After traipsing through museums, getting the full vibe of city life in Madrid, touring castles, palaces and monasteries and learning history until your head is spinning you might want to take a day and get back to nature or perhaps do a few adventurous activities before launching onto your next cultural experience.
This may be especially true if you are travelling with children as they quickly become bored with the cultural side of touring Spain. If this is the case, or if you simply are always on the lookout for outdoors, fresh mountain air and a bit of adventure then you will want to take the short trip to the mountain villages of Cercedilla and Navacerrada which are only about 45 minutes from Madrid.
For a mountain girl like myself, going to these mountain towns are like going home. In the summer you will breath the thick pungent aroma of pine trees mixed with the sweet smell of blackberries ripening on the bushes and in the winter there is snow. Usually enough of the white stuff to throw down the toboggan and take a few runs down a hill with the kids, sometimes even enough to yearn for the slopes.
These mountain villages are neighbouring one another and are more like a continuation each other than separate which is why I am putting them together.
Getting to Navacerrada and Cercedilla
The easiest way to get to Cercedilla is by taking a train from the Atocha station in Madrid. You need to take the Cercania train line C88. Cercedilla is the last stop. You will need to buy your tickets at the Atocha train station. It will cost 7.70 € one way. The train takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. The train station in Cercedilla is in the centre of town. From there you can then take another train to the Puerto de Navacerrada ski station.
It takes just under an hour to drive from the centre of Madrid to Cercedilla. Take the A6. Continue on the A6 until Collado Villalba where you will take exit 39 and follow M601 to Cercedilla.
What to do in Navacerrada and Cercedilla
Puerto de esqui de Navacerrada (Ski hill of Navacerrada)
Admittedly Puerto de Navacerrada is not the largest ski station in all of Spain, but it is the closest to Madrid and at least offers a quick “snow fix” in the winter if you need one. It is 1,858 Meters and has been a mountain pass accessing La Granja and Segovia from Madrid since the time of Carlos IV. This is a great beginners ski hill and fun place to go to say that you’ve been skiing in Spain.
It is also a popular hill to go tobogganing on and the ski hill even rents toboggans, downhill and x-country ski equipment as well as hats, gloves, ski pants and whatever winter equipment you might need.
Open weather conditions permitting—normally from Dec-Feb
Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Zip-lining and Aerial Adventure Parks:
Both Cercedilla and Navaceredilla have adventure parks with zip lines and Tarzan climbing centres through the trees. Both parks offer a number of different levels—starting with something for beginners and children. You can work your way up through more difficult levels or head directly to the extreme levels. The extreme levels aren’t for the faint hearted as you could find yourself dangling at 15 and 17 meters.
Both parks are open on the weekends, but reservations are recommended. You can go during the week, but only with group reservations.
The museum in Cercedilla celebrates not only the evolution of skiing in Spain over the decades, but also gives recognition to a hometown boy—Francisco Fernandez Ochoa—one of the few Spaniards who dedicated his life to winter sports and succeeded. Fernandez won gold for giant slalom in the 1972 winter olympics.
The museum is at the city hall in Cercedilla and is open on Wed mornings from 10:00 - 2:00 p.m.,Thur-Sat from 10:00-2:00 p.m. and on again in the afternoons from 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. and Sundays from 10:00 until 2:00
Web: museo del esqui
Mountain guided tours:
As Cercedilla and Navacerrada are right in the middle of the national park there seems to be no end to adventure-themed activities, and Guis Historias will guide you along your way.
Climbing courses, guided hikes for all levels and ages, guided climbs, extended guided climbs of up to 7 days in the Pyrenees.
Web: Guis Historias
Telephone: 634 591 973
Whatever you are up for when it comes for mountain adventures- Amadblam Adventura will take you there. They offer day hikes to show you the area, take you to local historic spots and scenic areas, or if you want something with a bit more adrenaline involved they offer climbing, rafting, canyoning in the local rivers. You choose your activity and adventure level and they will do the rest.
In the winter they also offer snowshoeing and other winter activities.
Telephone: 910 02 08 14
Trail rides through the mountains. Whether you are experienced with horses or have never ridden before, your guide will put you at ease so can have the unforgettable experience of riding through the national park of the Sierra de Guadarrama.
Here are 3 Places that offer horseback riding through the Sierra de Guadarrama national park.
The National Park: Naval Medio
The National Park centre itself: Navalmedio
Telephone: 918 523 019
(tours in English)
Contact: Los Ciruelos
Telephone: 608 61 32 72
July-August: Rides everyday; morning and afternoon
September-June: Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays; morning and afternoon rides
15 minutes from Cercedilla is another option:
Jarahonda is an equestrian centre, but if you call them and make arrangements they do offer excursions on horseback—from 2 hours to 2 days. They told me that one of their most beautiful routes is an overnight trip leaving from Navacerrada and riding through the Sierra (mountains) to Valsain (Segovia) to return the following day. The tours are all with professional guides and are available in English.
Web: Club Jarahonda
Telephone: 607 366 995
Guided walking tours through the National park, Navalmedio
Guided tours and activities are offered by Navalmedio throughout the Parque Nacional de la Sierra de Guadarrama. Tours for the whole family include birdwatching, stargazing with a guide, walking tour explaining the local wildlife and fauna, bow and arrow lessons, horseback riding, bike birding (bird watching while on biking through the trails of the park). There are also some seasonal activities such as mushroom picking in the fall and snowshoeing in the winter.
For a review of a day mushrooming with Navalmedio: Mushrooming in Spain—a guided mushroom tour
Telephone: 918 523 019
(tours in English)
Rent a mountain Bike
With all the trails throughout the park you will want to take advantage of biking them. Mr. Schmid Bike shop can outfit you for an hour or for the day with the bike you need.
For prices and reservations:
Web page: Mr. Schmid
Telephone: 918 523 249