Madrid is well-connected to most of Spain thanks to its excellent transportation. Madrid’s Atocha station is the primary station in the city and is served by local commuter trains, regional trains and the AVE high-speed trains. As the city is well-connected by AVE, the rest of Spain is open to travellers curious to venture beyond the capital, even if only for a day. On the high-speed AVE, many places in Spain are easily accessible in under three hours.
Journey out of Madrid through a vast and changing landscape. From the green landscapes in the north to the desert landscapes of the centre of Spain to the almost-tropical cities in the south, there is so much to see out of the window from your seat. Here are 20 of the best day trips from Madrid.
- Day Trips From Madrid
- 3 Top Day Tours From Madrid
- 20 Must-do Madrid Day Trips
Day Trips From Madrid
20 Must-do Madrid Day Trips
Toledo is a city of three cultures thanks to the historical influences of three main religious groups: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
The blend of these three cultures has shaped the city’s uniquely designed layout and influenced its food, customs and architecture.
Toledo is a World Heritage City, so be sure to make time in your short visit to head to the walled Old Town, where most of the city’s ancient history lies.
After exploring the city’s beauty, dine on some famous local dishes like stuffed pears, manchego cheese and suckling pig.
To get to Toledo from Madrid, catch a Renfe Avant train from Puerta de Atocha station. The journey takes just 33 minutes or join this day tour to Toledo by bus with a guide.
One of Spain’s most famous cities, if you’re not planning on spending more time in Barcelona, you can journey there from Madrid in a day.
Barcelona is vibrant and filled with beautiful examples of architecture, from gothic churches and buildings to the incredibly colourful and curved designs of Antoni Gaudi.
To take in the most of the city, head to La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s famous unfinished final masterpiece.
The cathedral is slated to be completed in 2026 to mark the 100th anniversary of the architect’s death.
To get a flavour of the city through both its people and its food, head to Boqueria Market.
This market is filled with local stalls selling fresh fruits and vegetables, incredible tapas and delicious baked items.
Barcelona is just under three hours from Madrid on the AVE high-speed train from Puerta de Atocha station. If you have more time, this seven-day tour from Madrid to Barcelona and Andalusia is a relaxing way to explore.
Seville is the capital of Andalusia and has a reputation for being the most romantic and beautiful city in southern Spain.
Wander through the old neighbourhood of Santa Cruz, which lies around the cathedral.
The area is the old Jewish neighbourhood of the city and still is filled with the old town ambience of years gone by.
Its streets are narrow and cobbled and it is a perfect location to pause with some tapas and watch the world go by.
The city itself is ancient, and remnants of its intertwined cultural history remain today.
The cathedral dates from the 15th century and is the largest Gothic religious building globally and houses Christopher Columbus’s remains.
To get to Seville from Madrid, catch an AVE high-speed train from Puerta de Atocha station. The journey will take just over 2 hours 30 minutes. If you can spare a few days, here’s a 4-day tour from Madrid to Seville and other cities in Andalucia.
One of the main drawcards to this stunning small Spanish town is its Roman aqueduct.
The well-preserved aqueduct is 94ft (28m) at its highest point and, upon arriving in Segovia, is the first thing you will see.
Segovia is also home to the famous Alcazar Castle, one of several castles that inspired Disney’s Cinderella palace for the 1950s movie.
To reach Segovia, catch a Renfe Avant train bound for Valladolid from Chamartin station (53 minutes), then board a number 12 bus to Segovia’s city centre (45 minutes). The entire journey takes about two hours. Alternatively, this day tour to Avila and Segovia is a great way to see two cities in one trip.
5- El Escorial
El Escorial is a UNESCO World Heritage gem and the literary centre of Spain, drawing writers, artists and poets from all over the world.
Such is the literary allure of the city that it hosts many literary conferences and events year-round.
The city is framed by lush green forests and has clear water in its streams.
The most famous building within El Escorial is its monastery; Phillip II of Spain ordered construction to begin in 1563.
Writers have described the monastery as the 8th wonder of the world.
El Escorial is reachable by a 40 minute bus ride from Intercambiador Moncloa. Catch the ALSA-661 bus and visit independently or skip the lines at the monastery and the Valley of The Fallen by joining an organised day tour in an air-conditioned coach. It includes a guided tour of both San Lorenzo del Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen.
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Ávila is famous for its city walls, which are among the best-preserved city walls in Europe.
The city itself lies within the walls and is a World Heritage City.
The city walls are walkable along a 1700m (5577ft) walkway that takes in views of the cathedral, Plazo del Mercado Grande, and the surrounding countryside.
Ávila is known for its meat dishes, particularly T-bone steaks served with beans.
Catch a local train from Chamartin Station heading towards El Escorial. Get off the train at El Escorial, and catch another train bound for Salamanca – La Alamedilla. The journey will take 2 hours and 20 minutes. You can also visit both Avila and Segovia on this day tour from Madrid.
Consuegra is a must-visit for literary fans as it is the location of Don Quixote’s battle with the windmills.
Five of the 12 windmills still turn today, and one is even named Sancho after one of the novel’s main characters.
While the windmills do draw lots of tourism to the area, explore Castillo de la Muela, which has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest.
The castle is at the top of Calderico Hill, which offers breathtaking views of the city and beyond.
The journey to Consuegra takes 2 hours 20 minutes on a Samar bus.
Córdoba is one of Spain’s most historic cities and is filled with incredible ruins, architecture and reminders of its past.
The city was originally a Roman settlement that the Visigoths and the Moors conquered.
Córdoba became the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate during this time and has stunning Moorish architecture.
The entire historic centre of the city has UNESCO World Heritage status thanks to the architecture and significant buildings that lay within its boundary.
A must-see when in Córdoba for a day is the Mezquita Cathedral, once a grand mosque and also the site of a Visigothic church.
To reach Córdoba travel on an AVE from Puerta de Atocha station. The journey takes 1 hour 45 minutes. Skip the line and pre-book your tickets to the Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral here.
A day trip from Madrid to Valencia will take you past spectacular scenery before winding up in the beautiful oceanfront city.
Visit Valencia in the spring and summer to see the streets lined with orange trees that give the city a vibrant colour and a sweet scent under the sun.
The streets close to the centre are cobbled and narrow, with beautiful floral window boxes and twisting pathways leading to incredible architecture.
The region’s most famous dish is paella, often made with meat and fish, served with rice and local vegetables.
Try the local delicacy of horchata, sweet milk made from tiger nuts and fartons, a long sweet pastry dusted with icing sugar.
The best place to try this is at Horchateria de Santa Catalina.
Board an AVE train to reach Valencia from Puerta de Atocha station. The journey is just over 1 hour 40 minutes. Although it’s possible to squeeze in a visit to Valencia on a day trip, there’s so much to see, you will want to stay longer. Here’s a 4-day tour to Valencia and Barcelona from Madrid.
Salamanca is another of Spain’s incredible UNESCO World Heritage cities and is one of the most beautiful in the country.
Salamanca is home to the oldest university in Europe.
The university has been open since the 13th century and has educated the minds of great Spaniards such as Miguel de Cervantes and Christopher Columbus.
Visit the university library to see its incredible 160,000 leather-bound volumes.
To truly discover the city, head on a treasure hunt to explore the city’s most significant buildings while uncovering items hidden among the ornate carvings.
A tiny frog sits on a skull on the university facade, and an unusually forward-thinking carving on the New Cathedral (built in 1509) features a carving of an astronaut.
Board a Renfe Avant train from Chamartin towards Valladolid and change here for the train to Salamanca. The journey takes 2 hours 26 minutes, including the change of trains. This private day tour of Salamanca is a great way to learn more about the city.
Step back in time to the staggering city of Cuenca, which dates back to the 15th century and is located over a gorge.
Cuenca’s hanging houses, Las Casas Colgadas, are as old as the city itself and remain in their original form.
The hanging houses have long been a draw for visitors, and Las Casas Colgadas has been transformed into a modernist museum.
The best views of this unique structure are from the Bridge of Saint Paul.
While in the city, stop by a local restaurant to dine on its regional specialties of tender lamb and other meats slowly cooked.
Take a regional train bound from Puerta de Atocha for Valencia-Estacio del Nord to reach Cuenca. The journey takes approximately 1 hour. Book a day tour here.
Zaragoza is the fifth-largest city in Spain and is often overlooked by visitors who head to Barcelona or Madrid.
It’s worth taking a day trip from Madrid and heading out to this architecturally stunning city on the high-speed train.
Zaragoza is the regional capital of Aragón which was long ago its own kingdom, so it has many grand palaces, ornate monuments and beautiful houses preserved for today’s visitors.
There are few examples of well-preserved Moorish architecture outside of Andalusia, however, Zaragoza is full of this incredible style, with some buildings dating back more than 800 years.
Head to the Moorish Aljafería Palace to be absorbed in some of this area’s beauty.
Catch the AVE from Puerta de Atocha towards Barcelona. The journey takes 1 hour 15 minutes.
Aranjuez is a UNESCO World Heritage city to the south and an accessible location for a day trip from Madrid.
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez is striking in white stone and contrasting red brick.
Juan Bautista de Toledo began works on the palace in 1564, but it took more than two centuries to be fully complete.
For a truly spectacular way to arrive in the city, catch The Strawberry Train.
The train runs through spring and autumn weekends and recreates the first railway journey in Madrid.
The cars are historical and designed internally to reflect the train’s 1851 origins.
To reach Aranjuez, catch a regional C3 train. The journey takes 45 minutes, with trains departing every 20 minutes from Atocha Cercanias station.
Valladolid’s historic centre is filled with interesting examples of renaissance architecture, including the cathedral, the College of San Gregorio, which today houses the National Sculpture Museum, and many houses and palaces.
Take in the beauty of the unfinished cathedral, which began construction on the orders of King Philip II during the 16th century.
Fans of literature should make time to see the House of Cervantes, where the author of Don Quixote lived with his family during the early 1600s.
In this house, Cervantes completed his epic novel.
Take an Avant train from Chamartin to reach Valladolid in just over 1 hour. Trains run every 30 minutes to the city.
A short hop from Madrid is the medieval city of Chinchón.
Begin your day trip visiting its irregular-shaped square-sided, two- and three-floor homes with running balconies covered in baskets and flowers.
Visit the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, which dates back to the mid 16th century.
Sadly, the church was sacked and burned in 1808 by Napoleonic troops.
It was rebuilt in the Gothic style in 1828 and is filled with examples of Renaissance and Baroque styles and artworks.
Inside the church is the painting La Asunción de la Virgen by Goya, the famous Spanish artist.
Catch a regional C3 train from Atocha Cercanias Station bound for Aranjuez (40 minutes), followed by the 416 bus to reach Chinchón (30 minutes).
The city of Granada sits at the foot of the breathtaking Sierra Nevada mountains.
Granada is filled with fine examples of Islamic architecture, tasty tapas and street art.
Visit the hilltop Alhambra fortress. Perched at an advantageous height, the UNESCO World Heritage Site features reddish walls which gave it its name, a honeycomb stalactite in the viewing dome of the Hall of Abercerrajes, and of course, traditional Moorish touches such as archways and ornate carvings.
After getting your fill of the city’s history, get your fill of tapas.
Granada is one of the few locations in Spain to serve free tapas with any drink purchased in many of its bars.
Enjoy patatas bravas, slices of cold meats and other dishes served at random for free, or pay a handful of euros to see the full tapas menu and order specific dishes.
Head out early to catch a train from Puerta de Atocha to Granada. The journey takes a little over 3 hours, but a day in this incredible city is worth the long travelling time. Although it’s possible to squeeze a day trip from Madrid to Granada in, you may also like this 4-day tour of the Cities of Andalusia.
17- Manzanares El Real
Sitting in the foothills of the Sierra de Madrid mountains, the small town of Manzanares El Real is a spectacular location to visit on a day trip from Madrid.
The town sits within the Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The area’s jagged and harsh granite peaks are set against rolling green hills and forests.
Bandits favoured these peaks as hideouts during the 19th century.
Many climbers head to the area to take advantage of its rocky outcrops and challenging climbs.
In the town, there are many examples of fine architecture from the 15th to 17th centuries, including Manzanares El Real Castle, which is filled with fine tapestries and ornate furniture.
Catch a C8 regional train bound for Villalba from Chamartin, before changing to the 720 bus in Villalba. The journey takes about 1 hour 30 minutes.
18- Alcalá de Henares
Alcalá de Henares lies just 35 km (22 miles) northeast of Madrid, making it an easy day out.
The city has a rich literary heritage thanks to its ties to Cervantes.
The house he grew up in has been converted into a museum and is filled with furniture and artwork from the 16th and 17th centuries when it was occupied by the creator of Don Quixote.
Another area in Spain to dine on free tapas is Alcalá de Henares.
Simply purchase a drink and enjoy a wide choice of tapas dishes as an accompaniment.
If you are still peckish after tapas, wander down Calle Mayor in the city’s historical centre.
The 12th-century street is lined with bakeries and restaurants.
Take a regional C2 or C7 train from Atocha Cercanias to reach Alcalá de Henares. Trains take 42 minutes and run every 9 minutes. Or book a day tour from Madrid to the Alcala de Henares and the Cervantes Museum.
Guadalajara has been inhabited since pre-Roman times, however, the true founding of the town itself dates to the Moors during the 8th century.
There are examples of Moorish influence from this time dotted across the town in its architecture and landscape.
Cross the bridge over the Henares River to walk on a Moorish bridge built atop Roman foundations.
While in the town, try Manchego cheese which is local to the region, Pisto Manchego, a vegetarian dish of peppers, pumpkin and tomatoes, and Cocido Madrileño, a Madrid-style stew.
A C2 regional train from Atocha Cercanias to Guadalajara takes just over 1 hour and 30 minutes.
The delightful city of Sigüenza was declared a Historic-Artistic site in 1965 and is filled with outstanding works of architecture through its civil and religious buildings.
When spending the day here, be sure to take in its three main attractions: the castle, the cathedral and Plaza Mayor.
The castle is a hotel today however its 8th-century roots can still be seen.
A regional train from Chamartin takes just under 2 hours to reach Siqüenza.