Study Abroad Day Trips from Madrid

Senior Writer at findingDulcinea

Once you’ve mastered Madrid, made your way through the Prado Museum and seen each beautiful basilica, you might just be itching to get out of the city for a day or weekend. There are several options, a few of which are described below, catering to hikers, history buffs and students craving even more art and architecture.

A castle awaits in Manzanares

Just 30 miles north of Madrid in the town of Manzanares, the 15th Century Castle of the Mendoza beckons visitors with several imposing towers boasting late Gothic and Mudejar architecture. Ground was broken on the castle in the year 1475, and a surrounding wall still stands, lending an intimidating presence. A visit here will remove you from the bustling city life and into an adventurous mindset, particularly if you also decide to include a hike in your day trip. You can take the short walk from town to the Parque de la Pedriza, where serious climbers and average hikers converge. Be warned: summer weekends tend to get very crowded both in Manzanares and the park. Buses depart from Plaza de Castilla Station; the trip is about 50 minutes long and costs only 3 euros.

Toledo, the fortress town

Toledo's medieval architecture can be a nice departure from Madrid.

Toledo's medieval architecture can be a nice departure from Madrid.

While you’re meandering along Toledo’s cobblestone streets, peeking into tiny shops and gazing upwards at endless brick roofs, relish the fact that you’re experiencing one of the best preserved medieval cities in all of Europe. Easter season, with the accompanying Semana Santa festivities, is a nice time to visit; but there are still myriad ways to soak up the essence of the city’s Muslim, Roman, Jewish, and Visigoth influences year round. Be sure to try the paella, and observe the stonewalls and architecture of the old city area. Also try to include a visit to the El Greco Museum to see dramatic works by Domenikos Theotokopoulos, a Greek painter who called Toledo home. Take the train from Madrid, a 30-minute trip.

El Escorial, the would-be wonder

El Escorial is a favorite of art and architecture buffs.

El Escorial is a favorite of art and architecture buffs.

In about one hour, you can reach San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a massive display of architecture and art, namely the Royal Palace and monastery that were built for Filipe II during the glory days of the Spanish Empire in the 16th Century. Stroll through the amazing library and galleries, and stop into the church at the center of El Escorial to glimpse more than 40 stunning altars and numerous frescoes. To get there, take the bus from Moncloa Station, or catch line 8 of the local train.

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