Madrid is at the very heart of all things Spanish – it’s passionate and vibrant, cultural, artistic, political and historic. But it is also geographically right at the centre of this magnificent south European country, and perfectly placed for visitors to get out and explore.
This is why hundreds of thousands ofpeople stream into the Spanish capital every day of the week, and why we have positioned our latest city-based pick-up location at Puerta de Atocha train station right in the middle of Madrid.
It is part of a conscious decision to bring our brand closer to you, making it easier to spontaneously hire a car where and when you want. And in celebration of your newfound freedom – and our new car rental site - we have put together a guide to some of the best road trips in and around Madrid.
We could send you west across the border into Portugal, south to the famous beaches of the Costa Blanca, east to the seductive seaside city of Barcelona or north into the green hills of the Basque Country and beyond.
But you do not have to venture that far from Madrid to experience the spectacular.
A reasonable 70km (55mins) drive southwest takes you to the City of Three Cultures, where a historical coexistence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish communitieshas permanently shaped this lofty hilltop town. Medieval multiculturalism is seen in the fascinating collection of religious buildings, which has earned Toledo UNESCO heritage status.
Head southeast 165km (1hr 40mins)and you reach another UNESCO treasure in the shape of the well-preserved walled town of Cuenca. Originally built as a fortified city by the Moors, today it is famed for its ‘overhanging houses’ that dangle high above the Huecar River on the edge of some shockingly sheer cliffs. The church at the heart of this community was Spain’s first gothic cathedral.
Madrid…to Serranía de Cuenca
For the outdoorsy types Cuenca is also the gateway to a mountainous national park of the same name, an area of outstanding beauty where you will find rivers, waterfalls, and even wild bears.
Arrive on a late summer’s evening and you will find Salamanca positively glowing thanks to its intricately carved golden sandstone buildings. This city, located a 215km (2hrs) drive northwest of Madrid, is home to the country’s oldest university, with its youthful population giving it a lively atmosphere.
Madrid…to Sierra Morena
For some more fresh mountain air it is well taking the 300km (3hrs 15mins) drive south to the Despeñaperros pass and the Sierra Morena, a natural park and sanctuary for deer, wild boar, and the occasional wolf and lynx. A visitor centre can help direct walkers. No buses reach this area so you will need a car to get the most out of your visit.
The riverside city of Zaragoza in Aragon in northern Spain is picturesque. Head northeast 315km (3hrs) and you will be spoiled with the picture postcard views of Pilar Cathedral on the River Ebro. This is another lively city with plenty of restaurants, cafes and nightlife.