The hustle and bustle of Madrid is wild and addicting. With a population of about 3.1 million people, you will always find something to do and new people to meet. Everything moves at a fast pace every single day. It is exhilarating, yet sometimes exhausting. It’s always great to take a step out of the rush and find some time to relax, or better yet, explore somewhere new!
There are many cities in Spain that must be visited and many are just outside of the capital of Madrid.
Living in Madrid for about 4 months now, I have had the opportunity to explore many beautiful cities in Spain. Below is a list of the top 5 cities to visit just outside of Madrid for great day trips! If you have more time, spend the weekend there!
About a 45mins – 1 hour bus ride south of Madrid you will find Toledo. Once the capital of Spain during the rule of the Visigoth Kingdom, i is the capital of the autonomous region of Castille – La Mancha and a UNESCO World Heritage site. This city has endless rolling hills and a rich history of culture that will wow you.
Highlights include: El Greco Museum, Alcazar of Toledo, Toledo Cathedral, Mirador del Valle, Puente de Alcantara
Manzanares El Real
Located an hour bus ride directly north of Madrid is Manzanares El Real.
An outdoor enthusiasts dream, this small town has incredible hiking. La Pedriza is the nature reserve where you can begin your outdoor adventure. You’ll have many trail options and hiking distances suitable for any kind of hiker.
Highlights include: Cantocochino, La Pedriza, Puente de la Canada Real, Castillo Manzanares El Real, The Green Waterfall
The town of Segovia is about 1-1 1/2 bus ride northwest of Madrid. Located in the Castille de Leon region of Spain, Segovia is full of Gothic cathedrals and medieval walls.
Pictured above is the most famous site in Segovia – the Roman Aqueduct with more than 160 arches.
Highlights include: Mirador de la Pradera de San Marcos, Alcazar of Segovia, Segovia Cathedral, Pinarilo Park/El Pinarillo (Old Jewish Cemetery), Museo de Segovia, Aqueduct of Segovia
Alcala de Henares
A very small, quaint town just east of the center of Madrid, Alcala de Henares is the famous birthplace of the author of Don Quixote, Miguel Cervantes. It is also well known for its university, the university of Alcala de Henares located in old town.
Make sure you stop at Tempranillo Restaurante y Vinoteca for an authentic Spanish wine and tapa experience!
Highlights include: University of Alcala, Capilla de Oidor, Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes, Lonja de La Magistral, Palacio Arzobispal
Chinchon is probably the smallest city on this list. You can walk around this town in about 4 hours and see everything! The abandoned castle pictured above is a famous tourist attraction and will give you all the Game of Thrones vibes!
Highlights include: Castillo de Los Condes, Plaza Mayor, and Mirador de la Iglesia
These 5 destinations are some of the best places to visit close to Madrid. New towns to explore that are cheap and require little planning to visit!