By Jessica Russo
There is so much to do in Madrid, you could spend weeks exploring the city and still discover new surprises. And while experiencing Madrid is a must, it's important to step outside its city lines and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and day-to-day culture of other areas. With Madrid as an amazing base, consider these wonderful day-trips to broaden your Spanish horizons. From mountainous national parks to old-world medieval towns, start your engines and see the splendors of Spain!
Driving time: 1h 40m
AVE High-Speed Train: 30m
If you're a fan of history, medieval charm, and amazing architecture, head to Segovia now. This city just northwest of Madrid boasts incredible sites, like the towering Aqueduct of Segovia and 12th-century castle. Explore old plazas, royal palaces, and more!
Sierra de Gredos
Driving time: 2h 25m
This jaw-dropping regional park is a protected natural area covering over 200,000 acres of Spanish land. Hike through gorgeous mountainscapes, gaze into the sparkling Laguna Grande, and take tons of photos. A day of natural beauty is a perfect getaway from the bustling city!
Driving time: 1h
Holy Toledo! This holy ancient walled city is a fan-favorite. Marvel at 13th-century Toledo Cathedral and the grand cloisters of 15th-century Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes. Stroll through charming streets lined with unique shops and fantastic restaurants! Pro-tip: When visiting Toledo, be sure to visit Consuegra, a small area just 45-minutes away, known for its postcard-worthy windmills.
Driving time: 1h 40m
You can get there by train, but it's a bit of a hassle.
Perched on a limestone cliff above the Jucar and Huecar rivers, this fascinating city is a historic wonderland. It's most known for its "casas colgadas," or "hanging houses," and is filled with cobblestone streets and medieval castle ruins.
Driving time: 1h 20m
Train: 1h 30m
Ah, Avila. This city boasts some of the most fairytale-like, well-preserved medieval walls in all of Europe. You'll feel like you're inside a giant castle! Once you enter the city, explore ornate cathedrals and stroll down charming narrow streets. Pro-tip: You might want to combine Avila and Segovia into one day-trip. They're less than an hour from each-other and are quite easy to get to.
Driving time: 2h 30m
As you arrive in Salamanca, you'll feel yourself gasp at the beauty of its ornate architecture. Spot sky-high cathedral peaks and find the River Tormes rushing down below. This dynamic city is filled with 15th- and 16th-century structures, all boasting sandstone facades and Gothic style. Once you've seen all the historical stuff, mosey around the Plaza Mayor and treat yourself to some refreshing sangria!
Driving time: 3h 40m
This may seem like a long drive, but it's also one of the most beautiful drives you'll ever take in your life. Time flies when you're havin' fun! Stop off at a winery in the La Rioja region, then continue north to bustling Bilbao. Surrounded by green mountains and known for its art-rich downtown, this city will sweep you off your feet. Be sure to visit the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum and historic Plaza Nueva - a beautiful contrast of old and new.