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Walk or train from Madrid to Tres Cantos

2020 Camino Guides

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
When I did the Madrid in 2016, I took the train to Tres Cantos to leap-frog over the inner-city portion the first day, and the industrial belt. As a matter of personal preference, I do this almost everywhere. City streets, Industrial parks and big box stores do not inspire me. I grew up in the industrial northeastern part of New Jersey in the US. If that is what I wanted to see, I could stay home...so I avoid the industrial belts surrounding cities in Spain and Portugal.

As regards the paucity of other pilgrims on the Madrid, you are correct. On my 2016 journey, I met one pilgrim during my first four-days, a German woman in her later 20s. She was so disheartened with the absence of other pilgrims that she was going to quit at Cercedilla.

We spoke about her expectations of a Camino (her first), her wants, needs, and desires. This ended up with me convincing her to try another route. After I explained the possible options and made recommendations, I put her on a AVA train at Segovia to send her ahead to Leon, to walk the second half of the Frances into Santiago.

FYI, I later met my German friend at Santiago several weeks later. She had a wonderful Camino as soon as she got to Leon. Success!

Pilgrims seeking solitude will love this route. Pilgrims who enjoy having other pilgrims around on a regular basis should probably stick the other, more popular routes. Just bear in mind that more pilgrims can bring an entire different set of challenges, finding accommodation, noise, crowding at times, etc.

But, not everyone craves crowds. The Madrid route is beautiful but largely solitary.

Hope this helps.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
When I did the Madrid in 2016, I took the train to Tres Cantos to leap-frog over the industrial belt. As a matter of personal preference, I do this almost everywhere. Industrial parks and big box stores do not inspire me.
From one stickler for details to another, I can’t resist pointing out that the Camino de Madrid has absolutely no exit through an industrial park or big box stores. From the Plaza de Castilla, you walk up the Castellana past those big scandalous skyscrapers (scandalous because of how they got built), past a hospital complex, under the M-30 or 40, can’t remember which, and bam you are in the countryside. There is a stretch after that that goes along the highway and is on a paved bike trail — not the best walking conditions, but totally safe and not anything like some of the other more treacherous highway walking I’ve encountered on other caminos.

In fact, I would say the start of the Camino de Madrid is the most pleasant city exit on any camino I have ever walked. Except for the beginning of the Finisterre route from Santiago, but then Santiago is a pretty tiny city.

People should of course start where they want, but for me, starting at the church in Old Madrid, then weaving through town on very nice streets up to the Plaza Castilla where the first arrow is, was a very pleasant start.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Walking on city streets, even through "interesting neighborhoods" is similarly boring for me, personally. That is why I chose to skip ahead to Tres Cantos. To me, being on Camino is walking out in nature, not in a city. But, I fully respect everyone's choices.

I did start at the traditional beginning of this route, at the Iglesia de Santiago y San Juan de Batista downtown, then walked to the train station, etc. emerging at Tres Cantos...I continued walking from there.

I walked along the river leaving Lisbon in 2017. That had the city on the left and river on the right. It was just barely acceptable. I guess I just crave being out in nature.

But, it is all good.
 

jennysa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2011,2012 2013,2014, 2015 Aragones 2012, 2017 2018 Via Francigena 2016,2017 Primitivo 2018,2019
After spending a day and a half in Madrid seeing friends and eating way too much, tomorrow morning we’re setting out from the Iglesia de Santiago to begin our third camino. I’ll phone-blog here for anyone interested.

I’ve never minded walking in cities on camino and @peregrina2000 has said that the exit from Madrid is quite pleasant, so I’m actually looking forward to starting out right in the heart of the city and walking through the suburbs and outskirts before eventually leaving Madrid behind.

The weather for our first few days seems like it will be OK, as Tuesday is the only day out of the first four with rain in the forecast at the moment. There is snow in the forecast for Segovia later in the week, though, so that might be interesting!

All going well, we’ll be in Tres Cantos tomorrow night. The CSJ guide write-up on the albergue in Tres Cantos says you have to leave before 6am, and also adds this line:

[Edit: removed line about not being allowed in until 10:30pm because it is incorrect.]

So maybe we’ll be better off at the Hostal Tres Cantos or elsewhere. Advice or suggestions welcome!
A friend of mine walked as far as Segovia and he caught a train/bus directly to Tres Cantos, rather than walking out of Madrid though industrial areas. I would be interested in what everyone else thinks about this. Is it a good idea or does one miss some great scenery? I caught the bus for the first 8 kms from Oviedo on the Primitivo to avoid industrial areas and so glad that I did because the bus weaved in and out of stunning mountain villages and beautiful scenery.
 

jennysa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2011,2012 2013,2014, 2015 Aragones 2012, 2017 2018 Via Francigena 2016,2017 Primitivo 2018,2019
awesome! 14, but starting a stage before madrid city. the stage between tres cantos and manzanares is really nice, perhaps a good place to start. buen camino
I have just posted a query about whether it is preferable to start at Tres Cantos or Madrid. A friend who did that recommends it. What do you think?
 

lindam

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, VDLP, Invierno, Portuguese, Madrid, Ingles, Fisterra, Muxia, Catalan/Aragones/Loyola Norte
A friend of mine walked as far as Segovia and he caught a train/bus directly to Tres Cantos, rather than walking out of Madrid though industrial areas. I would be interested in what everyone else thinks about this. Is it a good idea or does one miss some great scenery? I caught the bus for the first 8 kms from Oviedo on the Primitivo to avoid industrial areas and so glad that I did because the bus weaved in and out of stunning mountain villages and beautiful scenery.
Hello Jennysa,
To be honest, I was surprised how easy and pleasant the walk out of Madrid to Tres Cantos was. It did not involve walking through industrial areas as one might expect when leaving a large city. It also allowed us to see more of the various neighbourhoods in Madrid along the way, always interesting. I suppose it depends on how you feel about having more urban walking to begin your Camino.
 

jungleboy

Nick
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
I thought the walk out of Madrid was fine, but I don’t mind urban walking on camino in general so I’m probably not the best person to ask.
 
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jefferyonthecamino

http://www.barrerabooks.com/ - Guidebooks
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (1994) & (2013 - 2019)
Camino Portugués (2015 - 2019)
Camino de Madrid (2019)
I have just posted a query about whether it is preferable to start at Tres Cantos or Madrid. A friend who did that recommends it. What do you think?
If you have no desire to walk for hours through a big city and then another couple hours almost alongside a major freeway, then start from Tres Cantos. Mind you, this can be stressful as there aren't many arrows until Plaza de Castilla, and even then, they are not always easy to find until you leave the city.

If being able to say that you walked every inch is important and you don't mind taking in the city sights (nor all of the above), then from the Church of Santiago in Madrid.

For me the latter was important.

The Camino from Tres Cantos onwards avoids the city sprawl and most of suburbia, is along trails, through the countryside, etc. This does not mean that aren't residential areas and summer homes. Indeed, the stage between Tres Cantos and Manazanares el Real is one of my favourite ones.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
Madrid - Tres Cantos is worth it IMO. Despite it runs most time near a motorway you can see nice views of the mountains and holm oak forests.
If you want to avoid the streets, take the Metro to Montecarmelo station (Line 10) (that is still Madrid city) and follow the cemetery wall till a park where there is Camino monument.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have just posted a query about whether it is preferable to start at Tres Cantos or Madrid. A friend who did that recommends it. What do you think?
@t2andreo and I had an exchange about this very topic on another recent Camino de Madrid thread. https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/camino-madrid-in-april.65567/#post-805833

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking a train or bus out of Madrid, but everyone should be clear that there are no industrial areas that they are jumping over. From the church to the first arrows, you can plot out a nice walk that goes through lively central Madrid, and then up the nice Castellana boulevard and past the big Real Madrid stadium at Bernabeu. The arrows don’t start till the Plaza de Castilla.

Look at the Gronze map.

From Plaza de Castilla to the suburb of Fuencarral it is all urban, but fairly low density and not much traffic. From Fuencarral to El Goloso it’s all dirt paths with nice views back to Madrid. The last kms are on a bike path along the M-607. It is paved and alongside a highway, so not too beautiful, but not dangerous at all.

If you don’t like cities or urban areas, then by all means take the train to Tres Cantos. But if you like getting your stamp in the church and heading out, then go for the walk. It is a hundred times nicer than many urban exits on other caminos.
 

OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'Portuguese,Frances,Norte,Salvador/primitivo,Le puy, Inglés, CDM, Invierno, Fin/Mux, VDLP spring19
I have just posted a query about whether it is preferable to start at Tres Cantos or Madrid. A friend who did that recommends it. What do you think?
Jenny
Unless you're restricted on walking days., definitely start in Madrid.
It's the Camino de Madrid...
Also.. It's honestly a pleasant walk even through the city part...
If you prefer., you could walk the city part one afternoon.... out to Plaza Castilla and get the metro back to Sol. When you leave the next day proper....you can get the metro back from say 'Sol' if your accommodation is near there and start walking from Plaza Castilla.

Of course you can get a train to Tres Cantos and start walking from there...but a choice you'll have to make. You'll enjoy it either way.

Buen Camino
Annie
 

Doogman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
?
I agree with the comments that say that the Madrid - Tres Cantos stage is worth it. There is no industrial section that I recall. The first part is simply an urban walk through a very nice city. The second section is a stretch through parkland with the snow covered mountains in the background. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
 

Doogman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
?
I stayed near the Plaza de Castilla. On the day of arrival in Madrid, I took the metro to the city centre and walked from the church back to Plaza de Castilla. I think it was 6-7 kms. The next day I simply walked out the door of the hotel and headed to Tres Cantos. It was quite enjoyable.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
It turns out we had a few threads going about the same topic. So I have merged them all into one — that means you will find duplication on this thread, but I think it’s a good idea to have all of the discussion in one place.
 

jennysa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2011,2012 2013,2014, 2015 Aragones 2012, 2017 2018 Via Francigena 2016,2017 Primitivo 2018,2019
Thanks everyone. You have all persuaded me to ignore my friend's advice. I will definitely not be skipping this stage.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I stayed near the Plaza de Castilla. On the day of arrival in Madrid, I took the metro to the city centre and walked from the church back to Plaza de Castilla. I think it was 6-7 kms. The next day I simply walked out the door of the hotel and headed to Tres Cantos. It was quite enjoyable.
That is what I did as well. But on my second day I walked from the Plaza Castilla beyond Tres Cantos to Colmenar, to get a 23 km day. I had hoped to find a pensión there that others had mentioned but wound up staying in a hotel. The albergue situation before Cercedilla has improved a lot since I walked, so there are now lots of ways to walk those first few days.

The only step backwards in the albergue situation has been that little ermita on the Peña Sacra in Manzanares no longer takes in pilgrims. It was a totally amazing place — up on a rock, about 2 km out of town with just mind boggling views of the Guadarrama mountains.

There was some sort of legal action filed when the church stopped taking pilgrims — the theory being that since they had gotten a lot of public money to refurbish the albergue they could not now devote it exclusively to their religious use. But that must have gotten nowhere. In any event, the silver lining is that Ray and Rosa’s new pilgrim space in Manzanares is apparently one of the most charming places on the Madrid!
 

marilyn van graan

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012) VDLP (2014) Portuguese (2015)
For what it is worth - when I walked the camino Madrid we left from the church and headed out of Madrid - so much festivity going on the 4 of us all thought this was to herald us on our way - how nice!! What we did discover it was the Madrid Marathon and yes festive it was and have to add most pleasant to walk those lovely streets amid all the fun. It was a lovely first day and would not have missed it for the world but then I too like to head off from the starting point - maybe it is a little of the OTT in me. This was an awesome camino and walking with Maggie, Paul and Eli definitely made it spectacular. Enjoy every day and all the diversity it has to hold and wishing you a very buen caminoXX!!!!
 

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