Best things to do near Madrid -Part 2 - Best things to do near Madrid -Part 2 -

Best things to do near Madrid - Part 2

Unesco near Madrid: Cuenca, Ávila and Aranjuez

In Part 2 of this ´UNESCO sites near Madrid´ series, we talk about the locations of Cuenca, Ávila and Aranjuez.

Each very different, these smaller towns and cities each have an individual charm: from the hanging houses of Cuenca that have a medieval fairy-tale air, to the strong walled city of Ávila with its fortress Cathedral, and the elegance of Aranjuez with its Royal Palace and exotic gardens.

Wind mills in Campo de Criptana

La Mancha mills and Don Quixote tour

This tour is only offered for groups of +6 people.. This is unique wine tour wine tour of La Mancha and the Don Quixote windmills with hotel pickup in Madrid and transportation in a luxury minivan. For wine enthusiasts, literature lovers and those that enjoy discovering Spanish culture. Get up close to the famous windmills featured in Cervantes’ famous novel. Enjoy the fantastic castle of Belmonte, a site where many holywood films have been filmed and visits to 2 very different wineries. … Read More

Segovia acueduct during a Tour
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Segovia Tours from Madrid

Discover 3 fascinating tours to enjoy Segovia at its best. Segovia is one of the most amazing cities in Spain and some of its highlights include a roman acueduct, a castle that could have inspired Disney and Europe´s latest Gothic cathedral! Bring along wine and excellent gastronomic and the outcome are these unique tours! … Read More

Ribera del Duero, Segovia, Salamanca & Ávila Private Tour

This private tour offers an unforgettable 3-day tour in which to discover the best old Castilla has to offer. You will discover the beautiful wine country of Ribera del Duero, enjoy the treasures of 3 of Spain´s most amazing cities: Sergovia, Avila, and Salamanca. All 3 cities were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Get ready to enjoy one of the world´s best-preserved Roman aqueducts, the fantastic walls of Avila and one of the world´s most beautiful squares in Salamanca. … Read More

Views of the Cathedral and Alcazar in Toledo

Toledo wine tour from Madrid – Private Tour

This Toledo tour has nothing in common with the typical daily tour buses travelling from Madrid to Toledo – it offers a truly unique opportunity to enjoy so much more than just Toledo city. This private tour to Toledo is led by a senior guide who will escort you through the history of Spain, introduce you to typical food from La Mancha, as well as provide you with expert knowledge on the production of wine in this area of Spain (which is, coincidentally, the world´s largest vineyard). … Read More

Cuenca

Originally known to the Moors as Kura de Kunka, Cuenca was in the perfect location, set on a limestone ridge and between two rivers, for a defensive fort. Today, Cuenca is famous for being a fantastically well-preserved medieval fortress town, which still has a number of intriguing architectural artefacts to discover today. Cuenca blends perfectly into its natural environment, complementing the cliffs and natural fauna into which it is built, its famous ´hanging houses´ balancing on the edge of rock faces.

Cuenca UNESCO Spain

Cuenca was conquered by the Christians in the 12th century and was built into a new Christian town, spilling down the hill on to new land. This period made Cuenca a royal town full of important buildings, such as Spain’s first Gothic cathedral. You can also find in Cuenca ancient churches, old convents and the town´s plaza mayor, as well as a wide range of architectural styles throughout the town, such as Gothic, Renaissance, Moorish, Rococo and Baroque designs.

You can also try traditional Cuencan food and wine whilst in the area, pairing local lamb roasts and fish stews with Cuenca´s Denomination of Origin (DO) wines. Do not miss the traditional sweet cake ´alajú´, made from almonds, figs and honey.

If you would like to find out more about Cuenca, visit their official Cuenca website, selecting the British flag in the top right for English.

Ávila

The impressive wall that surrounds the city of Ávila is one of the best preserved walls in Europe, and is the symbol of city. It has an incredible 100 towers and a perimeter of no less than two and a half kilometres. The image of the dusky stone wall against the backdrop of the azure sky is a magnificent sight; it is awe-inspiring to imagine its construction centuries ago.

Avila UNESCO Spain

Within the walls of the city you can find a collection of beautiful ancient churches, medieval corners and Renaissance palaces. Ávila has the first gothic cathedral ever built in Spain, which is considered to be not just a religious building, but also a fortress. This ingenious architectural design is built into the east side of Ávila´s wall and took centuries to finish.

With regards to local gastronomy, Ávila offers a wealth of traditional dishes, ranging from savoury to sweet. Savoury dishes include pork chops, sucking pig, traditional fish pasties and local pulses and beans, among many other local recipes. As well as delicacies from the town´s many cake shops, Ávila also offers a wide range of local high quality wines. A fantastic local speciality to try from Ávila is its ´orujo´, a fragrant liqueur made from pressed grape skins.

Aranjuez

Aranjuez is a truly beautiful place to visit to see exquisite royal gardens, 16th century palace architecture and ornate fountains. The Royal Palace is a treat to see in person: built in light coloured stone, it stands magnificent and opulent, contrasting against the year-round bright blue sky and lush green gardens that surround it. It was begun in the 15th Century, and by the 17th Century had become a Royal retreat, complete with hunting and pageantry, and served as an inspiration for many Spanish poets.

Aranjuez UNESCO royal palace

The gardens surrounding the Palace are extensive and bejewelled with elaborate stone fountains and statues throughout. The original 15th Century garden designs, set out by Phillip II, were intended to reflect his global sovereignty, with a huge collection of exotic and foreign plants surrounding the central Royal Palace itself.

Aranjuez the town was built next to the Palace in the 17th Century and still has a number of ancient churches and convents dotted around the town to explore today. You can also stop at a number of small local restaurants and eateries to try local dishes and local wine, including a highly rated local restaurant, Bonavía, that has food specially adapted for Celiacs and people with gluten intolerance.

Our recommendations...

If you would like to visit Madrid, Toledo and Segovia (in part 1 of our ´UNESCO sites near Madrid´ post), as well as the towns of Cuenca and Ávila, Madrid, Toledo and Segovia. We can also help you visit Aranjuez, just let us know your preferences.

If you are in Madrid just for a short break and would like to see more than just the city, take a look at our guided Madrid Wineries tour. You can explore the ´real´ region of Madrid, visiting a local town like Aranjuez and 2 fantastic local wineries. Get out of the city for a day with a local wine guide, and experience more than just the tourist routes.

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Royal Square in Madrid

History and tapas tour of Madrid

Enjoy 2 tours in one: history and tapas tour in Madrid with this fantastic option. Enjoy a cultural walking tour of Madrid while you stop at different taverns and bars to enjoy excellent tapas, wines, and drinks like locals do. The itinerary of the tour covers some of Madrid´s top sights, including the area of the Royal Palace. This tour is perfect to combine two experiences in one: a cultural tour, and a food tour … Read More

Clock at Puerta del Sol in Madrid
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Best 10 things to do and see in Madrid in 1 day

This is a list with the best things to do and see in Madrid broken down by category like museums, restaurants, monuments, for kids, etc. We also include some very interesting things to do at less than 2 hours from Madrid. … Read More