The lack of historic monuments in Madrid is more than compensated for by the region around the capital. Within a radius of 100km – and within an hour’s travel by bus and train – are some of Spain’s greatest cities. Not least of these is Toledo, which preceded Madrid as the country’s capital. Immortalized by El Greco, who lived and worked there for most of his later career, the city is a living museum to the many cultures – Visigothic, Moorish, Jewish and Christian – which have shaped the destiny of Spain. If you have time for just one trip from Madrid, there is really no other choice.

That said, Segovia, with its stunning Roman aqueduct and irresistible Disney-prototype castle, puts up strong competition, while Felipe II’s vast palace-cum-mausoleum of El Escorial is a monument to out-monument all others. And there are smaller places, too, less known to foreign tourists: Aranjuez, an oasis in the parched Castilian plain, famed for its asparagus, strawberries and lavish Baroque palace and gardens; the beautiful walled city of Ávila, birthplace of St Teresa; and Cervantes’ home town, Alcalá de Henares, with its sixteenth-century university. For walkers, too, trails amid the sierras of Gredos and Guadarrama provide enticing escapes from the midsummer heat.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Spain features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Beyond tapas: the Spanish food and drink you need to devour

Beyond tapas: the Spanish food and drink you need to devour

Spain is known throughout the world for its Mediterranean diet, heavily featuring seafood, meat and fresh vegetables, all splashed with a healthy dose of olive …

15 Aug 2016 • Esme Fox insert_drive_file Article
A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Madrid

A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Madrid

One of the sunniest and liveliest capital cities in Europe, Madrid has a lot to take pride in. Indeed, its inhabitants, the Madrileños, are so proud of their …

09 Aug 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Slow travel: exploring Catalunya’s back roads

Slow travel: exploring Catalunya’s back roads

Barcelona is one of the world’s most visited cities, but relatively few tourists venture beyond the suburbs. Yet, just a couple of hours’ drive from the met…

04 Aug 2016 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month