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Daytrips from Madrid

Last week we took a look some of what Spain's capital city has to offer to the visitor. While Madrid offers something for just about everybody, there's another aspect to local tourism which warrants a closer look: daytrips to all sorts of fascinating and varied venues, easily reachable by car, train or bus.

Here's my personal list one day visits from Madrid

Lying some 40 km south of the city, just off the N-IV highway to Andalucia, Aranjuez is quiet city along the banks of the Tajo (Tagus) River. The city and its restaurants make it a worthwhile visit, but the real highlight is the Royal Palace. The last royal resident was King Alfonso XIII, and the huge building and palace grounds now serve as a permanent museum.
El Escorial
While the name's not pretty (El Escorial means "the slag heap"), the incredible monastery built by King Felipe II make this a great trip. The town, some 40 km northwest of the city, is a popular summer residence for many Madrid residents. The monastery, its medieval library, and the royal mausoleum are interesting enough - but don't miss the excellent restaurants and the nearby "Valle de los Caidos" (Valley of the Fallen) monument to the Spanish Civil War dead.
The provincial capital of Segovia is some 90 km northwest of the city, just across the Guadarrama mountain range. The city's 2,000 year old Roman aqueduct, is the most striking monument, but don't miss the Cathedral and the beautiful Alcazar Castle. Many say the world's best roast lamb and suckling pig are prepared in the wood fired oven of Segovia - I for one agree. Another worthwhile stop is La Granja - a short distance from Segovia with its spectacular royal palace and gardens, and the old glass factory museum.
Sitting some 50 km southeast of Madrid, the beautifully preserved medieval city with its narrow streets and surrounding fortifications is a real must. Things worth seeing include the Cathedral, El Greco Museum, and the Spanish Inquisition Musuem. Local specialties include marzipan and handcrafted gold on steel damask jewelery and knicknacks. There are also some excellent restaurants around the city.

Information Links for Daytrips

Madrid Softguide's Daytrips
The excellent Madrid Softguide offers good information on daytrips from Madrid to these and other interesting spots, with maps and travel information.