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The Royal Path of Madrid – Senda Real (GR 124)


The Royal Path of Madrid – Senda Real (GR 124)

Hiking Collection by Claudia Aguilar González



5-5 h

/ day

32.6 mi

2,500 ft

1,500 ft

The GR 124 is a long-distance footpath that links the Spanish capital Madrid with the serene village of Manzanares el Real, located at the foot of the Guadarrama mountain range. Also known as the Senda Real (Royal Path), the trail was created as a result of the construction of the Royal House of El Pardo in the 15th century. Given that King Henry III of Castile was very fond of hunting, it was necessary to design a path that would connect the Royal Palace with the outbuildings on that mountain.

Due to the growth of Madrid, and its sprawling infrastructure, the Senda Real was on the verge of disappearing several times. However, after a sustained pushback from citizens, the Spanish Mountain Federation dedicated the route as a GR in 1999.

Today, you can enjoy a weekend full of tranquillity and changing landscapes on the route. Forests, viewpoints, meadows and hills form the backdrop, which later on is dominated by the imposing mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama.

This Collection consists of two stages of about 26 kilometres (16 mi) each. They’re not technically difficult, as they run mostly on gravel tracks, asphalt and some stretches of path. Therefore, this adventure is for anyone who is used to long walks. The route is perfect for beginners as it passes through several towns, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to use public transport if you want to shorten the stages.

You can complete this walk all year round, but I’d recommend avoiding summer because of the high temperatures. The best time is in spring, when the fields are blooming and the rivers are flowing. However, it’s always advisable to check the weather forecast in advance.

The route starts at Príncipe Pío train station, which you can reach by public transport or on foot from anywhere in Madrid. The first stage ends in Tres Cantos, which has numerous accommodation options – but advance booking is essential.

I recommend carrying water for each day and refilling your water bottles whenever possible. Also, take some food, such as nuts and snacks, and a change of clothes if you plan to sleep outside.

The Senda Real is a varied and beautiful hike that reveals the vibrancy and serenity of central Spain. Enjoy!

On The Map


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Senda Real (GR 124)

30.8 mi

2,425 ft

1,450 ft

Last updated: November 2, 2023

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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  1. Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Madrid to Tres Cantos – Senda Real (GR 124)

    16.2 mi
    2.9 mph
    900 ft
    500 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This little disconnection adventure begins at the Príncipe Pío station, very close to the Manzanares river. Also, as Madrid has a very good public transport network, you can start at any other point if you want to shorten the stage.


    On this first day you have to cross part of the capital. The GR 124 guides

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  2. 05:47
    16.4 mi
    2.8 mph
    1,600 ft
    1,000 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage is a little harder than the previous one, not so much because of the distance but because of the positive difference in altitude. However, the ascents are very spread out and there are no really demanding sections.


    Shortly after leaving Tres Cantos, you take a gravel track that winds through

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    32.6 mi
  • Duration
    11:16 h
  • Elevation
    2,500 ft1,500 ft

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