The vibrant city of Madrid is overflowing with artistic and culinary treasures, not to mention an irresistible energy of its own – we’d recommend a minimum of three days to immerse yourself in its charms.
The capital of Spain also serves as a gateway to some of the most beautiful towns and attractions anywhere in the country. There are walled cities, Roman ruins, intimate Spanish villages, and even a Unesco World Heritage-listed palace-monastery complex, all no more than an hour away. Here’s our pick of the best day excursions from Madrid.
1. See an impressive Roman aqueduct in Segovia
Travel time: 30 minutes
Here in Segovia, one of Spain’s single most impressive Roman monuments, El Acueducto rises over the eastern entrance to the old city. From there, busy traffic-free streets climb past Romanesque churches and pretty squares to the city’s summit and the Plaza Mayor, the heartbeat of the city that’s watched over by a 16th-century Gothic cathedral – one of the country’s finest and most formidable structures.
Continuing down the cobbled streets to the west takes you to El Alcázar, a castle said to have inspired Walt Disney’s design for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. The views from the gardens take in rolling hillsides and sandstone churches all across the Castilian countryside.
How to get to Segovia from Madrid: High-speed trains run hourly between Madrid’s Chamartin station and Segovia, taking just 28 minutes.
2. Join a fiesta in rustic Chinchón
Travel time: 50 minutes
The prettiest of all the villages within striking distance of the Spanish capital, Chinchón has at its heart an enchanted, rough-hewn town square. All roads in Chinchón lead to the rustic Plaza Mayor, a gloriously ramshackle example of Spain’s traditional village squares. Encircled by sagging balconies on wooden buildings stories high, it’s the scene for the town’s biggest fiestas and even an Easter passion play during Semana Santa (Holy Week).
How to get to Chinchón from Madrid: Chinchón is 45km (28 miles) southeast of Madrid. Take the N-IV motorway and exit onto the M404, or catch a bus from Madrid’s Avenida del Mediterráneo, 100m (328ft) east of Plaza del Conde de Casal. It takes about 50 minutes.
3. Walk the medieval walls…
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