The Ruta Imperial of Madrid

The Ruta Imperial of Madrid is a path steeped in history, offering a unique glimpse into Spain‘s rich cultural heritage. This scenic route takes you through the heart of the Sierra de Guadarrama, following in the footsteps of King Philip II as he traveled to the majestic Monastery of El Escorial in the 16th century.

The journey begins in the bustling city of Madrid and winds through picturesque villages like Torrelodones, Collado Villalba, and Guadarrama. The central focus of the route is the Royal Monastery of El Escorial, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts stunning architecture and sprawling gardens.

To fully appreciate the Ruta Imperial, the best times to visit are during the shoulder seasons of late spring and early fall. These periods offer pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and the opportunity to partake in local cultural festivities like Semana Santa and the Festival of San Isidro.

The route covers several municipalities and can be tailored to your interests and time constraints. We suggest doing the Ruta Imperial in 6 stages with departure and arrival in Majadahonda which is easily reachable by train from the center of Madrid. The GPS trail and waypoints are available on Google Maps.

From Majadahonda to Torrelodones

Distance: 14 km – Time: 3 hrs & 17 min

Torrelodones is an enclave of Arab origin that was founded to defend Madrid.

From Torrelodones to Guadarrama

Distance: 19 km – Time: 4 hrs & 22 min

Sierra de Guadarrama is the most popular mountain range in the Community.

Guadarrama-El Escorial-San Lorenzo de El Escorial

Distance: 16 km – Time: 3 hrs & 51 min

Located on the southern slopes of the Mount Abantos (elevation 1753 m).

From San Lorenzo de El Escorial to Robledo de Chavela

Distance: 16 km – Time: 3 hrs & 35 min

Contemplating beautiful landscapes to reach the “Spanish Switzerland”.

Robledo de Chavela-Navalagamella-Valdemorillo

Distance: 20 km – Time: 4 hrs & 41 min

Artificial basins, swamps, churches, and hermitages mark this part of the route.

From Valdemorillo to Majadahonda

Distance: 19 km – Time: 4 hrs & 17 min

Back to the city crossing the natural environment of the Guadarrama basin.

The Ruta Imperial of Madrid is more than just a route; it’s a journey through time that offers a deeper connection to Spain’s imperial past. So pack your bags, set your sights on adventure, and let the Ruta Imperial lead you on an unforgettable exploration of history and natural beauty.

Best time to go to Spain: Mar-May and Sep-Oct
Backpacker cost per day: 53 USD = 49 EUR
For more inspiration, check out our Spain Travel Guide.

Sources: some text excerpts from ChatGPT; GPS data from Google Maps.