I will be traveling to Madrid in March. The only other destination we have booked is Valencia for their festival. Any recommendations for areas to visit between Madrid and Valencia? We will be in Spain for 1 week total, spending little time in Madrid, and could rent a car for ease of travel.
The easiest way would be via the AVE high speed train to Valencia, no cars necessary. One town on that route, that I'd recommend some time in (even staying a night in) would be Cuenca, a unique medieval town hanging off the side of a cliff. The AVE line makes a stop in Cuenca's Fernando Zobel station, which is about 15 min from the centre of town. You'd have to make two AVE reservations, Madrid to Cuenca and Cuenca to Valencia.
Now, if you really want to use a car for this trip, I'd recommend setting aside at least one night, in between the two cities, as there is quite a lot to see! In addition to Cuenca, some other worthwhile stops include:
- The Ancient Roman/Visigothic city of Segóbriga
- The recently discovered Ancient Roman Mosaics at the Villa Romana de Noheda
- La Ciudad Encantada geological site
- Serrania de Cuenca National Park
- Castle of Belmonte (Cuenca Province)
- Albarracín (voted the prettiest village in Spain)
- Teruel, virtually unknown medieval city with Moorish and Mudéjar Architecture
I'm a fan of Cuenca, Teruel and Albarracin; I haven't been to the other places Carlos mentioned. If you decide to use a car, try especially to get to Albarracin, because it's very difficult by public transportation--one bus a day from Teruel (which itself is a bit awkward, being connected by rail only to Zaragoza and Valencia). Traveling by bus, you have to spend the night in Albarracin and still have little time there because of the bus schedule.
But just taking the train to Cuenca and later on to Valencia would be a fine idea. The AVE is much, much faster than the local trains, and the AVE can be expensive. The sooner you buy those tickets, the less expensive they'll be.
There's bus service from the AVE station to Cuenca, but I'm not sure it runs on Sundays.
if you do stay overnight in Cuenca, consider the Parador. It's really lovely and an easy walk across a very cool bridge to the old city center.
How many nights do you have in Europe? Will you be jetlagged on arrival in Madrid? Where are you leaving from? By train or car? How many nights are you spending in Valencia?
In general trains are faster than driving. The direct trains from Madrid to Valencia (less than 2 hours) don't make any stops. If you want to visit another city between Madrid and Valencia, you'll probably have to return to Madrid on the train. Google maps shows 3.5 hours net driving time between the two cities.
It would also help to know what your interests are
My wife and I are going to Valencia (March 15-19) for the Las Fallas festival. Do you have any recommendations for hotels? Have a great time.
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