The routes from Madrid and El Escorial to Segovia strike through the heart of the Sierra de Guadarrama (, and it is a beautiful journey. The road is occasionally marred by suburban development, especially around Navacerrada, Madrid’s main ski station, but from the train it’s almost entirely unspoilt. There are plenty of opportunities for walking, but make sure you buy the appropriate maps in Madrid.

If you want to base yourself in the mountains for a while you’d do best to head for Cercedilla. Alternatively, over to the east, there is Manzanares el Real, with its odd medieval castle and reservoir-side setting.

In the shadow of the mountains to the north lies the Valle de Lozoya. At the western end are the village of Rascafría and the nearby Benedictine monastery of El Paular, and to the east the old fortified town of Buitrago with a medieval core and small Picasso museum.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Spain features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

From the Moorish marvels and flamenco heartland of Andalucía to Ibiza's bleached-sand beaches and hedonistic nightlife, Spain is a country you'll want to visit…

27 Jul 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

Festivals are a different beast in 2017. They used to be associated with drinking warm cider while watching crusty bands in your naffest clothes; now the best e…

07 Jun 2017 • David Hillier insert_drive_file Article
Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Forget package holidays: Palma is far more than just the gateway to Mallorca’s beach resorts. The Balearic capital is a dynamic city of stylish restaurants, c…

28 Feb 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook