15 unique destinations to visit around and near Madrid

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Do you need to disconnect from the city? Do you want to discover new beautiful places near Madrid? Or maybe you are travelling to the capital and you have a few days off. Whatever the situation we have the solution. There are numerous incredible places to see near Madrid and where we can make a day trip as they are less than 1 hour away.

In this post we tell you about all the alternatives you have at your disposal. Nice excursions for the whole family or more established mountaineers in the Sierra de Guadarrama and surroundings. The most spectacular and historic cities such as Toledo or Segovia. And the most charming villages in the surrounding areas of the whole autonomous community. Do you want to know more? Then read on as we tell you the best things to do around Madrid in one day.

1. Visit Toledo

Just 70 kilometres away, Toledo is the perfect city for a quick and easy cultural getaway from Madrid. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1986, Toledo has always been known as the “city of three cultures”, as its streets were home to Jews, Muslims and Christians, whose legacy can still be seen in the city walls.

On your visit you cannot miss the Cathedral of Toledo, the Synagogue of Santa María La Blanca, the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes and the Alcázar. In addition, on the road from Madrid there is an incredible viewpoint from where you can see the entire walled city surrounded by a river. You can’t miss it.

2. Aranjuez, the town to see near Madrid

Aranjuez is just 35 minutes away by train, the perfect place to see near Madrid in a day. The city is famous for its palace, the Palacio de Aranjuez, and its immaculate gardens that transport you to Renaissance France. You can also take a boat trip along the Tagus River, have a look at the Alpajes Church and the Prince’s Garden. It’s a real pleasure to stroll through the gardens and lose yourself in the streets of Aranjuez, which contrast so sharply with the splendour of the palace.

3. Chinchón and its gastronomy

On the outskirts of Madrid, just 1 hour by car is Chinchón, one of the best known villages in the region for its excellent gastronomy. The main points of interest are the castle and the Plaza Mayor of medieval origin full of wooden balconies that hosts every year its famous Medieval market and a representation of the Passion of Christ during Holy Week. In its small local shops you can also buy typical local products such as aniseed, oil, garlic, wine and unique pastries.

4. Consuegra and the Saffron Festival

The windmills of Consuegra have been known since the 17th century thanks to the famous novel ‘Don Quixote’ by Miguel de Cervantes. They are located at the top of the Cerro Calderico and are symbolic of the region and Spain in general. Every year in October you will have the opportunity to see them in operation during the Saffron Festival, when the harvesting of the flower is celebrated and the streets are filled with life, music, food and regional shows.

In Consuegra it is also worth visiting the Castle of San Juanist military architecture with three defensive enclosures. The entrance costs 7€ and also includes a visit to a mill. The best way to get to Consuegra is by car (1 hour and 30 minutes).

Windmills of Consuegra
Windmills of Consuegra @manuelie

5. Buitrago de Lozoya

Buitrago de Lozoya is a beautiful medieval village located north of Madrid and surrounded by nature. It is one of the most beautiful villages of the community and that offers more possibilities. There you can go canoeing in summer, go hiking and stroll through its narrow streets and over the walls of the Mendoza castle. From the Plaza del Progreso and crossing the Puente del Arrabal there is a short, well-signposted 15/20 minute route that will take you to the place with the best views of Lozoya.

6. San Lorenzo del Escorial

El Escorial is a must-see near Madrid, and although it offers enough activities to spend a couple of days, it also allows the option of a quick getaway as it’s less than 50 minutes away by car or train.

The city’s main tourist attraction is the Escorial monastery, which costs €12 to enter and includes the gardens. We also recommend you lose yourself in its streets and discover other monuments such as the Casas de Oficios, the Casita del Príncipe and its gardens, the viewpoint of the Parque Adolfo Suarez and the Real Coliseo de Carlos III. If you are a nature lover you should also know that next door, on Mount Abantos, there are several routes with breathtaking views to do.

7. Excursions in La Pedriza

A 1 hour and a half by car and next to Manzanares del Real is the Pedriza, birthplace of the Manzanares River and a characteristic place for its large granite rock structures where it is very common to climb and hike with the family, as the routes are not usually very complex or long.

The most famous excursions are the ascent to the Yelmo, Canto Cochino, the Dehesilla and Cancho de los muertos. And for Sunday walkers, the best option is the Charca Verde de la Pedriza. The route is very easy and at the end it reaches a pond where you can swim in summer. It is a good option to cool off in the surroundings of Madrid.

8. Peñalara, the highest peak in Guadarrama

For nature lovers we recommend you to visit Peñalara, the highest peak of the Sierra de Guadarrama and one of the most impressive hikes around Madrid. At the beginning of the route there is a car park where you can leave your car, but you have to get up early because it fills up quickly. Below there is a restaurant and an information centre, from where several routes to the Mirador de la Gitana, the Laguna de los Pájaros, the Laguna de Peñalara and the peak start. If we make the excursion to the peak we must bear in mind that there may be snow until late spring. The ascent takes 3 hours and is not particularly complicated.

9. Patones de Arriba

To the north of Madrid we also highlight this small village characterized by the slate facades that give its streets a unique style. The main attraction of the place are the hiking trails that start from there. Some of them are the Senda Ecológica del Barranco, El Lavadero and Fuente Nueva or Eras. The only drawback of the place is the car park, which tends to fill up early with early risers.

10. Rascafría

This charming village in the Sierra de Guadarrama is one of the most common destinations to see near Madrid when the good weather starts because of all the hiking trails through beautiful forests and natural pools where we can bathe. These pools are known as Las Presillas and are fed by the waters of the river Lozoya. Entrance is free but to park in the car park at the entrance you have to pay €9.

Another must-see in Rascafría is the Monastery of Santa María de El Paular, a religious building from the 5th century that later served as a strategic base for Napoleon’s army. The monastery can be visited and general admission costs €7 and includes a guide.

Monastery of Santa María de El Paular near Madrid
Monastery of Santa María de El Paular

11. Manzanares del Real

Manzanares del Real, located at the foot of the Pedriza, is one of the oldest settlements of the peninsula where initially lived prehistoric peoples as we can see by the cave paintings found in the Sierra de Guadarrama. In addition to hiking routes through La Pedriza we recommend you visit the Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Peña Sacra, the Castle of the Mendoza family and the Santillana Reservoir.

12. Villarejo de Salvanés

Villarejo de Salvanés is located 50km from Madrid, in the region of Las Vegas. It is a cultural and historical enclave for its artistic heritage dating back to the thirteenth century. The most characteristic thing to see is the fortress, originally built for defensive purposes and of which only the tower and part of the walls remain standing today. Other religious buildings worth seeing are the Parish Church of San Andrés Apóstol, reminiscent of a fortress and the convent of Nuestra Señora de la Victoria de Lepanto.

13. Granja de San Ildefonso

La Granja de San Ildefonso is a must-see village near Madrid for its spectacular buildings and elegant gardens. The most visited point of interest is the Royal Palace of La Granja. It costs €9 to enter and is open every day of the week from 10am to 7pm. In the surrounding area there are also excursions to be made as the town is close to the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range. A good day trip is to visit Segovia in the morning and after lunch head to La Granja, which is only a 20-minute drive away.

14. Alcalá de Henares

The city of Alcalá de Henares is one of the most visited in the surroundings of Madrid for its good communications (40 minutes by train or car) and its historical and cultural background. The most characteristic features of the city are the university, one of the oldest in the country built in the 16th century. The Casa Natal de Cervantes is the most visited museum, with an entrance fee of 3€.

In the city there are also other points of interest such as the museum of Don Quixote, the Corral de Comedias, the Calle Mayor, the Tower and Walls and the Chapel of San Ildefonso among many others. One day is not enough to see it all, but it is enough to disconnect, take a walk and eat well.

15. Segovia

Segovia, along with Toledo is one of the most common visits to do in a day when we visit Madrid for its architectural beauty, cultural heritage and proximity. In the city we can see monuments of Roman origin as the famous Aqueduct or of medieval origin as the Alcazar, whose entrance costs 5.5 €. We also recommend you to take a look at the Cathedral of Segovia and get lost in the Jewish quarter, one of the liveliest and most charming areas of the city.

The city is also well known for its gastronomy, so it is highly recommended to book a restaurant specialising in roasts, the most famous being lamb and suckling pig.

Segovia near Madrid
Segovia @pixabay

Organize your trip around Madrid

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  • Get inspired by the experiences of other travellers.
  • Create your own itinerary and add suggestions from the app to it.
  • Add the stops you’re most interested in, as well as the restaurants and bars where you want to eat. You can use the points of interest listed in this post as a reference.
  • Organise your itinerary by route days according to their location on the map. You can take inspiration from the routes we present in the post.
  • Make any modifications you need to make and you’re all set for your trip.
  • Share your experience. Upload photos of the places you’ve visited on your trip to the app. Recommend other travellers what to see near Madrid.

If you have any doubts about how to do this, you can check our post: How to create a travel itinerary in Passporter.

Frequently asked questions from around Madrid

What is the best way to get around Madrid?

The truth is that most of the proposed places are very well connected with the capital, either by train or bus, as they leave quite frequently. You can also go on organised excursions. The car is a good option, especially because it will give us more flexibility when it comes to getting around.

The best celebrations around Madrid?

In the villages around Madrid there are certain celebrations that are worth attending. For example, the Saffron Festival in Consuegra in October or the medieval fairs in Toledo, Aranjuez or Alcalá de Henares.

What are the top 3 destinations to see near Madrid?

Probably the most famous cities to see around Madrid are Toledo, Segovia and Lozoya for their cultural heritage and tourist attractions.

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