Day Trips from Madrid

A day trip is the best way to do some exploring when you don’t have a lot of time or money.

One of the things I love most about Madrid, is the fact that there are so many awesome cities nearby.

TOLEDO

Are you a history buff? You have to check out Toledo (even if your not that into history). Toledo is the former capital of Spain and filled with history, charm, and a medieval vibe.

You can get to Toledo by bus, bla bla car (the uber of Europe), or train.

  • BusAlsa is the company that will take you there leaving from Plaza Eliptica. A round trip ticket starts 11€at and will take a little under an hour to get there.
  • Train: A round trip ticket on the renfewill start at 20,60€ and takes about 30 minutes to get there. 
  • Bla Bla Car–  A round trip farestarts at 11€. It will take a little over an hour to get to Toledo by car.

*Hmmm, I thought I wrote about my time in Toledo. Guess I need to get on that lol…*

SEGOVIA

Segovia is a beautiful getaway from Madrid. Want a day of the city this is the perfect place to go. It’s not super big but has enough to do and you can end the day by having some bomb food. I especially liked food and atmosphere at Jose Maria (a must do when in Segovia).

You can get to Segovia by bus, train or bla bla car.

  • Bla Bla Car– is an app you download on your phone then you’re ready to go. It’s like Uber where drivers put where they are traveling to and you can join them at a cost. A round trip fareto Segovia starts at 10€. It will take about an hour to get to Segovia by car.
  • Train-AVE high Speed– A round trip ticket to Segovia will start at 34€ but will only take 30 mins to get there. The train leaves from Chamartin Station.
  • Bus-La Sepulvedana is the company that will take you there leaving from Moncloa. A roundtrip ticket starts at 14,21€ and will take about an hour to get there.

Read More: Things to do in Segovia

AVILA

The world heritage city of Avila is a must see. Avila is known for its formidable medieval walls, an intact fortified ring around the old city.

Leaving from Madrid, you can get to Avila by bus or train.

  • Train– A round trip ticket on the renfe will start at 17€and takes a little under two hours to get there. The train leaves from the Chamartin Station.
  • Bus-Jiménez Dorado Autocares is the company that will take you there leaving from Estación sur. A roundtrip ticket starts at 13,41€ and will take about an hour and fifteen minutes to get there.

*Avila is still on my To Visit list*

CUENCA

This beautiful World Heritage Site  is full of charm and historical monuments. Warning, be prepared to walk uphill a lot, like a lot. But other than that it is a must visit.

You can get to Cuenca by bus, bla bla car or train.

  • BusAvanzais the company that will take you there leaving from Mendez Alvaro. A round trip ticket starts 21,57€ at and will take about 2.5 hours to get there.
  • Train: A round trip ticket on the renfewill start at 23,80€ and takes about 3 hours to get there. Whereas a round trip ticket on the  renfe AVE will start at 26,30€ and takes about an hour.
  • Bla Bla Car–  A round trip fare starts at 16€. It will take about 1.5 hours to get to Cuenca by car.

Read More: Things to do in Cuenca

Let’s talk about Cuenca

One of the best things about living in Madrid is the fact that you can explore so many surrounding cities with ease.

Cuenca is no different. Cuenca is a beautiful city about an hour and fifteen minutes by car away from Madrid. Of course this all depends on if there is traffic and how fast or slow you are driving.

Cuenca is definitely worth a day trip to walk around the old city and enjoy the beautiful landscape. Be warned though, it is definitely a lot of walking up hill. Let me repeat, a lot of walking up hill. But it’s worth it.

My favorite thing about Cuenca, were the gorgeous views it had to offer and for making me realize that I could speak Spanish for an entire day. I was beyond shocked to say the least but pleasantly surprised that I was able to communicate, be understood, and understand what is said to me all in Spanish.

Lets talk about what to do there. I have found that all Spanish cities are extremely similar. They have an old part of town that allows you to feel their history and a new part of town that is filled with buildings, shops and bars. Cuenca definitely didn’t disappoint in the history department.

Must see things:

  • The Hanging Houses and bridge

 

  • The rocks at the very top of the hill (I know but trust they are not ordinary rocks. The view is worth the climb)
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The view, the shape of the rocks, just absorb lol

  • The Abstract Museum and the Contemporary Museum
  • The Cathedral

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Oh Segovia

Oh Segovia, Segovia! I kept hearing about this cute little mountain town north of Madrid. How it was so quaint, had some cool things to see, and had great food. Well guys I wasn’t disappointed at all.

I got there around 10am and when I say it was completely empty, there were literally only two small families on the streets and an Asian tour group. Y’all know Spanish folks party hard and sleep late. They literally don’t start their day until 12. The crazy thing to me is they have a siesta from 3-6 sometimes 7pm. But anyways enough about that: back to the cuteness that is Segovia. I was able to explore the town without a large crowd and bonus take pictures without people photo bombing intentionally and unintentionally.

Getting to Segovia was an adventure in itself. I took a blabla car (uber for far trips) and boy was that interesting. My driver was super sweet but super active and talkative (like would not shut up talkative). But it was cool, I got to practice some Spanish and he got to practice some English. He dropped me off on the outskirts of the city partly because he had no idea where he was going and partly because he was getting anxious since he was late for his run. But it worked itself out because where we decided to stop I could see the beginning of the aqueducts. So it worked out.

My time in Segovia began with walking along the Aqueduct and marveling in its wonder. A tingy bit of history, the Aqueduct, its Roman…. History lesson over lol!!!

But on the real it’s a beautiful structure held together by air. Well maybe not literally but there is no grout holding it together.

Walking along the wall are many different paths to explore the town but don’t worry you can’t get lost. Everything circles around so you can easily find where you began or at least somewhere you actually recognize.

The Alcazar isn’t that big but still very impressive. It looks like a quaint castle. Now paying 3 euros to go up the tower not really necessary but you do get great views of the city. The only other place to get unobstructed views is to climb the tower in The Cathedral (I think it was either 1,5 euros or 3 euros to climb). Y’all the warning on the signs for The Cathedral said that the climb and descent takes about 70 minutes. That’s how tall and steep it is. I debated doing it and in the end I opted not to. The climb up the tower in the Alcazar was about 10 minutes if that lol.

View from The Alcazar Tower:

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Let’s talk food. Oh yummy food. So one of the most have foods to try (of course that’s if your not vegetarian/vegan) is Cochinillo. Cochinillo is a suckling roasted piglet. Jose Maria is the restaurant you must go to, to try it for the first time. Honestly, I was skeptical because I like to eat off the beaten path but locals and tourists alike were raving about the cochinillo at Jose Maria. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed at all. It is such a cute restaurant. Side bar: cochinillo cost 24 euros person for a piece of meat, no sides, no lettuce, no nada. So your girl was a little skeptical to try it so when I walked in I noticed they were having apertivos so I decided to order a beer and try one. I had the paella and it was quite delicious so that and the fact the vibes in the restaurant was great I decided to stay and go for the cochinillo. Y’all it’s a whole production and its great to see. I ordered cochinillo and a side of fries (not needed bad idea). The waiter came out with an appetizer and a basket of bread. I am only one person, I couldn’t possibly eat all this food. But everything was delicious and well worth every euro. Honestly, I think that’s the most I have ever spent on a meal for (key word is I spent lol).

Overall, Segovia is a cute little town and you only need about 4-6 hours to explore it. Of course, those who like museums would be on the longer end but honestly you do not need more than 8 hours to explore in its entirety.

Leave a comment below letting me know what your thoughts on Segovia are.

Making the most of a long layover…

Time is a luxury we don’t always have while traveling. Some people believe that you need 1-2 weeks to visit a country. On the flip side, who has an unlimited amount of vacation days from work that they can take such a long trip let alone take a trip multiple times a year.  I truly believe that you only need 2-3 days to get a sense of what a city is all about. Don’t get me wrong, to find all the hidden gems in a city you definitely need to spend more time but hey thats what a return visit is for.

With that being said lets talk long layovers. Layovers are the perfect way to get a glimpse of another country when you have a limited time frame and budget. Fun fact, tickets are usually cheaper when a layover is involved. To me a long layover where you can actually leave the airport and enjoy the city is anywhere from 6 hours and longer. Mind you there are a few airports that you will need a minimum of 8 hours but for the most part 6 hours is a good rule of thumb.

During my first European Adventure with my girl Tori, we decided to book a ticket with a 24hr layover in Istanbul, Turkey. We landed late evening and stayed in the lounge for Turkish Airlines (one of my favorite airlines to travel) and left the airport very early the next morning. We had about 12 hours in the city and boy did we do and see a lot. Really its all in the planning but of course things can go wrong so you must be adaptable. We planned to leave the airport that evening but I couldn’t get my visa on arrival because my passport only had I think 4 more months until expiration. So unfortunately we all know the later you arrive to the airport or anywhere the less people working. The people who could override my date and issue me a visa wasn’t on shift for a few more hours that’s why we had to stay in the lounge. But hey, bright side, we stayed for free. The person manning the desk was super nice and helpful and allowed us to spend a few hours in the lounge for free. So overall, win win situation.

Traveling to China from Houston, I specifically looked for a ticket with a long over in another country. Lucky me, I found a bomb ticket (cheap and with an amazing airline). I found a ticket with Korean Air (my first love before discovering Turkish Airlines so now I have 2) with a 24 hour layover in Seoul, South Korea. After purchasing my ticket I started researching the airline and airport to see what perks might be there. And let me tell you, my research did not go unnoticed.  Korean Air offered complimentary hotel rooms for persons with a layover longer than 12 hours (this was in 2014 so I don’t know if they still do). Yup, you heard me. I got a free bomb, clean, hotel room on the airport shuttle route and close to public transportation to explore the city. Now it took a little work to get it. I had to email customer service; they responded with a number I had to call. When I called they tried to say Korean Air didn’t offer the service any longer. But with luck and being persistent I was able to find an agent willing to give me the complimentary room. Lesson here is never take no for an answer. Make sure you put in the work and don’t leave any table unturned.

* For some reason I can’t find any of the pictures I took in Seoul. Guess I will just have to go back since no pictures is pretty much like I never went. *

Now don’t just start purchasing long layover tickets without doing any research. Make sure the airport you are flying into isn’t far from the city center or the must see attractions. Make sure you have a general idea of where you want to go, if you can leave the airport, and a general idea of cost. If you prefer leisure travel, a long layover still could be possible but instead of fitting as many sites in as possible maybe you would just want to see one or two sites and eat something.

Remember, always do what is best for you. It is your travel experience so make it work for you.

Leave a comment below letting me know what some of your tricks are when booking flights.

24hrs in Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow is hidden a gem with beautiful surprises throughout the city and I’m not even talking about the architecture or sights. I am talking about the murals distributed throughout the city. Glasgow has 23 murals to be exact. You can spend a few hours just exploring and finding the different murals.

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The first mural that caught my eye

I stumbled upon a mural and thought to myself oh that’s cute. Then while looking around I spotted another in the distance. I took a detour from where I was going and walked towards it and boy I was not disappointed at all.

 

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Let’s start from the beginning since I got a little side track talking about the murals.  You might be thinking, is it even possible to see a city in one day. Honestly, you are able to see Glasgow in one day. Depending on the city it’s quite possible to see everything(main attractions) in one day. Granted when you stay somewhere for a while you get the feel of the place and find hidden gems. But if you are on a time constraint never feel that it would be a waste just to visit somewhere for a day.

You want to arrive in Glasgow as early as possible. I arrived at 9 and left the airport by 9:30am.  A must do is to always stop at the tourist information desk in the airport. There you should be able to get useful information, recommendations, and a city map. At the info desk in Glasgow you can also purchase a roundtrip bus ticket to the city center for 12£. The bus has wifi and usb ports. There are 4 stops throughout the city with the furthest stop being 25 mins away from the airport so not bad. It also runs 24hrs so that also a huge plus and savings.

First thing to do even before making it to the city center is to go out west to Kelvingrove. Once there you can check out Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery (for free). Honestly this was one of my favorite stops the whole trip. You will also find in the west different pubs, bars, and cute little shops to stop into.

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In front of Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery

Once you have had your fill of the west, you can then walk to the city center. It is a straight walk on the main road and is about a 25min walk (of course if you are stopping to check out stores or take selfies it will take longer). Once in the city center there is quite a bit to do.

Some of the things you can check out are:

  • Necropolis
    • The gates that lead to the Necropolis covered in pure gold. The rich history inside these gates.

  • St. Mungo’s Cathedral
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      A few of the cathedral from the Necropolis

  • Queen Street
  • Glasgow Green Park

* These are just a few attractions to check out. Of course, it all depends on what you like to do. So if you like to check out museums then add some to the list.*

One of the things United Kingdom (which is made up of 4 countries including Scotland) is known for is Tea Time. I had an awesome experience at the Willow Tea Room. The atmosphere is really chill and chic and the options are endless. I never once felt rushed to get through my meal. Surprisingly, I was stuffed halfway through the second tier of food.

 

Once nightfall hit I looked for a pub to pass my time. I found a little hole in the wall pub called Soulsa to relax and unwind. They serve food there and have student specials. There I met a Scottish young man who befriended me and started chatting up a storm. Did I mention yet that Scottish people are super nice and friendly? Well they are!!! And boy was I glad because I got to go ceilidh which is essentially Scottish line dancing. I had an absolute blast. Check out Avante Grad to have an experience Scottish experience.

Overall, Glasgow is a cool place to visit and can be done in day depending on your style of travel.  Let me know in the comments below what you thought of Glasgow when you visited or other places you think are great to visit for a day.