Madrid is located right in the center of the Iberian Peninsula. Therefore, it is an excellent starting point for any trip. There are interesting cities in any direction. However, if you are just thinking of having a weekend getaway, there are several beautiful towns and cities within a one to three hour drive away. If you do not feel like driving, each of these locations can also be reached by Madrid's Cercanias and bus systems.
Bus link http://www.avanzabus.com/web/
Salamanca a beautiful city located in the Autonomous Community of Castilla y Leon autonomous. It is renowned for its Renaissance architecture and is called “La Dorada” (the Golden City). The main tourist attraction is the beautiful Plaza Mayor located at the center of the old city, which has a high concentration of bars and cafes. The city’s two cathedrals, located next to one another, and the Roman bridge, which was constructed in 89AD and crosses the Tormes Rivers, are a few of the city’s popular attractions. The infamous house of shells, adorned with over 350 shells, and the beautiful buildings of the University of Salamanca are although worth a visit. Because the city is home to a large number of students, the night life in Salamanca is also quite entertaining. The city hosts a fiesta between the 8th and the 21st of September in honor of the Virgen de la Vega.
Bus: Departs every 30 minutes from 6:20AM until 10:20PM and costs about 35 euros roundtrip.
Train: The train to Salamanca leaves from Atocha every 2 hours from 8:45AM to 9:20PM and costs around 32 euros.
Car: By car the journey will take 2 hours 35 minutes. Take the AP-51 and follow signs to Segovia.
Toledo is perched on the Mountains bordering the Tagus River and is famous for having once been the capital of Spain and a city where Catholic, Jews and Muslims lived side by side before the inquisition. Toledo is a UNESCO world heritage site due to the vast amount of beautiful medieval buildings found on its narrow, sloping streets. The grand Catholic cathedral that overlooks the whole of Toledo is a must see, as is the Sinagoga El Transito, which is home to the Sephardic Jewish Museum.
Car: Follow the A-42 signs to Toledo are common and clearly marked.
Cercanias: A Round journey from Atocha Station will cost around 15 euros and will take 30mins. Outside of the Toledo Station the number 22 bus runs every 10 minutes and goes to the town centre.
Segovia is a town perfect for soaking up Spain’s laid back charm. It is home to a large, long, perfectly preserved Roman aqueduct and has been classified a world heritage city. This picturesque city located in the mountains also has an excellent Alcazar (castle) and a quaint central square. It is widely believed that Segovia’s castle was the inspiration for the castle in Walt Disney’s “Cinderella.”
Train: The medium distance, high speed train stops in Segovia, costs around 15 euros and takes only 30 minutes. Segovia’s station is located just outside of the city, however, there is a bus that runs every 5 minutes to take you to the historic center.
Car: Take the A6 North of Madrid and follow signs to Segovia. The journey will take approximately 1 hour 10 minutes.
The historic section of Cuenca is small, but beautiful, with winding cobbled streets. It is famous for its hanging houses, which are built right up to the edge of a limestone gorge. The newer sections of Cuenca are readably forgettable, but the historic district has interesting architecture and a plethora of small, contemporary art museums. If you have a car, you’ll also want to visit the Ciudad Encantada (Enchanted City) in the valley of the Júcar. It is a natural wonderland of eroded sedimentary rock. Its crags, caves, lakes and waterfalls closely resemble a ruined city with crumbling houses and streets.
Trains: Cuenca is a stop on the Madrid to Valencia line and takes two and a half hours with 4 runs a day.
Car: A car journey takes about 1 hour 30 minutes.
Bus: Takes 2 hours and costs around 12 euros round trip.
Aranjuez is situated on the banks of the Tajo River and is known for its gardens and the royal palace. You can take tours in English of the Royal Palace and its impressive grounds. The Prince Gardens are a huge attraction, and within the gardens you will find the Casa del Labrador palace, Vessels Museum, Royal embankment and Apollo's fountain. Aranjuez is another city where a lot of pleasant walking and wandering about will be rewarded you with beautiful sites.
Car: Take the A4 South of Madrid and follow signs to Aranjuez. The journey will take approximately 50 minutes.
Cercanias: The train costs 10 euros from the Atocha train station to Aranjuez. The trip is about 50 minutes.