We had gorgeous, sunny weather this week leading up to spring break, which means it’s parks and recreation season in Madrid!
There’s no way Madrileños would rather spend warm, sunshiny days than lying in the grass, picnicking, day-drinking and spending time with friends at the park. And who could blame them when Madrid is home to some of the most beautiful and welcoming parks with plenty of space and greenery to dazzle your spring afternoons? Many consider Spaniards as being overly idle and having too much free time, but that’s not true. They just know how to “aprovechar el día” in their own way. So if you’re lucky enough to be hanging out in Madrid this spring, spend your afternoons lounging in one of these amazing parks around the city.
Parque del Buen Retiro
Retiro is one of the city’s famous landmark features, which I like to describe as the Golden Gate Park of Madrid. Except instead of the DeYoung Museum there’s the Palacio de Cristal and there’s the Palacio Velazquez instead of the Academy of Sciences. Retiro is 350 acres of everything a park should be, with luscious foliage, magnificent fountains, small lakes, picturesque walkways and historic architecture. The favorite go-to location for many park goers is the lawn that wraps around the stunning Palacio de Cristal. With secret gardens, charming bookstands, sailboat rentals and the Prado Museum right next to it, it’s impossible not to have a dreamy time whenever you visit Retiro.
Templo de Debod
Retiro is huge and can get pretty overwhelming, which is why thankfully there is a much more chill spot close to Plaza de España off of Calle Princesa. The Templo de Debod was a temple originally created in Egypt, gifted to Spain by the Egyptian state because of Spain’s help in saving the temples of Abu Simel in Nubia. This was then reconstructed in Madrid up until 1970. Surrounding the Egyptian temple are patches of lawn which are perfect for groups of friends to hang out amongst themselves as well as a large walkway that overlooks one of Madrid’s most beautiful sweeping views of the city.
Parallel to Rio Manzanares, Madrid, Spain (map, website)
Along the River Manzanares there is a long strip of park that stretches along the southern end of the city. Madrid Río is a modern outdoor recreational center which is perfect for jogging, offers roller-skate rentals, has a skate park as well as multiple futuristic playgrounds that kids totally love. There are patches of grass along the river where you eat lunch with a wonderful view and it doesn’t hurt that the beautiful Matadero cultural center is located right next to the park. This place is perfect for when you want to spend some time away from the bustling city center for some calm and quiet.
Casa de Campo
Casa de Campo is a gigantic park and nature center, which is a popular spot for active outdoorsy people who enjoy rock climbing and mountain biking. But if you just walk a little bit from the Príncipe Pio entrance there’s a nice, big lake with lots of lawns and cafés to sit around. Of course there’s plenty of green all over the park where you can sit and picnic, and the forests at this park in particular are very shady, a.k.a. great for cooling off during those hot afternoons in Madrid. But just be sure not to get lost because as I said, this park is huge and it would be impossible to explore all of it on foot in one day.