Easily accessible by high-speed train, Segovia is one of the best day trips from Madrid, and really easy to do yourself.
With one of the finest Roman aqueducts in Spain, imposing Cathedral, impenetrable castle and wonderful food and drink culture, there are so many things to do in Segovia, it never disappoints.
So with that said, here are my memories of a day in Segovia with some friends who were visiting Madrid from the UK with all the help and and information you need to plan your own day trip to Segovia.
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How to get to Segovia from Madrid
Drive to Segovia
One option would be to hire a car and drive yourself. While this would be a little more expensive than most, it does give you the freedom to not be restricted by bus or train timetables. Based on the below, I would recommend option two. Although 20 minutes longer, once you leave the motorway the trip is a beautiful drive through the Segovia Mountains.
Take an organised day trip to Segovia
Segovia is a little under 100 kilometres from Madrid, so easily reachable in a day trip. There are a few options for getting there, the easiest of which is taking an organised tour. There are many options to choose from, some of which also include other cities, but I’d recommend spending a whole day in the city.
Madrid Segovia bus
Another option is the bus. It is certainly a little cheaper, so great if you’re on a budget. If you are interested in checking the bus times and costs, this is a great resource – Check My Bus.
But to be honest, it takes a lot longer and isn’t all that much cheaper than the train, which is why I would highly recommend . . .
The Madrid to Segovia train
Tickets on the RENFE high-speed train, which takes 28 minutes to Segovia from Madrid, cost a little over €20 for a day return. This makes it great value and by far the quickest way to get to Segovia.
The train to Segovia leaves regularly from Madrid Chamartín Station, which can be easily accessed from most of Madrid via the Metro Line 1. Tickets can be bought either in advance online (available a maximum of two months before departure) or at the ticket office in Chamartín Station.
It’s pretty easy to buy a ticket on the day of travel. Find the ticket office which is well signposted and in the middle of the station, grab a number from the machine and wait to be called to purchase your ticket. The vendors will speak enough English to know what you need, but you should try ordering in Spanish first, out of politeness.
Tip – Although Madrid’s Metro is simple to understand, some of the stations appear twice. If you look at the map, you’ll notice that there is Chamartín and Pinar de Chamartín, the train station is the first one. If you have people visiting and send them to the wrong one, well, that would just cause chaos, not that I would ever have done that (sorry Mum and Dad).
Another Tip – The Spanish rail system is very efficient, I’d recommend buying your tickets a minimum of 15 minutes before travel as you’ll need to get to the platform and go through security checks. Also, try to get to Chamartín early, as there are often queues at the ticket desk.
Segovia train station to the city centre
The high-speed train stops at the Segovia-Guiomar station which, rather inconveniently, is located about 8 kms away from the city centre. However, it’s super easy to get to the city, so have no fear.
There are two buses that will be waiting, numbers 11 and 12, which both cost €2 per person. Both will take you to the city centre, the only difference is that the 11 drops you right at the Segovia Aqueduct (but takes longer) whereas the 12 drops you about 5 minutes walk away.
Don’t worry about where you should get off either, just follow the herd. If you want to see the bus timetables click here, select line 11 or 12 and click on Horarios en PDF.
Or relax and get a taxi
If you don’t fancy a bus ride, there is also the option of getting a cab. There are normally plenty lined up, waiting for the train drop-offs and expect to pay in the region of €7 to get to the centre. If there are 4 of you, or you find some people to share with, not only is this option cheaper, it is also a lot more comfortable and quicker.
Now I’m never one for encouraging fast disembarkment. I hate it when an aeroplane lands and so many people do weird yoga-style contortions to grab their luggage and then hang around crushed in the aisle while the crew fiddle with the door.
I really don’t understand it. Just sit and relax for a few more minutes in comfort – you won’t be trapped in your seat forever to be left to die and no-one is going to steal your luggage . . . Sorry, I got distracted.
So, I’m not a fan of rushing to get off a train, but here I’d recommend putting an extra bit of juice into your steps. The bus fills up quickly and there only a limited number of taxis that will be ready and waiting, so to make sure you can get on (and hopefully not have your nose in someone’s sweaty armpit) try to get out of the station quickly.
We didn’t exactly drag our heels and only just made it onto the bus, it was a squeeze. I can only assume they don’t have such a thing as maximum capacity for safety limits.
Even with everyone packed in like a tin of Malagan sardines, there were about 40 people left behind to wait for the next bus with no more taxis available.
What to do in Segovia?
OK, so now you are here, it’s time to work out why and what to do. Well luckily there is a lot, below are some of the highlights from my most recent visit.
The Aqueduct of Segovia
The aqueduct is one of Segovia’s main attractions, what first put the city on my radar and unmissable. It is why I love the city and what gives it that little extra to make it stand out among many other options for day trips out of Madrid.
We could just about see the arches of the aqueduct, teasing us as they rose above the local houses and businesses as we walked up the helpfully named Avenue Aqueducto, leaving the sweaty armpit fest of the bus behind. The avenue led us directly to the Plaza Azoguejo, a large open space at the base of the aqueducts highest point in the city and also home to the local Tourist Information and numerous bars and restaurants.
The bit you see is just a small part of a stunning construction built by the Romans around the 100AD mark. The original construction was some 17 km long dropping at a consistent 1-degree decline to bring water to the city from the Rio Frio. At its tallest, it is nearly 30 meters high and consists of 167 arches. Seriously, how did they do it so perfectly?
There is a great page about the legend of the Aqueduct of Segovia, how it was (possibly) built by Lucifer himself and many other great little factoids over on the Info Spain page.
On the far side of the arches, we found the little statue of the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome, that you see on many of the postcards while you wander the city.
It was placed here in 1974 and the inscription reads “Roma a Segovia en el bimilenario de su acueducto MCMLXXIV”. Or in English – “Rome to Segovia in the bimillenary of its aqueduct 1974”.
Being awe-inspired is hungry work, so was time to get some lunch.
Segovians are rather proud of their food and drink heritage (as are most places in Spain). They have a great little craft brewing scene, with many of the bars selling local beer and you can also find local wine usually from the Tempranillo grape.
But, the food Segovians are most proud of is their famous dish, roast suckling pig, known locally as conchinillo asado, and it should certainally be one of the food you try on a visit to Spain.
To officially be considered conchinillo there are very specific guidelines set out which include what it can be cooked in and even go as far to specify what the mother of the suckling pig may be fed.
Many restaurants throughout Segovia offer this dish, one of the oldest and most famous is Mesón De Cándido, found in Plaza Azoguejo, at the base of the Aqueduct. I have been told it has fantastic cochinillo, and I’m sure it’s delicious . . . but for us it was too expensive so we explored further.
We wandered up the street to the side of the famous restaurant, Calle de San Francisco, for about 400 metres where we found a place called Alma Nostra. I’ll often head away from the main area to find restaurants, generally, they will be cheaper and often nicer as they rely on quality rather than location to get customers. We ordered 2 beers, a coffee, three pieces of tortilla and a ración (larger than a single tapas portion) of croquettes to share. All lovely and total bill was just €13. If you’re not sold on the conchinillo and wanted something different, I’d recommend this place in a heartbeat – we even had very friendly service.
Walking to Segovia castle
After feeding we walked to the opposite side of Segovia’s historical centre heading towards Segovia Castle, or Alcázar of Segovia, to give it its proper name. The route takes you up the steps behind the Tourist Office to the top of the aqueduct with some stunning views along the way.
As we walked through the backstreets, gaps in the tall, sand coloured buildings either side of us hinted glimpses of what was to come. Before long, narrow streets gave way to the wide open Plaza Mayor, home to lots more restaurants serving cochinillo and Segovia’s impressive 14th-century cathedral.
Entrance to the Catedral de Segovia costs €2.50. Sadly we didn’t have time to go in during this visit, but I have heard good things about it.
From here it was about an 8-10 minute downhill stroll to Segovia’s castle along Calle Marqués del Arco which became Calle Daioz as we reached the end. On the way, we stopped for a minute or two in Plaza La Merced, a small park which offers nice views looking back to the Cathedral.
The Segovia Alcázar tour
From whichever way you look at it, Segovia Alcázar is a pretty impressive site. It’s one of the few castles in Spain that currently remain undefeated and has never been taken by enemy forces.
Looking at the city walls that need to be conquered before even reaching the moat, I’m not really surprised. It also has quite a fairytale look to it and claims to be one of the main inspirations for the Disney castle.
The Alcázar tour is definitely worth doing. Entry to the castle is €5.50 and an extra €3 for the audio guide which I’d recommend getting as there isn’t too much in the way of explanations or descriptions to read. The guide is full of interesting stories about the history of the castle as well as the local area while still being short enough to hold your attention.
For an additional €2.50, you can buy a ticket to climb the 153 tower steps for spectacular views – the cathedral towering over the city with the snow-capped mountains on the horizon is well worth the fee alone.
As I have done the whole tour twice before, I sent my friends into the castle, while I mooched around outside, before joining them to go up the tower. If you’d like more information about the Alcázar, check out their website: http://www.alcazardesegovia.com
While mooching, I found a small path that led me down below and around the outside of the walls. I walked for a while and was rewarded with some lovely views looking back to the castle. The path continued down to the river below in a circular walk but, conscious of time and growing a thirst, I headed back to the castle café to enjoy a beer while I waited. The views from the café garden are pretty impressive too.
Wandering the back streets of Segovia
Once we were finished at the Alcázar, we headed back to the main plaza by walking around the walls and stopping off for various refreshment breaks. With so many bars and tapas places trying to tempt us in, it would have been rude not to. I also noticed many boutique food shops selling fantastic locally produced food, including hams and cheeses, as well as wine and beer.
Our final stop of the day was back at the aqueduct, this time we did use one of the plaza cafés. Sitting down, admiring the ancient feat of engineering while sharing a large jug of sangría was a fitting end to a busy, but enjoyable day.
Getting back to Madrid
Of course, as much as I’d have loved to have sat there all night enjoying sangría while watching the ever-evolving hues of the stone aqueduct change as the sun set, we had a train to catch.
Whether driven by laziness or not wanting my nose pushed in more sweaty armpits (even sweatier at the end of the day) we opted for a taxi back to Segovia-Guiomar train station. They can be found easily with the taxi rank being right next to the aqueduct, opposite the suckling wolf statue.
The taxi cost just €6.80 between us, so only 80 cents more than a bus would have been.
Our train departed at 6:22pm to get us back in Madrid before 7pm. We arrived a little early to the Segovia train station in the middle of nowhere, but just meant we had time to enjoy one last beer in the station bar.
Segovia is a wonderful town and I think you’ll be able to see enough of it to be satisfied in a day trip. If visiting for longer (and the place is worth it) there are plenty of cheap, or swanky, hotels in Segovia, whatever suits your budget. There are loads more churches to see, a couple of museums, easily enough to keep you occupied for a few days.
I’ve visited three times now and whenever I have people visit me in Madrid, I will always recommend it to them just as I am recommending to you now.
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