Lying 90km north-west of Madrid, Segovia is the epitome of Old Castile. It is easily accessible from the capital and is one of the most popular day excursions. Although only a small town it has a remarkable number of outstanding architectural monuments most notable its 800m long Roman aqueduct which has stood here for around 2000 years without any mortar to support it. The other main attractions are the 16th century Gothic cathedral and the beautiful 14th century Alcazar (fortress) which served as the fortified palace of the kings of Castile. It is widely believed that Walt Disney based the design of his fairy-tale castle on Segovia’s Alcazar.
Aside from seeing these magnificent monuments the other big attraction of Segovia is its restaurants which are famous for their roast meats. At weekends the town is packed with Madrileños seeking the traditional Castilian culinary specialities of conchinillo asado (roast suckling pig) and cordero asado (roast lamb).
Nearby attractions of note are the 13th century church of Vera Cruz which lies below the main city and the Bourbon summer palace of La Granja which is just 12km south-east. This was built in the early 18th century by Philip V, Spain’s first Bourbon king. It’s well worth taking a stroll through the beautiful gardens with their spectacular fountains, surrounded by the mountains of the Sierra De Guadarrama.
Getting to Segovia from Madrid
Driving – As a rule it’s not particularly recommended to hire a car if you’re just taking a short break to Madrid, however, if you do have a car available then Segovia is easy enough to get to. Just take the A-6 northwest out of the city which becomes the AP-6 toll road just beyond Collado Villalba. Continue along this road until you see signs for Segovia on the AP-61 shortly after San Rafael which is another toll road which goes directly into the city. This route is around 90km and will take you around 1¼ hours. If time isn’t an issue there are more scenic routes going right through the Sierra de Guararrama mountains.
By Train – There are several trains per day from Madrid’s Atocha station in the south of the city which arrive in the main train station at Calle Obispo Quesada. Please note that these are regional services travelling on the ‘Cercanias’ network with a journey time of around two hours each which isn’t particularly convenient for day trippers. A far better option is the high-speed AVE service which only takes 25 minutes from Madrid’s Chamartin station arriving in the Segovia-Guiomar station which is about 5km from the tourist centre. Frequent buses and taxis are available to take you into town.
By Public Bus – You can get public bus services to Segovia with La Sepulvedana from the Principe Pio bus station in Madrid (accessible by Metro on lines 6 and 10). This is a most comfortable service with departures every 30 minutes which take about 1¼ hours to get there. The bus arrival point in Segovia is on Paseo de Ezequiel Gonzalez which is a very short walk to the Roman aqueduct and the city’s other main tourist attractions.
By Tour Bus – Along with Toledo and El Escorial, a day trip to Segovia is one the most popular excursions from Madrid. You’ll find a number of operators offering coach trips there often with a detour via Avila. Below you’ll find a few options to either travel on a group tour which is the most economical option or else you could book a private excursion which includes an English speaking driver and official tour guide exclusively for your party.
Escorted Tours to Avila and Segovia
Coach Excursions: This excursion first visits the walled, pilgrimage city of Avila which was the birthplace of Saint Teresa. It then proceeds on to Segovia which is home to a 2000 year old Roman aqueduct and the fairy tale Alcázar which was reputedly the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle. A typical Segovian lunch of roast pork is optional on this tour.
Private Excursions: You will leave your hotel in Madrid with your driver and guide and head for Avila. This is a fabulous walled city which was the birthplace of Saint Teresa. After visiting the city’s main sights you will continue on to Segovia for a typical Segovian roast meat lunch at one of the city’s traditional restaurants. After lunch your guide will show you around the main attractions including the stunning Roman acqueduct and the fairy tale Alcazar which reputedly inspired Walt Disney in his creation of Cinderella’s castle.