San Juan Reservoir
Large, imposing lake surrounded by pine forests to the west of Madrid. Due to its proximity to the capital, it’s also called ‘Madrid Beach’.
San Juan reservoir is at the western end of the Community of Madrid, between San Martín de Valdeiglesias, El Tiemblo, Cebreros and Pelayos de la Presa. It lies among pine forests, at the first foothills of Gredos Mountain Range. The M-501, known as the ‘road of the lakes‘ (Carretera de los Pantanos) takes you here.
San Juan reservoir collects water from the Alberche River, a tributary of the Tagus. It’s the only reservoir of the Community of Madrid that allows swimming, water sports and motorized water activities.
San Juan reservoir has a total of 14 km of beaches. The main beaches are: Virgen de la Nueva which is the most famous and has a Blue Flag. El Muro is the second most popular beach in the reservoir. Most restaurants and sailboats are located here. The Lancha del Yelmo cove and the nudist cove are accessible by the forest track from the M-501. They are quieter and have a more rocky and rugged profile. The beaches Calas de Guisando and Veracruz are at the entrance to the Urbanizations that bear the same name.
You enter Virgen de la Nueva beach between large pine trees. It’s the most famous beach on the lake and has been awarded a Blue Flag.
To get to Virgen de la Nueva beach, you have to go through San Martín de Valdeiglesias, 6 km from the reservoir.
It’s a large beach with many nooks and crannies and where you can practise many water sports.
El Muro beach is the other large recreational area of the reservoir. You will find many restaurants, a sailboat jetty and a camping site in this area.
The beach is called El Muro because it’s next to the retaining wall (dam), on the right side of the reservoir. You get to El Muro from Pelayos de la Presa.
El Muro area has several restaurants. La Martuka (chill out with great views) and Serengueti (terrace with paellas).
In the area of El Muro, you will also find La Ardilla Roja campsite.
The entrance to the nudist beach is via a forest track through the pine forest (see the How to Get There section below). The tree to the right has a signpost indicating the direction to the nudist beach.
You can walk from the nudist cove to Lancha de San Yelmo. At the foot of the big rock in the picture is Lancha de San Yelmo.
After this cove in Lancha de San Yelmo, there are several more coves.
This is the view if you climb on the rock of Lancha de San Yelmo.
A cove with crystal clear water on Lancha de San Yelmo.
View of Lancha de San Yelmo from the nudist beach.
Read these Tips
when Wild Swimming
Keep it Clean!
HOW TO GET TO - San Juan Reservoir
The easiest way is to go by car. There is also public transportation (bus) to get to San Juan reservoir.
How to get to the San Juan reservoir?
To get to the lake by car, take the M-501 (the well-known ‘road of the lakes’) that takes you to Pelayos de la Presa. From here, you can access El Muro beach, which is where most of the restaurants and sailboats are. If you continue along the M-501 you will arrive at San Martín de Valdeiglesias. Take the M-957 from here for 6 km to reach Virgen de la Nueva beach, the busiest beach.
The nudist beach and Lancha de San Yelmo (an iconic rock with several sandy beaches) are accessed by driving on a forest track for around 5 minutes. The entry to this forest track is on this point of the M-501. You can leave your car in a parking lot between pine trees. From here it takes around 5 minutes to walk down to the coves on the lake.
To get to San Juan reservoir by bus, take Line 551 that leaves from Principe Pio in Madrid. The stop is the first in Pelayos de la Presa (next to the Repsol service station). After exiting the bus you have to walk around 10 minutes to El Muro beach. You can also stop further away in San Martín de Valdeiglesias and from there go to Virgen de la Nueva beach. On the way back to Madrid, especially on weekends, there are many passengers, so usually they have to wait for the next bus. It’s advisable to take the bus to San Martín de Valdeiglesias, and from there start the journey back to Madrid. Check the schedules here.
There are many car parks around the reservoir. Especially around the two best-known beaches (Virgen de la Nueva and El Muro). It’s easy to park in general. On weekends in summer it will take a little longer to park, but you will always find a parking spot.
Closest Towns/ Villages
Pelayos de la Presa (200 m), San Martín de Valdeiglesias (4 km), El Tiemblo (12 km), Cebreros (14 km)
Level of Difficulty
It’s easy to get to Pantano San Juan if you arrive by car. If you arrive by bus at Pelayos de la Presa, it’s a short uphill walk through the pine forest until you reach El Muro beach. Follow our directions in the Getting There section below.
Time to Walk to Swimming Spot
Drinking Water Spots
USEFUL INFORMATION - San Juan Reservoir
Handy Things to Know
When to Go & Opening Times
It’s always open.
When to go?
It’s a place to visit at any time of the year. During the summer months, it gets more crowded since it is the ‘Playa de Madrid’.
It’s the only reservoir in the Community of Madrid where swimming, motorized water activities (boat trips, sliders or water bananas) and water sports (pedalo, wakeboarding, water skiing, flyboarding, kayaking and paddleboarding) are allowed. There are several boat rental and water sports companies at Virgen de la Nueva beach and El Muro beach. You can rent it or take your own board or kayak.
You can picnic, go horse riding, mountain bike, hiking or try archery. They also have guided environmental tours.
During the rest of the year, climbers are the ones who visit this place the most. The area has 270 climbing routes (divided into 16 sectors).
The 2 busiest beaches (Virgen de la Nueva and El Muro) have:
Red Cross, Toilets, Parkings, Restaurants and Mooring Buoys.
Virgen de la Nueva also has a Blue Flag.
There is a lifeguard service from mid-June to mid-September. Monday to Friday – 12 am to 7 pm Saturdays, Sundays and holiday days – 11 am to 7:30 pm.
Dogs are allowed and may swim. They should be on a leash during the high season.
Due to the danger of fire, it’s forbidden to make fire, use barbecues or any other cooking appliance.
Do not litter, no pets and no fishing in the bathing area during high season. No camping around the lake (except in the 2 campsites).
Remember that soap and detergents should not be used in rivers and pools. Also, most sun creams contaminate the water, try to apply them well before taking a dip.
(Scientists have found that sunscreen releases significant amounts of titanium dioxide, which damages aquatic life. Soaps have phosphates, are also non-biodegradable and harm the environment).
Things to Do – San Juan Reservoir
Things to Do
Things to do near the San Juan reservoir?
San Martín de Valdeiglesias, a municipality of 8298 inhabitants, has an old castle (Castillo de la Coracera) worth seeing. It was built in the 15th century, but it’s well preserved. Admission is €4 per adult and €3 per child.
The Enchanted Forest (‘El Bosque Encantado’) is a short distance from the San Juan reservoir. It’s 700 m south of San Martín de Valdeiglesias. It’s a botanical garden and plant sculpture park.
Many hiking routes pass through Pantano de San Juan. The unique rocky mountains, the pine forests and breathtaking views make this an ideal area for walks.
Where to Eat
In the towns Pelayos de la Presa and San Martín de Valdeiglesias there are verious restaurants, picnic areas and beach bars. On the lake itself, the 2 most popular beaches (Virgen de la Nueva and El Muro) have several restaurants. In the Lancha del Yelmo beach and the nudist beach, there are no bars or restaurants.
Soil, sand and rocks
Maximum Water Depth
Minimum Swimming Level
How Clean is the Swimming Spot?
How Clean is the Water?
Keep it Clean!
Read these Tips
when Wild Swimming