Best day trips from Madrid - 7 places you should not miss

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Author: Chonki Blog

Day trips from Madrid

Spain. Tapas, wine, (some) sunlight, nice and friendly people and the perfect excuse to practice your broken spanish. What is there not to love?

In this article we will cover seven different day trips you can do when you're in Madrid. Some of them are places you shouldn't miss on your next trip to spain. And many of them are super easily accessible by train or bus. So don't worry, we've got you covered.

1. Valencia: Seaside, Architecture and History

Along the Mediterranean coast, Valencia is a mix of seaside charm, historical significance and amazing architecture. You can get here with a two hour train.

We typically use to get our tickets, but you can go straight to Renfe website. Be sure to check in advance. Tickets price varies, it can go from 7 EUR to 30 EUR.

Once you're in Valencia, moving around is extremely simple. You can either enjoy long walks from one place to another or take the metro.

We suggest heading first to historic center, it used to be a walled city ! There you will find the Cathedral and plenty of other historical buildings, marvel at its architecture, which bears the imprint of Gothic, Romanesque, and Baroque influences.

While in the historic center / medieval city, head towards "Barrio del Carmen", it is a neighborhood with murals, architecture, boutiques and everything you would expect out of a touristy trip.

valencia walls
valencia walls

When you get hungry, head to the Central Market, there you will find all the food you can imagine. We consider it a gastronomic paradise, with its scents, sights and fresh produce, seafood, and local delicacies.

Don't miss your chance to sample the famous Valencian Paella (trust us, it is different from the rest of Spain) and grab a refreshing horchata.

For a dose of cultural enrichment, head to the futuristic structures of the City of Arts and Sciences. It is walking distance (30-40 minutes) but you can always take the tram or bus. If you decide to walk, do it through Jardin del Turia, a beautiful and long park that connects several points in Valencia's center. The park itself is absolutely beautiful with its orange trees and can help you relax and get in touch with nature.

Once you arrive to the City of Arts and Science by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava you can take a lot of pictures, visit the Museum of Fine Arts or just walk around and admire the architecture.

To finish the day we recommend grabbing a good dinner at Russafa neighborhood. It is known as the hipster place in Valencia, but truth be told it has some very good restaurants. We decided on some sweets in DDL Boutique and to this day we don't regret it, we would come back to Valencia just for this spot!

2. Royal Palace of Aranjuez

This one is super close to Madrid, just an hour bus ride.

Here you will find the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, a majestic residence that exudes opulence and grandeur.

Aranjuez palace is a UNESCO World Heritage that offers a glimpse into Spain's past.

Inside you'll find a world of splendor, ornate chambers adorned with gilded ceilings, tapestries, and priceless pieces of art. Each room seems like taken out of a movie, the very sumptuous Throne Room and the Queen's Chamber are such examples.

While in the palace don't miss the chance to go through the gardens surrounding it, there you will find some peace, perfect lawns, beautiful fountains, and rose gardens. Take your time to walk through the tree-lined avenues. If going with your significant other, spend some extra seconds and embark on a romantic boat ride along the palace's picturesque canal, known as the Tagus River.

If you're into history, a visit to the Royal Palace Museum offers insight into the lives of Spain's royal families, with displays of regal attire, ceremonial artifacts, and rare archival documents.

Jardines del Palacio de Aranjuez
Jardines del Palacio de Aranjuez

3. Cuenca

A couple hours away in the region of Castilla-La Mancha region is the ancient city of Cuenca. You can get here by train, buy your tickets online using trainline at around 7 EUR.

Cuenca is perfect for lovers of stunning views and history. Dramatic cliffs with the Júcar River snake below showcase the iconic Hanging Houses, 15th-century homes defying gravity.

Cuenca's iconic Hanging Houses are a must see, so be sure to bring put your best photography skills to work. These buildings date back to the 15th century, defying gravity, clinging to the edge of the gorge, their whitewashed facades and wooden balconies a striking contrast against the rugged backdrop of the surrounding landscape.

Wander cobblestone streets lined with churches, convents, and palaces. Admire the detailed carvings of the grand Cathedral or explore the hidden courtyards of the Jewish Quarter.

For the best views, go across the San Pablo Bridge, a historic stone structure that spans the gorge and will offer you postcard worthy views of the surrounding countryside. Here you can spend some time admiring the rugged terrain of the Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park, its towering limestone formations, and the cascading waterfalls.

When walking through Cuenca's enchanting streets imagine yourself transported in a different era, take your time and chill. This visit is totally worth it.

When you need a pause, we suggest grabbing some food or a beer in Taberna Albero.

Puente de Cuenca en España
Puente de Cuenca en España

4. Ávila

Also in the region of Castile and León over an hour's drive from Madrid is Avila. You can take the train for around 13 EUR per person.

Prepare to walk a bit in this trip and inmerse yourself within Medieval walls. In Avila you can explore watchtowers and gates like Puerta de San Vicente.
These walls aren't just for show - you can even walk along the entire thing!

Inside the walls, you'll find the Old Town, this area is a reminder of how Christians, Muslims, and Jews once lived side-by-side.

For a history fix, head to the Ávila Cathedral. This impressive building mixes Romanesque and Gothic styles. Look closely - the cathedral is actually part of the city walls, hinting at its defensive past. Inside, stained glass windows and fancy altars will leave you speechless.

Once you finish the stunning Cathedral, head to the Basilica of San Vicente or the red-stoned Basilica of San Pedro. History lovers will also enjoy the Santo Tomé El Viejo church, which is now part of the Ávila Museum.

If you're interested in famous people from Ávila, visit the St. Teresa Convent and Museum. Built on the birthplace of Saint Teresa of Ávila, this convent boasts a unique crypt.

Catedral de Avila
Catedral de Avila


Toledo isn't your average Spanish city. Perched on a rocky hill overlooking the Tagus River, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site where history comes alive. Just a quick train or car ride from Madrid, Toledo is a melting pot of cultures – Christian, Muslim, and Jewish – reflected in its architecture and vibe.

Start your adventure by entering through the city's ancient walls, feeling like you've stepped back in time. Narrow, winding streets lined with medieval palaces, Moorish mosques (now churches!), and Gothic cathedrals are yours to explore. Don't miss the Toledo Cathedral, a massive building with stunning stained glass, intricate carvings, and chapels filled with artwork.

Foodie Tip: Grab a table at a charming outdoor cafe in the Zocodover square, the lively heart of Toledo. Sip on a refreshing drink and people-watch as you soak in the atmosphere.

Next, delve into Toledo's artistic side. Visit the El Greco Museum, dedicated to the famous Renaissance painter who called Toledo home. Admire his masterpieces, like "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz," and learn about his life.

For a glimpse into Toledo's Jewish heritage, visit the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca. This beautiful building, now a museum, showcases stunning Moorish architecture with horseshoe arches and intricate tilework. Imagine the vibrant Jewish community that once thrived here.

Dinner Time: After a day of exploring, treat yourself to a delicious meal of traditional Toledan cuisine. Sample local specialties like "carcamusas" (a meat and chickpea stew) or "mazapán" (sweet marzipan treats). Head to a restaurant in the atmospheric Barrio Antiguo (Old Town) for a truly immersive experience.


5. Salamanca

Salamanca is a historic city with a youthful vibe. This UNESCO gem in western Spain boasts stunning golden-sandstone buildings and a youthful energy thanks to its famous university. Hop on a short train ride from Madrid and prepare to be charmed.

Start your adventure in the lively Plaza Mayor, the main square. Imagine bustling markets and street performers as you admire the ornate facades of centuries-old buildings. Grab a coffee and a pastry at Café Novelty, a historic cafe located right under the arches of the Plaza Mayor. This Salamanca institution has been serving strong coffee and delicious pastries since 1905 – perfect for people-watching and soaking up the atmosphere.

History Buff Alert: Head to the impressive Old Cathedral. This Romanesque masterpiece boasts soaring ceilings, beautiful stained-glass windows, and peaceful courtyards. Look closely at the intricate carvings – they tell stories of faith and history.

Feeling Smart? Salamanca is a university town! Explore the historic buildings of the University of Salamanca. Step inside the iconic library with its vaulted ceilings and towering bookshelves.

Foodie Paradise: Salamanca offers delicious local treats. Sample a hornazo, a savory meat and egg pie, or indulge in a juicy cochinillo, a roasted suckling pig. Wash it all down with a glass of local wine or cider, like a glass of D.O. Rueda Verdejo, a crisp white wine from the nearby Rueda region, or a refreshing sidra [apple cider] from Asturias, a neighboring province famous for its apple orchards. at a cozy restaurant in the Barrio Antiguo (Old Town) for a truly authentic experience.

Salamanca isn't just about history and food. Explore hidden courtyards, wander along charming streets lined with shops, and soak in the vibrant student life. This city is a captivating blend of old and new, waiting to be discovered.


6. Chinchón

Chinchón isn't your average tourist trap. Unlike some tourist destinations that can get overcrowded and overpriced, Chinchón offers a more authentic and relaxed experience. Here, you'll find friendly locals, traditional Spanish culture, and a slower pace of life, all without the big crowds. This peaceful town, southwest of Madrid, offers a charming break from the city noise. Getting to Chinchón is easy – it's just a short trip from Madrid by car or bus. If you're driving, take the A-4 highway towards Valencia and follow the signs for Chinchón. The drive is about an hour. There are also regular buses that leave from Conde de Casal station in Madrid, with the journey taking around 55 minutes.

Start your day in the heart of Chinchón: the Plaza Mayor. Picture a lively square with covered walkways, iron balconies overlooking cobbled streets, and a tall clock tower. This is where markets and festivals come alive, so grab a coffee and a churro at Casa Pablo, a local favorite known for its delicious churros and friendly service. This cafe is located right on the Plaza Mayor so you can people-watch while you enjoy your breakfast.

History Hunters: Explore the 15th-century Church of Our Lady of the Assumption. Inside, find fancy altarpieces, gold-covered statues, and beautiful paintings that tell the story of the region's religious past. Don't miss the maze-like streets of the old town, where you'll stumble upon old houses, hidden courtyards, and maybe even an old convent!

Feeling Adventurous? Climb the historic windmill for stunning views of Chinchón's countryside. Rolling hills, vineyards, and olive groves stretch as far as the eye can see. If you're looking for a short walk with beautiful views, head towards the Ermita de la Virgen del Rosario (Hermitage of the Virgin of the Rosary). This 16th-century hermitage is a peaceful spot located on a hilltop overlooking the town. The walk itself takes about 20 minutes (one way) and is relatively easy, with a slight incline. It's a great place to take panoramic pictures of Chinchón, especially at sunset when the sky is ablaze with colors.

For a more adventurous hike, follow the trails that lead out of town into the countryside. There are several trails to choose from, ranging from easy to moderate. A popular option is the route that goes through the vineyards and olive groves to the neighboring town of Valdelaguna. This hike takes about 2.5 hours to complete (round trip) and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. No matter which trail you choose, be sure to bring comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and plenty of water, especially during the hot summer months. And don't forget your camera! You'll be able to capture stunning pictures of the vineyards, olive groves, rolling hills, and maybe even some wildlife if you're lucky.

Foodie Break: When it's time to refuel, head to a local restaurant and try Chinchón's specialty dish: roasted suckling pig, or "cochinillo." Pair it with a glass of local wine from the region and enjoy a truly delicious and authentic Spanish meal. Look for a restaurant with outdoor seating in the Plaza Mayor for maximum people-watching.

Chinchón is more than history and food. It's a place to unwind, breathe fresh air, and experience a slower pace of life. Soak in the charm, wander the streets, and discover the hidden corners of this delightful town.

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