As much as I love my adopted city of Madrid one of my favorite things to do is to explore more of the Iberian Peninsula. Spain is fascinating on so many levels, from its profound history to the vibrant pueblos hidden throughout the country.
In fact, driving along Spain’s west coast through the Lower Rias is still one of my favorite all-time trips. However, not everyone has weeks to explore the country’s expansive coastline or lush mountainous areas in the north. In this case, quick day trips will have to do and if we’re talking about day trips from Madrid, well, Segovia is the place to go!
How to take a day trip to Segovia from Madrid
Located just an hour and a half from Madrid by car (or you can take the train), Segovia is a very popular day trip from the capital city, and with good reason. You’ll find Roman history, a gothic cathedral, an impressive Arab fortress—and ham. No wonder that the Old Town and Aqueduct have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Roman Aqueduct is just the beginning
Segovia’s aqueduct, which is thought to have been constructed in AD 81-96, is the city’s claim to historic fame. You’ll marvel at over 160 arches stacked in a two-tier configuration. However, once you pass the impressive structure and head uphill, this charming Spanish town only gets better.
Spend time in the Segovia Cathedral
After you’ve gazed and marveled at the incredible engineering of the famous aqueduct, strolling through Segovia leads to more incredible sights. Once you’ve made it to the main plaza, which is gorgeous in its own right, the Segovia Cathedral (purchase your entrance ticket here), with its tell-tale pinnacles and flying buttresses in full glory, is majestically settled into the plaza’s corner. The cathedral was built in the mid-sixteenth century and is the last Gothic cathedral built in Spain and one of the last to be built in Europe.
Take some time to wander around the cathedral’s solemn interior, and once you leave, take a left and follow the road downhill until you come to Segovia’s incredible castle. No, you haven’t wandered into Disney World. This is Segovia’s beautiful Alcázar. And yes, many claim that Walt Disney used the Alcázar as a model for the Disney castle.
Explore the Alcázar on a Segovia day trip
The Segovia Alcázar was built in 1120, and like many Spanish castles or palaces, was originally an Arab fortress. After Christianity had been restored to the city, the building was used as a residence for monarchs of the Kingdom of Castile for centuries. However, it was perhaps Queen Isabella I of Castile who made this castle her own, when she used the structure as a base as she staked her rightful claim to the title of Queen of Castile and León in 1474.
If you get the chance to enter the Alcázar, you should. It’s a beautiful building that has been witness to many, many years of Spanish history.
More things to see and do on a day in Segovia
Of course, there are many more things to see and do in Segovia. There are a number of romanesque churches in the area. At the foot of the Alcázar, you could visit the recently renovated Segovia Mint where Spain’s first official coins were made.
And for those foodies out there, don’t miss the chance to taste the region’s famous cochinilla asado (Roast Suckling Pig). My favorite place is José María, although it is a bit pricey!
Then again, Segovia is full of surprises and if you’re lucky like I was on my last visit, there will be expert ham slicer (maestro jamonero) on hand in the plaza to give out slices of the succulent Iberian ham the country is known for.
More day trips from Madrid
Using Madrid as your headquarters, venture out of the city for a day of exploring, especially if smaller, off-the-beaten-path Spanish cities appeal to your boomer travel style. Besides Segovia, I recommend:
- Visiting Toledo, Spain for a mix of Christian, Jewish and Islamic cultures
- Exploring Toro on a longer day trip from Madrid
- Discovering the forgotten pueblo of Chinchón
- Visit Caceres, the city of birds.
- Travel to Girona to explore the city and enjoy charming day trips.
Thinking about a trip to Spain? Start at our Spain Travel Planner page.