With an apartment in central Madrid, I’ve taken my time exploring all the nooks and crannies of my beautiful “new” city. There is a hand-full of quaint, medieval towns dotted around Madrid and all under an hours drive away. Having already visited all the major cities in Spain and nearby cities to Madrid last year over long holidays, I’ve decided to compose my favorite day & weekend getaways from the capital. Here we go!
Best known for its prominent Roman aqueducts, this walkable city is home to a fair amount of sites to fill your day trip. The Disney-esque alcazar (castle) at the edge of the city is a fantastic site when viewed from across the river. A coffee (or lemonade if you visit in the summer!) in the Plaza Mayor with views of the Cathedral de Segovia is just dreamy. Don’t forget to have suckling pig for lunch – it’s the staple food of the region!
This very tiny town on a hill couldn’t be a cuter day trip from bustling Madrid. Otherwise overlooked by tourists, it’s turn in the spotlight comes at night over the 1st two Saturdays in July when residents adorn the streets and walkways with candles and the town comes to life.
This medieval walled city is the perfect substitute for the over-trodden Toledo. Over the summer, medieval festivals are held with games, jousting shows, and plenty of eager nerds who’ve clearly waited all year to break out their fully appropriate Robin Hood attire. My favorite part : the stalls of handmade crafts, flower crowns, and tinto de verano (summer wine similar to sangria!)
The palace/monastery turned UNESCO site dominates this town located just an hour outside of Madrid. The architecture and art within are truly impressive and well worth a day trip.
This town boasts houses hanging off the cliffside of a gorge. It’s quite a site and a smaller, lesser known version of the hanging houses located in Andalusia. So, if you’re not heading to the south anytime soon, make a visit here!
About 2 1/2 hours drive, Burgos is a bit far but a great day trip nevertheless. The French Gothic cathedral is it’s very impressive highlight.
Manzanares el Real
This is a bit of a secret spot for my boyfriend and I, as it would probably offer nothing to the visitor that has little time in the area. However, if you truly want a day away from any tourists, head this way for a picnic by lake and a wander through the town. Mendoza castle is a cool viewpoint and sitting in the main square watching the local oldies gossip on park benches is a cozy way to pass the evening.
Toledo : Yes, I skipped it ok?! It’s very lovely and so easy to get to by bus or train. BUT the amount of people crowding there in the spring and summer heat makes it just uncomfortable to be in for the majority of the year. Personally, I would substitute Ávila or Segovia for Toledo!
Pools, Forest, & Wildlife
If anyone’s been to Madrid in the summer, they know it’s HOT and hardly a swimming pool to be found. Fear not! A short drive out of town by car or bus and into the mountains is Las Dehesas de Cercedilla – a popular swimming pool nestled in the Sierra de Guadarrama complete with a snack bar, changing rooms, and great views. If you’d like a quick workout before your dip, there are hiking trails and even a treetop obstacle course to conquer!