Best day trips from Madrid
Madrid is probably the best city to visit in Spain. Period. It has something for everyone, it´s the perfect blend of modern amenities with old school Spain. If it were by the beach it would just be unfair!
Another advantage of traveling to Madrid is that it is very close to several amazing sites, some of which are Unesco heritage sites, making it a great hub from which to plan day trips. From roman ruins, to medieval cities, there is a long list of things you can visit easily from Madrid. Here is a list of what we consider are the best day tours to enjoy from Madrid. We run these trips on a daily basis with our special focus on wines, gastronomy, local culture (which involves excellent guides and top quality vehivles). You can find below our list of best day tours that can be enjoyed do from Madrid with us.
You can find information on our daily tour to Ribera del Duero here
Ribera del Duero roughly translated means of the shores of the Duero River. The Duero river is one of the longest in Spain, flowing from Valladolid to Portugal. The Duero river is one of the key factors in creating the particular microclimate that makes Ribera del Duero wine so special.
The region has been exploited for winemaking since the Roman Empire, but the fame of Ribera del Duero wines is a very recent development, relatively speaking. The first big thing to happen to put Ribera on the map was the founding of the Vega Sicilia winery in 1864. At this time the wines from this region were not well known, but the Vega Sicilia winery would come to be known as one of the top wineries in the world, and they were one of the “founding fathers” in Ribera.
The next big step for Ribera happened during the 1970s. Pesquera wineries produced their first “reserva” at this time and it was a revelation. Pesquera wine wowed critics and really helped put the region on the map.
Since 1982, the region received its own appellation and Ribera has become one of the highest-rated wine regions in the world, and it is a short drive from Madrid. You can learn more from Ribera del Duero in tis interesting article.
A Celtiberian town in its origin, it became one of the most important sites in Spain prior to 192 B.C, when it was conquered the Romans when it became Toletum Carthaginian. Toledo is located high on the top of a rock and surrounded by the river Tagus which gave the city an important strategic position
Alfonso X the Wise, made Toledo the cultural capital of Europe when he created the Toledo School of Translators. The three most important cultures in Spain (Muslims, Jews, and Christians) converged in Toledo to share knowledge and translate each other’s texts. This is why the walled medieval city is divided in 3 neighborhoods, one for each culture.
Toledo is also home to home to one of the most important gothic cathedrals in the world, an amazing medieval fortress (the Alcazar of Toledo) and it’s famous around the world for its metalwork. For centuries, Toledo has been known for the talent of its blacksmiths and producing some of the best armor and swords money can buy. Many shops across Toledo still sell swords and medieval weapons as souvenirs.
A day tour to Toledo wouldn’t be complete without an amazing “Manchego” meal and a visit and tasting of one of the top wineries in the region. You can check out full details of our Toledo tour here:
Segovia doesn’t sound like a real place. It is a medieval walled city perched on a cliff with an intact, functional Roman era aqueduct, a unique gothic cathedral, a fairy tale castle that inspired a Disney movie and some of the best food and wine in all of Spain. It´s hard to believe that such a place exists, but it does and its only 1h and half outside of Madrid.
The aqueduct of Segovia was built by the Romans in the 2nd century to bring water down from the surrounding mountains to the city bellow. It stands almost 30 meters tall and runs over 15km. It is, rightfully so, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. You can enjoy the highlights of Segovia and more in our daily tour.
The Segovia Cathedral was built during the Renaissance but it was done so in a gothic style, and its one of the last cathedrals to be designed in this style. The enormous structure is located in the main square of Segovia. The original cathedral used to be located next to the Alcazar, but when it was destroyed after a siege, it was decided that the new cathedral would be built in a better-protected section of the city, and the current site was chosen.
The Alcazar was once a roman fort, but only the foundation remains of that first structure, after that the Muslims built their own fortification during the Moorish occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, Alcazar means fortress in Arab. From then on the castle was under Castilian rule, each king and queen adding their own touch to the castle. The most important addition was the “New Tower” which was built by King John II of Castile.
If all this weren’t enough, Segovia is also famous for its cuisine and in particular its roasted meats, and is located in the Ribera del Duero appellation.
La Mancha is one of the most legendary regions in Spain, thanks in particular to one person: Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes is the author of the ubiquitous Don Quijote of La Mancha. The book takes place all across this magical region of Spain, which sit just south of Madrid. If you want to get a feel of the Spain of old, La Mancha is a must.
La Mancha didn’t only inspire Cervantes however. Its natural beauty and old school Spanish charm has attracted movie makers for decades to La Mancha as a prime location to film: Bond movies, westerns, you name it. Most famously Charlton Heston’s “El Cid” was filmed at the Castle of Belmonte (featured on our day tour). Belmonte is an intact Gothic/ Mudejar fortress that has stood strong since the Arab occupation of Spain.
Also, though it is not officially in the province of Castilla La Mancha, The Royal Palace of Aranjuez is a required stop when traveling south from Madrid. It is one of UNESCOS World Heritage sites and one of the three official residences of the royal family of Spain. It was built during the reign of Philip II and its basically a ticket straight to 17th century Spain.
It also wouldn’t be a trip to La Mancha wouldn’t be complete without a visit to see the famous windmills Cervantes had Don Quijote attack in his book. In Campo de Criptana is where the actual windmills that inspired Cervantes are located and it is definitely worth a stop.
In regards to wine, La Mancha is one of the most unfairly underrated regions in Spain. La Mancha is the Spanish wine region that produces the greatest amount of wine and has developed a reputation of making bulk wine, and not high-quality wines. But nothing could be farther from the truth. La Mancha produces some excellent wines that are the perfect compliment to Manchego cuisine heavy in roasted meats, fine cheese and delicious produce.
Madrid and New York are similar in very few ways. One of them is that Madrid is a City and a Province, the same way New York is a city and a state. So, if you are thinking of traveling to the city of Madrid a great option for a day tour is to visit some of the provinces of Madrid’s hidden gems, and if the province of Madrid is under-appreciated, the wine made in Madrid even more so.
We have already talked about several important places to visit in the Province of Madrid: El Escorial and Aranjuez are essential places to visit if you want to plan a day trip when you are staying in Madrid. But since you hear because e you appreciate good wine, adding some outstanding wineries into your Madrid day trip plans is probably in order.
In the Madrid wine region tour, there is a nice blend of traditional wineries and more modern and sleek operations. Wine has been made in Madrid since the 13th century so there is no lack of knowhow and expertise and in recent years wines from this region have been gaining popularity and awards.
On your way south heading to Madrid wine-producing region, there is a necessary stop: Chinchón. This little town feels like it has been frozen in time, with rickety old homes, quaint, cobbled stone streets, old churches, etc. But the main attraction is the town square which serves the dual purpose of bar terrace chill-out area and bullfighting ring, depending on the season. It is truly a sight to see and a uniquely Spanish phenomenon.