If by some miracle you get bored of the capital of Spain and still have a couple of days left of your vacation, then no one says that you can’t hop on a train and visit a city near Madrid. And to be honest, these 3 cities deserve a full vacation to be explored thoroughly. Join me in our second part of learning about the lifeful cities of Spain, from the old and not so boring buildings to wonders that you will remember for all your life.
Toledo, the Imperial City from Spain
Less than 100 km from Madrid, this beautiful city is so easy to reach that it would be a real shame to miss it. You can go by train, by bus, or even rent a car, whichever route you choose depends on the place from where you live and how much you want to spend (for example, a bus ticket can be 5 euros).
This city is an open-air museum that will take your breath away at every step. At the same time, say goodbye to your camera memory because every building is photo-worthy.
Walk on the streets that make you feel like you’ve stepped out of time, or visit the cathedrals or some museums (for example the El Greco Museum) and feel the timeless emotion that the city has.
El Escorial, the historical residence of the kings
Almost 50 km from Madrid, this town is a bit tricker to get to by bus, but a lot easier by train (which I recommend).
The main sighting from here is the largest Renaissance building in the world. If you want to visit now you should buy your ticket online and remember that they do not accept cash (because of COVID safe measurements) and that if you have COVID symptoms your entry may be refused.
Ignoring (or not taking into account for now) these measurements, the residence of the kings is a gorgeous place that you should see. A ticket costs almost 30 euros, but it would be worth it after you see the library.
I’m talking about a library that should be on every bookworm’s list: almost 40 000 books and manuscripts in multiple languages (including Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs), and the beautiful roof painted with depictions of the seven arts (grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy). I could spend two hours here studying every corner of the room and it would not be enough.
Or you can see the place where the kings and queens of Spain are buried, but be sure not to miss El Escorial the next time you visit Spain.
Alcalá de Henares, the medieval university city
Almost 30 km from Madrid, this is another city very easy to reach and you should not forget about it (and you can choose a bus or train as your method of transportation).
If you read Don Quixote, this is the town where the writer (Cervantes) was born (and you can really tell from the statues of the characters found in the city to the cute souvenirs from the stores). Also, be sure not to miss the house where he grew up now turned into a museum recreating the life from the 16th and 17th centuries. (If you need one more incentive – the museum is free).
Or see the University (as a student enrolled or as a tourist) founded in 1293.
Or walk around the city which is an open-air museum and find the beautiful statues placed here, not forgetting the Calle Mayor, the historical center designated in the 12th century and with architecture from the 18th century that hides shops, bakeries, and other treasures.