Things to do in Madrid

Hiking in Madrid

Breathtaking views, exquisite architecture, and storied history make hiking in Madrid a transformative experience.

Madrid is a diverse hub of commerce and culture. Venture away from the Grand Vía and into the suburbs, where waterfalls, rock formations, and the Manzanares River live. One of our favorite things to do in Madrid is escape the city’s thrum for a day of hiking. It rejuvenates us in between shows.

There are World Heritage sites to explore, such as the Sierra de Ayllón and Parque Natural Hayedo de Tejera Negra. Wander through centuries-old villages and marvel at the typical black stone architecture before exploring a tranquil beech forest.

Take a trip to Lozoya Valley, where natural and human-made beauty are showcased side by side. Of course, there’s the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park. It’s home to hikeable mountains, including its pinnacle, the Peñalara. At the swimmable Santillana reservoir, you'll find unforgettable views.

Soak in the crisp, fresh air and admire nature’s majesty as we tour Madrid’s best hiking trails.

Forest Setting

Step into a fairy tale where dappled sunlight spills through gaps in towering, slender trees. Chestnut, fir, poplar, birch, beech, ash, elm, willow, and juniper are cultivars native to central Spain. Can’t get enough of the city's green spaces? Check out Madrid's parks and gardens.

March to October are the best times for hiking. Each season paints the landscape with its own palette. Come fall, these hiking trails are ablaze with a symphony of warm colors.

1. Beech Forest of Montejo de la Sierra

Head to the northernmost point of Madrid and take an easy hike through the ancient beech forest of Montejo de la Sierra. Hayedo de Montejo, as it’s better known, is home to more than eight hundred plant species and almost two hundred animal species. Curiously, the beeches grow farther south than in any other forest in Spain.

As a Biosphere Reserve, conservationists protect this 500-year-old forest and educate the public about its value to our global ecosystem. That means you can only hike with a ticket. However, guided tours are free and enrich you with a deeper understanding of nature.

Pass herds of livestock and wild deer and observe locals going about their daily lives. Sunlight overflows from behind a mountaintop as you enter the forest. Watch for birds of prey gliding overhead and many small birds flittering between the beeches.

2. Senda Ecologica De Canencia

Senda Ecologica De Canencia beckons. Prepare for a 7-km walk through a botanical garden carved out by nature itself. Immersed in slopes, hedges, and trees, you can tour Spain’s verdant mountain flora packed into an easy hike.

Douglas firs, heathers, birches, oaks, yews, pines, and hollies stand protectively around the route. Prepare for an otherworldly sight that will stay with you for years.

Make time to stop for a picnic in a mountainscape fit for a postcard. Then, continue along the gentle slope at a pace that suits your group. It usually takes around two hours, depending on how frequently you stop to view the breathtaking views.

3. Dehesa de la Villa

Welcome to Dehesa de la Villa, one of Madrid’s best-kept secrets for hikers. Locals come to this park in the city’s northwest to escape the dust, take a leisurely walk, and breathe the fresh air. Long ago, it was a pasture of holm oaks, providing shade for the city’s livestock. But today, there's hardly any sign of either.

Aleppo trees and stone pines take up the lion’s share of the park and its 64 ha of forest: woodpeckers, owls, robins, and around 65 more bird species nest in the forest’s trees.

It’s an easy, free hiking route that feels far from the city center but only a 15-minute drive from Salamanca—looking for a quick place to escape while within the city limits? Dehesa de la Villa is paradise.

River and Reservoir Trails

Rivers and reservoirs run like veins through Madrid’s beating heart. Their serene beauty can inspire instant calm, no matter your mood, before seeing them.

4. Río Manzanares Integral: El Pardo - Jarama

The Monte de El Pardo is a sprawling Mediterranean woodland protecting the Manzanares River’s upper basin. The Río Manzanares Integral: El Pardo - Jarama hike takes you from Mingorrubio to the Madrid River’s mouth in Jarama. It starts around 32 km north of the downtown core.

With nearly 47 km of rocky terrain, it’s an intermediate hike. It’s the longest trail through Monte de El Pardo, and there are plenty of thrills along the way. The route is especially well-suited for mountain bikers, experienced hikers, and runners.

Once you reach Jarama, a sense of oneness with nature washes over you. Under the wide open sky, surrounded by immaculate landscape and the scent of thyme and lavender, you'll feel like a world away from the daily grind.

5. Senda del Genaro

Are you looking for a long-distance hike in Madrid? Senda del Genaro promises 61 km of authentic beauty. It’s the Green Paths Network of the Community of Madrid’s longest hike, beginning and ending a one-hour drive from Patones de Arriba's city center.

As you circle the Atazar Reservoir, humanity’s ingenuity and close relationship with the natural world unfolds. The dam’s imposing curved structure, fashioned from sand-colored concrete, has a surreal elegance that almost blends perfectly with the landscape.

The Senda del Genaro is best suited to experienced hikers. It’s steep, rocky, and moving.

6. Lozoya Valley Nature Trail

If you’re looking for an extended family hike, we recommend the Lozoya Valley Nature Trail. It’s teeming with nature’s bounty. You’ll likely see eagles, owls, herons, wild boars, and black vultures. The trees you'll pass include ash, hazel, pines, poplars, and London planes.

Starting a one-hour drive from Chamberí, El Paular, you’ll ramble for around 39 km in one direction. Your endpoint is El Cuadrón in Garganta de los Montes. Catch glances of spectacular views along the way.

As far as Madrid landmarks go, this is one of the best places to see as many as possible. As you hike the trail, you'll pass the Monasterio de Santa María de El Paular, the shrine of Santa Ana, the Pinilla Reservoir, and the Riosequillo Reservoir.

Are you seeking an authentic taste of rural Spanish hospitality, cuisine, and culture? Spread your hike over two or three days and stay overnight in a picturesque village, such as Rascafría, Alameda del Valle, Lozoya, and others. That way, you can stop for regular rest breaks and take your time to soak in the evocative sights, sounds, and scents.

Mountain Climbs

What Madrid lacks in beaches, it makes up for with glorious mountainscapes. You might not guess when you step off the plane into a heaving metropolis, but you’re within an hour’s drive of out-of-this-world scenery and calm. And let’s face it, mountain hikes and jaw-dropping views go hand in hand.

We think March is the best time for mountain climbs when the peaks are still capped with snow. The views in late September are equally magnificent when a patchwork of warm colors falls over the land.

7. Peñalara Circular Route

Want to feel on top of the world? Take the Peñalara circular route up to the tallest peak in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range. This 14-km hike is a full day out and a moderately challenging tour of diverse natural ecosystems. As you ascend, you’ll see everything from springs and lagoons to peat bogs, grasslands, and alpine forests.

Head to Puerto de Cotos, around an hour north of downtown Madrid, where the hike starts and ends. Stop to marvel at sights such as the Mirador de la Gitana and catch your first taste of the views ahead. You’ll pass the Peñalara Lagoon Stream Bridge, Claveles Lagoon, and Birds Lagoon.

Bring binoculars to observe the region’s bevy of birds. The Guadarramas are home to water blackbirds, Alpine accentors, tree pipits, dunnocks, and European honey buzzards.

8. Puerto de la Morcuera - La Najarra, Community of Madrid

Experience the wild beauty of Sierra de Guadarrama on this moderately challenging route from Puerto de la Morcuera to La Najarra. An hour’s drive from the city center, the trail covers approximately 5 km, with some steep climbs. Expect rocky, uneven sections, but the reward is worth it.

Watch out for griffon vultures, red-billed choughs, and other rare birds flying overhead. Perhaps you’ll see an elusive mountain goat. As you push onward toward La Najarra’s summit, panoramic views will unfurl before your eyes.

9. Siete Picos

Amble from Puerto de Navacerrada through Siete Picos, a massif within the Sierra de Guadarrama. We think it’s a perfect hike for anyone seeking to traverse Madrid’s mountainous terrain. It’s just over 10 km and gets steep and narrow at times. We’d say it’s a moderately easy hike that takes around four hours nonstop.

You’ll navigate through Majalasna Peak, Somontano Peak, and five other peaks. The rocky pile on top of Somontano marks the highest point. You'll pass lush meadows, granite rocks, and pine-studded forests as you move through the peaks.

Photographer: Dirimus

10. La Bola del Mundo - Cuerda Larga - Cabezas de Hierro

The Cabezas de Hierro are the Sierra de Guadarrama’s second-highest peaks and the highest in the Cuerda Larga range. They’re double summits, with the larger one standing at an elevation of 2,282 m. Cabeza de Hierro translates to “iron head,” the peaks earned the name due to the magnetic iron nestled within their soils.

La Bola del Mundo to Cuerda Larga is a five-hour circular route of vistas. Expansive skies, undulating landscapes, and the earth’s raw glory await.

11. Monte Abantos vía GR® 10

Treat yourself to Madrid’s finest landscapes as you navigate the Monte Abantos vía GR® 10 hiking trail. This route starts around 57 km northwest of central Madrid, in San Lorenzo de El Escorial. It’s a challenging 11-km route that takes you through forests of maritime pines and fields of Spanish lavender and gum rockrose.

12. San Lorenzo de El Escorial - Cruz de Rubens

The journey from San Lorenzo de El Escorial to the Cruz de Rubens. A moderately challenging 17-km hike takes you to a famous monument: a white cross. From there, you’ll witness extraordinary views of the Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

We love coming here to see fall’s sunset, which paints the sky in hazy baby blue and pink hues. It's the perfect place to unwind.

13. La Cabrera - Pico de la Miel

Travel 60 km north of Madrid’s city center to La Cabrera, where you can climb the tempting Pico de la Miel, which translates to “Honey Peak.” This short but challenging trail is best suited for experienced hikers and takes about six hours to complete.

Steep climbs and sheer drops abound. Lizards, toads, butterflies, and a bounty of plant and animal life call this area home. You’re sure to spot some along the way.

Madrid’s Trails: A Hiker’s Paradise Awaiting Discovery

Madrid’s blend of cultural heritage and wondrous beauty make for exhilarating outdoor adventures. After a day of hiking the city's best trails, head to one of our shows to find tranquility of a different kind.

Once the curtains open, you’ll see our performers flying through the air, contorting their bodies into unimaginable shapes. Our shows in Madrid are storytelling spectacles with live music, audience interaction, and dreamlike storytelling. We'll take you on a thrilling adventure that rivals any mountain trail.

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