When the Spanish sun makes Madrid too hot to handle, do what the locals do and head for the hills. Segovia is located about an hour north of the city, and at 1000 feet higher than the capital, it’s cooler and breezier than the capitol. To get there from Madrid take a bus from the lower-level bus stop at Principe Pio station (12 euros) and enjoy the ride through the countryside. The bus station in Segovia is just a ten minute walk from the old city, but before you head out, take a minute to stop at the tourist information desk located inside the bus station. Pick up a map and tell them what you would like to see and they will show you how to get to there from here.
The town has a lot to offer, but its most famous attraction is the Roman Aqueduct. The aqueduct dates from the first or second century A. D. and does not look any worse for wear 2000 years later. Get up close and personal with giant stones and marvel at the perfect design. Snap a few pictures here and then turn left and walk up the hill for the postcard-perfect photograph.
From the aqueduct, meander through the narrow quiet streets of the old city. Make your way through plazas and parks past the 16-century cathedral to the castle. Don’t forget to stop for tapas and cervezas at a little cafe.
The Alcázar is located on the edge of the old city and atop a craggy cliff. Buy your ticket at the office to your left, then walk over the drained moat (eep – it’s really deep!) to enter. The castle has had many roles over its 900 year history including palace, prison and military college. In addition to dizzying views, paintings and suits of armor, the school of artillery exhibit showcases advancements in (not always) military technology and is perfect for your inner nerd.
The bus stop at Principe Pio station is underground beneath the plaza out front. Buy a ticket from the station agent and tell them which bus you would like to leave on so they can assign you a seat. For the return journey, show your ticket at the desk BEFORE you get on the bus so you can get a seat assignment.
The town will completely charm you. Hold out your camera at any place in the old city and you have a picture that will look great framed at home. With its cooler climes, historical sites and friendly locals, this is the perfect day-trip from Madrid. And as a bonus, the old city and aqueduct are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so you can check that off of your scorecard.