Some of my most special memories from my year in Madrid were spent with friends hiking in the Sierra de Guadarrama, the mountains right outside the city. Whether singing Beyonce on the trail or tripping over tree roots or catching up with friends along the walk, I always had fun up in the Sierra. In fact, I liked it so much that I went twice – once in late February and again in May of 2017. Late February offers views of snow-peaked mountains and the cool temperatures are good for hiking – all I needed was a light sweater. However, earlier in February and throughout winter you may get some snow. May is also a good time to go because it is slightly warmer, so you can actually lay out for a tan at the lookout point, haha. Here are 4 reasons why hiking Sierra Guadarrama should be on the top of your list for day trips from Madrid if you’re up for a nice city break and some mountain air.
#1. Getting to Sierra de Guadarrama is super easy – and even free with a monthly Madrid transportation card!
You can easily reach the trails in the Sierra Guadarrama by riding the Madrid Cercanías, the regional train system. Definitely check the Cercanías site to look at timetables and plan accordingly, although the times are not always super accurate. Cercanías stations are located throughout the city, like at Atocha, Recoletos, and Nuevos Ministerios. Take the train to the Cercedilla stop – the ride is about an hour and 20 minutes. This trip was actually free for me, since my monthly Madrid transportation card covered Cercanías trips! Once you arrive at the station, you have to walk uphill for about 30 minutes to the visitor center – yes, that means you start hiking before you actually start hiking, lol. This little walk is not bad though. At the visitor center, ask for a map and info about the variety of trails on the mountain. A popular trail is the Miradores Trail, marked with orange dots on the trees. In terms of level, this trail is easy to moderate and enjoyable overall. It takes you up to an amazing lookout point with breathtaking views of the Sierra, so I highly recommend it. The trails on the mountain are pretty well-marked, so we never got *significantly* lost on our hike.
#2. The Sierra is beautiful, from the creeks, to the trees, to the views from the mountaintops.
Heading out to the Sierra’s mountaintops is a #top day trip – pun intended – simply because of the beautiful views (see the pics below). It may sound cheesy, but being in the mountains reminds you that there’s nothing like spending time in nature. Pro tip: Pack lunch and eat at the lookout point. This is a great way to take in the view while refueling and getting a little tan if the weather is good!
#3. Hiking Sierra Guadarrama is a breath of fresh air – literally.
I adore Madrid, but the mountain air of the Sierra is a refreshing change of pace from city life. If you’re getting a little cabin fever in Madrid, this is the perfect way to hit the reset button. Hiking in the Sierra makes you feel like you went on a trip, but really you just went into Madrid’s backyard!
#4. Venturing into the mountains is a great way to get some exercise.
As someone who can’t commit to a gym membership, I’m always looking for alternative ways to be active. Day tripping to the Sierra is an ideal way to get some exercise while also taking advantage of what Madrid has to offer. I recommend going with friends and singing Beyonce at the top of your lungs as you hike, just like we did.
Once you’re done hitting the trails, come back to the small town and crush a caña as you wait for the next train back to Madrid – you deserve it. I hope you enjoy hiking Sierra Guadarrama as much as I did!
Have you ever been hiking in Madrid? Comment below with any questions about hiking Sierra Guadarrama!