Madrid is one of the most popular cities in all of Europe. Partly due to their world famous football team, Real Madrid, and in part for the incredible history and architecture that it houses, Madrid really does have something for everyone.
With balmy summer days and cool winter months Madrid is a year-round destination and each season brings something new to explore.
Once you have ticked off the Buen Retiro Park, the Royal Palace and of course the Plaza Mayor, it’s time to escape the city limits and explore Spain as a whole.
From historic cities to wine regions, from royal palaces to coastal retreats there is a heap of great day trips from Madrid to enjoy.
Let’s take a look:
Although a fair hike, Barcelona can be easily reached in the space of a day trip from Madrid.
Spain’s buzzing second city has a whole host of cultural and historical gems to explore.
The Sagrada Família and Park Güell are the must-visit sights in Barcelona.
Park Güell is one of the most famous landmarks in all of Spain and is a one of Gaudi’s most impressive architectural works.
Football fans will have ample time to sign up to a tour of Camp Nou, the stadium home ground for FC Barcelona.
Self-confessed foodie travellers should make a beeline for La Boqueria, Barcelona’s famous indoor food market.
Toledo is one of Spain’s best loved UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is a great addition to any visit to this wonderful nation.
Toledo is often dubbed at the ‘City of Three Cultures’ for it has been home to harmonious communities of Christians, Jews and Muslims for decades.
Toledo provides a wonderful introduction to all three faiths and the religious buildings that are scattered throughout the city are each more magnificent than the last.
Toledo is situated atop of a gorge that offers incredible views over the Río Tajo.
Home to a wonderful history of art, Toledo provided an artistic sanctuary for greats like El Greco.
A highlight of any day trip to Segovia is to marvel at the Aqueduct of Segovia.
That said, the Alcázar of Segovia is pretty darn impressive, as is the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso.
The Aqueduct of Segovia was built by the Romans, features two tires and a whopping 167 arches.
It’s a awe-inspiring feat of historic construction that has stood the test of time.
The Alcázar of Segovia is certainly not to be missed.
This restored medieval castle has been brought back to life after a devastating fire.
The rooms are beautiful decorated and the armoury museum is seriously impressive.
If you have time do consider a visit to Real Casa de la Moneda, Spain’s former royal mint.
Avila is a historic walled city that lies just over 100 km from Madrid.
Known also at the Town of Stones and Saints, Avila has an interesting history to explore.
It really is incredible that the walls and turrets of Avila are still standing.
The town features over 80 of these towers and there nine different gated entrances.
Despite its age it is still possible to walk along the top some sections of the walls which is a wonderful experience, offering amazing views of the town below.
Within the walls of Avila you will find a fortified cathedral that dates back to the 12th-Century and a number of gothic palaces which are not to be missed.
Salamanca is another Spanish city to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and deservingly so, there is just so much culture and history here.
The New Cathedral of Salamanca is truly a sight to behold.
Ornate and imposing, the Cathedral features unique carvings that have been added slowly throughout the years, including an astronaut (of all things) during the 1990s.
For those interested in gothic architecture Casa de las Conchas should not be overlooked.
Covered from top to bottom in seashell motifs the Casa de las Concha one of Salamanca’s hidden gems.
6. Madrid’s Wine Country
Madrid is not only a city but the name for the whole region of Spain.
This region sees Manzanares, Tajuña, Jarama, Henares and Tajo rivers come to confluence.
All this water makes the landscape incredibly fertile, add in the Spanish sunshine and you have the perfect recipe for a vineyard.
There are dozens of wineries in the Madrid wine country and the winemaking history of this area dates back nearly a century.
During a day trip to the wine region you not only have the opportunity to taste some of Europe’s best wines but to learn about grape cultivation, wine production and the history of this lush landscape too.
This area is particularly famous for its Tempranillo grapes.
7. Las Rozas Village
Las Rozas Village is the leading outlet shopping facility in Madrid Region.
Lying just 30-minutes from Madrid city centre, Las Rozas Village is home to over 100 boutique stores offering up to 60% off luxury brand names.
If shopping is in order during your trip to Spain make sure to save yourself for Las Rozas Village.
With shops catering for men, women and children there is something for everyone.
There are a number of high end restaurants at Las Rozas Village that provide a welcome respite from a busy day bagging up bargains.
There is a Shopping Express coach that shuttles shoppers from central Madrid to the outlet and back again throughout the day.
8. Ribera del Duero
Spain produces some of the most highly sought after wines in the world and many of those wines are produced Ribera del Duero.
The landscapes of Ribera del Duero are simply breathtaking and couple this with the opportunity to sample some of the best wines in the world and you’re onto a real winner.
Ribera del Duero region is too home to an awesome selection of restaurants serving traditional Castilian food.
If you’re seeking a food based cultural adventure then a day trip to the Ribera del Duero region is certainly for you.
9. San Lorenzo de El Escorial
The small down of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is home of the royal seat.
In centuries gone by San Lorenzo de El Escorial was the full time residence for the King of Spain.
El Escorial itself in an vast imposing building build during the Renaissance era and is an expansive palace complex that could take a whole day of its own to explore.
If you’re travelling with children you can add a little variety into the mix and take a few hours to visit the Insect Park; an easy way to get the little ones back onside during a history filled day.
10. La Mancha
La Mancha is a region of central Spain, east of Madrid, that provided the setting for ‘Don Quixote’ the 17th-Century novel by Miguel de Cervantes.
A visit to La Mancha region offers you the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the lovable nobleman and connect with the Spanish countryside.
La Mancha is home to the largest vineyard in the world.
Budding sommeliers will not miss the chance to visit such a significant spot.
The wineries of La Mancha still employ traditional winemaking methods Easily one of the most beautiful areas of Spain La Mancha is best experienced with a glass of wine in one hand and a copy of ‘Don Quixote’ in the other.
There is just so much to explore in Cordoba, for lovers of architecture it is not to be missed.
Set in Andalusia, Cordoba has a rich and vibrant history.
The Mosque of Cordoba is constructed in typical Moorish style and features an impressive basilica.
Considered to be one of the greatest Islamic buildings in the world, the mosque is a wonderful starting point.
Moving on to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos and the Calahorra Tower, these too should feature high on the must-visit list for Cordoba.
There are a number of high end restaurants in Cordoba that serve exquisite traditional tapas.
12. Royal Palace of Aranjuez
The Royal Palace of Aranjuez is a wonderful day trip from Madrid that can be coupled with a visit to Toledo if you are short on time.
The grounds of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez are wonderfully kept and a joy to explore.
From the Prince’s Gardens to the Island, to the Parterre, there is a fascinating array of vegetation to be found within the grounds and plenty of different tree species too.
The throne room houses phenomenal royal artefacts that give fascinating insights into the lives and times of monarchs gone by.
The Museum of Royal Feluccas is an interesting addition to a day trip and features exhibits on the royal boats.
Cuenca is one of Spain’s best kept secrets.
Although a UNESCO World Heritage Site Cuenca is often overlooked by travellers in favour of Toledo and Salamanca.
Most definitely worth a day trip from Madrid Cuenca has so much to explore.
The Hanging Houses of Cuenca really have to be seen to be believed.
The Bridge of San Pablo plays a vital role in this city’s history and is not for faint hearted nor those with acrophobia.
The Devil’s Nose train takes you on a picturesque journey through the Andes is an option most definitely for travellers who opt for a cheeky overnight stay in Cuenca.
Pedraza is a medieval town that lies just 37 km from Segovia, to the north east.
It is a charming, rustic town that is rich in history and culture.
With cobbled streets and plenty of cafes serving up traditional tapas, Pedraza offers you the opportunity to get at one with the Spanish pace of life and experience the culture at its most authentic.
The Pedraza Castle is not to be missed and houses the masterpieces of Ignacio Zuloaga.
Pedraza is home to the annual Fiestas Patronales which sees bulls run through the winding streets and bull fighting in the Plaza Mayor.
If a trip to the coast be the order of the day then a visit to Valencia is a great option.
Just an hour and a half from Madrid city centre is the charming city of Valencia.
Sitting on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, Valencia has a laid back atmosphere that will make you never want to leave.
A city known for its art culture, make sure to find time to visit the L’Oceanografic if only to marvel at the wave-like architectural design.
The Institut Valencia d’Art Modern has a great selection on modern art pieces on display throughout the year and a great cafe too.