5 easy must-do weekend trips from Madrid

Published by: BouncePosted Updated
Weekend trips from Madrid

One of the world's great cities, Spain's capital Madrid has enough to keep you busy no matter what you're into. One of the most historic cities in Western Europe, Madrid offers a vibrant city center, great food, and top attractions like the Royal Palace and the Prado Museum. Plus, the vast El Retiro Park is a fantastic place to unwind, soak in the tranquility, and enjoy the Spanish sunshine.

In fact, there's so much to do in Madrid that it will take a very long time to work your way through all the attractions. And when you've done that, you're still left with the inescapable charm of the city that has visitors coming back time and time again. It's almost impossible to run out of things to do in Madrid.

With that said, the city can be a very busy place, especially in summer. And Madrid's central location in the heart of Spain, combined with its excellent transportation links, means that there are tons of spectacular weekend trips from Madrid that you can take any time you want to see more of the country. A great weekend trip can help you understand more about Spanish history, culture, and food, and the best weekend trips from Madrid will show you a completely different side of this intriguing country.

Drop off your unneeded bags at a Madrid luggage storage and take a train from Madrid Atocha or hop behind the wheel of a car to enjoy some of the best weekend trips from Madrid. Traveling light will make it much easier to enjoy everything there is to do in this fascinating region of Spain, and with so many options available, you won't want to miss out on these great day trips and weekend trips.

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Weekend trips from Madrid to Cuenca

Cuenca

This gorgeous city is often recognized as one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. Famous for its hanging houses built into the side of the local cliffs, this medieval village has to be seen to be believed.

Distance from Madrid:

It's 170 km from Madrid to Cuenca, so expect to drive for just under two hours. Thanks to Spain's excellent and very affordable network of high-speed trains, it's actually quicker to get to the city by public transit, taking only about an hour to make the journey.

Our activity recommendations:

  • See the hanging houses: Known in Spanish as the Casas Colgadas, these clifftop houses are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are the most iconic thing to see in Cuenca. Dating back to the medieval period, these beautiful houses offer a wonderful experience on a weekend trip.
  • Museo de Arte Abstracto Español: Located within one of the hanging houses, this museum of abstract Spanish art is worth visiting for more than just seeing the house from the inside. One of Spain's largest collections of modern art, this gallery focuses on paintings from the 1950s and beyond.
  • San Pablo Bridge: For a spectacular view, visit this bridge that dates back to 1902. You'll need a head for heights, as the bridge tends to sway a little, but if you have the nerve for it, this pedestrian bridge offers possibly the best views of Cuenca's famous hanging houses. Don't miss this fun highlight of one of the best weekend trips from Madrid.

Best season to visit:

Cuenca can get very crowded during the summer months, so it might be better to time your visit in spring or fall when the weather is still good, but the crowds are smaller.

Madrid weekend getaway to Aranjuez

Aranjuez

The summer home of Spanish monarchs looking to escape the heat and crowds of Madrid, Aranjuez is a historic city that is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site. This royal city is the place to come on weekend trips from Madrid to get a glimpse of the opulent life of the Spanish monarchy.

Distance from Madrid:

Around 50 km south of Madrid, Aranjuez is easily reached by car in a little more than 30 minutes. It's also possible to catch a train from Madrid, which will take around 45 minutes.

Our activity recommendations:

  • See the Royal Palace: The main attraction in Aranjuez and the final destination of many weekend trips from Madrid, the Royal Palace of Aranjuez is one of the most spectacular in the entire country. First constructed by Philip II and then added to and improved by the monarchs who succeeded him, this palace is open to the public to explore and offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of one of the world's most powerful families.
  • The Island Garden: Part of the Royal Palace complex, this beautiful garden is surrounded by the waters of the Tagus River and is a fantastic place to breathe in some tranquility. The immaculate landscaping makes this garden, just one of many at the Royal Palace, feel like a work of art as much as it does the work of nature, and it's a great place to recharge your batteries on one of the best weekend trips from Madrid.
  • Museo de la Vida: Opened in 1997, this Museum of Life is focused on the life of royalty. You can see the wedding dresses of queens and other items from the lives of various Spanish monarchs and learn more about the turbulent history of the rulers of Spain at this intriguing museum.

Best season to visit:

Aranjuez is a year-round destination. There's really no bad time to visit here and soak up the majesty of this amazing location.

Chinchon weekend trips from Madrid

Chinchon

This ancient town offers one of the best weekend trips from Madrid for history buffs. Lose yourself in the narrow streets surrounding the gorgeous Plaza Mayor, and you'll feel like you've taken a trip back in time.

Distance from Madrid:

It's only 45 minutes from central Madrid to Chinchon, requiring a drive of around 40 minutes. This medieval town doesn't have a train station, but it's also possible to take a bus from the city, which will take around an hour.

Our activity recommendations:

  • Plaza Mayor: The central square of Chinchon, Plaza Mayor, is justifiably one of the most famous in Spain. Surrounded by galleries and wooden balconies, this is generally the first place tourists come to enjoy one of the best weekend trips from Madrid. Sit out at a table and enjoy a drink or a meal, and soak up the atmosphere and historic beauty of this unique place.
  • Medieval Market: No matter when you visit Chinchon, it can feel like you've taken a step back in time, but that's especially true in February when the Medieval Market is held. Commemorating a historic royal visit to the city, this market re-creates the food, entertainment, and culture of this intriguing period of history.
  • Nuestra Señora de la Asunción: Chinchon's 'new' church - nothing remains of the old one except its tower - is home to a painting by famed Spanish artist Goya.

Best season to visit:

Chinchon is one of the best weekend trips from Madrid at any time of year. However, if you're in the area in February, you shouldn't miss the Medieval Market, one of the biggest events on the town's calendar. Alternatively, August also features a running of the bulls which is a spectacular sight to see.

Alcalá de Henares -Plaza de Cervantes

Alcalá de Henares

The birthplace of the famous Spanish author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, this historic town is as atmospheric as they come. Just a short distance from Madrid, this famous literary city offers one of the best weekend trips for fans of art and culture.

Distance from Madrid:

At only 30 minutes from Madrid by car, this is a popular destination for day trips from the Spanish capital as well as longer weekend trips. You can also reach the city by train, which only takes a little longer at around 40 minutes.

Our activity recommendations:

  • Cervantes House: Miguel de Cervantes is more than just another writer. His position in the history of Spanish literature is similar to that of Shakespeare in the English language, making him a kind of national figure. You can learn more about this comic writer at the house where he grew up back in the 16th century.
  • Plaza de Cervantes: As is usually the case with Spanish town squares, Plaza de Cervantes functions as the communal living room of the town. Pull up a chair at a sidewalk café and enjoy a drink or meal while you soak up the atmosphere of this enchanting town. Note that Alcala is known for its generous tapas plates, so just ordering a drink may also get you enough food that you can skip dinner.
  • Regional Archaeological Museum: Founded in a 17th-century convent, this archaeological museum takes you through the history of central Spain from prehistoric times up until the present day. The artifacts of the past provide the ideal way to learn more about Spanish history and understand the culture of the country a little better.

Best season to visit:

Thanks to its great museums and excellent food, Alcala offers a place you can visit year-round. Even in winter, there's plenty to do here, so it's a good option for the winter months.

Weekend trips to Pedraza from Madrid

Pedraza

One of the hidden gems of the region, Pedraza doesn't attract the crowds of some of the more popular weekend trips from Madrid - but that's a good thing. This historic city is a great place to explore and enjoy a slower pace of life.

Distance from Madrid:

At 125 km north of Madrid, Pedraza requires a drive of around one and a half hours. Public transportation is thin on the ground here, so driving is the best way to take this trip.

Our activity recommendations:

  • Pedraza Castle: First built in the 13th century and extensively improved in the 15th, Pedraza Castle is the perfect place to understand more about the history of this charming town. The on-site museum will explain more about the castle's history and why this town was so important in its time.
  • Pedraza Old Town: Just wandering the cobbled streets of this ancient city is an attraction in itself. Visit the charming cafés, restaurants, and shops in the medieval city center, and you'll feel not only a long way from Madrid but also in a completely different era. The town has been declared a Historic Artistic site for its beauty and its influence on artists from around the region.
  • Walking tour: To get more out of your weekend trips from Madrid, consider taking a walking tour of Pedraza. This small town has seen a lot of history, so exploring it in the company of a knowledgeable guide is a great way to understand more about what you're seeing.

Best season to visit:

Summer is a lovely time to wander the streets of Pedraza, and as a bit of a hidden gem, you won't have to deal with the crowds you'll experience in Madrid. However, summers here can be hot, and there are many very pleasant days in spring and fall, so these seasons are also great times to visit.

Exciting weekend getaways from Madrid

Conclusion

These weekend trips from Madrid can show you an entirely different side of Spain. Madrid is packed with excellent food, fascinating culture, incredible architecture, and vibrant nightlife, so if you only have three days to spend in Madrid, you'll want to focus on enjoying all of that. If you have a little longer to spend in the Spanish capital, however, it's well worth considering one of these destinations either for quick day trips or for weekend trips from Madrid.

Leave your bags behind at a Madrid luggage storage, and you'll be perfectly placed to enjoy some great weekend trips. And beyond these lesser-known destinations, many of the biggest cities in Spain, such as Barcelona, are within reach of Madrid on a weekend trip. In fact, there are almost too many options to enjoy for weekend trips from Madrid. But that's a good problem to have.

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