Though towns like Segovia and Toledo often top lists on the best day trips from Madrid, the small town of Avila northwest of the Spanish capital is another fantastic option if you have the time. An Avila day trip from Madrid is an excellent way to see a beautiful, unique and historic town not far from the capital city and give you a bit of a break from the massive tourist crowds.
Known for its incredibly well-preserved city walls and for being the birthplace of St Teresa, Avila is a joy to visit and is easy to reach from Madrid, whether you go independently via public transport or opt for an organised tour.
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Getting to Avila from Madrid
There are several ways you can get to Avila from Madrid, including train, bus, personal vehicle or organised tour.
By Organised Tour
If you want to visit Avila but don’t want to deal with the hassle, stress and logistics of planning to go independently, then an organised tour is the right path for you.
There aren’t a great many tours that go solely to Avila, so you will most likely be going on a combined tour with a stop in beautiful Segovia or even onto Salamanca, as well.
For example, this full-day tour or this full-day tour will provide transport from Madrid to Avila in the morning and take you on a tour of the sites before busing you to Segovia in the afternoon. It also includes entry into all monuments. A similar private tour is also available.
Another great option is this guided tour which includes a visit to Avila while en route to the beautiful city of Salamanca. You will see all the top sites of both cities with the help of a knowledgeable guide.
And if you want to see the top three day trip destinations from Madrid in one day, this busy full-day tour and this full-day tour will take you to Toledo and Segovia along with there being an option to add on Avila. Keep in mind that this tour, in particular, is going to be a very rushed, busy day.
If you want to visit Avila independently, then one of the best options is to go via train. Unfortunately, unlike many other destinations close to the capital, there aren’t any high-speed trains that link Madrid and Avila, so it will take a bit of time to reach the town from the Spanish capital.
There are both media distancia trains and regional trains that go from Madrid to Avila (and vice versa) and they both take around an hour and a half to an hour and forty-five minutes.
The media distancia trains depart from Principe Pio station in Madrid and the regional trains are connected to the Cercanías network in the city. Keep in mind that the media distancia trains are going to be more comfortable, though they are marginally more expensive.
The train station in Avila is located about a fifteen- to twenty-minute walk from the city walls of the Avila centre, so it is an easy trip to the main sites once you’ve disembarked from the train.
You can book trains online in advance here, and this can be a good option considering the popularity of the route.
Another great option for a day trip to Avila from Madrid is to go by bus. Buses can be a bit less expensive than the train (though the difference isn’t significant) and they are very frequent.
The journey is around an hour and a half in total and the main station in Avila is located about a fifteen-minute walk to get to the main entrance to the city centre. You can check bus schedules online here, as well.
If you want the ultimate flexibility, consider going by car. This can be a good option for those who don’t want to be beholden to bus and train timetables but still want to travel independently.
It is also a great choice for those who, for instance, want to visit both Avila and Segovia in one day as this is tricky to coordinate via public transport.
The drive from Madrid to Avila takes about an hour and fifteen minutes and there are parking opportunities outside of the city centre. You will not need a car once in the city centre.
If you want to hire a car for your trip, we suggest browsing Rentalcars.com to compare prices across a number of different rental companies.
Avila Day Trip Itinerary
If you’re travelling independently to Avila, follow this itinerary to ensure that your one day in Avila is a great one!
Basílica de San Vicente
The first stop before you walk through the city walls and into the Old Town of Avila is going to be the beautiful Basílica de San Vicente.
This UNESCO-listed church is known to be one of the best examples of Romanesque-style architecture in Spain and this building is steeped in history.
An imposing church, this is truly a fantastic first stop on any trip to Avila. You can enter the church and tour its historic interior for €3 per person, with concessions available for qualified persons.
After exploring the basilica, it’s only a few hundred metres until you reach the Puerta de San Vicente, or the St Vincent Gate – one of the main gates and points of entry into the old city of Avila.
Make sure to take the time to truly appreciate how imposing and beautiful the old city walls indeed are.
Catedral de Ávila
The first site to enjoy once you’re through the old city walls of Avila is the most impressive structure in the town – the Catedral de Ávila.
The main cathedral of the city of Avila, this church is grand and absolutely beautiful and is one of the top sites to ensure you visit while on your day trip.
Built in the late Romanesque and early Gothic styles, this historic cathedral is the main focal point (aside from the walls) in the skyline of old Avila.
Considered to be one of the oldest Gothic cathedrals in Spain (the other one is in the city of Cuenca), there is a lot to take in when you visit here.
If you’re interested in touring the interior of the Avila Cathedral, general entry is €8 per person with concession prices available to those who qualify. You can also climb the tower for additional €3.
Murallas de Ávila
The third stop on this Avila itinerary is the reason that you’ve come all this way to this historic city – the city walls, known in Spanish as the murallas de Ávila. As some of the best-preserved city walls in Spain, these are truly spectacular to visit and to walk along.
The city walls were constructed between the 11th and 14th Centuries and still maintain their splendour in the present day. Today, the Murallas de Ávila are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and worth the visit to this town in and of themselves.
If you want to visit the walls yourself (and you should), you can walk about 1.5 kilometres of them.
Entry to the walls is €5 per person and there are two entry points (the same ticket is valid for both of them). One is located next to the cathedral and the other, shorter entry point is at the Puerta de Alcázar.
Iglesia-convento de Santa Teresa
After wandering around the city walls, make your way to another historic church and convent in the city, the Iglesia-convent de Santa Teresa. Avila is known to be the birthplace of St Teresa and this church marks where she was actually born.
St Teresa was a Spanish noblewoman who dedicated her life to the Catholic church and she is very important to the history and culture of Avila.
If you’re interested in visiting this church, entry is free of charge and there is a small museum in the basement where you can learn a bit more about St Teresa.
Plaza del Mercado Chico
Make the final stop of your trip to Avila be the main square of the city – the Plaza del Mercado Chico. This square looks like many others in Spanish cities from Córdoba to San Sebastián — it’s lined with cafes and has a number of where you can watch the hustle and bustle.
Now is a great time of the day to grab something to drink, as well as a little snack. If you’re looking for a great option, consider heading to Mesón Gedos, a little bar just off the plaza.
They have a bit of outdoor seating, great prices and include a generous tapa with a drink order – perfect for an authentic Spanish experience!
For dessert, head to a bakery and try a Yemas de Santa Teresa – a traditional pastry from Avila!
Where to Stay in Madrid
Ii Castillas Madrid – This small hotel is perfect for mid-range travellers looking for a good base in Madrid. Situated near Plaza Callao in the centre of the city, they have a range of clean and comfortable rooms on offer and there is also a daily breakfast available.
Only YOU Boutique Hotel – Luxury travellers will love this charming boutique hotel in the hip Cuenca neighbourhood. It has an excellent location for exploring Madrid. There are several plush rooms to choose from and a restaurant/bar on site!
Hostal Foster – This cosy guesthouse is perfect for those looking for a comfortable and private option in the Spanish capital. Located right off of Gran Via, they have numerous clean, comfortable and air-conditioned rooms available.
The Hat Madrid — If you’re travelling solo or on a tight budget, you’re sure to love this boutique hostel. Located right next to the Plaza Mayor, they have both private and dorm rooms available and great common areas for meeting other travellers.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other Madrid hotels!
Planning an Avila day trip from Madrid is one of the best options for a day out from the Spanish capital. Boasting a compact size and plenty of interesting sites to keep you occupied, you’re sure to fall in love with this lovely little city.
Are you considering a visit to Avila? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!