Madrid is the capital city of Spain, with a population of approximately 3.3 million people. The city of Madrid boasts culture and history that is obvious from the numerous cathedrals and churches located all over. Most of the city’s buildings follow medieval architectural designs, such as the Plaza Mayor, which is popular amongst tourists.
Madrid is also known for being home to plentiful bars when compared to any other European city. It definitely has a very active nightlife and it is said that the people of Madrid usually stay up partying as late as 5 or 6 am! The nightlife spots are frequently visited, especially during the weekends. Light sleepers are heavily advised to NOT lodge around nightlife areas.
You can also expect to encounter lots of cultural diversity in Madrid, with it being one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe. From West Africans to Filipinos, prepare to make friends with someone from the other side of the world when you’re there!
There are so many landmarks and architectural jewels in Madrid for the traveller. So many that it may be a challenge to cover all of the amazing sights during your stay. Here are some of the best day trips from Madrid that might just be helpful:
Explore some of Madrid’s best attractions on an 11-hour day trip. You’ll be picked up from your hotel by coach and head to explore three UNESCO-listed sites of Madrid.
Firstly visit the historical El Escorial, which was designated as a UNESCO-listed site in 1984. It served as a residence for the King of Spain and currently functions as a monastery, royal palace, library, museum, and even as a university and a hospital! El Escorial is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Madrid. You can explore several places in El Escorial, including the Cloister of the Four Evangelists, the Palace of Philip II, the Chapterhouses, and the Basilica.
You will then head to The Valle de los Caidos or “Valley of the Fallen”, which is a Catholic basilica and a monument memorial that was built in honour of the soldiers that lost their lives during the Spanish Civil War. Interestingly, it is said that a minority of the Catholic basilica’s construction workforce were actually convicts, and some were Spanish Republican political prisoners. This caused the place to be controversial amongst the people. It is located in the Mountains of Guadarrama and its colossal cross is over 150 metres (492 feet) high.
Finally, you’ll visit Toledo. Toledo is located in central Spain and in 1986, it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It houses numerous cultural heritage spots and has a historical co-existence of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures, causing it to be known as the “City of the Three Cultures.” Toledo is also home to many famous tourist spots, such as Alcazar, the cathedral, and the Zocodover.
Don’t worry about feeling peckish on your full day out as this tour also includes lunch!
El Escorial, Valley of the Fallen, Toledo Day Tour from Madrid
Duration: 11 hours
Yes, a wine tour! In this full day wine tour, you’ll go to Vinos de Madrid, located south of the capital. This scenic region is divided into three sub-zones with each producing different types of wine. The three sub-zones are Arganda, Navalcarnero, and San Martin. You will be transported in an air-conditioned minivan and, on your way there, you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful scenery while listening to your guide talk about the wine-making traditions while also offering intriguing information about the region.
When you arrive, you’ll visit three of the top wineries in the city and samples some of their produce. These wineries are also all surrounded by beautiful vineyards and offer stunning views of the mountains. After lunch you will visit a family-run winery in the UNESCO-listed Aranjuez and one of Europe’s largest butterfly farms.
Wine Tasting Small Group Tour from Madrid
Duration: 6 hours
In this full-day tour, your knowledgeable guide will take you to visit the historical towns of Pedraza and Segovia. From central Madrid, you will first head to Pedraza, a little town that houses a small population of less than 500 people. You will accompany your guide on a walk along the cobbled streets, where you can marvel at the amazing structures of the dwellings and rustic buildings. You will arrive at a tapas restaurant where you can savour Spanish delights while sampling wine.
You will then head to Segovia, home to many ancient attractions. You’ll visit The legendary Roman aqueduct, one of Segovia’s most famous tourist attractions. After that, head to Segovia Cathedral, and then enjoy an inclusive lunch. The menu has 2 lunch options that you can choose from, including favourites such as Segoviana-style stuffed veal and roasted suckling pig. After lunch, continue your journey to the Alcazar of Segovia or Segovia Castle located at the Guadarrama Mountains. This castle was also the inspiration behind Disney’s Cinderella film.
Pedraza and Segovia Tour with Cathedral and Alcazar Entrance from Madrid
The UNESCO-listed Avila has numerous churches, bars, and restaurants and throughout the town you’ll have the chance to marvel at the many historic walls that were built in the Romanesque style. You’ll explore the town with the help of your knowledgeable guide, who will provide insights and information about the history of Avila. You’ll learn why the city was referred to as the City of Saints, and you’ll visit top attractions such as the fortress-like cathedral and the Shrine to St Vincent at the Basilica of St Vincent.
You will then head to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Salamanca. Located in the north west region of Spain, Salamanca is best-known for its large 12th-century university that is a famous tourist spot as well as a place of study. You’ll visit the grand square, Plaza Mayor, which is also dubbed as Spain’s most beautiful grand square. After the visit to the various attractions, you’ll get to enjoy some free and easy time where you can have lunch and explore the city at your own leisure before returning to Madrid.
Avila and Salamanca Sightseeing Bus Tour from Madrid
Duration: 11 hours
The world-famous city of Barcelona is Spain’s second most populous city, and it is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Rich with cultural heritage it is particularly well-known for the various interesting buildings created by Gaudi. There are also many structures and landscapes that are influenced by modern architecture. There are many outdoor markets, restaurants, museums, and more located all over the city., which include Barcelona’s Passeig de Gracia and the Picasso Museum.
This 13-hour day trip includes a round-trip high-speed train from Madrid. You can choose to either explore Barcelona on your own or get on board the hop-on, hop-off bus tour, which will bring you to famous sights such as Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia and Camp Nou Stadium, which houses Barcelona Football Club. The bus includes an audio system that offers 12 languages where you can learn insightful and fun facts about this historical city. The full bus route takes approximately 2 hours.
Barcelona Rail Day Trip from Madrid
Cordoba is located in the south region of Spain. It was actually under Muslim rule up until the 12th century and then came under Christian rule. The historic centre was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cordoba hosts many cultural events throughout the year and this has resulted in the city boasting a brilliant amount of art, culture, and leisure options.
On this tour, you’ll visit one of the city’s most famous attraction, the Mezquita. The huge building was initially a mosque that was later turned into a cathedral. The columns inside have Islamic-style red and white striped arches and they are one of the many highlights that marks the importance Cordoba held before the 12th century, when it was under Muslim rule.
You will then head to the Jewish Quarter, which consists of several cobblestone pathways, squares, and quaint buildings, before proceeding to Cordoba’s 14th-century synagogue in the UNESCO-protected Old Town. The last location on the trip is Calleja de las Flores, which is a very famous area known for its collection of flower pots that are fixed to the walls.
Madrid to Cordoba Private Full-Day Trip by High-Speed Train
Duration: 8 hours
In this 4-hour private tour, you’ll have the chance to marvel at some of Europe’s notable art pieces at the Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia Museums. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum houses over 1,600 paintings and was once the second-largest private collection in the world. The art ranges from medieval and gothic to experimental, including cubism and impressionism. Artists include Picasso, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and more.
The second museum is the Reina Sofia Museum, located nearby. This museum is actually housed in an 18th-century former hospital building, the General Hospital, which served as a hospital until 1965. Your knowledgeable guide will be there to tell you all about the history of the building and also answer your questions about it. Today, the building serves as an art museum, a gallery, and a library. Apart from art pieces, its library has over 40-thousand books that are mainly related to 20th-century art. Artists include Picasso, Julio Gonzalez, Georges Braque, and more.
Madrid: The Thyssen and Reina Sofia Museums Private Art Tour
Duration: 4 hours
Know before you go
While the city of Madrid has so many things to offer, there are some really important things tourists should take note of. By law, it is required to carry your passport with you, and present it when paying with debit or credit card. Children under the age of 12 will only be allowed in the front seat of the car if the vehicle has approved safety belts. And the more interesting fact of all? Lunch usually starts at 2 pm while dinner typically starts at 9 pm at the earliest!
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