While it could be hard to run out of neighborhoods to explore in Madrid, planning a few unique Madrid Day trips is a must-do for those of you who seek to discover the authentic feel of Spain.

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The Best Day Trips from Madrid

Visiting Madrid

As much as I enjoy spontaneous getaways to Madrid every once in a while, some of my all-time favorite places in Spain were discovered via Madrid day trips. Escaping the city buzz is a great way to change the pace and explore some of the most iconic landmarks in Spain.

top madrid day trips
El Retiro Park in Madrid

While comparing Madrid and Barcelona in one of my previous posts, I surprisingly realize for myself that I would be willing to choose Madrid over Barcelona due to the vast number of interesting day tours.

Since Madrid is conveniently set in the heart of Spain, the possibilities to chase any Spain Bucket List are limitless. While in the case of Barcelona, day-tripping is mostly about the Mediterranean coast of Spain (which isn t any less impressive). Nevertheless, in terms of sightseeing, Madrid is one of the best Spanish destinations ever.

Unique Top Madrid Day Trips

1. Toledo

Travel time: 1 hour by car / 30 mins by train

Toledo Spain Travel
Toledo – one of my favorite Madrid day trips

Toledo is one of my favorite places in Spain. The last time I visited the city was back in 2022 on the way to Extremadura (it was my 4th time). Yet I still plan to return to Toledo this 2024.
Toledo is known for its unmatched historical past, multicultural influences, and dazzling architecture. Not to mention that Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Spain and the stunning Museo del Greco is a must-stop for all art lovers around the world.

While being a UNESCO World Heritage site, Toledo used to be a Spanish capital till 1561. It is often described as “the city of 3 cultures”, where Islamic, Christian, and Hebrew inhabitants lived side by side for centuries.

Top sights you can’t miss in Toledo: El AlcázarLa Catedral Primada, Monasterio de San Juan de Los ReyesMuseo de Santa CruzPuerta de BisagraMirador del ValleSinagoga de Santa Maria BlancaPuente de AlcantaraIglesia de Santo ToméPlaza de ZocodoverIglesia de los JesuitasMezquita del Cristo de la LuzMuseo del Greco. Also, Toledo is home to one of the most famous Spanish Love Legends – The Story of the Bitter Well of Toledo.

Best Madrid Day Tours to Toledo:

While there are lots of day tours combining Toledo with Segovia and Avila, personally, I would recommend to spend in Toledo at least one full day.

2. Don Quixote Windmills

Travel time: 1 hour by car

Don quijote mills in Castile-La Mancha, Spain
Campo de Criptana – one of the most unique Madrid day trips

The famous Don Quixote Windmills, located in Campo de Criptana, are some of the most popular landmarks of the Castile La-Mancha region in Central Spain.

If you could pick only one thing that represents Spain internationally it would definitely be Don Quixote, one of the world’s best-selling books of all time. Its writer, Miguel de Cervantes, is still considered to be one of the most famous Spaniards ever. Not only is Don Quixote one of the oldest classical reads, but it is also one of the must-have children’s books from Spain.

book-themed road trip across the region is definitely one of the most unique experiences in Spain. Nevertheless, you can still briefly visit the lands of Don Quixote on a day trip from Madrid.

Best Madrid Day Tours to the Don Quixote Windmills:

3. Segovia + Avila

Travel time: 1 hour 20 minutes by car / 50 minutes by train

aqueduct of Segovia - landmarks in Spain
Segovia – one of the most epic Madrid day trips

One of the most iconic Madrid day trips is Segovia.

The city is known for some of the best preserved Roman Aqueduct in Spain (with a mysterious legend behind it) and The Alcazar, one of the top fairytale places in Spain. Unlike many other Spanish castles that simply served as fortresses, Alcazar de Segovia was home to the Spanish Royalty and has never been defeated. It is said to have inspired Cinderella´s Castle, the symbol of Disney.

Let me warn you, if you can dedicate a few days to Segovia – it would be better: travelers often combine this city with a visit to Avila and the nearest Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso. Nevertheless, if your time in Spain is limited, even one day in Segovia is an amazing idea.

As to Avila, this beautiful town is surrounded by some of the most unique medieval walls in Europe, one of Spain’s top UNESCO World Heritage Sites. While many castles and medieval villages in Spain are surrounded by walls, most of them honestly pale in comparison with those of Avila. Built at the end of the 11th century Avila´s walls were aimed to defend the local population against the Moorish threat.

Best Madrid Day Tours to Segovia and Avila:

4. El Escorial + Valley of the Fallen

Travel time: 1 hour by car

escorial travel day trips from madrid
El Escorial – one of the must-do Madrid Day trips

El Escorial is one of the must-do Madrid day trips, since it is one of the most epic Spanish landmarks. San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a beautiful ancient monastery built back in the 15th century. Besides unique architectural styles and decorations, the monastery covers an area of 33 327 square meters and sits in the Guadarrama mountain range at an altitude of 1028 meters.

San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of unique spaces – Los Panteones, Claustro Principal, Basilica, Salas Capitulares, Palacio de los Austrias, Palacio de lod Borbones, Sala de Batallas. However, as the bookworm, I especially enjoyed visiting the Library with its 400,000 unique ancient texts (including ancient manuscripts in Greek, Latin, Arab, and Hebrew).

Nearby San Lorenzo de El Escorial you can also visit La Herreria Forest and the Valley of the Fallen (also called Cuelgamuros Valley). The Spanish dictator Francisco Franco ordered the construction of this monument in 1940. The site has also served as Franco s burrial place until his exhumation in 2019, following long and controversial political debates in Spain.

Best Madrid Day Tours to El Escorial:

5. Salamanca

Travel time: 2 hours 20 mins by car / 1 hour 40 minutes by train

Salamanca best madrid day trips
Salamanca – one of my favorite Madrid Day trips

You can hardly find another beautiful Spanish city that would equally combine a youthful environment with an unmatched historical beauty. Salamanca is known for the oldest university in Europe. This city has a special place in my heart, since I lived there for a month to pass my DELE exam of Spanish, it was my first brief expat experience in Spain.

Salamanca´s university was founded by King Alfonso IX in 1218 and was Spain´s first institution for higher education. Back in 1254, it was acknowledged by Pope Alexander IV as one of the world´s four greatest universities along with Oxford, Paris, and Bologna.

The Cathedral of Salamanca is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Spain. In fact, it is composed of two churches joined together: The Old Cathedral (12th-13th centuries) is in the Romanesque style, and the New Cathedral (16th century) with Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance elements.

Best Madrid Day Tours to Salamanca:

6. Alcala de Henares

Travel time: 45 minutes by car / 40 minutes by train

alcala de henares madrid day trip
Alcala de Henares – one of the closest Madrid Day Trips

Alcala de Henares is known as a birthplace of one of the most famous Spaniards in history – Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), the author of the worldwide-famous novel Don Quixote

In this small town, you´ll find the house museum of the famous Don Quixote writer. The entrance to Cervantes Birthplace Museum is free. Inside you´ll find the first editions of the book nestled between the traditional Spanish interiors of the XVIth century.

If you are Traveling to Alcala de Henares in December, you can also visit the Spanish Christmas Park of Torrejon de Ardoz.

Best Madrid Day Tours to Alcala de Henares:

7. Cuenca

Travel time: 1 hour 50 minutes by car / 1 hour by high-speed train

cuenca hanging houses spain madrid to valencia
Cuenca – one of the lesser-known Madrid day trips
spain cathedral cuenca la mancha
The stunning cathedral of Cuenca visited during my Cuenca road trip

Cuenca used to be the source of stories for my blog series Undiscovered Spain, but lately, it has turned into a trendy getaway destination in Spain. The city is conveniently located on the road between Madrid and Valencia, plus has a fast-speed train connection with both.

The Spanish city of Cuenca is known for one of the top Spanish landmarks – the Hanging Houses of Cuenca (or Casas Colgadas in Spanish).

Nevertheless, during my most recent Cuenca road trip, I was especially surprised by the Cathedral with its stunning ceilings and decorations. Also, Cuenca s Cathedral Museum houses two stunning paintings of El Greco.

Also, one of the most popular hikes in Cuenca, Ruta de las Caras, is a popular Madrid day trip for all the nature lovers.

Best Madrid day tours to Cuenca:

8. Ribera del Duero Wineries

While it’s hard to compete with the international fame of La Rioja wineries, there are more unique wine regions in Spain worth visiting. Ribera del Duero is one of them. It´s one of the most unique day trips for all the fans of Spanish wine.

For this option, it is better to book one of the guided tours, since many bodegas require previous booking:

9. Sierra Guadarrama National Park

Travel time: 1 hour 5 minutes by car

The best Madrid trip to escape the megalopolis lifestyle and enjoy a few walks with nature is Guarrama National Park, one of the top Spanish national parks. If your Spain Bucket List includes hiking or adventurous activities do not miss Forest Park Guadarrama. In winter it is a popular place for skiing in Spain. Travelers usually start their visit at Centro de Visitantes Peñalara.

10. Chinchon

Travel time: 55 minutes by car

chinchon madrid to valencia
Chinchon – one of the most charming Madrid day trips

Visiting the small town of Chinchon was one of the highlights of my 2022 travels in Spain. This place is mostly known for its central square Plaza Mayor, a unique example of Castile’s traditional architecture from the Middle Ages.

Chinchón’s Plaza Mayor is considered the most unique square in the whole of Spain. It has 234 balconies, some of which date back to the XVth century. 

Chinchon has been an iconic filming location for a few old classy movies with Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, and John Wayne.

11. Aranjuez

Travel time: 50 minutes by car / 45 minutes by train

aranjuez palace madrid spain
Aranjuez – one of the most unique Madrid day trips
madrid to valencia road trip spain
The Gardens of Aranjuez, visited on the road from Madrid to Valencia

The Palace of Aranjuez is one of the top Royal Sites connected to the Spanish Crown. Back in 2001, this Spanish landmark was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Cultural Landscapes. 

While Aranjuez was built back in the XVth century, during the reign of the Catholic Kings, many other Spanish monarchs tried to reform it ever since. The biggest splendor of Aranjuez is connected to the Spanish kings Carlos III and Carlos IV. Back then Aranjuez was a trendy vacation spot for the royalty and court.

Madrid Day Tours to Aranjuez:

12. Valencia

Travel time: 2 hours by high-speed train

art sciences valencia
Valencia – one of the coolest Madrid day trips by train
one day in valencia spain
One week in Valencia: Full Road Trip Itinerary

The region of Valencia has been my home for more than 15 years: under the hashtag Valencia you can find lots of local travel tips and hidden gems of the region. Years ago the Madrid-Valencia itinerary used to be a whole road trip. Nevertheless these days with a high-speed train connection, you can easily visit Valencia on a day trip from Madrid. You can follow my Itinerary For One Day in Valencia.

The most eye-catching landmark of Valencia is the City of Arts and Sciences, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and inaugurated in 1998. The cost of this unique futuristic structure has exceeded its initial budget four times, elevating the government´s investment to 1,282 mln euros. Numerous movies and TV shows were filmed inside The City of Arts and Sciences, including Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (2015), Westworld (2016) Season 3, and BBC´s Doctor Who.

13. Roman Ruins of Segobriga + Ucles

Travel time: 1 hour 20 minutes by car

segobriga cuenca spain
Segobriga – one of the top Roman Ruins in Spain

On the road from Madrid to Valencia, you will find one of the top Roman Ruins in Spain – Segobriga Archaeological Park. It is one of the most ancient sights in the Castile La-Mancha region.

Segobriga was once a prosperous Roman city with a great strategic location, conveniently situated between Carthago Nova (present-day Cartagena) and Toletum (present-day Toledo). You can get a glimpse of this landmark via Spain virtual tours.

Fans of secret and beautiful monasteries in Spain will definitely enjoy visiting The Monastery of Ucles, located near Segobriga Archeological park.

Madrid Day Tours to Segobriga:

14. Soria

Travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes by car

ermita de san saturio soria castile leon
Soria – one of the secret Madrid day trips

If you have already tested all of the Madrid day trips above, set your eyes on Soria, one of the most underrated Spanish cities.

Soria is known worldwide for the heroic resistance of Numantia to the Great Roman Empire: when after 13 months of siege, the Numantians decided to burn the city before surrendering it to the Romans. Also, its natural wonders are popular in Spain for all the nature lovers, especially Laguna Negra de Urbion and Cañon del Rio Lobos.

Aside from its unique landmarks, Soria has given the world quite a few famous Spaniards, like Fray Tomas de Berlanga (advisor to the Spanish crown, the discoverer of the Galapagos Islands), and inspired numerous writers and poets, like Gustavo Adolfo Bequer, Gerardo Diego, and Antonio Machado.

You can read more about my trip to Soria in this post.

Alternatively, you can create a separate 7-day Madrid Road Trip Itinerary with most of these Madrid Day Trip ideas.

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For more Spain travel tips and itineraries check my Pinterest boards Best of Spain and Spain Travel Collection.

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