Within the community of Madrid there are many unique neighborhoods that lie just outside the city center. Over the last few months, my roommates and I have had the chance to explore several barrios (neighborhoods). Due to COVID restrictions, we couldn't leave the region of Madrid; however, we decided to make the most of the situation and explore surrounding towns within the region.
One of the first towns we visited was El Escorial. This city is the home of royalty and a highly esteemed monastery. It was also once the official residence of the Spanish Kings. We spent the whole day there checking out all the beautiful sights it had to offer. We first toured the famous church that sits on Spain's mountainous landscape. Afterward, we made our way into the town where we enjoyed tasty tapas for lunch. To end the lovely day, we walked around the town to explore more beautiful buildings and gardens near the palace.
My roommates and I decided we needed a weekend trip to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. We decided to take a hiking trip to the small, quaint town of Cercedilla. This town is about an hour train ride from the City Centre. We spent the whole day hiking through the mountains and exploring the small town. It was very nice to feel the fresh air on our skin and to take some time to be still, enjoying the peacefulness of Cercedilla. After our hike, we stopped at a local tapas restaurant to have an early dinner. It was the perfect ending to a great day!
Manzanares el Real
One of my favorite trips I have taken since living in Madrid was my trip to Manzanares El Real. Not only did this town have one of Madrid's most beautiful castles (New Castle of Manzanares El Real), it also sits along the Manzanares River. I took a day trip here with my two roommates and one of my roommate’s college friends. We got to Manzanares in the early afternoon around 12 PM. We first made our way to the river along a walking path we found once we departed from the bus. We spent a couple of hours laying on the sandy shoreline taking in some sun rays, listening to music, doing some yoga, and enjoying all of the picturesque views. We then enjoyed a delicious picnic we had packed beforehand which consisted of Bocadillos (Sandwiches), fruit, veggies, and some chips. After lunch, we hiked back up towards the town where the New Castle was located. The New Castle of Manzanares is truly remarkable with all of the granite and stone that make up the castle. We were able to tour the inside where we got to learn a bit more about the history of the castle while checking out a couple more fantastic views of the town of Manzanares. Once we finished touring the castle, we walked back into town with several restaurants and bars. We walked around the small cobblestone streets throughout the town before settling in at a small restaurant within the village for some lunch. Not much was going on in this little town, but its beauty and charm spoke for itself.
Cascada del Chorro Grande
If you are looking to get out in nature and be surrounded by waterfalls and nature's beauty, then you need to take a trip to Cascada del Chorro Grande! My roommates, boyfriend, and I took a day trip here to hike through the luscious forests and admire all of the natural waterfalls. A packed lunch, some warm clothes, and good company led to a fun-filled day out in Madrid’s wilderness!
Alcala de Henares
Alcalá de Henares is a small city that is known for Miguel de Cervantes hometown! With a variety of bars, restaurants, bakeries, boutiques, and stores, Alcalá de Henares has something for everyone! My roommates and I went during Christmas time, so the city was filled with vibrant and cheerful decorations throughout the streets. We spent the day here touring Miguel de Cervantes's home and learning about the history behind his home. We then made our way to a cute bar/ restaurant called, Verde Gato, for a drink and some tapas. I would highly recommend this bar as it offers a bit of a different experience with its hidden outside patio in the back of the restaurant. The bar had specialty craft beers from all of Europe, unique coffee options, and served a wide variety of food and tapas.
Once we finished up our drinks and patatas bravas, we then continued to frolic around the cute town. We popped into a homemade pastry shop to grab some “ Rosquillas de Alcalá” before heading home. I will go back to that town for a full weekend in the future to get the full experience of all of the local bars and nightlife. ¡Vale la Pena! If you're looking for a place with lots of things to do but not quite as busy as the city center of Madrid, I would highly suggest visiting Alcalá!
Patones de Arriba
One of my most recent trips I have done within the Community of Madrid was my trip to Patones de Arriba. Due to its location, you cannot take a bus or train easily to this town, the best way of transportation to get here is by car. Luckily, my two roommates and I were able to visit this exquisite town with the help of our close Spanish friends. This quiet town sits in between the mountains overlooking Patones de Abajo. We arrived early in the morning (11AM) as the town is known to get busy later in the day. We walked around the small cobblestoned streets throughout the town before settling in a small restaurant within the village for some lunch. We had Migas, café, and té. I love exploring new places in the Community of Madrid because each place has its own character and landscapes. Spain is an outstanding country.