As the capital city of Spain, Madrid is the first choice for a holiday to the country located on the Iberian Peninsula. While the vibrant and colorful streets of Madrid together with its rich history is a fantastic way to start learning more about Spain, you might also want to visit other towns and find things to do in the surrounding towns of Madrid.
We have prepared a full guide with the 25 best day trips from the capital city. From fortified ancient towns to coastal cities, from small, picturesque villages to rugged, untouched natural landmarks, we have covered it all! Keep reading and learn more about each of the Best Day Trips from Madrid.
A day trip to Toledo from Madrid is a must-do when visiting Spain. Known as the “City of Three Cultures,” Toledo was once the country’s capital city.
If you want to truly experience the Spanish atmosphere, you should hop on the train and in less than 30 minutes you will be able to admire the unique charm of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Heavily influenced by the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic cultures throughout the years, the city’s architecture is absolutely stunning. Take a stroll down the narrow cobblestone streets of the Jewish quarter, visit the Cathedral de Toledo, and stop by the massive 16th Century Alcazar Fortress.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Salamanca is probably the best day trip from Madrid! Home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, the city praises itself for its academic and cultural heritage. The university dates back to the 13th Century and attracts many young people pursuing higher educational degrees. As a result, the city has a very upbeat, lively atmosphere with its colorful cafés, bars, restaurants, and shops. At the same time, the beautiful streets of the old town add an interesting mixture of modern and ancient. Make sure to stop by the Plaza Mayor and the uniquely carved Salamanca Cathedral before getting on the train back to Madrid.
One of the most popular trips from Madrid will take you to the picturesque city of Segovia. The Aqueduct of Segovia, with its almost 170 arches, is certainly the highlight of the city.
As you are admiring this 1st Century Roman Construction, you will be both impressed and inspired by Segovia’s beauty and history. Follow the tiny, winding alleys for a journey through time, which will offer you the chance to experience the unique architectural style of the city. The day trip from Madrid to Segovia will also take you to other famous Spanish tourist attractions, such as Plaza Mayor, Segovia Cathedral, and the Alcazar.
4. San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Feel like royalty by taking a day trip from Madrid to San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Situated just an hour away from the Spanish capital, the small town of El Escorial is home to one of the most impressive Renaissance complexes in the world.
Constructed during the 16th Century, San Lorenzo de El Escorial was once the royal palace of the King of Spain. Nowadays, visitors can admire the stunning architecture of the complex by exploring not only the indoor courtyards and rooms but also the beautiful gardens and fountains on the outside.
As one of the most popular, vibrant, and colorful cities, a day trip from Madrid to Seville is a must-do! Despite being located more than 500 km away from the capital, the express train will take you to Seville in approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes. Start exploring the stunning architecture of the city from the central Plaza de Espana, then head to the unique Gothic-style Cathedral de Sevilla and the Moorish-Renaissance Royal Palace of Seville.
If you are looking for some peace and quiet, you can head to the Maria Luisa Park, situated by the calm waters of the river. Something interesting to know is that Seville is also the home of Flamenco, so you should expect some dance beats as you are walking through the city.
Avila is a fortified, walled city near Madrid, which will impress you with its unique architecture and history. Consisting of 80 towers and 9 gates, a must-do when in the town is to stroll along the walls and admire the beautiful views of Avila and the surrounding areas.
The city is also home to the first Spanish Gothic Cathedral and the beautiful Romanesque Basilica de San Vicente that are both worth the visit! The hour and a half train journey to Avila is one of the best day trips from Madrid.
Known as the city of the hanging houses, Cuenca is one of the Spain day tours you need to take. Situated on top of a cliff with buildings sitting on the edge, Cuenca presents visitors with stunning mountain scenery.
Despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town of Cuenca is not so well-known among tourists. Hence, this day trip will allow you to escape the hustle and bustle and the busy streets of the big cities. Make sure to visit the Gothic Cathedral and the historic bridge of San Pablo.
Valencia is one of the must-do day tours from Madrid! The high-speed train will take you to the historic charming streets of Valencia in just an hour and 40 minutes. Located on the Mediterranean coast, Valencia is a perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing, peaceful day on the beach. If you have more time, you might want to extend your trip to a few days in order to fully experience the unique atmosphere of Valencia. As the 3rd largest city in Spain, visitors can admire the interesting mixture of modern and ancient, from the 13th Century Cathedral to the futuristic building of the Arts and Science Park, from the Gothic-styled La Lonja de la Seda civil property to the modern Aquarium and Dolphinarium Center.
The vibrant city of Zaragoza is the 5th largest within Spain. Situated halfway between Barcelona and Madrid, Zaragoza is always a good idea when you are looking for more places to explore around the country.
Throughout the year, the city was influenced by the Gothic and Arab cultures and styles, which makes it extremely rich in history and home to various different monuments. Among Zaragoza’s highlights are the iconic 18th Century Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar, the Medieval Aljaferia Palace, and the stunning Cathedral del Salvador de Zaragoza. Taking the 3-hour train journey to Zaragoza is one Madrid side trip that is both challenging but also extremely rewarding!
If you have read the interesting Don Quixote story as a child, you will certainly want to visit the small town of Consuegra, situated in the La Mancha region.
The main site is the white-washed, traditional windmills rising high above the rugged, dry, and untouched natural surroundings of this region. What was described as Don Quixote’s imagination of monsters that he had to fight in the book are 12 beautiful windmills, 5 of which are still operational today. Visitors need to keep in mind that there are no trains in this area, so getting to Consuegra might be a bit more challenging.
11. Las Rozas Village
After spending a few days of exploring and immersing yourself in the rich Spanish history, you might want to treat yourself to a shopping day! For this, you should visit Las Rozas Village! In less than 30 minutes, you will be able to choose between more than 100 boutiques and luxurious shops. As an outlet center, the best part is that you will be able to enjoy up to a 60% discount on clothes and shoes by some of the most well-known fashion brands in the world!
A Madrid to Grenada day trip might be difficult and challenging as the city is located more than 400 km away from the Spanish capital. Visitors can take the high-speed train and reach the historic city of Grenada in just over 3 hours.
If you have a few days to spare, though, it might be a better idea to plan an entire weekend. As you enter into the city, you will be welcomed by the breathtaking mountainous views of the Sierra Nevada far in the distance with snow-capped peaks. Grenada is worth travelling to not only because of the stunning scenery of the area, though. The historic Alhambra complex, the peaceful Generalife gardens, and the unique cathedral are also some of the must-see tourist sights!
With its rich history and ancient charm, Cordoba is one of the best day trips from Madrid. Despite being located almost 400 km away from the capital city, the express train service takes less than 2 hours. The best way to experience Cordoba is to get lost between the narrow winding streets of the Old Town. As you wander around, you should visit the medieval palace of Alcazar de Los Ryes Cristianos and the Calahorra Tower. The city is also home to one of the most impressive Islamic buildings in the world – the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. The iconic architectural style with numerous archways is second to none! Before heading back to Madrid, make sure to stop at the 1st Century Roman Bridge and take one more look at the stunning city of Cordoba.
As one of the most authentic and traditional Spanish towns, Chinchon is a must-see when in Madrid. Located in the middle of the countryside, Chinchon allows you to take a step back in time and truly immerse yourself in the Spanish culture.
Home to buildings from the 16th and 17th Century, with colorful wooden balconies and ornate archways, the city has been a filming location for various movies. Besides just strolling down the narrow streets of Chinchon, visitors can also sip on delicious wine produced in the region and try delicious Spanish tapas while sitting in the picturesque town’s plaza.
Due to its impressive rich history, the entire city of Alcala has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its close proximity to Madrid, it is surprising that it is not well-known among tourists.
Alaca is home to the world-famous writer Miguel de Cervantes – the author of Don Quixote. Hence, you should start your tour of the town at the Cervantes Birthplace Museum. Take a stroll down the charming streets to reach Plaza de Cervantes, and then stop at the beautiful Alcala de Henares Cathedral. Before heading back to Madrid, make sure to enjoy a large platter of Spanish tapas with some delicious wine from the region.
Stunning architecture and mouth-watering Spanish food will greet you at Burgos, Spain. An approximately 2.5-hour train journey from Madrid, this is not the most popular day tours. Often neglected by tourists, though, it means that you will be able to enjoy the city without the tourist crowds. Make sure to visit the remarkable 13th Century Gothic Cathedral, which is the most iconic sight in Burgos.
Pass by the beautiful Arch of Santa Maria, which was once the Medieval Gate leading to Castillo de Burgos. Back in 2013, the city was also announced as the Spanish Gastronomy Capital, so make sure to try some traditional delicious specialties.
17. Sierra de Guadarrama mountain
Spain is filled with ancient monuments keeping secrets and stories from centuries ago. Sometimes, however, taking a day to explore the natural surroundings and recharge our batteries by taking a break from the busy city life is what we all need! Just one hour from Madrid, you can reach the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain. Offering various hiking options, from easy to strenuous, visitors can admire the Spanish mountain range and its beautiful scenery. Make sure to pack some comfortable hiking shoes and you’ll get to see various beautiful waterfalls and lakes. If you are visiting during the winter months, you can even hit the ski slopes.
The medieval town of Pedraza will welcome you with its rustic, charming atmosphere, as well as diverse history and traditions. With no train or bus station, you will need to drive for approximately an hour and 30 minutes to reach this fortified, peaceful, hidden gem. Stroll down the narrow, winding cobblestone alleys and have lunch at one of the small, traditional restaurants.
Every year the town holds the Fiesta Patronales festival with bulls running and fighting on the Plaza Mayor, which is an interesting show for tourists. Make sure to plan a day trip to Pedraza as you will be able to experience authentic Spanish tradition and culture.
19. Ribera del Duero
Do you like admiring stunning sunsets while sipping on a glass of world-class wine? If the answer is yes, you should certainly sample the delicious Spanish wines produced in the Riber del Duero region.
In order to make the most of this trip, you need to travel by car. Never drink and drive, so make sure you prepare for this trip by booking a private transfer or join a group tour. As you are riding along the winding roads, you will be able to admire the green vine fields. The beautiful scenery is then followed by a visit to some of the best wineries in the region and tasting of some of the best wines in the world!
Situated on the Tagus River in the heart of the country of Spain, Aranjuez is a small town mainly known for its iconic Renaissance Royal Palace.
Constructed during the 15th Century, Aranjuez was once the residence of the Spanish royal family. It is the building’s architectural style, beautifully ornated, that impresses every visitor. The magnificent gardens are also worth wandering through. You will be able to fully experience the beauty and glamour of the royal palace. Aranjuez is one of the Madrid day tours that are totally worth the visit!
Situated in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula, Guadalajara is one of the most interesting towns to visit for a day trip from Madrid. In less than an hour, you will be able to admire the stunning Spanish colonial architecture while strolling down the streets of the city.
Make sure to visit Palacio del Infrantado and Palacio de la Cotilla to learn more about the history of Guadalajara. Slightly away from the city center, you can find the Byzantine-style Pantheon of the Duchess of Sevillano building. The city is also the gastronomical center of the Guadalajara region, so make sure to try the traditional roast lamb.
The stunning medieval town of Siguenza should certainly be part of your travel itinerary for visiting Spain. The city is so small that you do not need a plan or a map. Just get lost among the narrow streets and admire the stunning Medieval architecture.
The main attraction in the city is the Gothic Cathedral constructed by ashlar stone with two 160-foot-tall towers. If you are looking for a getaway nature retreat, you might want to stay overnight and explore the Barranco del Rio Dluce Nature Park and its hiking trails through the beautiful Spanish countryside.
23. Manzanares el Real
One of the least popular day trips from Madrid can take you to the unique city of Manzanares el Real. Surrounded by a stunning ruggedness of nature, the city is the perfect peaceful getaway far from the hustle and bustle of the capital city.
You can explore the unique ecosystems by taking one of the hiking trails through the La Pedriza mountain range. If you have limited time you can head to the 15th Century Castle Manzaenares El Real and learn more about the history of this region.
24. Parque Warner Madrid
Visiting Spain with kids and want a fun day trip the little ones will enjoy? We have the answer for you – Parque Warner Madrid, also called Warner Bros Park. Located only 23 km away from the capital city, this is one of the best family friendly Madrid day trips.
The theme park is not only the second largest in Spain, but it is also one of the biggest in Europe with almost 50 different attractions and rides. The park is divided into various themed zones with characters from different movies that your children will absolutely love!
Located 505 km away from the Spanish capital, the day trip from Madrid to Barcelona is not the easiest or the most convenient. No one will blame you, though, if you decide to take the 2.5-hour train ride to one of the most vibrant and lively Spanish cities.
If you only have a day in Barcelona, you should certainly devote your time to exploring Antonio Gaudi’s pieces of art by visiting Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. Make sure to also take a stroll down La Rambla Street and grab some delicious tapas for lunch.
Are you ready to pack your luggage and head to Madrid? Are you planning on taking one of the above-mentioned day tours outside Madrid?