Cheap, Gorgeous, and Delicious: Alcalá de Henares, Madrid
One of the reasons my husband and I moved to Madrid was to be able to travel around Spain and Europe more easily. Unfortunately, we haven’t exactly taken advantage of Madrid’s central location quite yet. We’ve been busy working, working, and working! But that is no excuse not to explore our surroundings, and one of our New Year’s resolutions was to take at least two short trips per month. Since moving to Madrid we’ve only had the chance to explore Toledo, so last weekend our options were wide open for a Saturday day trip. We decided to venture over to nearby Alcalá de Henares.
It was a bitterly cold and windy day (around 2° C or 35° F) but it was also gorgeously sunny and bright. We bundled up and walked briskly up the street to the Atocha train station where we caught the next Cercanías train to Alcalá de Henares, a pleasant 30 minute train ride. The tickets cost 5,60€ per person round trip, making it an inexpensive daytrip from Madrid.
Alcalá de Henares seems like a small, quaint town but it’s actually a city of 200,000 people, many of which commute to the capitol for work. It is famous for its charming historic center, which is the birthplace of author Miguel de Cervantes and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The University of Alcalá is also an important monument in itself and a beautiful example of a medieval university. Another tourist attraction are Alcalá’s unofficial mascots, the white storks, which nest atop the city’s beautiful buildings. Lastly, you must try the city’s famous free tapas, which are small plates of food served for free with the purchase of a drink.
If you are in Madrid and would like to escape the city for the day (or even an afternoon or evening) Alcalá de Henares is a great option to explore. Full of beautiful sights, great food, and a small and charming city center, this destination is easily accessible from Madrid by train and well worth the small price to get there!
I’d recommend Alcalá de Henares first and foremost to anyone living in Madrid who hasn’t been yet. And if you are planning to travel to Madrid and would like to escape the city for a bit, don’t hesitate to check it out either. While the town is tiny, it has plenty of cute places to stay if you want to make it a weekend trip!
The Pastries of Alcalá (so famous they’re the favorites of Spanish Princess Letizia)!
Alcalá de Henares Tapas Route: Known for free tapas, these are must-try bars!
sharon r flores
Excited for an unexpected trip to alcala de henares. Our last night in Spain before heading home to San Diego is sidetracked by UEFA Champions League Final. So our daughter, who lived in Guadalajara last year teaching, recommended Alcala de Henares to be close to the Madrid airport. (Last year we did stay in Guadalajara before flying home). Can’t wait to explore Alcala de Henares. Thanks for the tips!
Don´t know Alcala but I love day trips like this. Agree with other comments – love the gutters and door knockers. Went to Carcassonne a year or two ago and they had lots of these too. How lovely to be able to get there on a short train ride.
I love Alcala! I went there my first year and Spain, it was a perfect day trip! The food is delicious but so much cheaper than Madrid. I need to go back soon, great post!
Wow, I’m in Madrid right now for vacation and I’m looking for a place like this to visit. Thanks. Do you know what Metro Line I have to choose to go there? And do you think we could go from let’s say 9-3? Thanks.
Hi Carlos! Absolutely, the cercanias train runs from Atocha (it isn’t a metro line but rather a cercanías train line) about every half hour. You can find the timetable on http://www.renfe.es. You buy the ticket from the Cercanías machine and I think that when we took it it left from Vía 7… although I’m not positive! You can always ask at the station. 9-3 would be perfect; enough time for sightseeing and some tapas before heading back to the city. Hope you enjoy it and let me know if you have any other questions!
Oh my god…. the gutters. Where can I buy them for my future home?
No, where can I buy them??? Nice post Lauren, sorry the weather wasn´t too great. You´ve got a great eye for detail and the photos are lovely. Makes me want to go to Alcalá too … no wait, I AM here. Lucky me!
You could just steal them from your city center…! I was thinking about you while we were there, maybe next time you can show us a good place for coffee!
Right?! I actually love them (I don’t know if you’re being sarcastic or not lol!)