If Madrid wasn’t enough (we doubt it), its outskirts are bound to satisfy. With a hop, skip or a jump, you’ll be in some of Spain’s most majestic towns and villages. UNESCO World Heritage listings abound. You’ll see windmills. You’ll retrace the footsteps of the great Miguel de Cervantes. Find Christian, Jewish and Islamic history. But, hey, don’t forget come back to Madrid for Spanish lessons!


Aqueduct in Segovia — © Academia Contacto.
Aqueduct in Segovia — © Academia Contacto.

An ancient city oozing in history and tradition, Segovia offers you one of the best day trips from Madrid. Located 1 hour by bus or 30 minutes by AVE high-speed train, the city is home to a Roman aqueduct that dates back to the 1st or 2nd century. You’ll see castles, cobblestone alleyways, and the Church of San Miguel, where Isabella 1 was crowned queen in 1474, among other breathtaking sights. Segovia is a truly must-do Madrid day trip!


River Tagus in Toledo — © Academia Contacto.
River Tagus in Toledo — © Academia Contacto.

Like no other? Wait! How about Toledo? Known as the “City of Three Cultures”, Spain’s former imperial capital under Charles I merges Christian, Jewish and Islamic cultures in what is today a UNESCO World Heritage-listed paradise. Located on a hill, the city is a picturesque reminder of ancient Spain and includes a number of important historical museums. Toledo is just 30-minutes by AVE high-speed train and 1-hour by bus from Madrid.


A medieval masterpiece, Cuenca hosts architectural gems that date back to the 12th century. A variation of the Arab name “Kunka”, Cuenca is located 160 kilometers from Madrid and home to cliffside homes, Gothic cathedrals and other architectural relics you’re unlikely to find elsewhere in Spain. For one of the best day trips from Madrid, consider the AVE high-speed train for a faster journey to Cuenca.

El Escorial

El Escorial — © Academia Contacto.
El Escorial — © Academia Contacto.

Closer to home, San Lorenzo del Escorial — or El Escorial for short — is a short day trip into the mountainous countryside surrounding Madrid. The village is known for its 16th century Monastery named after St Lawrence of Rome, which continues to function to this day. El Escorial is also close to the Valley of the Fallen, a controversial memorial built by former dictator Franco to commemorate the deaths of his Nationalist fighters in the Spanish Civil War.


Rub your eyes a little harder! No, you’re not in the Dutch countryside! Consuegra is Spain’s oldschool windmill capital. While the country is today a major clean energy producer, it’s history with windmills goes way back, with Consuegra’s 12 restored windmills a major tourist attraction along with the town’s 12th century castle and tower. Not too far from Madrid, it’s one of the best day trips from Madrid for something a little different.

Alcalá de Henares

The birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, Alcalá de Henares is a majestic city just 30 kilometres from Madrid, home to some of the best preserved Roman architectural relics of Spain. The city is full of life, particularly students’, as the city is home to the Complutense University of Madrid. It’s place in Spain’s cultural and educational traditions is noticeable in this small city, with particular emphasis in the local tourist circuit placed on local lad Cervantes.


So close to Madrid you could almost consider it part of the city, Aranjuez is one of Spain’s most regal villages. At the heart of Spanish history, it is today a reminder of the region’s former and royal grandeur. It remains one of several properties in the Spanish royal family’s estate.

Originally published on Ailola by Jayson McNamara on May 10, 2015.