There are some awesome day trips from Madrid, the problem is – how do you choose which one to do?! We think a day trip to Segovia is definitely one of the best.
In this article we will explain why and hopefully you’ll be inspired to add Segovia into your own itinerary.
Segovia has 3 main tourist attractions: an aqueduct, an alcázar and a cathedral. We think each of them would be worth the trip alone, so you can consider the other two a double bonus!
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Getting to Segovia
The good news is that you have plenty of options and the better news is that they’re all cheap and easy. If you want to make your own way – should you go by Hire Car, Bus or Train? Or would you prefer to have someone take care of all the hard work for you on a tour?
Madrid to Segovia Hire Car
Renting a car will be by far the most expensive option. The journey will take anywhere between 1 hour to 1.5 hours depending on the traffic around Madrid.
While a car will be expensive, it does allow for more flexibility. You can travel the scenic route and make any stops if you wish. You could also visit Segovia and Avila in the same day trip if you leave early enough.
Madrid to Segovia Train
The train is the most popular option. This is how we chose to travel. The high speed train service (AVE) takes about 30 minutes from Madrid Chamartin station to Segovia Guiomar station.
There are 27 trains in total leaving Madrid per day. During the week, the earliest departure is at 6.40 am and the last train leaves at 10:16 pm. During the weekend, the earliest departure is 8:00 am and the last train leaves at 9:30 pm.
Adult prices vary from €13.90 to €24.40 each on the day of travel. It’s important to remember that sometimes you need both a seat reservation as well as a train ticket in Spain. This reservation costs an additional €5.00-€8.00 per person both ways.
Once you arrive in Segovia Guiomar, you have to take the number 11 bus waiting outside the station. The ticket costs €2.00 per person each way. However, the bus will drop you off right in front of the aqueduct. This trip should take about 15 minutes. For number 11 bus times, click here.
You can take the same local bus back to the station for the return leg. Total journey time is around 1 hour for both the train and local bus one way, but only if you line up your timetables correctly.
Madrid to Segovia Bus
Avanza bus company leaves from Madrid Moncloa (North Madrid). This bus arrives directly into Segovia old town center right near the aqueduct in around 1 hour 20 minutes.
You can book in advance online at avanzabus or book from the bus station on the day. Buses leave hourly and will only cost around €10.00 round-trip.
We used the train because we had interrail passes. However, if you don’t have an interrail pass, the bus is more direct and will help to minimize costs. It also means less hassle with connecting public transport.
Madrid to Segovia Tour
We always recommend public transportation for those on a budget but this isn’t for everyone. If you’re not concerned about spending a bit extra to take all the hassle out of the equation – or you are pressed for time – these tours can be the perfect way to be chauffeured around your day trip to Segovia in comfort.
There are several options for your Madrid to Segovia day trip, but the best ones include doubling up with other cities such as Toledo and Avila on a full day tour if that fits with your plans. We’d recommend both of the tours below as getting half a day in Toledo or Avila is a huge bonus.
Things to do in Segovia
Segovia is most famous for being home to one of the most impressive Roman aqueducts remaining today. Other major highlights include an alcázar where the old kings of Castile resided as well as the last Gothic cathedral built in Spain.
The quaint old town also features an assortment of churches, monasteries and museums if you have some extra time. In this highly appealing UNESCO world heritage town, you will be utterly spoiled for choice.
We really enjoyed our day in Segovia as the town has a nice relaxed vibe and isn’t over run by tourists. Our top recommendations are as follows:
The Aqueduct of Segovia
The engineering genius of the Romans is without question the major draw for tourists visiting Segovia and it will be the first thing you see on your day trip.
The aqueduct was built towards the end of the 1st century AD and supplied water from the Rio Frio to the city of Segovia. It is the most important architectural landmark in Segovia. This structure is also one of the most preserved and elevated aqueducts remaining in the world today.
The Roman aqueduct channel begins in the nearby mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama and continues to the Alcázar in the north west of the city.
At first, water collects in a tank known as El Caserón (big house) near the top of Calle los Canuelos. The water flows down through the channel to Casa de Aguas (waterhouse). The water is naturally decanted at this point.
Next, the water begins its 725m journey across the bridge at a gradient of 1% for about half a mile. The water continues to a rocky outcropping where the the Segovia Alcázar was eventually built.
How Big is the Aqueduct?
The aqueduct you see in town has a total of 167 stone arches but it’s total length is around 16 km. There are 75 single arches and 44 double arches followed by another 4 single arches making up the UNESCO site.
It is built from approximately 20,000 granite blocks, with no mortar. That’s a pretty awesome job by the Romans!
Incredibly, for almost 2,000 years, it has defied the passing of time. In fact, the aqueduct was still in use as the city’s water source until the middle of the 19th century. It was only until the 1970’s and the 1990’s when several conservation projects began to preserve the aqueduct. WOW!
You will understand why so many visitors to Madrid simply cannot miss this day trip when you admire its amazing arches.
This was one of those times we said to each other “well, you don’t see that everyday.” The most memorable part of our trip was standing underneath the aqueduct and looking up!
The best part? The aqueduct is always open and free of charge.
The Alcázar of Segovia
Rumored to be among the esteemed list of European castles to inspire Walt Disney’s fairy tale Cinderella Castle, the Alcázar of Segovia is undoubtedly Spain’s most famous castle.
Interestingly, this is one of the few castles in Spain that has never been taken by enemy forces. So at this point in time, the alcázar is currently undefeated.
Most castles and fortresses are built upon ground that offers significant defensive advantages. The alcázar of Segovia is no exception; however, it does have an interesting design. This castle is even built on a rocky headland shaped like the bow of a boat. How cool right?!
If you make your way around to the north west of the castle, you can find Mirador de la Pradera de San Marcos. You will see the ship-like shape of the castle if you look hard enough.
What is an Alcázar?
An alcázar is a Moorish castle or fortress built in Spain or Portugal during Muslim rule.
The Alcázar of Segovia had its foundations originally built by the Romans. Afterwards, the Moors then built a wooden fortress in it’s place.
Ironically, Islamic architecture became fashionable soon after the fall of the Moors in Spain. As a result, some of the interior rooms of the alcázar were decorated by Mudejar artists.
During the Reconquista in 1085, Segovia was captured by the Spanish. Therefore, most of the remaining architecture is of Spanish origin.
Monarchs from the region of Castile in the Middle Ages favored the Alcázar of Segovia as a place of residence. Unfortunately, a fire caused most of the upper parts of the castle to burn down in 1862.
It was only upon rebuilding that the over exaggerated spiraling towers and elaborate turrets were added. During this time, other famous fantasy castles were being built around Europe as well.
The alcázar of today has two courtyards. There are also 12 rooms of Gothic, Moorish and Romanesque influence which are open to the public. Some of these rooms include hall of the Kings (pictured above), hall of the Old Palace, the Throne Room, the Royal Chamber and several others.
One of the must-do-things on your day trip is to climb the 156 stairs of the Tower of Juan II, the top opens out onto an 80m high terrace overlooking the Segovia countryside. You will also be able to see the city and most impressively the cathedral.
If you are interested in reading more about the history of the alcázar, you can click here.
Apr 01 – Oct 31 : 10.00am – 8.00pm Every Day
Nov 01 – Mar 31 : 10.00am – 6.00pm Every Day
General €5.50, Reduced €3.50. Juan II Tower €2.50. Audio guides available (€3.00).
Segovia cathedral was the last Gothic cathedral to be built in Spain. Construction began in 1525 and finished in 1577 with the exception of the current stone spire crowning the tower. This spire was added in 1614 after a major fire. The Cathedral features a Gothic style with three naves and three doorways.
The vaults are 33m high, by 50m wide and 105m long. The bell tower is almost 90m high! The interior of the cathedral has a beautiful vaulted ceiling with stunning stained glass as far as the eye can see. Additionally, there are more than 20 chapels to explore.
General: Apr 01 – Oct 31 = 9.00am – 9.30pm Every Day / Nov 01 – Mar 31 = 9.30am – 6.30pm Every Day
Bell tower: 10.30am, 12.30pm and 4.00pm
General €3, Group €2.5, Children free. Bell tower €5
The cathedral is located in the Plaza Mayor. This plaza is a lovely open square with an abundance of cafes and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to bask in the sun, eat great Spanish food and enjoy the view over the cathedral.
Wander the Old Town
Segovia’s old town is a UNESCO world heritage site thanks to its architectural developments and urban layout. It displays the coexistence of the Moors, Christians and Jews, showcasing the social hierarchy that came with belonging to each culture.
The old town is the area in between the Alcázar and aqueduct. The picture above shows the boundaries of the UNESCO heritage area. One of the best things about Segovia is that everything you need to see is so compact. It’s such an easy place to explore!
When you walk the charming narrow cobbled lanes of the old town, you will find loads of places have photogenic views of the aqueduct, cathedral or alcazar. This was one of our favorite things about Segovia.
Additionally, there are other important churches to visit such as San Millan, San Martin and Vera Cruz that are scattered throughout the old town. Another landmark is the Synagoga Mayor in the Jewish area of Plaza del Corpus Cristi.
Admire the City Walls
The ancient city walls surrounding the alcázar are nice and peaceful. The walls are a relaxing walk if you have the time. These walls can really transport you through time as you imagine what the city used to look like.
Traditional eating here can only mean one thing – suckling pig. Segovia has quite a reputation for it’s famous dish “cochinillo.”
There are certainly no shortage of places to try it. Our top three recommendations for trying cochinillo are:
Jose Maria Restaurant, Calle Cronista Lecea 11
Year after year, this restaurant is consistently voted as one of the best places for suckling pig in Spain. This place will not be your cheapest option. However, your pig will be cut by a plate and the quality will be top notch. Jose Maria is located near the cathedral.
Meson de Candido, Plaza del Azoguejo, 5
Here, tasty suckling pig meets the best views over the aqueduct and together this equals a very tourist friendly place to eat lunch. This restaurant is located right next to the aqueduct.
Meson don Jimeno, Calle Daoiz, 15
Head off the beaten path between the alcázar and plaza mayor for the best value to quality ratio in town. The suckling pig is delicious, the bean stew is tasty and homemade desserts are always available daily.
We ate here and it was excellent. Unfortunately, we were so our food we forgot to take a picture!
Another recommendation we have is to grab a Spanish omelet in the Plaza Mayor. For the best experience, enjoy your snack while overlooking the cathedral.
Segovia Day Trip Interactive Map
Note: If you are reading on a phone and you can’t access the interactive map, just click on the blue ‘Terms’ word at the bottom of the map. You should then be able to move and zoom freely!
If you’re planning a Spain itinerary for an upcoming trip, be sure to check out some other articles from our Spanish adventure!
Day Trip to Toledo – A beautiful UNESCO city, picture perfect and an easy to reach day trip from Madrid.
An Ultimate Guide to a Weekend in Barcelona – The beautiful capital of Catalonia with stunning architecture and medieval quarters.
Alluring Ronda: An Andalusian Gem – Spain’s unique city where a famous bridge connects an old Moorish town (La Ciudad) with a newer modernized town (EL Mercadillo).
Cordoba, Spain: One Action Packed Day – An awesome Andalusian city, similar in many ways to Granada. Don’t miss the Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral!
Hiking Los Cahorros in Sierra Nevada Spain – One of our favorite hikes in Andalusia!
Quiz Question: In what year was Segovia declared a UNESCO site?
Both the old city of Segovia and the aqueduct were declared World Heritage by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
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