8 Memorable Day Trips from Madrid
I have to confess that, despite the fact that I love Madrid, my favorite part of visiting ‘El Foro’, as the spanish people use to call their capital, was to escape from the ustle and bustle of the city and explore its surroundings. In fact, I even spent more days doing that than exploring the city itself and I’ve to say I’ve no regreats of having done so. So that, here’s the list of the 8 best day trips from Madrid:
There was no better place to quick off this list than Toledo, a must-visit town for every international visitor around! Before Madrid became the capital of Spain, Toledo was the seat of the spanish crown. So that, prepare yourself for an incredible history lesson before catching your train to this beautiful medieval town perched on a rock overlooking the Tagus River. Make sure you don’t miss the cathedral, one of the most spectaculars in the country and one of my all time favorites in Europe.
Back in time, the spanish crown was one of the richest and most powerful in Europe, as it’s easy to understand by looking at the painted roofs and golden furniture of the dozens of palaces built around Madrid by the spanish kings. Aranjuez Palace is undoubtly the most famous, not just because of its impressive interiors but also because of the huge lush gardens situated behind it, where the ladies of the court used to relax, read and ride their boats on the nearby river.
3. El Escorial
El Escorial is a massive complex that includes not only a monastery, as most of the people think, but also a basilica, a school, two royal palaces and dozens of royal mausoleums. It’s one of the most popular day trips from Madrid and it’s easy to understand why. My favorite part of El Escorial is the library, the most beautiful where I have ever been. Whatever you do, don’t miss it!
4. Valley of the Fallen
Because it’s located less than 10 kilometers away from El Escorial, most of the people that visit the monumental monastery often visit this place next. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it because I took too much time exploring El Escorial. However, I’m sure this place is worth the visit. It’s a memorial to those that died during the Spanish Civil War which is composed by an abbey, an huge cross built in the top of a mount and a basilica carved in the rock, where Franco rests for eternity.
They say that Ávila has the best conserved walls in the entire Europe and, actually, I really can’t deny them, but there is much more to be done in the city besides admiring its walls such as visiting its palaces and churches, wandering through its cobblestoned streets and tasting Yemas de Santa Teresa, a local sweet specialty.
Despite the fact that Salamanca is not that close to Madrid, as it’s a very interesting city, I decided to include it on this list. Once there, don’t forget to visit the Plaza Mayor, the Cathedral and the University, one of the oldest in Europe, in which facade there is a small frog on top of a skull that, according to locals, provides luck to those who find it. However, I have to say that this seems easier said than done.
7. Alcalá de Henares
Other historical university town near Madrid is Alcalá de Henares, where Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quijote de La Mancha studied and lived for a couple of years. I didn’t visited the university, however, I went to Cervantes’ House. You have no idea about how strange it was to be in front of the toilet where the famous writer used to sit his butt and do what people do when sitted in toilets. Hey, probably, he wrote Don Quijote de La Mancha sitted there! Cool!
You have no idea about how hard it was to choose a picture to represent Segóvia here. I first choose a photo of the delicate aqueduct, however… ‘What about the castle? The castle is stuning! It really deserves a picture here! But should I choose a photo of its outside or inside? The outside is… magical, and the inside is… spectacular! Brrr! Gonçalo, focus! Let’s choose a pic of the cathedral! Great! Wait, inside or outside? I have a better idea: I’ll choose an aerial photograph of the town to make sure everything is covered in one picture! But do I want to kill my readers with a beauty overdose? ****! I give up!’
Is time an issue? If so, I would recommend you a day trip to Toledo and Aranjuez and other one to El Escorial and Segóvia. One day isn’t enought to experience everything that those places have to offer, not to mention that you almost have to run from one place to another if you really want to see as much as it’s possible, however, at the end of the day, all of the effort and tiredness will be worth it.
Have you ever been in one of those places? Is there any other day trip from Madrid I didn’t covered here? Please let me know in the comment section bellow.