Madrid is more than a city - it is also the name of a whole region (and one of Spain's autonomous communities). Visiting Madrid and not visiting a few of its satellite cities is to miss out on some of central Spain's most enduring charms.
For convenience, some cities close that Madrid but which are not actually in the official Madrid region are included on this page.
Cities and Towns in MadridMajor cities and towns in Madrid, in order of 'importance' to the tourist:
Madrid in a Week
Give yourself two whole days to see Madrid. Do a day trip to Toledo, one to Aranjuez and another to El Escorial and Valle de los Caidos - seeing both of these in a single day requires good planning and I highly recommend doing a Guided Tour of El Escorial and Valle de los Caidos. To reach Salamanca, which is a little further away (two-and-a-half hours), break up the journey by spending half a day in Avila and Segovia (but stay a whole day in Segovia if you have the time).
- Toledo The former capital of Spain, Toledo has retained its medieval charm, with its city walls and winding streets.
- Segovia The twin charms of Segovia's fairytale castle and Roman aqueduct make Segovia an essential day trip from Madrid.
- Avila Often overlooked city between Madrid and Salamanca, with some of the best preserved medieval city walls in Europe.
- El Escorial El Escorial's monastery and kings' crypt (where the majority of Spain's kings for the past 400 years are buried) are a nice alternative to tourist-heavy Segovia and Toledo.
- Arajuez A royal residence, easily reached by train from Madrid.
- El Valle de los Caidos Controversial burial ground for former dictator, General Franco, complete with magnificent stone cross and basilica, built by Franco's prisoners of war from the Spanish Civil War. Close to El Escorial to make a perfect combined day trip.
- Seville, Cordoba & Toledo by AVE Seville and Cordoba are miles from Madrid, but that's what the AVE train was invented for. Take these guided tours of Seville and Cordoba from Madrid and be back in time for bed.
- Salamanca The university city of Salamanca is a bit further from Madrid than the other day trips (two-and-a-half hours away by bus or train) and it warrants at least a night there, but if pressed for time, it is certainly possible in a day trip.