28 Jun Day Trips You Don't Find in Travel Books
What to do on the weekend?
Affordable, accessible, and beautiful day trips less than 2 hours from Madrid (Part 1)
Contributed By: Alissa Gamberg
The weekend’s finally here, and after five days of working hard at your internship in the big city, you’re ready for a change of pace from the buzzing street of the city to the quite landscaped of surrounding villages. Where can you go to see some green, other than the Retiro? Of course, Madrid has many other parks and natural areas, but if you want to escape the city life for a day and see a whole new world (sans magic carpet), you can easily do so by public transportation ‒ and without breaking the bank! Whether you want to hike a mountain, do some moderate trekking, or simply explore an old Spanish pueblo (village), here are a few suggestions we think you’ll enjoy.
This may not be a typical tourist site, but all the more reason to go check it out! Avoid the crowds and cheesy souvenir kiosks everywhere you look. Sigüenza is a quaint medieval town in Guadalajara, Castilla la Mancha, just a short train ride from the Chamartín metro station in Madrid. (Search the Renfe website for tickets to Sigüenza and you’re good to go.) In addition to strolling the streets and taking in the views, make sure you stop at the castle-turned-parador (hotel) and the stunning 12th Century cathedral, of which you can take a very informative guided tour for only about 5€. Even if you can’t understand the tour guide’s Spanish, it’s still worth your money because you’ll have access to the famous Doncel de Sigüenza statue as well as the room that holds an impressive tapestry collection not to be missed.
PATONES DE ARRIBA
Patones is a beautiful area with old ruins, great views, and some wonderful hidden gems along its narrow, hilly pueblo streets. Even if you don’t plan on doing any hiking or trekking, still wear some sturdy walking shoes because the pueblo consists of many curves and inclines. If you’re an art or artisan aficionada, be sure to look for Atelier Rojo Coral, an adorable art studio built into a cave and run by a group of women (search for them on Facebook). You can’t miss it; paintings, clothing, and other handmade objects are hanging from the open door and propped on easels by the entrance. Although the artists actually work there, it’s also their shop that welcomes the public.
How to get there: From Madrid, take the metro to Plaza de Castilla (lines 1, 9, 10). Arrive 20-30 minutes before catching the 197 bus (direction Uceda). Usually you can pay the driver as you board. Get off at the penultimate stop, Patones. Review schedules at: http://www.crtm.es/datos_lineas/horarios/8197H1.pdf.
MANZANARES EL REAL
For nature, history, and castle lovers alike, Manzanares el Real is it. First, you can hike the rocky terrain of La Pedriza and stop for a picnic lunch by the river when you get tired. Also take a look at the 15th Century Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Peña Sacra while you’re up there (before you start the hike, you’ll see the signs on the road pointing you toward the hermitage). Later, head back down to the pueblo for an ice cream or café in the plaza and enjoy the cute pueblo vibes.
Not to be missed: the castle! Actually, there are two castles in Manzanares el Real, but only one of them is fully standing. The Castillo Viejo (old castle) only consists of the ruins of the castle’s foundation, but it’s still nice to stop by and admire the history history. The main castle, Castillo de los Mendoza, was declared an official monument in 1931 and has been beautifully restored and maintained, along with many paintings and tapestries. Entrance is 5€ and it includes access to the Renaissance-style gardens as well.
How to get there: Take bus 724 (Madrid-Manzanares el Real-El Boalo) from Plaza de Castilla in Madrid. Buy your ticket from the driver as you board, and if you’re not sure when to get off, ask to be notified when you’ve reached Manzanares el Real. Visit http://www.crtm.es/datos_lineas/horarios/8724H1.pdf for the schedule.
This is just a fraction of what the surrounding provinces have to offer you as a getaway from Madrid. Depending on how you want to spend your time, you can either do some Googling before you go to plan the day, or you might challenge yourself and simply hop on a bus and just let yourself be surprised! Either way, it’s almost a guarantee you won’t regret it, and come Monday morning, you’ll be ready to start another work week feeling revived and refreshed.