Another favoured rural escape for Madrileños, the El Paular Valley and its capital Rascafría.

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Two charming towns, mushrooms, a glacier, a monastery, and more.

Rascafría is a favourite with Madrid city slickers in search of fresh air and nature. It is the capital of the lovely El Paular Valley in the Guadarrama Mountains north of the capital (94 kilometres/58 miles via Routes A1 and M-604); the other main town up here is Oteruelo del Valle. You'll be treated to an attractive mix of hiking trails through the verdant valley and fascinating cultural landmarks such as the El Paular Monastery (est. 1390). This region includes the well-known Peñalara Natural Park whose highlight is Peñalara Peak, nearly 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) high and featuring a glacier. There are also various mountain trails throughout the area. If you come in the autumn, one popular local pastime that might interest you is mushroom picking; it's fun, and the only cost is to hire a local expert to come with and steer you away from the poisonous ones.

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