The town of Segovia offers a lot – history, architecture, food, photoshoot opportunities, nature, etc – but sometimes it can become a bit mundane. After a dozen outings to plaza, the aqueduct, or the hills, you may find yourself wanting to experience some new scenery. What many people don’t know, however, is how much the towns around Segovia have to offer – a change in scenery, interesting histories, and good, inexpensive food. By visiting the towns around Segovia, you really get to know what this region is about. I’ve gotten together some of my favorite towns to help you plan your next weekend outing just outside Segovia!
Every IE Segovia student should visit San Ildefonso at least once – it has so much to offer! The Spanish monarchy used to spend their summers here at the Royal Palace, and today you can visit the palace and gardens and see how they lived (and the gardens are free to enter!). The town hosts many small restaurants, including Churreria La Fama, a churro bar serving the best churros in Spain (in my opinion).
San Ildefonso also hosts an incredible amount of natural beauty. In just a short walk, you can visit the Embalse de Ponton Alto, a lake good for picnics and fishing (but not sadly not swimming – it’s essentially full of cow manure). If you’re on the adventurous side, San Ildefonso serves as the gateway to all of the Sierra de Guadarrama’s majesty. From here, you can visit the 9 Calderas for cliff-jumping, the Chorro Grande for waterfall views, or you can even summit the Penalara, the highest peak in the Sistema Central. For more information on this, check out our mini-series “Segovia Outdoors”!
San Ildefonso has the advantage of easy access from Segovia. You can take a taxi (which would be very expensive), or you can take the Linecar M8 bus from the Segovia bus station. On weekdays, this bus leaves every 45 minutes, and on weekends it goes once every 1-2 hours. The fares are 1.50 Euros each way. I hope that you check out this beautiful town!
Valsain and La Pradera de Navalhorno
Nestled up in the Montes de Valsain, Valsain and the Pradera de Navalhorno served as the summer vacation home of the Spanish monarchy before the construction of San Ildefonso in the 1500s. These two towns, placed right next to each other, offer a getaway from the business of Segovia, and to a lesser extent, San Ildefonso. In town, you can visit the ruins of the original Royal Palace, along with some old churches and traditional Spanish village houses. These two towns sit along the Rio Eresma, which flows into the Embalse de Ponton Alto and eventually right by the university. The river features a trail which follows up to Boca de Asno, a great hangout spot with picnic tables, a visitors center, and the occasional cow. Valsain also offers access to Cueva de Monje, an interesting rock formation with great views to the Penalara.
The towns feature a variety of traditional Spanish restaurants, serving regional classics such as Judiones a la Granja, a bean and sausage stew with fresh baguette, along with more interesting dishes such as Polenta and Shrimp.
To get here, take the Linecar M8 bus past San Ildefonso to Valsain. The tickets are 1.50 Euros each way.
Madrona and Pegordo
These two towns, Perogordo and Madrona, feature two churches and beautiful scenery. About 30 minutes and an hour walk from Segovia respectively, these two towns offer a genuine look into small-town Castillian life – you can really see how these towns have lost the prestige they had 200-400 years ago.
Perogordo sits along the Via Verde, a walking and biking path which runs along the Valle de Tejadilla and the Rio Eresma. Perogordo, more of a cluster of houses rather than a town, features a small church, a water station, and the Segovian jail (alongside which you can walk).
Down the path from Perogordo is Madrona, a town centered around the Parroquia de Madrona which dates back hundreds of years. The church is walled, a unique architectural feature which leads this church to be my favorite in all of Segovia. This town also features multiple restaurants and a park to the south to hang out with friends.
While not as exciting as Valsain or San Ildefonso, if you are planning a walk or bike one weekend, you should consider visiting these two towns. They’re inaccessible by bus, so walking will be your only option to get here.
They say save the best for last, so here we go – Revenga. Accessible only by the indirect Segovia-Madrid Avanzabus line, Revenga serves as a gateway to the southern portion of the Sierra de Guadarrama. It offers access to incredible, relatively unknown parts of Segovian nature. In the summers, you can take a dip in the Embalse de Puente Alta, a lake featuring a dam with great views (off which you can jump into the lake – especially when the water level is lower). If you’re looking for more, you can summit the Mujer Muerta, one of Segovia’s prettiest peaks.
The paths around Revenga offer a unique historical experience. An old Roman highway from the 2nd century ran right through here, and many of its features are still preserved. Along the Embalse de Puente Alta is a Spanish Civil War Bunker, still accessible today. Additionally, the Azud del Acueducto marks the beginning of the Roman Aqueduct which runs through Segovia!
After these outstanding adventures, you can come back to drinks and tapas at Bar Montalvo, a hole-in-the-wall establishment offering cheap beers and tinto de veranos. And while waiting for the few-and-far-between busses to return to Segovia, you can check out the old Iglesia de San Sebastian from the 1200s!
I hope these towns can give you some ideas on how to get out and explore Segovia’s surroundings! There’s far more to see than even this list – I’ve lost track of how many different tiny towns I’ve visited – but with these favorites I think you’ll find yourself more motivated to find even more!
[…] and newly-green flora. To enjoy this combination of seasons, I’m going to show you a hike in Revenga, along the Rio Frio valley to the foundations of the Segovia […]