Madrid is the Spanish capital, the second-largest city in Europe, and boasts over 3.4 million residents. Along the shores of the River Manzanares on the Iberian Peninsula, Madrid is a great place for water activities. You can find several beaches and a plethora of parks along the river and dotted throughout the city.
Madrid has many attractions to enjoy during your stay including the Plaza Mayor, Gran Via, the Temple of Debod, Buen Retiro Park, Puerta del Sol, and the Almudena Cathedral. In addition, the Zoo Aquarium of Madrid, Cibeles Plaza, and Cybele Palace are excellent places to enjoy. Besides those, Madrid has dozens of museums, art galleries, monuments, and theaters.
Just to the north, the city of Manzanares el Real features a medieval fortress and castle called the New Castle of Manzanares el Real. You can also visit the university town of Alcalá de Henares where you can see the Cervantes Museum on Calle Mayor to learn about the writer Miguel de Cervantes and see the famous University of Alcalá de Henares. Then head to the La Mancha region, the setting for the Cervantes novel, Don Quixote. Be sure to ride the Medieval train at least once from Chamartin to Siguenza.
Some of the best museums in Madrid include The Prado, the Crystal Palace, Reina Sofia Art Museum, and the National Archaeological Museum. Whether you choose to venture several hours away or just a short day trip from Madrid, you will need to leave your bags somewhere safe. Bounce luggage storage has many different partners in the area that can help with that.
How to get out of Madrid
When looking for how to get around Madrid, you will find an impressive underground train system with one of the largest subways in Europe, a commuter train with nine stations in Central Madrid, and two different bus systems. The EMT bus has 200 routes and the Interurban Bus with local bus station kiosks all over town.
Any one of these Madrid day trips we researched can be reached from any of the train stations or bus stations in the city center. You can also rent a car or hire a car service to drive you where you want to go. Although this is typically the most expensive way to go, it can be nice to see the sights on your day trip.
From Madrid to Valencia
The historic city of Valencia holds many treasures to explore. Boasting sensational cuisine, interesting history, and exciting entertainment, Valencia is a popular tourist attraction. Dating back to 138 BC when the Romans ruled, the city on the sea has a plethora of historical sites and ancient ruins to visit.
One place you can learn all about Spanish history is the City of Arts and Sciences, known as one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. The Prince Philip Science Museum is another great place to learn. Take a stroll through the Central Market of Valencia to shop or see the Gothic 15th-century La Lonja de la Seda. Then, hit the beach at La Malvarrosa, the most popular beach in the city, even with the locals.
How to get to Valencia
Just about 200 miles from Madrid, you can reach Valencia in just under two hours by train. You will not get to see the countryside that way though, so if it is a scenic drive you want, rent a car and drive. It will take a little over three hours but all the gorgeous scenery is well worth it. If you have plenty of time, the bus will get you there in four hours with several stops along the way. You can even catch a plane but even that takes longer than the train at about three hours.
From Madrid to Avila
Well-known for its 12th-century Gothic-style Cathedral built into the city wall, this was the place of Saint Teresa's (Santa Teresa) birth in 1515 and its background is deeply rooted in religion. Many tourists come to this wonderful place just to pay homage to the popular theologist and it can get a bit crowded on the narrow streets of the small city. This was the first gothic cathedral in Spain, though, making this one of the most popular day trips from Madrid.
Another reason this is such a popular day trip is because of the Sierra de Guadarrama Mountains. Visitors from all over come to see the mountain range and climb to the top for stellar views of the whole city. The Avila Museum is also popular with artifacts dating back to the Paleolithic era. Be sure to visit the Las Cogotas ruins where you can see items from the Bronze Age of 3300 BC. And don't miss the Polentinos Palace with its army archive and stunning architecture dating to the 1500s.
How to get to Avila
In this case, all choices of transport will get you there in just over an hour but driving is the fastest and will give you easy access to all the attractions. Stop by the Gran Madrid Casino and try your luck or explore nature at the Cascada del Covacho Nature Preserve. The bus is the second fastest but does not stop at the attractions. The train will take you the longest in this case at just about one and a half hours.
From Madrid to Toledo
Just 45 miles from Madrid, the historic center of the small town, Toledo is considered to be the City of Three Cultures due to its harmonious living of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths in one small space. The 13th-century Cathedral of Toledo pays tribute to the multicultural past of the great city with a fascinating history and stunning architecture. Outside, the cobblestone streets and beautiful hillsides make you want to start walking.
Famous Spanish artist El Greco lived in the ancient city for many years and did a lot of his artwork on the streets here. Be sure to stop by the El Greco Museum, which opened in 1911, with two buildings and a courtyard full of artworks. Visit some of the religious buildings throughout the city like the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz and the Alcazar, an Islamic fort that is now a military museum.
How to get to Toledo
You will find many ways to get between the two cities of Madrid and Toledo. A direct high-speed train gets you from Madrid's Atocha Station to Toledo in just 33 minutes. Driving may take another 20 minutes but you can visit attractions along the way like Alhondiga Park in Getafe. The bus from Madrid takes about one hour but is the least expensive and you can see a lot of the countryside.
From Madrid to Salamanca
Founded in the 12th century, Salamanca is part of the Leon and Castile Region with a history dating back to the Celtics. Old Town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. The small community boasts spectacular palaces and churches like the Casa de las Conchas Palace, Salamanca Cathedral, and the Dominican monastery, Convento de San Esteban.
For some culture, check out the decorative arts at Casa Lis Mansion, the Museum of Automotive History, and the Unamuno House Museum. Take a walk through the beautiful streets of Salamanca and get a superior view of the city from the ancient Roman Bridge. Find the Salamanca Frog on the facade of Salamanca University for a special challenge.
How to get to Salamanca
Both buses and trains can be taken from Madrid to Salamanca every hour. The bus is the fastest at 2 1/2 hours and the train takes just under three hours. Driving will get you there in just over two hours and offers some amazing views such as the Philip VI Bridge over the Tormes River and the Castronuevo Castle.
From Madrid to Segovia
One of the top day trips from Madrid, visiting Segovia will get you a look at a Roman aqueduct constructed in 50 AD with 167 original arches inside the old city walls. It is one of the largest and oldest Roman structures in Spain, making a day trip to Segovia worth it for that alone. Another famous building here is the 12th-century Alcázar of Segovia castle which was the model for Walt Disney's Cinderella castle.
Stroll along the medieval streets to see romanesque churches, the Riofrio Royal Palace, Casa del Sol, and the Baths of Diana monumental fountain. Be sure to stop by Plaza Mayor at the end of Calle Real, the most famous street in Segovia. The plaza holds the city hall, San Miguel Church, Segovia Cathedral, and Juan Bravo Theatre. It is also home to many festivals all year long.
How to get to Segovia
The fastest and most convenient way to get to Segovia is on the AVE high-speed train, which will get you there in just one hour. The bus is not much longer and you get to see some of the most incredible views of the countryside. But if you want to stop and see anything, your best bet is to rent a car, which is just as fast as the train.
From Madrid to Aranjuez
In Aranjuez, you can visit the home of the Spanish Royal Family and see the Arabic room with stalactite arches and a gold beehive ceiling. Be sure to take a walk around the beautiful gardens outside where you can get some awesome selfies. Another royal palace to see is the gothic-style Casa del Labrador with its marble floors, Roman mosaics, and sensational murals by Velazquez.
Some of the historic buildings you should not miss here are the House of Trades and Knights, the Farmhand's House, St. Pascual's Royal Convent, and the Bullfighting Museum in Plaza de Toros. Aranjuez is also home to numerous parks and gardens like Isabella II's Garden, Prince's Garden, and the Parterre Garden.
How to get to Aranjuez
Only 37 miles from Madrid, you can make the trip by bus or train in just under an hour. The bus is great for those who want to see the sights along the way. But for those who want to do more than look, you can rent a car and get there in just over half an hour if you do not stop.
From Madrid to San Lorenzo de El Escorial
One of the best day trips from Madrid takes you to the El Escorial Monastery and Palace and National Park. The UNESCO world heritage site includes the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caidos), which is the burial place of more than 40,000 killed in the Spanish Civil War where a basilica and an enormous 500-foot cross stands now.
To get the best appreciation of this historic city, a guided tour is the perfect way to go. That way you can learn all of the important facts as well as some folklore. If you are adventurous, climb Mount Abantos, which is part of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains. Or take a hike in the La Herreria Forest Smithy, go zip lining at the Forest Park Guadarrama, and then relax at the La Jarosa Recreational Area.
How to get to San Lorenzo de El Escorial
It is a short 35 miles from Madrid so you can get there in about half an hour by car. Of course, that is only if you can resist stopping at one of the many attractions. On weekends, you can take a vintage Philip II tourist train from Principe Pio Train Station. Otherwise, the city can be reached in about an hour on one of the hourly trains or the bus.
Choose your Day Trips
Enjoy one of several walking tours in any of these cities or in Madrid itself. Go to Cuenca to see the hanging houses and walk along the medieval walls or visit the historic buildings of Siguenza in a laid-back atmosphere. Whether you want to move along at your own pace or want to be escorted by locals who know all about the city, you can find what you are looking for in nearby Madrid.