Best Countryside Escapes from Madrid

Escape the Spanish capital with these top countryside escapes.

May 27, 2024
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Not only is Madrid the capital of Spain, but it also lies at the geographic center of the Iberian Peninsula atop a plateau. Many small villages and the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range are easily accessible from the city center, so there are plenty of options for a countryside day trip out of the city. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites.

El Escorial

El Escorial is a small town in the Sierra de Guadarrama located only 31 miles or 50 kilometers outside of Madrid. Being a center of important political power and residence of the king at the height of the Spanish Empire, it’s home to the Royal Monastery of El Escorial, which is a UNESCO heritage site.

The Royal Monastery, along with the town of El Escorial, was built in the 15th and 16th centuries and contains a collection of Renaissance buildings, paintings, and fountains. From the outside, it looks almost like a fortress with its large gray walls, but inside it contains 15 courtyards, over 2,000 windows, 88 fountains, and about 1,600 paintings.

If you want to have a more nature-filled escape from the city, there are also plenty of hiking trails around the town. Explore the southern slopes of the Sierras to take a look at El Escorial from above.

How to get to El Escorial from Madrid

El Escorial is very close to Madrid, and it takes just under an hour to get there by car. It is also accessible by train, which takes about an hour exactly.


Toledo is one of Spain’s most popular World Heritage sites, and behind its medieval walls, you’ll be sure to find out why. Toledo is located across the border from the Community of Madrid in Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha region and is built completely on top of a hill that looks down at the Río Taja.

It is known as being the home of three harmonious communities of Chritians, Jews, and Muslims in Medieval Times, and the three different cultures are visible throughout the town’s architecture. Its array of churches, synagogues, and mosques are all connected with a maze of cobblestone streets that lead you up and around this hilltop town.

Toledo is also famous for its art and metal work. Since the 16th century, swords from the town were famed for their durability and flexibility. Its art museum is home to many works of the great El Greco, so art lovers will leave satisfied. Spend a day walking through the narrow Medieval streets of Toledo and checking out the rich local culture.

How to get to Toledo from Madrid

There are many ways to get to Toledo from Madrid. By car, it takes about an hour to drive there. There is also a high-speed train that can get you to Toledo in just 30 minutes, but if you miss that one and take the normal train, you will be there in about an hour. There is also the option to take a bus for 50 minutes that connects the two places.

Sierra de Guadarrama

The Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range and national park sit northeast of Madrid, right below Segovia. This national park is the perfect place to go hiking, have a picnic, or explore the wildlife of the area. The mountains are home to a coniferous forest and several endangered species. Other natural formations include large rocks, seasonal waterfalls, snowy landscapes, and mountain meadows.

The many small towns within the Sierra de Guadarrama are sights to be seen. Patones is a town known for its olive groves and stands out from the rest for its outstanding conservation of old architecture. Rascafría is located at an elevation of 1,100 meters above sea level and is home to the famous Monastery of Santa María del Paular. All of these towns are located sandwiched between nature, so they are not to be missed.

How to get to the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains from Madrid

The Sierras can be reached from Madrid by car, bus, or train. If you choose to drive, it will take about an hour from the center, but this can vary depending on where in the mountains you are trying to reach and the snow and weather conditions on the peaks. There are also bus and train options which will take about one and a half hours to three hours, but you will most likely have to transfer along the route.

Day trips from Madrid with Ukio

Madrid is known for being a sprawling city, and not many people think of going to Madrid for a natural escape. This city will surprise you with the amount of countryside getaways that are located in close proximity to its borders. You won’t be able to truly know Madrid without venturing outside of the city limit every once and a while.

If you’re staying with Ukio, there are always options to explore more; you can check out other countryside escapes that are nearby to Barcelona, Lisbon, and Berlin as well.