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!