What You Didn't Know About Madrid's Surrounding Cities

Melanie Garza
October 25, 2021

Bienvenidos a mi blog! Today I wanted to highlight some of the amazing day trips we’ve gone on since getting to Madrid. First of all, Madrid alone is fabulous and has so much to do and explore, but on top of that, there are so many interesting and beautiful cities nearby. Through IES Abroad, we’ve been able to travel to Segovia, Avila, and Toledo. I should mention there is also a trip planned for El Escorial but that hasn’t happened yet, so I don’t have much to say about that one today. I should also mention these trips are freeeee for students since IES Abroad organizes them. 


Segovia was the first city we visited, within days of landing in Madrid. It’s known for many things but mostly for three main landmarks: its castle, its cathedral, and its Roman aqueduct—which you can see in the picture of my blog about traveling on a budget. Of course we got to see all three and it was amazing! Since we had just gotten to Spain, I didn’t really know much about any of these landmarks or Segovia itself, but it really helped to have guides who could explain the history and significance of the different places we saw. 

Personally, my favorite place in Segovia was the castle by far. The cathedral was beautiful too, and the aqueduct is just mind-blowing, but there was something magical about the castle. Something about walking around in such a historical building felt really special, and this feeling combined with the intricate decorations and details was unbeatable. This is definitely one of the places I’d recommend to visit, just because it’s so hard to put into words how it feels to be there and you’d have to see all the art and architecture for yourself to really appreciate it. 



Avila was our second day trip, and even though it doesn’t have as many big landmarks, it is known for its amazing medieval walls—which you can see in the picture of my blog about studying abroad during a pandemic. The walls have been perfectly preserved, which isn’t usually the case. Avila is also known for being the home of Saint Teresa for those of you reading this who know who that is. Honestly, I’ll admit I didn’t really know who that was before going to Avila but it was still cool because of our wonderful guides who explained everything (: 

I’ll just say that if you’re a medieval nerd, this is the place for you! Just driving up and seeing the walls and the towers felt like I was in a whole different era. I was ready to wear a long dress, braid my hair, and learn how to hunt. It was seriously straight out of Game of Thrones. Oh, also they have a really good chuleton which you should all try if you eat meat. Overall, Avila was such a fun experience I’m so lucky to have been able to visit, and hope y’all can visit too.



This was our most recent day trip, and wow it was beautiful! In my opinion, Toledo had the most things to see out of all our trips so far. There were places I still would’ve liked to see but ran out of time. Toledo is known for its influence of three major religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. This is mostly reflected in its architecture, from what I saw. Toledo was also the capital before Madrid, so that’s cool too. There’s also a lot of art by El Greco here, which I could’ve spent all day looking at. 

Like I said, we didn’t have the time to see everything Toledo has to offer, but the main highlight for me was the cathedral. This one is probably the one I really don’t know how to describe. Every turn I took within the cathedral, I saw something different and amazing. The mixed culture of the city is also noticeable here, as some parts of the cathedral have clear Islamic artistic influence whereas the rest is mostly classical style. It’s really something you haveee to see in person because there’s so much to see and so much detail all around. By the way, there is a zip-line in Toledo so there you go, now you have to go. 


Sorry this blog is a little longer than usual, I just really wanted to give some attention to each trip because they’ve all been so wonderful. Not just the cities but also the company and the IES Abroad staff that are always so eager and happy to help us explore Spain. Can’t wait to visit El Escorial if it’s anywhere near as great as these past few trips. Maybe you’ll hear about that one later, so stay tuned (:

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Melanie Garza

<p>Hi, I’m Melanie! I’m a senior at Carnegie Mellon University, majoring in Physics. After graduation, I plan on attending graduate school in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Physics. While I love STEM, I also love the arts! I’m part of an a cappella group, I’m in my school’s non-major orchestra as a violinist, I like to draw and paint, and I’ve dabbled in some dance too. It’s important for me to keep a balance between all my interests, which also include working out (at the gym only - I am NOT athletic, unfortunately) and outdoor activities that don’t involve swimming since that’s something I can’t do. I know, shame. I’m really looking forward to exploring all my hobbies and interests in the context of a new culture. I am fluent in Spanish since I was raised in Mexico so Spain will be full of possibilities!</p>

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