When visiting the Spanish capital, you may wonder what the best day trips from Madrid are. The city is centrally based in the heart of Spain, making it ideal for day trips both close by and further afield.
There are numerous amazing cities and towns that are easily reachable from Madrid, such as the ancient city of Toledo which is only 30 minutes away, to Seville, the capital of Andalucía in the south, which is around 3 hours by train.
In this blog post, I’ll examine what are the 10 best day trips from Madrid and why they are worth visiting, how to reach each place, and what you can expect during your visit as well.
This Guest Post is By Mark of Solo Travel Man
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Quick Facts before visiting Spain:
💱Currency: Euro €
💶 Budget for a trip to Spain: The average daily cost for a trip to Spain is €150 a night for both food and accommodation.
💜 Is tipping required in Spain? Tipping in Spain is not required. Sometimes you will find it included in your bill at fine dining restaurants especially.
☀️ Best time to Visit: April or May if you want to avoid peak tourist time and very hot summers or September to October when the weather is mild.
🏥 Travel Insurance in Spain: I recommend SafetyWing which will cover you in case of trip cancellations or any accidents during your travels.
📞 Stay connected in Spain: Buy an e-sim with Airalo
10 Best Day Trips from Madrid
So, in no particular order, let’s take a look at the 10 best day trips from Madrid:
This is the closest place to visit from Madrid on our list; it’s only 70-odd kilometers south of the capital and doesn’t take long to reach at all. Toledo was once famous for manufacturing glass and was known as ‘the glass city’, as well as sword making.
It is a beautiful medieval city that still maintains its original layout and is a UNESCO World Heritage site too. It is known as being ‘the city of 3 cultures’ as it has a mix of Arab, Jewish, and Christian monuments throughout the city.
The best part about Toledo is that it is very much a walkable city; you can visit many of its main attractions easily within one day of visiting. These attractions include the Alcázar of Toledo, which is a huge fortification building and is now a museum. It’s unmissable as it is placed on the top of Toledo’s hillside.
Other attractions include Santa Iglesia Cathedral Primada de Toledo (otherwise known as the Toledo Cathedral). This is a magnificent Gothic cathedral that has an impressive interior and features a lot of artwork.
Toledo also has a beautiful Franciscan monastery; the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, which features a lovely interior garden and again, is a marvelous piece of architecture dating back to the 13th century.
Overall, a visit to Toledo is like stepping back in time. It’s full of history and is a real contrast to the busy modern life of Madrid.
✈️ How to get there: The best and fastest way to reach Toledo from Madrid is by train (via Trainline), which only takes around 30 minutes and about €15 one way.
🏨 Where to stay: There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation in Toledo, both centrally and on the outskirts of this medieval city. If you’re on a budget then I’d recommend Hotel Santa Isabel which has great views, and if you’re looking for a luxury place to stay then you can’t go wrong with Hotel Pintor El Greco, which is a perfect 4 star hotel.
Our next best day trip from Madrid is another historical gem; Segovia. This city is situated northwest of Madrid and is full of some of the most aesthetically appealing architecture you’ll ever see.
Segovia is most famous for its Roman aqueduct, which is one of the first sights you’ll see when arriving in the city. It dates back to the first century and is an incredible feat of engineering work.
It was used to channel water throughout the city and remains in excellent condition. It’s nearly 800 meters in length and is quite a sight to behold.
Another really breathtaking monument in this city is the Alcazar of Segovia, which is known as one of the most renowned castles in the world and one of the most visited sites in all of Spain.
It’s an amazing sight and looks like something straight out of a fairytale. Equally impressive is the Cathedral of Segovia, which is located in the main square of the city and is one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings you’ll ever come across.
I would recommend a full day in Segovia in order to explore these three highlights of the city and more, it’s a stunning place and one not to be missed when staying in Madrid.
✈️ How to get there: Segovia is a similar distance from Madrid as Toledo is, roughly 70 kilometres. So, catching a high speed train (via Trainline) from Madrid only takes about 30 minutes and tickets are relatively cheap as well.
🏨 Where to stay: If you’re looking to stay centrally when visiting Segovia, then Real Segovia by Recordis Hotels is a four star hotel that offers stunning views of the city. If however you’re in need of cheaper accommodation, then Exe Casa de Los Linajes is a good choice and is also based in the city center.
Photo by Darci Ribeiro
Situated further west of Segovia is the bigger and more populated city of Salamanca. This city has an ancient history all the way back to the Celtic era and is famous for its University which attracts many international students every year. It’s also well known for its cheeses, so definitely visit if you’re a cheese lover!
A lot of the architecture here is of a reddish tinge as they were made with ornate sandstone, which is quite unique compared to other cities in Spain and why it’s known as ‘The Golden City’. An example of this use of sandstone would be the Salamanca Cathedral which is one of the most notable structures in the city.
✈️ How to get there: If you’re flying from abroad, especially to Salamanca, then Madrid will still be your main port of call. From there, it’s pretty easy to catch a bus or train (via Trainline) to Salamanca, with the fastest direct train taking 1 hour 40 minutes, while other trains take up to 3 hours.
🏨 Where to stay: Hospes Palacio de San Esteban is an amazing 5 star hotel based in the heart of Salamanca and features beautiful gardens. Alternatively, Soho Boutique Salamanca is a lovely 4 star hotel that is very affordable.
If historical cities are not your thing and you fancy a bit of beach life, then you could visit one of the other big cities in Spain, Valencia. Situated on the east coast, Valencia is the third biggest city in the country, behind the capital and Barcelona.
Valencia is quite a modern city but is definitely a change of pace from the hectic lifestyle of Madrid. Life on the east coast is quite a relaxed affair, and the city still has a historical center and a bullfighting stadium as well.
The most amazing place to visit while in Valencia is without doubt its City of Arts and Sciences. This is a spectacular futuristic space with unique architecture that you have never quite seen anything like before.
Here you’ll find everything from a science museum to an opera house, an aquarium, a 3D cinema, and plenty more. It’s the perfect place to keep youngsters entertained for the day and the structures of the buildings here are really quite unforgettable.
Although a day trip to Valencia from Madrid is a good amount of time to check out the city, you may very well be tempted to stay here a couple more days to really appreciate all that it has to offer.
✈️ How to get there: Thanks to Spain’s amazing high speed train system (via Trainline), it’s possible to reach Valencia in less than 2 hours, and is much quicker than getting there by car.
🏨 Where to stay: There’s a huge choice of hotels in Valencia, so it really depends on what kind of place you’re looking to stay at. If it’s a luxury hotel then check out SH Valencia Palace, which features very beautiful decor. If you’re in need of a cheaper place to stay, then Hotel Villacarlos is a perfectly nice 3 star hotel.
Photo by Manuel Torres Garcia
A few hours directly north of Madrid is another medieval city well worth a day trip to and that’s Burgos. This is one of Spain’s richest cities and features one of the country’s masterpieces when it comes to Gothic architecture; the Cathedral of St. Mary.
This is the city’s main focal point and most prominent landmark by far. Burgos has managed to keep its stunning medieval features intact, and none more so than this cathedral that dates all the way back to 802 AD.
Burgos is a popular stopping point for hikers on the Camino de Santiago, and it’s worth a day trip here just to see this magnificent structure. The city also features other lovely buildings and streets, and it has many great restaurants and a good nightlife.
✈️ How to get there: From Madrid, reaching Burgos is straightforward and easy either by car, train (via Trainline), or bus, and will take about 2 and a half hours.
🏨 Where to stay: Castilla Termal Burgo de Osma is a 4-star hotel which is a Renaissance building that looks very impressive, with a massive spacious interior and located centrally in Burgos. Another good option to stay in Burgos is Hotel II Virrey, which is a very good 4-star hotel, situated in the main square of the city and close to the cathedral.
Photo by Fernando Santander
Valladolid is a municipality in northern Spain and is a colorful, vibrant city full of museums and University students. It has many Gothic churches and monuments worth seeing.
Valladolid is known as the place was Christopher Columbus died and was buried in 1506. There’s a monument of the great man in the main square of the city and there is also the Christopher Columbus museum, which documents his life and is definitely a good option to visit when visiting Valladolid.
✈️ How to get there: Your fastest option to reach Valladolid from Madrid is by train (via Trainline), as it only takes one hour, though tickets can cost anywhere from 50 to nearly 80 Euros. Taking a bus on the other hand is a lot cheaper, around 20 Euros and only takes an hour longer.
🏨 Where to stay: There are a lot of great hotels in Valladolid situated in the center. One of which is Hotel Boutique Gareus, which is a very stylish and modern-looking 4-star hotel. Situated slightly further away from the center of the city is ELE Enara Boutique Hotel, another nice hotel in a 19th century building.
Although this is the furthest place to visit on our list of best day trips from Madrid, Seville is definitely a must-see place to visit. This is the capital of Andalucía in the south of Spain, and is a colorful, mazy city full of history.
The Royal Alcázar of Seville is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It’s a former royal palace and has gorgeous architecture and gardens where a lot of scenes from Games of Thrones were filmed.
Seville Cathedral is another impressive monument in the heart of the city and well worth checking out too. My favourite place in Seville however is Plaza de España, a semi-circular historical landmark with really beautiful architecture which is even more stunning after dark.
Southern Spain is a different vibe compared to the rest of Spain and in my opinion, is just as beautiful as the north of Spain. Seville in particular is a unique place for its culture, food, and flamenco dancing – definitely try and catch a flamenco show when visiting.
I wouldn’t recommend visiting Seville during the summer months, however, as temperatures can be extremely high. Instead, I would recommend visiting during the Spring or Autumn months, when temperatures are cooler.
✈️ How to get there: If you’re traveling abroad to Seville then the city does have an airport and is easy to fly direct to. However, if you’re traveling from Madrid then a high-speed train (via Trainline) will take around 3 hours to reach Seville.
🏨 Where to stay: As you would imagine, there are a lot of accommodation options in the Andalucía capital. Hotel Dona Maria features stunning poolside views of the Seville Cathedral and is an impressive 4-star hotel. Another great choice is Hotel Cervantes, which features charming decor in a 19th-century building.
Less than an hour away from Seville by train is another glorious city that is highly recommended; Cordoba. It’s a city famous for its leatherwork and was a major Islamic center back in the Middle Ages.
It features an incredible 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the most famous of which is the Great Mosque of Cordoba. The interior of this mosque is simply one of the most stunning places you’ll ever visit. It dates back to 785 AD and inside it has over 500 pillars with red and white tiling, which is aesthetically breathtaking to see.
The courtyard surrounding the mosque is a beautiful spot too, and the historic centre of the city has many interesting places such as the Jewish Quarter. A day trip to Cordoba is a fantastic experience and easily one of my favorite places to visit in all of Spain.
✈️ How to get there: From Madrid, Cordoba is less than 2 hours away via high-speed train (via Trainline), though tickets are a bit costly, around €90. Taking a bus is much cheaper but will take double the time to reach Cordoba.
🏨 Where to stay: There are some beautiful hotels in Cordoba, based in historical buildings which would make for a magical stay. A more modern option however is H10 Palacio Colomera, which features a lovely pool in glorious surroundings. Hotel Cordoba Central is situated in the city’s ‘Golden Block’, right next to the train station, and also has another beautiful swimming pool.
📖 Read my full blog post on the best things to do in Cordoba, Spain.
Photo by Juan Ordonez
Located high in the mountains in mid-east Spain is the delightful city of Cuenca. It’s a historic walled town filled with lovely cobbled streets and is famous for its hanging houses, which are three old houses perched seemingly precariously over limestone cliff edges and are quite a sight.
The city has a lot of breathtaking scenery with mountainside views in every direction. Cuenca was an attraction for a lot of abstract artists during the 1950s and 60s and there is the Spanish Abstract Art Museum in the city which is a good option to visit if you like your art.
Cuenca Cathedral is another impressive piece of Gothic architecture worth seeing during your visit as well. It’s situated in the medieval center of Cuenca, which is like stepping back in time.
Cuenca is definitely worth a day trip from the Spanish capital, it’s situated perfectly halfway between Madrid and Valencia, making it an ideal place to stay for a day or two before moving on to one of the two big cities on either side.
✈️ How to get there: From Madrid, Cuenca is easily reachable, taking only 1 hour by train (via Trainline) at a cost of around €30.
🏨 Where to stay: Cuenca has some great accommodation options, such as Hotel Convento Del Giraldo, which is in a building dating back to the 17th century. Parador de Cuenca is in a stunning location as well. This is a 4 star hotel with great views of the famous hanging houses close by.
Photo by Pedro Sanz
Finally, last but definitely not least on our list of best day trips from Madrid is the city of Zaragoza. Located north of both Cuenca and Valencia, Zaragoza is situated on the Ebro River and is another beautiful historical place in Spain that’s worth a visit.
The city dates back over 2,000 years and features Roman ruins and several iconic landmarks, such as The Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. This is a Roman Catholic Church and one of the most well-known in all of Spain. It’s a famous pilgrimage site and seeing it light up during night time is quite a breathtaking sight.
There are numerous other cathedrals and historical sites in Cuenca, and the Caesar Augustus Roman Remains Museum displays archaeological remains from the Roman period and is quite a fascinating place to visit. All in all, Zaragoza is full of rich history and it is well worth a day trip or more from Madrid.
✈️ How to get there: Train (via Trainline) once again is the quickest way to reach Zaragoza from Madrid, taking less than an hour and a half for around €70-80. Driving there from Madrid is of course possible too, but will take far longer, over 3 hours
🏨 Where to stay: There are plenty of lovely hotels in Zaragoza, with Catalonia El Pilar being a top choice. This is a 4-star hotel in a unique building and is located in the city’s old town. Also situated in the old town is Hotel Reino de Aragon, which features very modern rooms, with the main square only a 100 meters away.
So those are the 10 best day trips from Madrid! Of course, Madrid is a great city with lots to do, but there are equally interesting places close by that offer a different experience when in Spain.
From the awesome Roman aqueduct in Segovia to the breathtaking Great Mosque of Cordoba, all of these cities feature a lot of incredible architecture and are rich in fascinating history.
You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to day trips from Madrid, whether you prefer historical sites or more modern cities such as Valencia, you will never be short of options in this beautiful country.
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Check out my Spain section for more travel inspo