Car or bus for sights around Madrid?

Jan 10th, 2001, 10:11 AM
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Car or bus for sights around Madrid?

I'm trying to decide whether to rent a car and drive to Segovia, Avila, El Escorial, Toledo, or to do bus trips from Madrid? (We have 4 days/5 nights in the Madrid area.) Will having a car allow us to see more and save us time or is taking a bus just as good? Current plan: From airport, drive to Segovia (Avila, El Escorial) for 2 nights, then to Toledo for one night, and end up in Madrid the last 2 days. (No car in Madrid) Is this taking in too much? Is there bus service from Segovia directly to Avila and El Escorial without having to return to Madrid? I know we won't need the car inside the small towns, it's just getting from place to place and seeing sights that one can't access by bus. Is renting a car worth it? Thank you, Karen.
Jan 10th, 2001, 01:24 PM
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Last year we took an escourted trip throughout Spain. The tour bus took us everywhere. We visited Toledo for one day, El Escorial 1/2 day, passed through Avila with a picture stop, and spent two days in Madrid. We didn't go to Segovia.

My family spent 3 extra days in Madrid traveling by Metro. You won't need a car here, their metro IMHO is as good as the one in Paris. Also, there are enough museums, etc. to visit to fill up your 4/5 days.

El Escorial was great. No one on our tour bus knew what it was before we went but we all loved it. I think you may be able to take a tour here otherwise you will need a car to get there. It is far out in the country, 30 minutes away.

Toledo was interesting. If you like to cook buy some knives. The city seemed too big to walk and I don't know about public transportation, so you'll probably need a car.

What you have posted seem rough to do on your own. Maybe you could base in Madrid then take just two 1/2 day side trips by tour company to your top two choices. My top choice was El Escorial.
Jan 10th, 2001, 01:36 PM
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I like your original plan the best. This summer we visited Toledo (one night) then Segovia (one night) before going to Madrid for 3 nights, dumping our car on arrival there. This was after much other touring in Spain. I would not enjoy the organized day trips from Madrid to Segovia or Toledo half so much as spending at least one night in each. Of the two, I agree that 2 nights in Segovia and one night in Toledo is better than the other way around, especially if you are arriving fairly late in Segovia on the first day. The drive over the mountains from Segovia to Madrid (which you'll need to bypass to get to Toledo) is quite spectacular and worth the little extra time it takes. You won't really need the car in any of these cities as you have suggested, but the car makes transportation so much easier and less restrictive than trying to do organized tours or public transportation.
Jan 10th, 2001, 02:09 PM
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Your plan sounds really good. Yes, it is a bit hectic, but I wouldn't miss those cities anyway. A car gives you flexibility and you should arrange parking with the hotel. Some words of advice; El Escorial is close on Mondays. Try to tour El Escorial early in the AM; the tour groups arrive after 1030 and then it becomes a bit crowded. I loved the Cathedral (free), the library (ticket), and the gardens (free). The rest of the tour is sort of lenghty, and to be honest, the palace interiors in themselves weren't really that amazing. The drive from El Escorial to Avila via the countryside is breathtaking. I would drive from the Airport to El Escorial and try to tackle those two first. The Royal Pantheon is OK; small, believe it or not. If you can fit it in (a couple of hours?), try to get to the Valley of the Fallen, very close to El Escorial. Quite impressive monument. For some reason, guys really dig this place.

Avila is a hassle for parking. Try to park outside the walls, which is the most spectacular part of Avila anyways. Try some "Yemitas", cookies made out of the white of the eggs, and very typical of this beautiful city (their origin goes back to the Middle Ages when egg yokes were used to provide adhesion to some plasters used in construction and decoration, leaving a LOT of the white part for disposal).

Spend a couple of nights in Segovia, a city that I am madly in love with! Walk around at night to the Aqueduct, ENJOY IT!

On your way down to Toledo, try to get there early, explore the city. You are doing the right thing by staying overnight and experience this beautiful place when there are much less people around you. If you get a chance try to drive to Consuegra, windmills country. Now, those are great pictures; windmills and La Mancha region in the background.

I think you got the right idea; yes, parking is a hassle in the cities, but if you are set in seeing a lot, a car will make this possible. Again, let the hotels direct you as far as parking.

Have a great time!!!
Jan 10th, 2001, 02:31 PM
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Thanks so much for your input. I will feel cheated if I fail to go by car. It all sounds so beautiful. Even though I think I'll have to return to Spain, I want to see as much as I can this time. Traveller's agony.

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