Nature near Madrid

Madrid is much more than busy streets, tapas and museums. If you want to take a break from the city and the parks in Madrid aren’t enough for you, it’s time to get out there and discover some nature in Madrid.

We have some astonishing nature near Madrid. In this post, I’ll show you some of my favorite spots. They are ranked from the closest to the city to the farthest away.

The best option to get to most of these nature spots is by car. However, since not everybody owns a car in Madrid, I’ll give the public transportation alternative whenever possible

If you are wondering where these green areas are, I have created this map for you.

1. Cercedilla – Way of St. James

Alto de la Fuenfria is a natural spot near Cercedilla with lots of history.

There’s a roman path that connects Madrid to Segovia. It was built by the Romans thousands of years ago and it’s the same one that Spanish kings used to take when they had to go from Madrid to La Granja for their summer vacation. It’s only 61 miles but it took them over a week of travel back then.

Walking around this nature area in Madrid you might encounter some yellow arrows. El Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, goes through this same path. If you followed the yellow arrows, you would get to Santiago de Compostela in the North of Spain, after weeks of walking of course.

There are only 20 miles in between Cercedilla and La Granja, but the hike is pretty steep and it’s not adequate for all levels. You could do it within a day, if you have a bike.

La Granja is a fabulous place to spend the day admiring the palace and some of the numerous fountains.

Nature near Madrid fountain la Granja

While you are in Cercedilla, you can explore some of the many nature trails and enjoy some incredible views along with the purest air in Madrid.

2. El Escorial

El Escorial is a small town in Sierra de Madrid. It’s 37 miles away from the center and it takes about 1 hour to get there by car, and 1 hour and 30 minutes in public transportation.

If you don’t have a car, you could take a bus. They depart from Moncloa and it’s 1 hour and 30 minute trip. Take bus 8661 or 8664. The tickets are 4.20€ each way.

One of the most touristic spots in the area is El Monasterio del Escorial, where the majority of the Spanish kings were buried—12 out of 16. Over 500.000 visitors go to El Monasterio del Escorial every year. The tickets are 12€

Near El Escorial, you’ll see el Bosque de la Herrería, a beautiful nature trail appropriate for all ages.

Throughout the trail, you’ll see La Silla de Felipe II, a rock formation from which you will get the best pics of Monasterio de el Escorial.

El Escorial Madrid nature

3. Las Cárcavas

Las Cárcavas are in Guadalajara in the region of Castilla la Mancha. They are 37 miles from Madrid, and it takes about 1 hour 20 minutes by car. Right now there isn’t a way to get there by public transportation.

Las Cárcavas are known for their unique shapes and their characteristic red color. The water runs downhill shaping the clay surface and forming this breathtaking landscape.

There’s parking at Pontón de Oliva. Once you get there, you can do one of the multiple hikes starting from there.

4. Rascafría

Rascafría is 50 miles from Madrid near Valdesqui, one of the few spots for skiing in Madrid.

Some nature trails worth-seeing are Bosque de Finlandia, which gets its name for its resemblance to a Finnish forest. In this hike, you’ll see a little shack that once was a sauna. Back then, people used to go in for a few minutes and jump into the cold waters after.

Another attraction at Rascafría is las Presilla. This area is known for its natural pools. If you want to do something different and fun, try going swimming in these pools—but just a warning, they get very busy in summer.

Some other interesting points are Monasterio del Paular and Cascadas del Purgatorio. This is an 8 mile hike through las Presillas. At the end of this trail awaits las Cascadas del Purgatorio, a fantastic place with some of the most incredible nature in Madrid.     

5. La Pedriza

La Pedriza is a well-known spot for rock climbing and bouldering. In la Pedriza you’ll see several natural pools, but unfortunately swimming in them is prohibited.

This green area is 31 miles from Madrid. If you want to go by public transportation, take bus 724 from Plaza Castilla to Manzanares el Real.

From La Pedriza there are many hikes to explore. Here are some of the best ones.

If you want to find your own hikes, take a look at the end of the article to learn how.

6. Hayedo de Montejo – Sierra del Rincón

Hayedo de Montejo is a beech forest with colorful trees. People from the city and the surrounding areas go to see the foliage at its peak. That’s why Hayedo de Montejo is packed in autumn.

You’ll need a ticket to get in. You can either get the tickets online or at Montejo de la Sierra—the closest town to this park. Once there, look for Centro de Recursos in order to get the tickets.

They offer three tours (1 hour 30 minute each), with only 20 spots that sell out fast, so as usual, the early bird gets the worm.

The three tours are arranged by level. There’s an easy, medium and hard one. Ask to get the one that works you.

The tours are in Spanish and the park is closed on Mondays.

Nature Madrid Hayedo
Photo credit

7. Las Hoces del río Duratón

Las Hoces del río Duratón is one of the most astonishing nature parks near Madrid. Located in the Spanish Region of Castilla y León, it’s a two hour drive from Madrid. The bad news is that you can’t get there by public transportation.

Some companies offer a kayaking experience down the river, which can be a fun and different way to discover the beautiful nature around this area.

Ermita de San Frutos is a small chapel, with a great viewpoint (Mirador de San Frutos) from which you can see the river Duratón, the Monastery and the deep canyon. This is an excellent area for bird-watching.

Check out this hike, it takes approximately 1 hour and goes through some good viewpoints.

If you want to stay there for a few days, you can rent a Casa Rural.

Nature escape Madrid Rio Duraton

Discover your own nature trails in Madrid

If you want to explore more nature in Madrid, try using the app Wikiloc. It’s a collaborative app where users share their favorite hikes and classify them by difficulty.

On top of that, you can download maps on your phone and access them without internet connection. You can read other people’s experiences and see photos to get ready for it.

 It’s never been easier to go hiking and explore some nature trails near Madrid.

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