If you look at a map of Spain, you’ll notice that Madrid lies smack dab in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula. This is not only wonderfully convenient for your Spanish wanderlust, but for your wallet as well.
After my first year living in Madrid, I was easily able to visit a number of nearby cities via AVE train, buses and car including those in this post. The following five cities are certainly not all of the day trips you can take from Madrid, but they are definitely all worth a visit.
Segovia is about an hour and a half outside of Madrid by bus (how I traveled there for 15 euros roundtrip from the Moncloa bus station) or 30 minutes by the AVE train. I’ve been to Segovia three times now and I’m nowhere near tired of it. This charming UNESCO city offers the beautifully restored Alcazar, a Gothic cathedral, the Roman Aqueduct you can find in almost any Spanish textbook and their famous dish, cochinillo (or suckling pig).
La Granja is also located in the Segovia Province and is unbelievably beautiful in the winter. Its main attraction is the Royal Palace and the gardens which are very fairytale esque covered in a blanket of snow. This is one place I’d like to return to and enjoy during the autumn or spring.
I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like Toledo. 30 minutes by train, this historic UNESCO city is home to numerous museums, one of the most stunning cathedrals I’ve ever seen, delicate Demasquinado art, and beautifully crafted swords. Toledo was once one of Spain’s “three-culture cities” where Jews, Muslims, and Christians all lived together peacefully. Because of this, you can also visit various synagogues, mosques, and churches. This is an absolute must-see city in Spain!
Ávila is another UNESCO city located in the Castilla y León region of Spain. About an hour and half by bus, Ávila provides breathtaking views from the tops of its stone towers and famous wall. While the wall is the main attraction, you can also visit the city’s cathedral and Convent of St. Teresa.
Last, but certainly not least is El Escorial. The Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial is the main attraction. Unfortunately, you are unable to take photos inside which include a wonderful library and palace, but this little city is worth a 40 minute bus ride or a shorter train trip.