14 BEST Day Trips from Madrid [September 2019]

Last Updated on

The capital city of Spain really does have it all. History, art, and culture in spades, as well as incredible gastronomy and nightlife. You’re sure not to be bored with all the incredible things to do in Madrid.

However, what happens when you feel you need a break from the city’s hustle and bustle? What do you do? Where do you go?!

That’s where we can help you. Our travel experts have rounded up the 14 best day trips from Madrid so that you can plan your vacation as easily as possible.

Whether you want to get deep into the Spanish countryside, see some ancient architecture, or just have a cheap day out of the city, there’ll be something for you. We’ve made sure we’ve included plenty, tailored to different interests, budgets, and travel styles!

So, let’s get to it. Here are the 14 best day trips in Madrid!

Where to stay in Madrid

Madrid is a huge city, so it can be tricky knowing where to stay. Do you want to stay close to all the action in the Puerta del Sol? Or in art triangle, so that you’re close to the Prado and Reina Sofia Museums.

You might even want to base yourself further out to practice your Spanish in an authentic neighbourhood. Whatever you fancy, here are some of your best options.

#1 – Ibis Madrid Calle Alcalá

Best Budget Hotel in Madrid

Ibis Madrid Calle Alcalá

Ibis Madrid Calle Alcalá is our pick for the best Budget hotel in Madrid

  • Close to Madrid Barajas Airport

Located in Madrid’s San Blas neighbourhood, the ibis is a good option for budget travellers. You know exactly what you’re getting – a clean no-frills hotel for an affordable price. There’s free Wi-Fi and a flat screen TV in your room so it’ll be easy to stay entertained!

#2 – RIU Plaza España

Best Mid Range Hotel in Madrid

RIU Plaza España

RIU Plaza España is our pick for the best mid range hotel in Madrid

  • Keep cool in the Madrid heat with a dip in the outdoor pool

If you’re happy to splash out a bit extra, but can’t quite extend to a five star luxury hotel, RIU Plaza España is a great compromise. A four star offering, for that you’ll get a terrace, and outdoor pool, and some great on-site eating and drinking options. Family rooms are available, so this is one of the best places to stay in Madrid with kids!

 

#3 – Gran Hotel Inglés

Best Luxury Hotel in Madrid

Gran Hotel Inglés

Gran Hotel Inglés is our pick for the best luxury hotel in Madrid

  • Five star hotel in a fantastic location

If you’ve got a bit of cash to splash in Madrid, then look no further than the Gran Hotel Inglés. It’s definitely the best luxury hotel in Madrid! And, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from most of the attractions in the centre. Breakfast is included in the price – and it’s delicious!

 

Quick Answer

Best Day Trip from Madrid by Train – Toledo: Full Day Trip from Madrid
Best Romantic Day Trip from Madrid for Couples – Avila and Segovia Full Day Tour from Madrid
Best Day Trip from Madrid with Kids – Parque Warner Madrid Entrance Tickets and Transfer

#1 – Toledo

Day trips from Madrid by train

Toledo

Toledo, Madrid

  • One of the easiest day trips from Madrid
  • Explore the narrow, cobbled streets
  • Check out the incredible Alcázar

For an unforgettable day out, take a short trip to Toledo. It’s only 75km away, and you can get there in under 45 minutes from Madrid’s Atocha Station. Boy, is it worth the trip!

The city has a rich history and culture and has at some point been an important centre for 3 major religions. So, keep your eyes peeled for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim influences.

The key attraction here is the Alcázar, which sits atop the hill with the rest of the city in its shadow. If you’re travelling with kids, this is a great place to try on a suit of armour!

There are also a number of religious buildings worth a few hours of your time. After you’ve taken in plenty of culture, wander through the narrow streets and find a restaurant that serves the local speciality, partridge!

 

Haven’t found what you’re looking for? Try our hotel guide for Madrid!

#2 – Cuenca

Cuenca

Cuenca, Madrid

  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Less than an hour away on the train
  • Don’t miss the Hanging Houses

There are plenty of reasons to visit Cuenca, but one stands out above all the rest. Yes, the UNESCO World Heritage listed town is home to the Casas Colgadas – in English: The Hanging Houses.

It’s a very easy and worthwhile to make this day trip from Madrid to Cuenca, it only takes 55 minutes on a high-speed train. The dramatic scenery of the town is stunning, and the view of the Hanging Houses will amaze you as you enter via San Pablo’s footbridge.

As well as the Hanging Houses, there are a number of things that will make your day trip from Madrid to Cuenca fun and enjoyable. Soak up the town’s atmosphere in the pretty Plaza Mayor with a coffee or a caña.

In this square, you can also admire the first Gothic cathedral in Spain! If you’re visiting in winter, keep warm by tasting the region’s rich and hearty stews.

 

#3 – Segovia

Segovia

Segovia, Madrid

  • Has one of the best-preserved Roman aqueducts in the world
  • Less than half an hour from Madrid
  • Explore the city’s Alcázar

Another of the most popular day trips from Madrid, another UNESCO World Heritage listed city. Segovia is less than half an hour away from Madrid. So, it’s probably the easiest day trip from Madrid by train!

There’s plenty there worth seeing though. Most obvious is the Roman Aqueduct. This incredible feat of architecture was built in 50AD, and still stands to this day. It’s one of the best-preserved Roman monuments in the whole of Spain, if not the whole of Europe!

The aqueduct was still in use in the 19th century to bring water to the city, but nowadays it’s just an awe-inspiring tourist attraction.

Not quite as old, but equally as impressive is the city’s Alcázar. The earliest parts of the castle date back to the 11th century, so that’s still 100 years of history! This is a great spot to learn about the city’s history.

 

#4 – Valencia

Valencia

Valencia, Madrid

  • Under 2 hours away by high speed train
  • Check out one of the 12 treasures of Spain
  • Beautifully preserved historical centre

It may look like a long way on a map, but you can actually get to and from Valencia in under two hours from Madrid by high speed train. So, it’s perfectly doable to see this incredible city in just one day. Especially if you plan carefully and take the hop-on hop-off bus to see the main attractions.

Don’t miss some of the most incredible modern architecture in Europe at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. It’s said to be one of the 12 treasures of Spain, and the museums housed in it are great places to have an educational day out.

Not that you’ll want to miss the Old Town. Explore the city’s 15th century Silk Exchange and the Central Market. Here, you’ll be able to taste some mouth-watering local specialities! All of this, and we haven’t even mentioned the Cathedral yet. That dates all the way back to the 13th century!

 

#5 – El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen

El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen

El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen, Madrid

  • One of the most fascinating landmarks near Madrid
  • A great escape from the city, especially in summer
  • Learn all about Spain’s Royal history

If you’re a history buff, you won’t want to miss El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen. Rather than a high-speed train, you can take a cercanía train here from either Madrid Atocha or Chamartín, making it easily accessible from the Spanish capital.

If you’re visiting Madrid in Summer, this is one of the best places to escape the oppressive heat. There’s quite a cool breeze up here in the hills!

The main attraction is the UNESCO listed castle and monastery commissioned by King Philip II in the 16th century. This is the most comprehensive experience for learning about the Hapsburg and Bourbon Royal families in Spain.

On your way back to Madrid, you’ll travel through the Guadarrama Valley. This is where you’ll find the Valley of the Fallen, a memorial to all those who perished in the Spanish Civil War. This makes for one of the most poignant day trips from Madrid.

 

 

#6 – Cordoba

Cordoba

Cordoba, Madrid

  • See one of the greatest Islamic buildings in the world
  • Try some tasty tapas
  • Get to know one of Spain’s most beautiful regions – Andalusia

Although Andalusia may seem quite far away from Madrid, it’s easy to visit this stunning city in a day trip. In fact, you can be here in under 3 hours on an AVE, making it another of the best day trips from Madrid by train!

And you’re in for a treat once you arrive. Cordoba’s mosque is said to be one of the greatest Islamic buildings in the world, and you’ll probably agree once you see its intricate architecture combined with the scale of the place! This is a great starting point for your day.

You should also check out the city’s Alcazár before moving on to the Calahorra Tower. If you find yourself feeling peckish, there’s nowhere better to be than Cordoba. There are a number of high-end tapas restaurants here. However, you can still get something pretty tasty in a hidden back street tapas bar!

 

 

Staying safe in Madrid

Madrid is generally quite a safe place to travel. However, as it’s a crowded city and there are lots of tourists, there are a few things you should look out for. Pickpocketing and petty theft is the most common problem tourists are likely to fancy. Beware of this especially on public transport like the Madrid Metro.

You also should have an eye out for scams. However, if you use common sense and big city awareness, you’re likely to minimise the risk of any trouble. And you’re sure to have a great time!

 

#7 – Avila

Romantic Day trips for couples from Madrid

Avila

Avila, Madrid

  • One of the best-preserved walled cities near Spain
  • Some of the best steaks in Spain!
  • One of the best day trips from Madrid by car

Madrid is so well connected and there are so many great places nearby. If you’re travelling with your other half, Avila is one of the most romantic day trips from Madrid! Just be careful – if you go in the winter, you’ll need to wrap up warm. It can get seriously cold!

The walled city has fantastic views across the Val do Tiétar. You can walk the 2.5km along the walls, which encircle the city with numerous battlements, towers, and gates.

Avila is one of the best places to get steak, and there are plenty of steakhouses selling enormous offerings! Enjoy them with a tasty glass of red before sampling a yema. A custard-based sweet! Avila is a great place to explore as a couple!

 

 

#8 – Salamanca

Salamanca

Salamanca, Madrid

  • One of the most beautiful university cities in the world
  • Home to one of the oldest universities in the world
  • Get here in just 90 minutes by train

The university in Salamanca dates all the way back to 1094, and although that might not sound like the most romantic thing for couples, the city is incredibly beautiful. In the university’s main façade, make sure you search for the hidden frog!

The 18th century Plaza Mayor is one of the most beautiful squares in the whole of Spain (to match with the town, of course). It’s a great place to stop for a coffee or for a romantic meal in the evening.

If you want to get out and see more of the city, cross over the Roman Bridge. It’s especially beautiful at night, and you’ll be able to get some great pictures together!

 

 

#9 – El Retiro Park

El Retiro Park

El Retiro Park, Madrid

  • Take a rowing boat out onto the lake
  • Wander through the different gardens
  • Escape the city without even leaving

Okay, it’s cheating a bit to say that this is one of the best day trips from Madrid! However, it’s easy to spend an entire day in El Retiro Park, and it’s sure to be a couples’ experience to remember.

Walk among the trees and gardens of the largest green space in the Spanish capital city, exploring the gardens and monuments dotted all along the paths which criss cross the park.

The highlight of the park is the lake, where you can take a rowing boat. It’s one of the most romantic things to do in Madrid and something that you’ll fondly look back on for a long time! If the rain starts to come down, you can duck into the nearby Prado Museum too!

 

 

#10 – Ribera de Duero

Ribera de Duero

Ribera de Duero, Madrid

  • Sample some of Spain’s best red wines
  • Visit a traditional asador restaurant to taste what goes best with the local reds
  • Plan in advance if you want to get a tour in English

Ribera del Duero is a bit trickier to get to than some other places on our list. However, pull it off and the rewards will far outweigh any negatives! This truly is one of the best romantic day trips from Madrid for couples!

Rather than trying to see as much of the region is possible, it’s a good idea to pick one or two wineries that are close to each other. If you can speak Spanish great, but if not, you’ll want ones that offer tours in English. And of course, one’s that offer tastings (don’t worry, they pretty much all do!)

You can appreciate some of Spain’s finest wines before heading to an asador restaurant for dinner, then back to Madrid!

 

 

#11 – Alcalá de Henares

Alcalá de Henares

Alcalá de Henares, Madrid (Photo credit – Recordrentacar.com)

  • Enjoy one of the longest porticoed streets in Europe
  • Look up and see the storks’ nests on top of the historical buildings
  • See the birthplace Spain’s most famous author: Miguel de Cervantes

It’s odd that Alcalá is often overlooked as a day trip from Madrid. After all, it’s only 35 minutes away by car and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage listed city!

It’s one of the most romantic day trips from Madrid for a few reasons. The primary one being a stroll along Calle Mayor, with many of the buildings supported by pillars. It’s one of the longest streets of this type in Europe. Dip into the quaint shops and cafes and see Miguel de Cervantes’ house, which is now a museum!

There are a number of cool historical buildings to check out too. And make sure you look up! Storks have made their nests at the top of bell towers and tall buildings. Quite the sight!

#12  – Parque Warner

Best day trips from Madrid with kids

Parque Warner

Parque Warner, Madrid

  • Easily one of the most fun day trips from Madrid
  • A break from the history and culture of the city
  • An on-site water park if you’re visiting Madrid in summer

When you’re travelling with the family, museums, art galleries, and the like can become quite boring and tiring. So, something like this will be a welcome break for everyone. Parque Warner (Warner Brothers’ Park) is a theme park that’s fun for all the family!

There are 5 areas that everyone will love – from cartoon classics to superheroes! The rides are a mixture of things that will entertain the smallest kids, to thrill rides that will raise the hair and put a grin on the face of even the surliest teenager!

If you’re visiting Madrid in summer, this provides an excellent escape from the oppressive city heat. Well, the water park does anyway!

 

#13 – Aranjuez

Aranjuez

Aranjuez, Madrid

  • Visit the Royal Palace of Aranjuez
  • One of the closest trips to Madrid by car or train – just 40 minutes away!
  • Ride the Strawberry Train if you’re travelling in May, June, September or October

This is one of the best day trips from Madrid for the family. You’ll see some cool historical sites, but you’ll also spend a lot of time outdoors. After all, the Royal Palaces of Aranjuez’s gardens are the dream for gardeners!

Although the interior of the palace is impressive, the kids will surely be amazed by the Island Garden and its woodland avenues. Once you’ve enjoyed the Palace and Gardens, check out the city’s Baroque Old Quarter.

If you’re travelling in May, June, September, or October, part of the fun is getting here. From Madrid’s Principe Pio station, you can take the Strawberry Train, a vintage rail carriage. And yes, you’ll be served strawberries! The whole family is guaranteed to love Arnajuez – one of the best day trips from Madrid with kids!

 

 

#14 – Barcelona

Barcelona

Barcelona, Madrid

  • Get to Spain’s second city in just over 3 hours
  • Try traditional tapas in the Barri Gòtic
  • Check out Park Güell and the Camp Nou

If the charms of one big city aren’t enough, then the whole family will adore Spain’s second city. Barcelona rounds off our list and it’s one of the best day trips with the kids. It also easily fits into both of other categories too!

It seems that every corner you turn, there’s something new to see in Barcelona. It’s packed with cool museums, galleries, and places to eat. There are some unique attractions too that will keep the whole family entertained. Football fans should go to the Camp Nou, home to one of the most successful football clubs in the world!

Or, spend some time relaxing in Gaudi’s Park Güell for great city views and a chilled-out atmosphere. If you like Gaudi’s stuff, head on to La Pedrera or the Casa Batlló before getting some tapas in the Barri Gòtic.

Because it’s a 3 hour journey, you’ll have to get up early and come back late, but you can sleep on the train! And it’ll be worth it!

 

 

Final thoughts on the best day trips from Madrid

If you want to leave Madrid, you’ll find the surrounding areas are full of attractions and things to do that will appeal to all ages. Whichever way you head from Madrid, there are historical monuments, sweeping landscapes, theme parks, and that’s just the start of it!

If you’re travelling by train, you’ll be pleased to know that Madrid is right in the center of Spain. It’s probably the best-connected city in the country, so you don’t have to stress about getting back to your accommodation in the evening!

It doesn’t matter if you’re travelling with the family, your partner, or even solo, there’s a day trip from Madrid that will suit you perfectly!

If we’ve missed anything out, let us know in the comments below!

*** Some of the links on Hotel Jules are affiliate links, which means if you do make a purchase, we may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you.) Thank you for using our links! Your support keeps the site going***

About the Author Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.