After spending a day or two visiting the many historic places of interest in the city of Segovia you'll probably want to hire a car to explore Castile-Leon with its ancient castles, palaces, delightful walled towns and mountain villages. With the benefit of a hired car you'll be able to follow the famous Route of the Castles of Castile, drive through the stunningly beautiful Sierra de Gredos nature reserve and visit the historic cities of Salamanca and Toledo.
The local tourist information office will be able to give you suggested itineraries for touring the Castilian castles. A good starting point is the enchanting walled village of Pedraza, a short drive northeast of the city. You enter via the village's single gateway and follow the narrow, cobbled streets into a beautiful arcaded square. Part of the town's ancient defences are formed by the impressive castle of the Condestables de Castilla (Governors of Castile).
A little further north is the castle of Castilnovo, one of the most beautiful in the province, built in a Moorish style between the 14th and 16th centuries. To the south west lies the church castle of Turegano, built in the 15th and 16th centuries on the site of a Moorish fort. Further west you'll find the fairytale castle at Coca, a masterpiece of military architecture built at the end of the 15th century and completely restored. And a short drive northeast of Coca you can see the beautiful castle-palace of Cuellar.
Another popular stop on the tourist trail is La Granja de San Ildefonso, just to the east of Segovia. This is where King Felipe V built his palace amid the pine forests in 1720. The palace has a magnificent collection of tapestries and it's a delight to stroll through the gardens which are full of statues and fountains.
The palace-cum-monastery of El Escorial, between Segovia and Madrid, is well worth a visit. This majestic building was commissioned in the mid 16th century by Felipe II who died there in 1598. It includes a basilica, Felipe II's palace, the royal mausoleum, several art collections, a library and museum.
Drive into the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range to explore its traditional mountain pueblos, numerous nature trails and freshwater pools. Madrileños take to the sierra in summer to escape the stifling heat of the city and in winter they ski on the pistes of Navacerrada and Costos.
When it comes to car hire companies, cheapest doesn't always mean best. These are some of the questions you should be asking before booking a car: