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Madrid: Hike the Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Mountains

Begin your hike from the town of Manzanares el Real, beneath the quintessential Spanish castle. Stand on the pretty lakeshore, look past the castle, and you'll see the peaks rising up behind the town.The climb up into the Cuenca Alta del Manzanares mountains gives spectacular views and a real escape from the city vibe for a discreet night’s bivvy amongst the boulder fields and unusual granite outcrops. If you search well, or ask locals, you may even find the gorgeous swim hole of Baños de Venus de La Pedriza... 

There are lots of short distance suggested hikes (called PR) that run through the park. One popular day hike is the trek to the Yelmo, one of the highest peaks in the area. The route from the village is well-marked by red and white stripes painted onto rocks. It's a long day walk so be sure to pack enough food and water. 

Level of Difficulty: Medium (if you're going to bivvy, Easy if you're just going for a day hike).  Bus 724 from Madrid’s Plaza de Castilla interchange departs every half an hour.

What to pack: Warm clothes (check the weather forecast!), woolly hat, headtorch, raingear, sleeping bag, mat and bivvy bag.

Best time to go: late spring or early summer before the fierce Madrid summer heat descends.

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Europe's third largest city may not have a beach like Barcelona, but if you come on a city break to Madrid sunbathing is the last thing that'll be on your mind.  Spain's capital is one bursting with culture and activities for tourists at every turn, with museums, art galleries and night after night of sexy flamenco.

Madrid's tourism board will proudly inform you that the city has more bars per square metre than anywhere else in Europe.  When it comes to appearances Madrid is hard to beat too, having retained much of its historic and regal flair seen in its wide boulevards, elegant fountains and royal parks. And for those of you who are bad with your bearings, don't worry, despite the size of this metropolis, Madrid's centre is surprisingly small. It has one of Europe's best metros too. 

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easyJet holidays to Madrid

Your easyJet experience doesn’t need to end when you touch down on the Madrid tarmac. easyJet holidays offers great value package holidays to Madrid, so you can explore the vibrant capital of Spain without fear that you’ll miss anything this lively city has to offer. From the golden triangle of museums where you can experience the ancient and the modern, to the world famous tapas cuisine and the unstoppable nightlife, where there are more bars per square mile than anywhere else in Europe. We can help make Madrid your perfect city break destination. As well as getting you there for a great deal, we can offer you the perfect package.

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Shopping


Get to know the artists and designers that make the leather goods at workshop and store Taller Puntera. They even let you have a go at working the leather yourself - just book in to one of the regular classes. Plaza Conde de Barajas, 4.


Casa Hernanz has been making the espadrille


Avoid the shops peddling tourist tat around the Puerta del Sol and head just behind the square to discover the hip Madrid-themed products at Madrid al Cubo (Calle de la Cruz, 35), many designed by local artists. A great place to pick up everything from unusual postcards, coasters and mugs to paintings and books.


Visit the monthly farmers market, where producers from around the Madrid region come to the Matadero arts centre to sell their wares and hold tastings and demonstrations. It's great place to pick up excellent olive oil, honey and beer, among many other things. 18, 19 February; 25, 26 March. http://mercadoproductores.es/


Ride the Navibus, the city's “Christmas bus” that takes passengers on a tour of Madrid's glistening Christmas lights and trees. Theres's no better way to soak up the Christmas atmosphere!


Soak up the autumnal colours along the Manzanares river and in the Casa de Campo park by hiring bikes and a picnic from the Matadero, a former slaughterhouse that is now one of Madrid's most happening cultural spaces.

Sightseeing


Suma Flamenca, one of the most important flamenco festivals in the world, takes place from June 6


Madrid's patron saint, San Isidro is celebrated in mid-May with parties, dancing and shows centred around La Latina, home to some of the best tapas in the city. (May 11-15)


Semana Santa or Holy Week (April 9-16) is a huge deal in Spain, where every town and city holds huge processions led by local brotherhoods, decked in hooded cloaks. Madrid will hold several processions in the run up to Easter Sunday, with festivities centred around Plaza Mayor.


Running until March 26 is a retrospective of American photographer Philippe Halsman, famous for his photographs of jumping celebrities and Life magazine covers. He also had a long working relationship with Spanish surrealist painter, Salvador Dali. Highlights include his fantastic series of photographs of Marilyn Monroe. It's on at the CaixaForum, http://www.esmadrid.com/en/whats-on/philippe-halsman-surprise-me-caixaforum-madrid


The Three Kings parade. Forget Christmas Day, Spanish children traditionally receive their presents from the Three Kings on January 6th, the Epiphany. Madrid holds a huge Three Kings parade every year on January 5th, with dancers, floats, and of course, Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar, who throw sweets out to the children in the crowd.


Renoir: Intimacy. Don't miss the chance to see some of the French impressionist's most famous works at Madrid's Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, one of the city's ‘golden triangle' of art galleries. It is showing 70 of Renoir's works this winter, focusing on his depiction of intimacy in all its guises. Until 22 January, http://www.museothyssen.org.

Key Areas


Cool off from Madrid's sizzling temperatures at Lago, a public complex of two swimming pools located in the Casa de Campo park. Easily accessibly by public transport, it is a family-friendly spot and a great place for a refreshing dip.


This month don't miss the Madrid derby between arch-rivals Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeau stadium on April 9.


Explore some of the world's most classic cars at ClassicAuto Madrid 2017, held in the glass pavilion of Madrid's Casa de Campo park from February 24-26. english.classicautomadrid.com


Get your sweet fix at Casa Mira, which has been making the Spanish Christmas classic turrón a nougat like sweet since 1842. The turrones are all hand-made and cut and bought by weight, a perfect traditional gift from Madrid.


One of Madrid's most multicultural and up-and-coming neighbourhoods, Lavapiés, plays host to a tapas and music festival this October that is bound to get your taste buds tingling. The area will host 67 concerts during Tapapies, with a diverse blend of music including rumba, blues, retro, swing, funky, afrobeat and samba. There will also be a children's theatre and street circus performances. 15-25 October, http://tapapies.com/ .


A visit to Madrid would not be complete without a trip to the Rastro flea market, which sets up every Sunday and bank holiday down Ribera de Curtidores street in La Latina. From vintage clothing and military memorabilia to classic vinyl and samurai swords, you'll find it all here. madrid.es

Day Trips


Take the 40 minute bus to Manzanares el Real, a town nestled in the Sierra de Guadarrama, from where you can embark on a range of hikes. The town is home to a medieval castle and some local bars where you can enjoy a cold beer and some tapas after a day soaking up the beautiful scenery. Buses leave from Plaza de Castilla, for timetables visit: http://crtm.es/datos_lineas/horarios/8724H1.pdf .


The Puerto de Navacerrada ski resort is just 60km from Madrid and accessible via public transport. Make the most of the wintery weather and spend a day or two on the pistes of the Sierra de Guadarrama.


Pay homage to the ‘Spanish Shakespeare' and author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, by visiting his hometown this year, the 400th anniversary of his death (ironically, the very same day as Shakespeare). Alcalá de Henares is 30 minutes from Madrid and is also renowned for its free tapas, so go hungry!

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