Accessible by high-speed train, Segovia is a perfect destination for a day trip from Madrid. I recently visited for a third time with a couple of UK friends. With its stunning Roman aqueduct, imposing Cathedral and impenetrable castle, it never disappoints. So with that said, here are my memories of the day with some tips and information to help you plan your visit.
Getting the train to Segovia from Chamartín Station
The train to Segovia leaves from Madrid’s Chamartín Station which is easily reachable on the Metro Line 1, click here for the Metro Map.
Just remember, although the Metro is simple to understand, some of the stations appear twice. If you look at the Metro, 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 have ever done that (sorry Mum and Dad) ?.
Tickets for the train can be bought either online to be printed at home (tickets will be available a maximum of two months before departure) or at the ticket office in Chamartín Station, located in the middle of the building. Usually you have to grab a number from the machine and wait to be called to purchase your ticket, however, the magic number dispensing machine wasn’t working for us on this visit, so we just joined the queue and hoped for the best.
There are two sales sections in the ticket office, one for tickets for travel on the day and another for future travel. Be sure to queue at the right one (Spanish for ‘today’ is ‘Hoy’ – look for that). The tickets cost just over €20 for a day return on the high-speed train which takes 28 minutes to reach Segovia.
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. If you end up with spare time, there are a few little cafes in the station where you can grab a coffee and relax, or go for a wander outside where you can get some great views of the four skyscrapers, iconic of Madrid’s financial district.
Getting to Segovia from the train station
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 aqueduct (but takes longer) whereas the 12 drops you about a 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.
Another option would be a taxi. 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.
Tip 2 (go me!) – 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 relax a few more minutes in comfort – you won’t be trapped in your seat forever to be left to die. Sorry, I got distracted. So, I’m not a fan of rushing to get off, but here I’d recommend it. The bus fills up quickly so to make sure you can get on (and hopefully not have your nose in someone’s sweaty armpit) try to get to it quickly.
We only just made it onto the bus and it was a squeeze, I don’t think they have upper safety limits. Even with everyone packed in like a tin of Malagan sardines, there were probably about 40 people left behind to wait, and by the time the bus left, there were no more taxis.
As we left the sweaty armpit fest of the bus we walked up the helpfully named Avenue Aqueducto to the Plaza Azoguejo, where you find the iconic Aqueduct de Segovia as well as Tourist Information and numerous bars and restaurants.
The aqueduct is one of Segovia’s main attractions and unmissable. It is why I love the city and what gives it that little extra to make it stand out among many other Madrid day trip options.
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 17 kms 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. How did they do that? I’m always amazed that with such primitive technology and over rough terrain the Romans delivered 17 kms of water trickling at exactly the right rate to deliver it to a thirsty population – and a fair chunk of their work is still standing. How much do you reckon of what we’re building today will still be around in a couple of millenniums?
If you would like to know more about the Aqueduct of Segovia and the legend of how it was built by Lucifer himself, check out the Info Spain page.
On the far side of the arches you can find 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 bimilenary of its aqueduct 1974”. Kind of tells you all you need to know about it.
Being awe-inspired is fine but it was time to get some lunch. One of the oldest and most famous eateries in Segovia is at the base of the Aqueduct called Mesón De Cándido. I have been told it has fantastic cochinillo, the traditional Segovian dish of whole roasted pig. I’m sure it’s delicious . . . but for us it was too expensive so we explored further.
We wandered up the street next to it named Calle de San Francisco for about 400 metres where we found a restaurant 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. I’d recommend this place in a heartbeat – we even had very friendly service.
Walking to the castle
After feeding we walked to the opposite side of the historical city core ( a few minutes’ walk), heading towards the 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 teased with 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 (no 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.
The castle 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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