes it a shorter distance than many peoples commute to work. When exploring be sure to take in its infamous architecture as you won’t see anything like it very often.
Things to Do in Salamanca
You can take a private tour with a local in Salamanca and I can’t imagine a better option. This tour can last anywhere from 2 to 6 hours and your guide will take you all around the city to view its popular sites as well as many hidden gems.
The drive from Madrid to Avila is just over an hour while the €8 train ride can take as little as 1.5 hours. This fortified city is also located in the Castile and León region of Spain and is known for its numerous Romanesque gothic churches like the one pictured above. In 1985 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to Do in Avila
There is actually a tour that will take you to see both Avila and Salamanca in one day. Because there isn’t a heap to do in each city, it may be smart to see them both in one day, unless you’re like me and enjoy roaming cities on foot for hours. On the tour you get to learn both the legends and history of each town, which sounds like a day well spent to me.