Planning a trip to Madrid, Spain and are thinking about side trips? Keep scrolling for my list of the best day trips from Madrid by train worth adding to your Spain itinerary!
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Planning a trip to the Spanish capital but want to enjoy adventures in other parts of the country too?
You can and you should, by taking day trips from Madrid by train! It’s almost always the quickest, cheapest, and least stressful way of traveling on day trips.
Madrid is a lively, sprawling city with lots of things to do but if you venture a few miles out, you’ll discover the land of Don Quixote with windmills dotted along hillsides and sweeping sierras. There are historic UNESCO sites and other cool Spanish cities that are an easy day trip from Madrid.
Since the capital is perfectly centered in the middle of the country, you have lots of options. Whether you want to hike up to a hilltop castle or a more compact city then there are lots of places to visit near Madrid by train.
This guide will give you lots of ideas and will help you plan lots of super fun side trips from Madrid!
Want an epic Spain guide book? This is my favorite Spain itinerary and guide!
Day Trips from Madrid to Toledo
As the former capital of Spain, taking Toledo day trips from Madrid allows you to experience both the old and new Spain.
The City of Toledo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the medieval Arab, Jewish, and Christian monuments you’ll find inside the Old Town.
It’s the main city in the Castilla-La Mancha region and there is an endless list of castles, churches, and other historic structures to explore.
How To Get From Madrid to Toledo by Train
From Estación Madrid – Puerta de Atocha, take a direct Renfe AVANT service to Estación de tren Toledo which takes around 30 minutes. There are around 13 trains per day that travel on this route and tickets start from €13.90 so choosing a Toledo day trip from Madrid is fast, easy, and budget-friendly!
Renfe is Spain’s national rail company and AVANT is one type of high-speed train. Others are AVE, EUROMED, and MD and there’s no real difference between them.
On high-speed services, the carriage classes are Básica (2nd class) and Prémium (1st class). Sometimes, they have ‘Elige’ tickets which allow you to choose some of the perks of 1st class, but not all.
Madrid to Aranjuez Day Trips
Want more options for quick day trips from Madrid to UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Yes, there’s more than one!
Aranjuez’s Royal Palace is an impressive, French-influenced Renaissance building so it really stands out against other important buildings in Spain. The palace’s ornamental gardens along the River Tagus are also well worth exploring.
How To Get From Madrid to Aranjuez by Train
From Estación Madrid – Puerta de Atocha, get a direct Renfe Cercanías C3 service to Estación de tren Aranjuez which takes around 45 minutes. There are around eight services on this route every day and tickets start from €5.40.
Cercanías services are commuter trains which means you cannot book them in advance or reserve seats. You just buy them at the station before you travel and they are often cheaper than other services.
Day Trips from Madrid to Valencia
Valencia is one of Spain’s largest cities and well worth visiting on its own trip. However, you can also take day trips from Madrid to Valencia too because it’s one of the easiest-to-reach big cities near Madrid by train.
Valencia is a port city on Spain’s east coast and the birthplace of paella, one of the most famous Spanish dishes. It’s famous for lots of unusual art and science museums as well as its beautiful Old Town.
How To Get From Madrid to Valencia by Train
Trains to Valencia depart both Estación de Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor and Estación Madrid – Puerta de Atocha, but most leave from the former.
From both stations, you can hop on direct Renfe high-speed AVE services to Valencia Joaquín Sorolla which take two hours or slightly less. There are approximately 19 trains that travel this route every day and ticket start from as little as €10.
Madrid to Ávila Day Trips
Ávila is the capital of a province by the same name and is northwest of Madrid. It has an unusual claim to fame which is that it’s the highest provincial capital in Spain, resting at more than 3700 feet/1132 meters above sea level. So, you know it has some amazing hilltop castles and fortresses!
In fact, its medieval city walls along with the watchtowers and gates are miraculously still intact. If you’re looking for cool but off-the-beaten-path day trips from Madrid by train, Ávila is perfect.
How To Get From Madrid to Avila by Train
From Estación de Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor, take a direct Renfe regional service to Ávila station which will take around two hours. There are around seven services every day and tickets start from €9.25.
Day Trips from Madrid to Barcelona
Barcelona is ideal if you’re looking for weekend trips from Madrid because there is no way you will be able to see Barcelona’s highlights on a day trip. However, if a day is what you have to spare, then one day in the Catalan capital is far better than nothing!
You’ll have just enough time to witness the famously unfinished cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, and stroll along Barceloneta beach.
How To Get From Madrid to Barcelona by Train
From Estación Madrid – Puerta de Atocha, get a direct Renfe AVE or AVLO high-speed service to Barcelona-Sants station. Depending on which service you book, this journey takes anywhere from two hours and 30 minutes to over three hours.
Book in advance to snag seat reservations on an early, fast train! There are around 21 services per day on this route and tickets start from as little as €7.
Madrid to Cuenca Day Trips
Located southeast of the Spanish capital, Cuenca is one of the best day trips from Madrid by train that you can take. It’s a hilltop town founded by the Moors with narrow cobblestone lanes, ancient ruins, and historic city walls.
But the pièce de résistance of Cuenca is the Huécar gorge, a deep ravine surrounding the town on its limestone perch. The ‘hanging houses’ of Cuenca look like they are sitting on the very edge of the town as if they are about to jump off and have to be seen to be believed.
How To Get From Madrid to Cuenca by Train
From Estación Madrid – Puerta de Atocha, hop on a direct Renfe AVE or AVLO high-speed service to Estación de Cuenca-Fernando Zóbel. These trains take around an hour and depart approximately once per hour. Ticket prices start from €6.90.
Day Trips from Madrid to Segovia
Segovia day trips from Madrid are super popular thanks to the diverse architecture in its skyline. It’s a major city in the Castile and León region with a Roman aqueduct, Gothic cathedral, Romanesque churches, and medieval city walls.
You won’t have a spare moment to feel bored when taking day trips to Segovia from Madrid!
How To Get From Madrid to Segovia by Train
From Estación de Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor, take a direct Renfe AVANT or ALVIA service to Segovia Guiomar station which both take around an hour.
Avoid the regional services which take twice as long! They’re usually cheaper but it’s worth spending more to get more time to explore Segovia.
There is roughly one train on this route per hour and ticket prices for the high-speed trains start at €13. Segovia’s train station is a 10-minute bus ride outside of the historic center (take the 12 bus from the station) or a short taxi ride.
Madrid to Leon Day Trips
If you don’t have a month free to walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain, you can still visit one of the cities on the path on train trips from Madrid.
Leon sits on the Bernesga River north of Madrid and is home to many churches and Cathedrals with beautiful frescoes.
How To Get From Madrid to Leon by Train
From Estación de Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor, get on a direct Renfe AVE or ALVIA high-speed service to León station. These trains take just over two hours and there are around eight services a day. Ticket prices start from €7.35.
Day Trips from Madrid to Cordoba
The historic center of Cordoba also appears on UNESCO’s list not once, twice, or even three times. Yes, Cordoba is the only city in the world that can boast that achievement.
If you’re looking for incredible day trips near Madrid then this city in the southern region of Andalusia should be one of them. There are several fun things to do in Cordoba.
You should have just enough time to explore the Mosque of Córdoba, the historical quarter surrounding it, the Festival of the Patios, and Medina Azahara before catching the train back.
How To Get From Madrid to Cordoba by Train
From Estación Madrid – Puerta de Atocha, hop on a direct Renfe AVE service to Córdoba station which takes less than two hours. There are roughly 30 services every day and tickets start from €14.
Madrid to Zaragoza Day Trips
Zaragoza is the capital city of Spain’s Aragorn region and is one of the best day trips from Madrid that you can take.
Spraddling the River Ebro, among the top things to do in Zaragoza include the Nuestra Señora del Pilar Basilica, the Moorish Palace, and the Cathedral.
Most of these impressive structures date back to medieval times. Zaragoza’s blend of Islamic and Gothic architecture makes this city so unique and picturesque.
How To Get From Madrid to Zaragoza by Train
From Estación Madrid – Puerta de Atocha, take a direct Renfe AVE service to Zaragoza-Delicias station. These journeys take one hour and 15 minutes and they depart every hour. Tickets start from €7.
Day Trips from Madrid to Valladolid
Home to the Spanish Kings in the early 1600s and where Christopher Columbus died in the 1500s, Valladolid has a lot to offer if you’re looking for cultural one-day trips from Madrid. Especially if you throw in a visit to the National Sculpture museum too!
Though not as famous as other Spanish cities on the coast, Valladolid is a surprisingly large city on the River Pisuerga with lots of quirky statues and large city parks.
How To Get From Madrid to Valladolid by Train
From Estación de Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor, get a direct Renfe AVANT or ALVIA service to Valladolid Campo Grande station. These trains take just over one hour and there are around 30 services every day. Ticket prices start from €9.85.
Madrid to Salamanca Day Trips
One of the oldest Spanish cities and home to Spain’s oldest university, Salamanca is a student town through and through.
It’s compact, and lively, with its fair share of historic buildings like the grand Salamanca Cathedral which penetrates the city’s skyline.
Think of Salamanca as Spain’s answer to Oxford or Cambridge in England. There’s even a picturesque river, the River Tormes, flowing through the city too.
How To Get From Madrid to Salamanca by Train
From Estación de Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor, take a Renfe ALVIA, Intercity, MD, or AVANT service to Salamanca station which takes around one hour and 40 minutes. Regional services can often take an hour longer, so avoid those when taking Madrid day trips to Salamanca.
Direct services are in the minority as most trains will require you to change at Ávila, Segovia Guiomar, or Valladolid Campo Grande. But direct services are there, so book ahead to get the service that’s best for you!
There are around 15 services a day and ticket prices start from €12.65.
Madrid Day Trips by Train FAQs
The best day trips from Madrid by train include destinations such as Segovia, Toledo, and Avila.
It is not necessary to speak Spanish to travel to these destinations, but it can be helpful to know a few basic phrases to communicate with locals.
The cost of train tickets can vary depending on the destination and the type of train, but it generally ranges from 5 to 15 euros for a one-way ticket.
Guided tours are available at some destinations, and they can be a great way to learn about the history and culture of the area. I highly recommend booking a few in advance.
The amount of time to spend at each destination can vary, but most people recommend allowing at least half a day to fully explore each destination. This also depends on whether or not you have booked a tour.
There may be discounts available for train tickets and attractions, such as group discounts or student discounts.
Day Trips from Madrid by Train Wrap-Up
Taking Madrid day trips by train could not be easier in such a well-connected and diverse country like Spain. It doesn’t matter which day trip destination you choose or how many side trips from Madrid you take.
Your trip will be so much more exciting and memorable with a mini adventure to another exciting region or city in this beautiful country.