Visiting the Outskirts of Madrid

When traveling, most people tend to stay around in the center of the city or town they visit, as by the rule the most important landmarks are usually located nearby. This is also the case when visiting Madrid, the capital city of Spain. Additionally, if you happen to find an apartment in the center of Madrid, the chances are you will probably spend your trip circulating around central area and visiting nearby landmarks, such as the Plaza Mayor, the Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace, the Retiro Park, etc.

However, the outskirts of Madrid are just as interesting and worth visiting, which is why we would like to suggest some of the best locations which are good enough reason for you to think about visiting the outskirts of Madrid.

Alcalá de Henares

Alcalá de Henares is a small city 35 km east of Madrid, especially known by its historical center which is one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The city has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, being a home to many different cultures, that affected the region and played an important part in developing the scenery we know today. The city now has population of around 200,000 people and many historical sites that attract the tourists who want to explore the outskirts of Madrid.

One of the major landmarks in the city is certainly the university. The Universidad Complutense, which is known to be one of the oldest universities in the world, is actually founded in Alcalá de Henares in 1293. The university largely became popular during the Renaissance, but it was moved to Madrid in the 19th century. A new university, Universidad de Alcalá, was founded in 1977, occupying some of the old university buildings, as well as some newly built modern buildings.

Apart from the campus and wonderful old buildings that were built for the original university, Alcalá de Henares Cathedral is another architectural masterpiece you should visit in the city. The original chapel was built in the 5th century, but it was destroyed in the 11th, only to be rebuilt at the same place in the 11th century. Additional reconstructions and the process of adding a tower followed in the subsequent centuries, until finally the cathedral was declared a national monument in 1904. The Cathedral of Alcalá is notable as one of only two churches in the world to be granted the special title “Magistral”. Belgian St. Peter’s Church is the only other church in the world granted with this title.

The most important person to be born in Alcalá de Henares is Miguel de Cervantes, and the city hosts a ceremony the Cervantes Prize, on the 23rd of April, the anniversary of Cervantes’ death and the World’s Book Day.

Segovia

Segovia is the capital of Segovia Province, located around 80 km away from Madrid city center. The old city of Segovia was declared as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1985, due to a number of historic buildings, as well as a lot of sites of Jewish origin.

Aqueduct of Segovia is perhaps the most famous site in Segovia dating back to Roman period. This Roman aqueduct is considered to be the best oldest preserved monument on the Iberian Peninsula, dating from the period between 1st and 2nd century.

Alcazar of Segovia is the royal palace, which is also worth visiting while you are in this area. The Alcazar was the favorite residence of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Castile, which is why it is also known as Fortress of the Kings of Castile. The historic data show that the palace dates back from the 12th century, but it may be even older as there is no information to confirm that the building existed prior to this period. Around the building there are two courtyards and two towers. You can visit the palace from 10 am in the morning during the entire year, but you should have in mind that there is an entrance fee for visiting the palace and the towers.

 Alcazar of Segovia

The view of the Alcazar from the heights of “El Parral” or “La Fuencisla”
Image source: http://www.alcazardesegovia.com/en/#section-multimedia

Segovia Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the mains square of Segovia, the Plaza Mayor. Besides its historic and religious importance, the church is considered to be an architectural master piece, showcasing the best of Spanish architecture.

Segovia also has many beautiful gardens and parks, several museums, including the Gastronomic Museum of Segovia and the Museum of Witch Craft, and you can attend local festivals, most of which are held between June and September, including the biggest festival of all, Virgin of the Fuencisla, Patroness of Segovia, taking place on the 25th of September.

Toledo

Located 70 km south of Madrid, Toledo is another one of the World Heritage Sites in the outskirts of Madrid. The town has been declared a cultural and monumental heritage in 1986 by UNESCO, as one of the best places to illustrate the merge of Christian, Muslim and Jewish culture. This is one of the reasons why the town is also known as “the city of three cultures”, where people and their different cultures co-existed over the centuries in the past.

Toledo is located on a mountaintop and surrounded by Tagus River on three sides. The Alcázar of Toledo is a fortress located in the highest part of Toledo, and perhaps the most important landmark you can visit in this town. It was used as a palace by the Romans back in the 3rd century, proving the long history and importance it had for Toledo and its inhabitants throughout the history. The Alcázar of Toledo is opened for visitors every day between 11 am and 5 pm, except on Wednesdays, when it is closed for visitors.

 Alcazar of Toledo

The Alcázar of Toledo located in the highest part of the city
Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alc%C3%A1zar_atardeciente.jpg

Toledo Cathedral, fully named the Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo, is another landmark in the town of Toledo you should visit while you are exploring the outskirts of Madrid. It dates back to 13th century and it is built in Gothic style. Its richly designed interior and exterior is breathtaking and it represents a true masterpiece of the style and craftsmanship of the architects who set up the grounds, as well as those who participated in subsequent renovations and preservations of the church.

Toledo has been home to El Greco, a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance, during his later years, so today the town of Toledo even has El Greco Museum, a house-museum designed as a recreation of the artist’s home, where several of his paintings are kept.

Toledo is also famous gastronomy center, with many different gastronomy tours organized in the town. The local cuisine is heavily influenced by the routed traditions of the three cultures that co-existed in this location, making it diverse and unique in many aspects. The most famous food productions in Toledo are Manchego cheese and marzipan.

Aranjuez

Aranjuez is another town you should consider when you are visiting the outskirts of Madrid. It is located around 40 km south of Madrid. It has been one of the Royal Estates of the Crown of Spain since 16th century. Along with others, this town has also been enlisted as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1983.

One of the most notable landmarks in the town is certainly the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, the residence of the King of Spain. The palace is open for visitors as one of the Spanish royal sites. Besides the impressive building and intricate details on the façade of the palace, the huge gardens are also part of this amazing site, which has been worthy of being a residence of generations of Spanish royals. The Royal Palace of Aranjuez even features an art collection, which includes the Museo de la Vida en Palacio, displaying the daily lives of Spanish monarchs.

 The Royal Palace of Aranjuez

The view of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez
Image source: http://www.traveltosun.com/2011/06/16/the-royal-palace-of-aranjuez/

When it comes to festivals and local events, there are many events you could visit, and the most remarkable one is certainly the Mutiny of Aranjuez, organized during the first week of September. The events organized during this festival include funfair, sports events, food and drink stalls, a concert at the Royal Palace, dramatic streets re-enactment, fireworks, etc. This celebration is very important for the locals, it gathers a lot of visitors and it has been declared a cultural event of National Tourist interest.

El Escorial

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as El Escorial, is an hour drive away from Madrid and it represents a great place if you want to spend a day far from the city noise. El Escorial is a complex of buildings, representation of the Spanish Renaissance, as most of the complex was built during the second half of the 16th century. Due to the fact that it is located near Madrid, and yet holds such an immense value in terms of historical and cultural heritage, El Escorial is one of the most visited landmarks in the outskirts of Madrid.

This location was chosen by King Philip II of Spain for the place to construct a royal palace so this location represents an important site in the lives of the Spanish royals. The interior of the Escorial was decorated by many notable Spanish and Italian artists of the 16th and 17th century.

The complex consists of a royal palace, a monastery, a college, a church and a library. There are also towers in the corner of the complex. The basilica of San Lorenzo el Real, a Gothic cathedral, is located in the center of the building complex. The exterior is also beautifully decorated with gardens and fountains. While you walk around and explore, you will feel like you are able to vividly depict the life centuries back, where the complex and its beauty was just as impressive as nowadays, for tourists visiting the town.

El Escorial is open for visitors every day between 10 am and 8 pm between April and September, while the complex is closed at 6 pm during the period between October and March. The complex is closed on Mondays. Besides a tour of the actual complex, San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a small town perfect for walking around and enjoying the view of the mountains.

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The view of the El Escorial’ façade and tower
Image source: https://pixabay.com/

Valley of the Fallen, in Spanish Valle de los Caídos, is a Catholic basilica in San Lorenzo de El Escorial which you can visit after El Escorial. It represents a historic monument for all the victims of the Spanish Civil War. The basilica is a product of the 20th century architecture, constructed under the influence of Spanish Neo-Herrerian style. You can visit this landmark any day of the week between 10 am and 7 pm, except on Mondays, when the site is closed for visitors.

As you can see, the outskirt of Madrid is just as impressive and worth visiting for all travelers who come to Madrid. If you choose one of the apartments in the center of Madrid, you can easily reach any of these places using a car, or going by bus or train. In case you are staying in Madrid for a couple of days, make sure you pick at least one of these places to visit on a day trip away from Madrid city center.

Why You Should Rent an Apartment in Madrid?

When you come to stay in a city of Madrid, you get a lot of opportunities to find accommodation. A city so big and diverse offers so many different places to live in, regardless if we talk about the size of the apartment, location, etc.

Needless to say, when you want to look for an apartment, you will have a lot of online resources and booking websites that will help you with both finding and booking the apartment you would like to stay in while you are in Madrid.

Being a part of this industry and working with travelers from all over the world, our team at Apartamentos Madrid knows how renting an apartment is always a great option of travelers. This is why we want to focus on explaining some of the main benefits and reasons why you should rent an apartment in Madrid.

 

Long-term or short-term apartments in Madrid

The first thing to think about when renting an apartment in Madrid is the length of your stay. This is a very important aspect of your travel, as it significantly affects the type of accommodation you will need during your stay.

For short-term stay you will feel more flexible and it will be easier to find a type of accommodation you want. You will be less picky, as you know that you will be in the city for only a couple of days, which means that there is no need to invest too much time into finding an apartment to rent in Madrid. In general, when it comes to short stay, travelers are most likely to spend a lot of time sightseeing and exploring the city, so they do not actually spend much time in the apartment, except to go have some rest and sleep.

Still, having your own apartment even when you are supposed to stay in the city for a couple of days only, is no reason to give up on your daily routine, diet, etc. Living in a serviced apartment will make this all easier to you.

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When it comes to long-term apartments, things are different here. Besides travelers, there are a lot of people who relocate due to a business opportunity, continuing education, attending seminars, etc. All of those who plan to stay in the city for a longer period of time must think about apartments as a perfect way to feel comfortable, even though they might miss home and are having difficulties adjusting to a life in a new city.

Staying in an apartment for a longer period you also get to sort of settle down, despite the fact that you are a newcomer, and you might still know only a few people in the city. And this feeling of settling down, feeling of belonging, is important for people who move home, regardless if the period we talk about is two months or two years. Either way, people have the need to feel like they belong somewhere, as this helps them feel good about themselves, to be happy and fulfilled. In the end, it also helps with overcoming that nostalgic feeling most people have when they leave behind a place where they grew up or people they care about so deeply.

 

Renting an apartment vs. staying in hotel

As a traveler, you must have been in a situation where you would consider between renting an apartment and staying in a hotel. These are both types of accommodation commonly available to travelers, but there are a lot of differences between staying in an apartment and staying in a hotel.

One of the major benefits of renting an apartment, as opposed to staying in a hotel, is comfort. Hotel rooms are usually small and you are confined to a tiny area, where you barely have enough space to place your suitcases, especially if you are not traveling lightly. On the other hand, apartments are available in various different sizes, so you can choose exactly the size of the apartment you would find comfortable. There is no need to be confined to a small space, just because you are traveling. Sacrificing comfort when on vacation is not always the answer, especially if you plan on staying in the city for a week or more.

In a situation like this, it seems pointless to choose smaller space, and limit your comfort, as you know you will need to be able to relax. Holidays are all about having fun and enjoying time you get to spend away from home and away from work, so make sure you feel comfortable when staying in apartment.

Another major difference between these two types of accommodations is particularly related to travelers who plan on staying in the city for a longer period of time. Long-term apartments in Madrid are much more suitable option for finding accommodation than staying in a hotel as the cost of accommodation is significantly lower. Apart from comfort, which we have already mentioned as a great benefit of choosing apartment rentals instead of any other type of accommodation, the cost of an apartment is usually much cheaper when you rent for an extended period of time.

Unlike hotels, where the main characteristic when it comes to payment is paying per night of your stay, apartment owners and agencies usually have different payment options. Those options most commonly depend on the length of the stay.

For example, if you need to stay in an apartment in Madrid for two or three days you will pay per day. In this case, the price of your accommodation can be similar to the one you would pay in a hotel, as you get to pay per night. On the other hand, you might need to stay in the apartment for a month, in which case you would ask for the price of renting that apartment for a month. In this situation, you end up paying much less when you pay for the entire month, than in cases where you would have to pay for thirty separate nights, because a monthly rental is not an option.

The same goes for different periods of time, such as a couple of months or even a year. Paying a monthly rental is much more affordable solution in this case, and it is a solution we recommend to most travelers who are supposed to stay in Madrid for a longer period of time.

 

Traveling with family or friends

Now we come to another situation where you should rent an apartment in Madrid, instead of selecting any other type of accommodation and here is why. Traveling with family and friends is a period where you travel with a group of people, regardless if that is a group of two, three, four, etc.

There are two main reasons why people travel with family (sometimes two families can travel together) and friends. First we have a pleasure of sharing a travel adventure with people you love spending time with. Obviously, in this case, spending a lot of time together, bonding and having fun together is the goal of your travel. The second reason is the fact that people traveling together want to share the travel costs. Travel costs most commonly include cost of accommodation, but they also include a situation where friends could share money for fuel by traveling in one car, instead of all of them buying tickets and traveling separately.

When it comes to accommodation costs, staying in an apartment is a much better solution for people who are traveling together. Instead of renting two or three separate bedrooms, family and friends can all stay in one apartment. Obviously, you will need a two-bedroom or even three-bedroom apartment, so that everyone feels comfortable, but even so, this alternative will turn out to be much cheaper solution that staying in a hotel. Apart from sharing the price of the actual apartment rental, you also get to share food expenses, especially if you choose to cook in the apartment. Staying in and eating at home is usually much affordable than ordering food or eating out.

Additionally, while you stay in an apartment, you will have much more time to spend together, as you can spend a lot of time in the living room, watching TV, playing games, chatting, etc. You could also cook and eat meals together. All of these activities are more difficult to organize in a hotel, especially if you end up being located on different floors.

This aspect of bonding and spending time together is very important when we talk about a family traveling together, especially in cases you are traveling with kids. It might be stressful to travel on its own for some people, but traveling with kids is even greater endeavor. Kids easily get bored, they might hungry, tired, etc. Regardless the reason they can cause you problems when you need to focus on preparing all the documents, carrying your luggage and paying attention to your kids at the same time. In some cases, one room in a hotel might not be enough, so you should always consider renting an apartment in these situations, as you will end up spending much more time together as a family. And when it comes to eating habits of your kids, you are the one who knows them best. As some kids might be fussy eaters, preparing food on your own, in the kitchen of the apartment you rent, might be much more suitable for you when traveling, instead depending on different options such as eating out or eating in a hotel’s kitchen.

In the end, all that matters is that you are having fun during your travel to Madrid, regardless the amount of time you are going to spend in the city, and regardless if you are in the city to work, study or explore its culture. What you need to have in mind is that travel or relocation is a great opportunity to experience something new, to enjoy trying out new things, visiting new places and meeting new people. This is all part of your life, part of your experience which makes you who you are.

Having all of this in mind, we can safely conclude that staying in an apartment has much more benefits, which is why you should rent an apartment in Madrid. Although comfort is the number one benefit, and it is commonly the main reason why travelers choose this type of accommodation, we cannot neglect other benefits such as costs and possibility to stay with family and friends.

Each travel is different and unique in its way, but what all travelers have in common is that they want to find accommodation easily. They also want it to be comfortable and affordable, which all together lead us to believe that apartments are exactly what most travelers are looking for, as only apartment rentals fulfill all of these conditions, thus enabling travelers to enjoy and take the most out of their travel while in the Spanish capital.