So you’re planning a trip to Madrid! That’s wonderful news, because Madrid is a beautiful European capital full of history, culture, art, and — most importantly — delicious food and cheap drinks.
However, as alluring as Madrid may be, I highly recommend taking a day off to visit one of the nearby towns. My absolute favorite is Segovia. If you’ve heard anything about this place, you may already know that it’s home to a stunning 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct, built entirely without mortar (but with the Devil’s help, if local legends are to be believed). You may also know of Segovia’s Alcázar, a fairy tale castle so picture-perfect it was supposedly Walt Disney’s inspiration for Cinderella’s palace in Magic Kingdom. You might even know of the city’s Moorish influences, or that Queen Isabella (of Columbus fame) was crowned in Segovia, or that the roast suckling pig is famous world-wide.
But what you may not be so sure of is how to get there. It can be confusing to navigate transportation in a foreign country, particularly when you speak little or nothing of the language. Here’s some advice from someone who has made the trip many, many times.
Go by Train.
I believe there’s a bus that will take you there, but you’re much better off with the train. You can buy tickets from Renfe, the national train company. Their website is available in many languages, including English. Search for trains on the day you want to go by choosing “Madrid(*)” and “Segovia(*)” as your departure point and destination.
There are two types of trains: the fast train (AVE) and the slow train (everything else). I highly recommend the AVE. You might save a couple of bucks the other way, but you lose more than two hours of your day. At the time of writing this, a round trip on the fast train only sets you back 20€. Definitely worth it!
One important note. I’ve never been able to buy tickets from the Renfe website with anything other than a Spanish banking card. Now, it’s possible that they might fix this problem in the near future, but in case they don’t, you’ve got two options. You can go to the station and buy your tickets a couple days in advance, or you can take a gamble the morning of.
The Departure Station.
The station you’ll leave from (and where you’ll buy your tickets, if it comes to that) is called Madrid Chamartín . You can access it by metro or by the Renfe trains that run within the city of Madrid.
Getting to the long-distance-train part of Chamartín can be tricky at first. You’ve got to head towards the exit (“Salida”), actually go outside, and go up a couple of escalators before you get to the part of the station that you want.
If you bought your tickets online, you can use the machines that say Renfe larga distancia to print them off. Just enter in the six to eight character localizador (code) you were given when you bought your tickets and voilá! There’s also a staffed ticket booth in case you want to buy your tickets from a real, live person. Then find your platform, board your train, settle back and enjoy your journey.
Taking the Bus.
You’re almost to the amazing sites and sights of Segovia. There’s just one more step: the bus. When you get to the train station in Segovia, there will be two buses waiting outside. Get on the number 11. It should cost about 1€, and after fifteen minutes or so it will drop you off right in front of the aqueduct. You won’t miss where to get off, believe me! Before you head off on your Segovian adventure, I recommend checking what time to take your return bus.
And that’s it! All that’s left is to explore the city and take a thousand pictures. Enjoy!