Art museums, football stadiums, bars and restaurants, churches, and shopping keep locals and visitors out and about round the clock in Madrid. If you´re visiting Madrid and are looking for a quiet, outdoor place where you can relax and get away from the noise and crowds, Madrid is the European city with the highest number of trees and green spaces per capita. There are a variety of parks and even pools where you can enjoy the sunny weather and get away from the hustle and bustle.
Undoubtedly Madrid´s most well-known park, Retiro Park covers around 350 acres and is located minutes away from the Prado Museum in central Madrid. Once a leisure area built for the royal family, Retiro is now a public park, complete with sculpture, fountains, several art galleries, and a man-made lake with rowboats, a rose garden. Events are often held in the park, including nature walks, concerts, and puppet shows, just to name a few! Though the park can get quite crowded, there is always a quiet corner to enjoy a picnic or take a nap in the grass.
With almost 4,000 acres, Casa de Campo is more than ten times the size of Retiro. These former royal hunting grounds are now a massive park that features a zoo, an amusement park, a cable car, a public swimming pool, and a lake with rowboats for rent. At sunset, you can even have dinner at one of the restaurants along the lake to enjoy a quiet meal with a lovely view of downtown Madrid as a backdrop. Casa de Campo is an ideal location for runners, cyclists, and even mountain bikers. Because the space is so extensive, it rarely feels crowded and it offers a wide variety of terrain.
The recently built Madrid Río is an excellent example of urban redevelopment. With the building of a series of underground tunnels, the space that was formerly occupied by the M-30 highway has been transformed into linear park. Thirty kilometres of bike paths, a BMX circuit, basketball courts, a soccer field, a skating and skateboarding park, a climbing wall, and 17 playgrounds for children are just a few of the highlights of this brand new park along the Manzanares River.
El Capricho, which can be translated as The Whim, is perhaps Madrid´s best kept secret. Located about a half-hour outside Madrid´s centre, this park attracts few visitors due to its location, though it is easily accessible by metro and well worth the trip. It occupies about 14 acres, and is an excellent example of the art of landscaping at its best. English landscaping, Italian Giordano, and the French parterre style are all incorporated into this lovely, impeccably maintained park. It is only open on weekends and holidays.
Right in the middle of downtown Madrid on Gran Vía, the Emperador Hotel offers an excellent urban escape at its Roof Garden. This rooftop pool and terrace has lounge chairs, a snack and cocktails bar, wireless internet, changing rooms, and of course, spectacular views of Madrid. Though the entry fee is pricey, it is open to the general public, not just hotel guests. In the Madrid summer heat, it may just be worth the extra money!