We did a lot of cycling in Madrid during 2020, and although we may be a little biased, we must say the capital is one of the best all-around destinations. You can enjoy cultural activities, like seeing Picasso’s masterpieces, revel in the gastronomy experiences, like eating at Chef Dani García’s latest restaurant, located on the rooftop of the luxury Four Seasons Hotel, or take in the history at the 400-year-old Plaza Mayor. Along with all that, the city provides cyclists with loads of cycling routes to try out. We’ve rounded up our top 5 rides in Madrid.
1. El Escorial
El Escorial is a town about one hour from the city center famous for its grandiose monastery, which was built between 1563 and 1584. It is also a designated UNESCO world heritage site. The surrounding area grants cyclists a quiet and intermediate mountainous terrain. This spot is fun for everyone – E-bikes, road bikers or mountain bikers. You’ll roll past reservoirs, the prince’s gardens, and even cow farms. Off the bike, we love to see a show at Teatro Real Coliseo de Carlos III and enjoy dinner on the terrace at Las Viandas Restaurant. The paella and wine are always our go-to orders while taking in the evening breeze. Fun fact about this area: Carlos Sastre, 2008 Tour de France winner, used to train there.
Aranjuez is known for its illustrious Royal Palace and vast gardens, which are another UNESCO world heritage site (Madrid has 4). The city is a collection of past royalty, as it’s been the summer residence of kings and queen for centuries. We like biking through the center and checking out the most emblematic places like the Church of St. Antonio. Then we head out of town to travel the flat terrain along the river Tajo, the longest river of the Iberian Peninsula. Usually we take road bikes and ride through Tielmes, Morata de Tajuña and Colmenar de Oreja, the towns where Alberto Contador (2009 Tour de France winner) rides on a daily basis. For the more motivated riders, you can even combine a ride around Aranjuez with our number 3 spot on the list.
Chinchón is off the beaten path. It’s a place to keep away from the big tourist destinations. But, it is popular among the locals so you’ll need to schedule your mid-ride pit stop in the town square early. This medieval town is known for its main plaza, which is historic, circular, and has over 200 balconies. The roads leading into Chinchón could fool you into thinking you’re pedaling through Andalucía with olive groves and wineries in all directions. You can even make a stop at the winery Bodega Señorío de Val Azul. The routes blend hilly and more a relaxed terrain. One of our favorite sights along the way is the 16th century castle with views expanding all the way to the city.
4. Casa de Campo
Casa de Campo is known as Madrid’s green lung. It has over 1,000 hectares and it’s 5x the size of Central Park! Seeing the entire park by foot is pretty ambitious, making biking the perfect solution. Right in the heart of the city, this is our favorite place to cycle after work or on those days when we don’t have enough time for a longer ride. A touring bike is our preferred plan for the day, guaranteeing we get to all the hidden corners of the park, cruising through the oaks, elms, and pines. Once we’re done, there’s nothing better than having a coffee at one of the restaurants that overlooks the lake and people watching those in the paddle boats or enjoying a walk in the park.
5. Soto del Real
Soto del Real deserves a pretty big shout out. Pablo, our Director, has been riding around Soto del Real since he was young. The place led him to cycling. Now it’s basically a cycling hub for all cyclists. There is a mostly flat bike path from the city that ends here, so riders from all over Madrid either start, pass through, or end their weekend rides in Soto del Real. The rides from here are endless – You can try a flat ride to Manzanares el Real and see the 15th century castle or try classic climbs from La Vuelta a Espana like Puerto de Canencia.
Ok, we know Gredos is technically not in Madrid, but it’s close to the border and we spent time there this summer, so we wanted to let you in on the secret. The Gredos Mountain area is exactly what you picture when you think of an escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. The roads are quiet, the air is fresh, and greenery surrounds you. It’s close enough to Madrid you could make a day trip, but it’s also a perfect weekend getaway. Our accommodation recommendation would be to stay at the Parador de Gredos. The views from the roof deck are impeccable and the restaurant is exquisite.
Are you traveling to Madrid, but want to keep away from the big tourist destinations? Grab a bike. We’ll show you the best towns to visit and take care of your Madrid bike rental. Whether you want a self-guided or guided bike tour in Spain, we’ll get you there in style.