Vaya, vaya!" Aqu no hay playa!", which means "here, there is no beach!", is a common phrase in Madrid.

It makes up for its lack of coastline with its close proximity to the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range and the Manzanares River.

A dramatic, biodiverse terrain of rough granite rock formations, waterfalls, forests, glacier lakes and lagoons forms a spectacular backdrop to Madrid. The Sierra de Guadarrama is an hour's drive from Madrid and is perfect for hikers of all levels.

You should head to the hills after you've explored the capital's top attractions. There are many hiking trails around Madrid.

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Sweeping views from atop the Siete Picos
The sweeping views from atop the Siete Picos are unforgettable © JaviJ / Shutterstock

Siete Picos (Seven Peaks)

Best easy hike

10 km is easy.

Taking its name from the seven granite peaks that line up along its soaring rocky massif, this simple, relaxed trail is one of Madrid's most popular routes. The Sierra del Dragon was a famous landmark in the Middle Ages because of its resemblance to a dozing dragon.

The rocky ridge has a lot of views for your buck.

Scenery around Peñalara mountain
Follow the idyllic trails around Peñalara mountain © Julen Arabaolaza / Shutterstock


Best hike for seeing glacial lakes

14 km, 4 hours, intermediate.

The Pealara circular route is an intermediate hiking trail that leads to the slopes of Madrid's highest peak. The walk around Pealara peak takes you to the area's breathtaking glaciers and valleys.

There are a number of clear lakes around these valleys. The entire massif is part of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, which is a great place to walk and enjoy the outdoors. The Puerto de Cotos mountain pass is an hour's drive from Madrid.

Rock outcrops at La Pedriza
La Pedriza has an amazing rock labyrinth © abriendomundo / Shutterstock

La Pedriza

Best rocky mountain views

12 km, 3 hours, intermediate.

Dramatic, rugged granite rock formations are the main draw on this moderate looping trail. The town of Manzanares El Real is located close to the Manzanares upper river basin and is the starting point for the La Pedriza track. There is a stone castle from the 15th century that you can visit while you are here.

There is a stunning natural habitat for oak and pine forests and associated wildlife that can be found on this trail. The Charca Verde is the most famous of the clear pools and waterfalls formed by the Manzanares river.

The landscape of La Pedriza was formed by cooling magma. A popular activity for hikers is to find animal figures in the shapes of the rocky facades. The peak of El Yelmo is La Pedriza's most important landmark.

Hiking country around Cercedilla
Wander the easy hiking routes around Cercedilla © Shutterstock / Alfonso Fernandez

Camino de los Campamentos, Cercedilla

Best child-friendly hike

9.5km (6 miles), 2 hours, easy  

The small mountain town of Cercedilla, just over 50km (31 miles) from Madrid, is a perennially popular hiking getaway thanks to a chain of easily accessible trails of varying levels of difficulty. There’s little chance of getting lost because of clear markers along the way, making it a great trekking destination for active families with kids in tow. The lovely, circular Camino de los Campamentos route takes you through the tranquil countryside of the Sierra, passing gently sloping hills, grazing horses and cattle, pine forests and mountain streams, which look exceptionally alluring during the spring and autumn seasons.