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Madrid & Castilla by train
Castilla is an important region in terms of size, located in central Spain. It made up of Castilla y León region in the north and Castilla La Mancha in the south, with Madrid encompassed between them.
Given its size, the largest in Europe, Castilla y León naturally offers an enormous variety of landscape. The permanent snowy caps of the highest peaks provide a background of eternal beauty, while the deep valleys pass from leafy green to gold with the change of seasons, perpetually shielded by hills on whose crests old castles watch over the passage of man and time. Valladolid, the capital city of Castilla y León can easily be reached from Madrid (1 hour trip) thanks to the AVE high speed train.
Castilla La Mancha is one of the least populated regions of Spain. The diversity of the region is such that visitors will have the opportunity to discover flat, undulating plains of henna-coloured earth striped with olive groves, wheat fields and grape vines complemented by the drama of hilltop castles and deep canyons sliced into the landscape. However the region is mostly known for the story of the famous Spanish novel, Don Quixote.
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is the gateway to both regions thanks to the high speed AVE trains.
With over one thousand years of history, Madrid is one of the Spanish cities that best reflect the mixture of cultures that have passed through it. Start in Old Madrid to see the imprint of the Royal House of Habsburgs at the Plaza Mayor (main square). Over time, the square has served as market place, outdoor theatre, bullring and even a place for executions. From the Plaza Mayor, walk through the southern arch (Arco de Cuchilleros), to arrive at the Calle de Cuchilleros. This street symbolises the Old Madrid, with old-fashionned shops, old bull-fighting posters and bodegas (wineries). Look out for the oldest restaurant in the world, Sobrinos de Botin. Continue to Plaza de Segovia Nueva, passing in from of the San Isidro cathedral, before arriving at Plaza de la Cebada, southward. Next to it is the Latina district, famous for its market and tapas bars. Take the Carre San Fransisco street to reach the Basilica San Francisco, before walking northward on Calle Bailen to reach the Cathedral of Almudena and the Royal Palace. From this place, you will get the best view of Madrid.
One of the things that most characterises Madrid is its intense social life. There are countless options for having a good time: going for a beer and eating tapas, enjoying a tasty cocido (typical stew), a concert or a show… And of course, this city offers interesting museums such as the Thyssen Bornemisza museum, if you like impressionist paintings from painters including Van Gogh, Matise, Monet and Pissarro.
Day 2 and 3
Madrid > Valladolid > Segovia
Take the AVE to travel from Madrid Chamartin railway station to Valladolid, in the heart of Castilla León in less than an hour. Enter a land immersed in culture, castles, cathedrals and endless plateaus. Valladolid is the region’s capital and an indisputable wine tourism destination. With five denominations of origin (Ribera del Duero, Toro, Rueda, Cigales and Tierra de León), you cannot leave without tasting one of its prestigious wines accompanied by a dish of succulent lamb or some of its many pinchos (appetizers). Valladolid is not simply a delight for the palate but for all five senses. Discover genuine architectural jewels such as its cathedral, its university or its churches, and enjoy an intensive cultural agenda visiting its museums, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art or the house museums of Cervantes, Zorrilla, or Columbus. If what you want is to relax, nothing beats going down to the Pisuerga river; a cruise or a stroll along its banks will leave you feeling utterly refreshed.
Continue to Segovia with the AVE train (30 min trip), to discover its Roman aqueduct, medieval streets, the Alcázar (fortress) and its Romanesque churches, together with the contrast of its landscapes. Segovia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a unique destination where you will have an absolutely worthwhile trip, and be able to savour a unique traditional dish of roast suckling pig.
Head back to Madrid to spend the night.
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