Summer has definitely arrived in Madrid. And with temperatures already in the 30s one of the best ways to cool down is swimming, dipping a toe or two, some waters sports or even just being near to some water. Being British I’m used to water, whether it’s the rain, rivers or the sea. Madrid for me, therefore, is lacking some of this wet stuff. However, it’s surprising just how many water sources there are for swimming in Madrid, and how many of these can be enjoyed free of charge. So, if you’d like to take your family for a swim or spend some time doing water sports in a natural environment, here are a few possibilities.
Poza Charca Verde, Sierra de Guadarrama
Walkers or climbers who go to La Pedriza may already know of Poza Charca Verde. In the summer this “puddle” becomes the ideal place to take in some beautiful nature while also enjoying the cold water of the Manzanares. Enter the water either by sliding down the smooth rocks or diving. Poza Charca Verde is to the west of Madrid and is within the Parque Regional Cuenca Alta Manzanares.
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/yyE5fqJ9Yjz
Approx 1hr from Madrid (60km)
Rio Manzanares, La Pedriza
The area of La Pedriza is not only popular for the Poza Charca Verde. As the River Manzanares runs through the natural park there are many spots where you can combine trekking with some water. Los Chorros de Manzanares may not be the biggest waterfalls ever, but are still beautiful. The waterfalls can be accessed from Canto Cochino in La Pedriza. Offering parking and a play area for children Canto Cochino is the ideal place to start your adventure. Also, if you want to avoid carrying food with you there are restaurants available.
Approx 1hr from Madrid (60km)
Las Presillas del Rio Lozoya, Rascafría
Going northwards from Madrid will take you to the natural swimming pools of Las Presillas. There are large grassed areas perfect for family picnics, sunbathing, etc plus wonderful views of the nearby mountains. In addition there are three natural swimming pools within the recreational area. Although swimming and enjoying the beautiful surroundings of this valley is free, you do have to pay for parking: 9€ per car and 4€ for motorbikes. However, you can spend the whole day there as the area is open from 10:00-21:00. More info: http://www.rascafria.eu/Las_Presillas.html
Las Presillas are about 1.5 hours drive from Madrid (80 km), but on the way you could always stop off at the villages of Cercedilla, Navacerrada for example and enjoy the countryside.
Playa de Estremera, Madrid
This beach is located on the River Tajo (Rio Tagus) and is about 60km southeast of Madrid on the border with Castilla la Mancha. This is a great place to take the kids for a day: not only is there a sandy beach, but the area offers a playground, picnic tables, kiosk etc. In addition water sports such as boating, snorkelling, etc and other land based activities including horseriding, paintballing and zip lines are available. Info: https://todosobremadrid.com/que-hacer/area-recreativa-playa-de-estremera/
Parque Natural del Alto Tajo
Further afield, this natural park covering more than 100000 hectares and located in Corduente, Guadalajara is home to a vast array of flora, fauna, amazing rock formations and the River Tajo. Water sports such as snorkelling and kayaking are available with Aquaventur (https://www.aquaventur.com/) and swimming is available near to the Puente de San Pedro. Plus if you follow the track away from the bridge you can find many other swimming and sunbathing spots.
Given that this park is some 3 hours drive from Madrid, going there may not be feasible for a day. However, given the vast array of things to see and do there it may be the perfect getaway for a few days. Some examples of places to stay are provided on the park’s website: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/naturaleza/parque-natural-del-alto-tajo-53072/comer-y-dormir/#ancla1
Rio Alberche, Navaluenga
Still over a border, but not as far as the Parque Natural del Alto Tajo is Navaluenga in Ávila. About 1.5 hours drive from Madrid, but I have been assured by a friend that it’s well worth the journey. As the Alberche River runs through this town, swimming, sunbathing, picnicing etc can all be enjoyed and the tree lined banks of the river provide some much needed shade.
If you wanted to make a whole day away from Madrid you could combine some action along with relaxation. Navaluenga offers a range of activities such as high ropes with Las Cabezuelas, paintball, kayaking and much more. Visit the ayuntamiento’s website for more info: http://aytonavaluenga.es/actividades/
Playa del Alberche, Aldea del Fresno
Following the course of the River Alberche, but closer to and back in the community of Madrid is the Playa del Alberche in the village of Aldea del Fresno. This sandy tree lined beach is located on the outskirts of Aldea del Fresno where the rivers Alberche and Perales meet. Although swimming is not a possibility as the water is not deep (safer for younger children), you can still paddle and the children can have a great time making sandcastles. Plus with its close proximity to this historical village you could visit one of its monuments such as La torre de la Iglesia Parroquial de San Pedro Apóstol. It’s necessary to pay for parking, but I understand this is a minimal charge.
Approx 1hr from Madrid (55km)
Playa Embalse, El Atazar
In addition to sports such as climbing, paragliding and horseriding the area around the reservoir (embalse) of El Atazar offers a multitude of water sports: boating, kayaking, paddle surf and fishing to name a few (see: http://www.embalsedelatazar.es/actividades/). Those are in addition to just enjoying the many beaches available around the reservoir, although it’s not clear whether swimming is permitted. As a funny sidenote, El Atazar has apparently been the place for many sightings of extraterrestrials!
Approximately 1hr 15 mins from Madrid (80km)
Playa de Madrid en El Pantano de San Juan, San Martín de Valdeiglesias
Deemed as having some of the best water and beaches in Madrid, the reservoir of San Juan is just 1 hour away from Madrid (70km). San Martín de Valdeiglesias lies to the west of Madrid. In addition to allowing swimming, this reservoir is the only one in the community of Madrid where water sports requiring motors are permitted. You could try to flyboard, wakeboard, waterski, go on a banana boat with http://www.ociopantanosanjuan.com/. Or for something more relaxing how about 3 hours of kaying from only 13€ per person with Yucalcari (https://www.yumping.com/multiaventura/yucalcari–e3032)
We hope that you are able to take advantage of some of these locations. If you do please let us know about your experiences as we have not been able to visit all of them. We’d love to know what is and what isn’t available. And, if you know of any other watery spots to visit let us know so we can share with our readers.
Of course, if you are going to spend time in an area such as the ones listed above, please remember that these are unsupervised areas without lifeguards and may not have facilities such as toilets, areas to change, shops etc. Take everything you can possibly think of that you may need.
Thanks for reading
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