Surrounding the city of Madrid there are many towns with great hiking trails. Whenever possible, on the weekends we would take a bus out to a pueblo, and hike through rocky mountains or along a river. It was a welcomed therapeutic escape after spending all week in the concrete jungle.
About: Most days that I went hiking I would choose La Pedriza. A short 45 minute bus ride away from Madrid, this hike is very accessible and easy to moderate in difficulty depending on how far you want to hike. The trail ambles along up and down and is never steep.
I really enjoyed hiking here because every few km the terrain completely changes. The hike travels along the river Manzanares, first along boulders, then under trees, then you will pop out over a valley for a tremendous view of the river and both green and snow covered peaks at once. Continuing you will go beneath trees, forest, and across the river. Eventually there are more little bars and if you make it far enough to a little mountaineers’ bar on top of a hill. Some mules carry wine there everyday on their backs and you may see them resting by the river. When you reach the Pueblo of Manzanares by bus go to the tourist info center which is right beyond where the bus stop is. They have helpful maps as well as a public restroom. Next you walk up the road towards the rocky mountains for about 30 minutes before finally reaching the beginning of the hike. There are a couple cute little restaurants here. I recommend the hummus from the one with murals.
There is also a castle in the pueblo that is definitely worth checking out, and I believe the entrance cost is 5€.
Take the 724 bus from Plaza Castilla. It should cost around 4,50€ and take 45 minutes to get there.
About: Another lovely place to go hiking, though I haven’t been here as many times. You begin in the pueblo or Cercidilla, and walk up this hill where you’ll find the tourist information center. This hike is primarily beneath trees, and there is a small river that you hike by too. Part of the Camino de Santiago crosses one of the trails here which is always exciting to see.
Take the 684 bus from Intercambiador de Moncloa or take the Cercanías (fairly cheap trains) from Atocha.
About: I worked at a school in Becerril de la Sierra, a little pueblo surrounded with beautiful mountains. I was lucky as two of my coworkers where big fans of hiking too, and took me hiking with them in the mountains of Navacerrada, which is close by. In the winter many people go skiing in the mountains of Navacerrada.
Transportation: You can take the 691 bus from the Intercambiador de Moncloa. When I went hiking here I arrived in a car and drove right up to the trail head so I am not completely clear on arrival by bus.