The best places to go skiing or snowboarding in Spain are certainly outside of Madrid, like north to the Pyrenees or south to Sierra Nevada. However, there are a few options for ski resorts in Madrid which, being closer and cheaper, made them a tempting weekend getaways for us. After a bit of research we decided to head to Valdesquí Ski Resort in the north of the autonomous community of Madrid, just an hour away from historic Segovia and about 30 minutes away from a small town which we were delighted to discover, Rascafría.
We’d never heard of this town before and only decided to stay the night there for two reasons. First, it was close to the ski resort and second, there was a Sheraton Hotel. We were really surprised to discover how much we enjoyed this small Spanish town to the north of the capital and it certainly added to our weekend ski trip.
There are several reasons why this city can make for a nice day trip from Madrid any time of year, especially when wanting to avoid the overly tourist-filled day trip cities like Toledo or Segovia.
We obviously went there during the winter for the snow in Valdesquí. Staying in Rascafría allowed for a quick drive to the resort where we could enjoy the slopes. Now Valdesquí in and of itself is not the best spot for skiing, but it’ll do for a quick trip to get out of the congestion of Madrid. If skiing and snowboarding aren’t you’re thing, it’s worth the trip to enjoy the beautiful mountainous scenery while walking along various paths or hiking along the trails. We definitely plan to return during the warmer months to see it opposite ski season.
Monastery of Santa Maria del Paular
Undoubtedly the city’s main (and unrivaled) attraction, this monastery dates back to 1390 and was the first one in the Kingdom of Castile and the sixth one in Spain. Once abandoned, it was restored in 1910 and can now be visited on your own or with a guided tour. With the beautiful Sierra de Guadarrama as its backdrop, the monastery is a gorgeous sight inside and out. Today it is partly occupied by a community of Benedictine monks while another grandeur part is occupied by one of the Starwood hotels in Spain, Sheraton Santa Maria de El Paular – a beautiful place to stay we can assure! Check out the monastery’s website for visiting hours and directions.
Small town charm
As far as actual sights go, the monastery is the principal, if not only, sight to see. However, the city in general breathes small Spanish town charm with quiet streets, a quaint main square, and a narrow creek running through the town that make for wonderful afternoon strolls. There are great restaurants for local food and wine to be enjoyed as well. We enjoyed Restaurante Conchi in particular. What Rascafría lacks in museums and obvious tourist sites it makes up for by offering an escape from quick paced living.
Puente del Perdón
The Puente del Perdón, or Bridge of Forgiveness, is just across from the monastery. Dating back to 1738, it was constructed to make travel from the monastery to the paper mill more accessible. The bridge crosses the Río Lozoya and from this vantage point there are great photo opportunities of the Monastery of Santa Maria del Paular propped up against the mountains which take shape behind it. Originally the bridge was built in the 14th century, but after deteriorating it was completely replaced in the 18th century. The current bridge was restored in 1991 by the Community of Madrid.
In all, Rascafría is worth a weekend stay as a great option to avoid the typical tourist trip in search of a tranquil visit in the mountains.
Have you ever heard of Rascafría? Would like to make a visit? Let us know in the comments below!