There are many parks in Madrid. And we do not refer to small parks, but huge ones.
Let´s start with a fact unknown to most tourists that arrive to Madrid to spend a few days. Madrid is the capital city in Europe with more trees per square meter. Trees can be found in every street, but also at the city´s beautiful gardens and parks. Just to give an example of the size of parks we refer to. La Casa de Campo is more than twice the size of Central park. The park at Valdebebas is 1,5 times the size of central park….
These parks are perfect to escape from the busy shopping streets or main boulevsards in Madrid. Parks in Madrid are a great way to enjoy a break whilst visiting with children. There are many playground areas in nearly all of them (The romantic Capricho park is the exception to this rule)
Best parks in Madrid - Guide
El Retiro park
The Retiro park is probably Spain´s most famous park. Enjoying a boat ride in the Retiro lake is one of the top things to enjoy in Madrid with children.
Among the many interesting things you will be able to enjoy in El Retiro park you will be able to take some pictures of trees, squirrels, ducks and beautiful fountains.
We have prepared a special guide to enjoy your visit to El Retiro park and some of its most special areas. Get ready to enjoy a cold horchata like locals do, enjoy an exhibition at the Palaco de Cristal or hire a boat! Visitors Guide Retiro park Madrid
Madrid botanical gardens
Get ready to enjoy an amazing collection of trees, flowes and plants at a very romantic garnde nright next to the Prado Museum.
The botanical gardens in Madrid are centrally located. At 5 minutes walk from other top tourist attractions in Madrid like the Prado Museum or the Thyssen Bornemisa art gallery, the botanical gardens offer the perfect opportunity to enjoy fresh air in Madrid city center, and learn about nature.
The Retiro park is so close to the gardens that you may well ask this question. Besides, the Retiro park is free! Having said this, the botanical gardens offer a different experience. If you enjoy gardening a visit to the botanical gardens is a must. You will be shocked by the beauty of some of the flowers and plants, wild roses, hues .
How long to visit the botanical gardens?
The visit will depend on your interests. If you enjoy the visit as a walk in any other park with stops to enjoy some flowers you will need one hour. Entrance and exit are located at the same gate which implies you will have to visit the whole park (which is not huge) to leave it.
If you would prefer to explore in depth then your visit will last at least 2 hours.
How to get to the botanical gardens?
The gardens are located just next to the Prado Museum towards Atocha train station. A visit to the gardens offers a perfect match with a visit to one of the art galleries in this part of Madrid.
How much is the entrance ticket to the gardens?
The ticket costs 4€ with an extra 2€ if you would like to visit the temporary exhibitions. There are reduced tickets for teachers, students, elderly as well as family discounts.
The botanical gardens are opened all year round with the exception of Chrismast day and New Year´s day. The garde opens at 10:00 and closes at 18:00 (winter season) or 19:00 (summer season).
Entrance to the botanical gardens is not expensive and it is a more secluded and romantic garden than the Retiro park.
A visit with children is also highly advisable. Activities to discover the gardens are usually organized for children (treasure hunting) and children will love the small pond at the end of the park on the opposite side to the entrance.
Collection at the Royal botanical gardens in Madrid
The botanical gardens offer 20 acres of natural diversity at the heart of Madrid. With over 30,000 plants and 1,500 trees, the park is organized in 3 main sections:
Terraza de los Cuadros: a collection of box-edge plots which include ornamental, medicinal, or aromatic plants,
Terraza de las Escuelas botánicas. Plants in this are ordered following their natural evolutionary relationships.
Terraza del Plano de la Flor. A collection of trees and shrubs which include the Villanueva pavilion. This part of the garden was designed in the mid-XIXth century romantic English style.
History of the botanical garden
Carlos III, known as the enlighted monarch, decided to create a complex dedicated to science and research in Madrid. The botanical gardens was part of this effort, as it was also the case of the building that hosts today the Prado Museum and which at that time (18th century) was home to the Museum of natural history. This scientific spirit remains today and as a proof for this the gardens are managed by a scientific institution, the CSIC (Spain´s national scientific institution).
Spain has played a fundamental role in the development of botany and medicine. If we look back into history, the discovery of America brought important consequences to Europe. The most obvious ones were the introduction of potato, tomato and maize, but discoveries were not limited to these and the XVIth century witnessed many studies and as a matter of fact, an expedition by Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdés was the first natural history expedition ever sent out by a government. Fernandez de Oviedo wrote “Historia general y natural de las indias” as an outcome of that expedition.
The XVIIth century brought times of decadence for Spain and the establishment of the botanical garden came late (if compared to efforts in other European countries) and had to wait till 1755, year in which the official word was given for the creation of the botanical garden in Madrid. A few botanist like José Quer and José Ortega were key in the development of the gardens at their original location
It was not till 1781 that the gardens were moved to their current location. Before this move happended, the gardens started to heat with coal the greenhouse of exotic plants and this brought the capacity to raise tropical and subtropical plants in Madrid´s climate.
The move of the gardens to their current location illustrates the importance given to research at the time of Carlos III. Botany was the king´s best hobby. Great care was put to the design of the botanical gardens, and the teaching of botany was incorporated in the design with the creation of the “Escuelas botanicas” . The budget increased and this was felt in the increase in number of plants.
During the last quarter of the XVIIIth century Spain sponsored 4 important expeditions which included a strong botanical character to its colonies. Spain could have become a super power in botany but the XIX century brought difficult years for science in Spain and much of what was accomplished was left aside and almost forgotten. With the Spanish war of independence in 1808 the gardens were abandoned and it was only in 1857 that a new green house was refurbished. In 1939 the gardens became part of the CSIC.
Madrid Rio park
Madrid Rio´s very long path starts in the Puente de Los Franceses and runs a few miles until you reach the Matadero area. A large number of trails makes it very pleasant to walk, and by the time you’re done walking one trail or another, it could add up to about 10 kilometers. It offers breath-taking views of the Madrid Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral.
On Sundays, a lot of Madrid’s population come to spend time in Madrid Rio with their children, for which there are a lot of slides, swings and even a zip wire, which is one of the most sought out elements by children in Madrid.
History of Madrid Rio
The park of Madrid Río gets its name due to the river Manzanares. This green area is a wide corridor of more than 10 kilometers long!. The park is located on both banks of the Manzanares River, in the southwestern part of Madrid. The creation of this park implied a huge effort to the city. Works tood from 2006 till 2010 when it was opened. All efforts were widely paid back. Where the park stands today the M-30 ring road (a six-lane motorway) stood in the past. The road still exists, but it is buried underneath the green area. The park was the ambitious project of major Alberto Ruiz Gallardon. It received lots of criticisms at the time it was executed, but today it has implied a revolution in the lives of hundreds of thousands of madriñeños who enjoy this park instead of the polluted air from thousands of cars on a grey city motorway.
What to expect
Madrid Rio is located 15 minutes walk from the Royal Palace and Gran Via street. It offers a free plan for families with children. There are many activities in the park; from riding a bike, skating, taking a guided tour or refreshing at any of its fountains… There is even an artificial beach.
Madrid Rio receives many visitors during the weekends, specially on some of the areas where playgrounds stands. We will share below a plan of Madrid Rio to ensure you can decide which areas to visit and which activities to enjoy.
Where is Madrid Rio?
Madrid Rio is located 15 minutes walk south of the Royal Palace and the Almudena cathedral. The closest metro station is Principe Pio (both metro and train station) At Principe Pio you can also enjoy a small but stylish shopping mall.
One of the top attractions in the Madrid Rio park is its bridges: There are 17 bridges that connect the two banks of the Manzanares River. Some of these bridges were built for the park, whilst others existed before the park was conceived. Amongst the new parks, these ones stand out: Matadero (located by the Matadero cultural center) and Invernadero -their vaults are decorated with mosaics by Daniel Canogar–,the Monumental Bridge of Arganzuela, designed by Dominique Perrault, which links the Paseo de Yeserías and the avenue of the Manzanares.
Some of the pre-existing bridges were rehabilitated, such as the Segovia bridge that has recovered the splendor that Juan de Herrera gave it in the 16th century (Juan de Herrera is the famous architect who was in charge of the construction of the famous El Escorial palace near Madrid) , the Toledo bridge or the Rey bridge. These bridges have been adapted and can be used today by both pedestrians and cyclists. In addition, the old dams add special interest and charm since the small locks retain the water and the way they operate is explained with information on posts.
Madrid Rio has a good number of children´s playground areas. All these areas have been designed with care and they are made with all safety measures in mind and using natural elements like wood or ropes. Swings and seesaws are shaped like animals.
The artifical beach
In a country with so many miles of amazing beaches like Spain, even a famous song joke (“vaya, vaya, aquí no hay playa….” about the lack of seaside at the country´s Capital. When the heat starts to be felt in Madrid, the area of the artificial beach in Madrid Rio becomes a top highlight despite it is far from being a beach. There are three different areas within this “artificial beach” . The first one is a wide but very thin pool where locals lie to refresh their bodies. The second area consists of water jets that throw water at different heights and with varying effects. The third area in the artificial beach is a pond with clouds of sprayed water. Grass meadows are located next to the artificial beach area and you will find a good number of madrileños and visitors alike enjoying their sunbathe daily sessions.
Picnic and cafeterias
There are some bars with terraces spread along the park. Our favorite one is the Cafe del Rio. You will also find tables to enjoy a picnic.
El Capricho Park- Madrid
El Capricho is probably Madrid´s most beautiful and romantic park and despite it is not very well-known, we believe it is one of the important attractions in Madrid. The park boasts rich botanical treasures, but it is not limited to this since there are also fountains and sculptures. Amongst the park top highlights: a pond, a mansion, a labyrinth and a bunker!
El Capricho is not a huge park. Its 17 hectares compared to the 118 hectares of the Retiro park in the heart of Madrid, or the 160 hectares of El Capricho´s neighbor park, the modern Juan Carlos I park.
The Capricho park is located on the very east of Madrid’s city, in the Alameda de Osuna neighborhood (a district located near the Barajas airport)
The park can easily be accessed by metro with a stop right near the park (El Capricho station)
Practical information to visit the Capricho park
Entrance to the par is Free of charge but there are only one entrance and control in place to ensure no animals enter the park, that no food is entered (this is not a park to enjoy a picnic), and that no more than 1,000 people visit the park at the same time.
Things to bear in mind: As already mentioned, animals, even if carried on a leash, are not allowed. No ball games are permitted, and neither bicycles nor skates can get inside the park.
The park is not opened every day but you can access it practically every weekend throughout the year.
History of the park
The park was built in 1784 and request by the Dukes of Osuna (the Alameda de Osuna distric gets its name from this Ducado) Don Pedro de Alcántara Téllez de Girón, ninth Duke of Osuna, bought this land from the Count of Priego. At that time, the land contained a farmhouse and an orchard. The duke expanded the estate with the acquisition of adjoining land. He ordered the planting of trees and it 1787 he requested famous architects Machuca and Medina to build a quadrangular palace with towers at the ends.
The park came to be known as El Capricho in honor of the Duchess of Osuna. It was she who put the most interest in its transformation into a recreational park. El Capricho means caprice or whim in English and the name makes justice to what we find today. This is not just a park, but a monumental park with lots of surprises inside. During the 18th century, the park received the visit of many artists, thinkers, and bullfighters Writer Leandro Fernández de Moratín and the very famous painter Francisco de Goya were frequent visitors. Goya himself painted the masterpiece, The Spell to decorate the Capricho Palace. The Spell can be seen today at the Lázaro Galdiano Museum, one of the top art galleries in Madrid.
The Duchess was the soul of the park and her ideas and inspiration are felt in the park. But after her death the park was neglected. of the Duchess, the park slowly fell into neglect and disrepair until 1974 when Madrid City Council acquired it restored it to its former glory. The works were finished in 1999 and the park was reopened to the public.
This park was made, almost entirely by an illustrious gardener named Paul Boutelou commissioned by the Duchess Doña María Josefa in the late XIX century. This park is with no doubt one of the most romantic things to enjoy in Madrid.
English, French and Italian styles combine, as a reflection of the artistic influences of the park’s designers. El Capricho is the only truly Romantic garden in Madrid (if we consider its design and architecture) The labyrinth of bushes, the palace, the small hermitage, or the beautiful ballroom, as well as the streams that run through it and its small pond, where swans and ducks please the children. Lilacs are very present in the park: the duchess had thousands of specimens planted since they were her favorite flowers.
The park was used as a base for the French troops during the French occupation, and it was also used for military purposes at the time of the Spanish civil war. In 1974 the city of Madrid bought the park and in 1984 it was declared a cultural monument. Today many madrileños do not know of the existence of this fantastic “hidden gem” of Madrid
Top highlights of the park
There are three different gardens with clearly different inspirations. The French Garden is located facing the palace. This is the area where you will find the labyrinth and many hedges
The Italian garden is located in the southern part of El Capricho and it is an area where different types of trees provide shades and a pleasant atmosphere to avoid the sun of Madrid during summer.
The English garden is the largest of the three and it is inspired by a Romantic English garden.
The most romantic spot of the garden is the area where we find the old greenhouse, a Renaissance fountain, and a small bridge above a small stream. It is common to find brides in their beautiful dresses taking photos for their wedding album!
Parterre de los duelistas
Another interesting part of the park is the Parterre of the Duelists. This is located at the Plaza de Los Cipreses, a square surrounded by trees that has two spectacular columns in its center. Each of these columns holds a bush. Since they are located 40 steps apart, it was thought that the inspiration for this monument was an actual duel.
In the upper part of the park, you can find a beautiful lake and its pier known as the Casa de la Canas (House of Reed) because of the material its built out of.
The bunker is another gem of El Capricho. As already mentioned, the park served as the headquarters of the Republican Army. A bunker was built. The construction occupies 2,000 square meters and lies 15 meters underground. It could protect soldiers of the bombing of up to 100 kilograms. Since the park has huge trees, it served very well the purpose to hide the military buildings. The bunker has seven rooms and four exists, one of them across the basement of the Palace.
A small hermitage is one of the many attractions of the park. The legend describes an old ermit who lived here and who was buried in a tomb with the shape of a pyramid next to the hermitage.
Juan Carlos I park, Madrid
Juan Carlos I park is divided in different recreational areas. It is located next to the IFEMA fairground and was inaugurated in 1992 for the naming of Madrid as the European Capital of Culture that same year.
The park is huge and has a lot of space where you can enjoy outdoor activities. The Juan Carlos I park offers you a multitude of things like a free visit of the park in a little train and free bike rentals, which is a service that no other Madrid park offers.
The easiest way to get there is by car, plus you will find vast parking areas around. You can also get to the Juan Carlos I park by bus or taking the metro on line 8. If you plan on spending the whole day there you should bring your own food because there are no bars or little kiosks like in the Retiro.
A bit of history
The creation of the Juan Carlos Park implied at the time transforming a highly degraded area of the city and the recovery of an existing centenary olive grove. The park, the third-largest in Madrid after La casa de Campo and the newer Parque de Valdebebas.
What to expect
boasts a 30,000 square meter lake where kayaking is possible, a river-like water channel of almost two kilometers long, 13,000 meters of walking paths, 21 hectares of olive groves, 19 outdoor sculptures, a garden called Las Tres Culturas, a greenhouse called Estufa Fría and an auditorium.
Garden of the 3 cultures
The Garden of the Three Cultures is a set of three gardens at the heart of the park. This area is meant to symbolize the coexistence that, centuries ago, took place in Spain among Jews, Muslims and Christians. A specific area is dedicated to each of these religions. The best example of the co-existence of these cultures is found in the city of Toledo (known as the city of three cultures)
La Estufa Fría
La Estufa Fria is an open greenhouse with a collection of exotic plants distributed in 13 biotypes. Visitors will find here a minimalist Japanese garden. Amongst the flora, at this open greenhouse, you will find bamboos, succulents, cycads, and palms, or citrus fruits.
The solar pyramid
The solar pyramid is a construction next to one of the entrances to the park. It cannot be visited, but it is one of the architectural landmarks in the park´s landscape. The pyramid serves as parking for all the vehicles that are used to service the park. The electricity generated by the panels is used to recharge these vehicles.
The pyramid measures 38 meters at the base and 18 meters high at its top. The pyramid is made up of a curtain wall of photovoltaic panels. The solar energy captured during the day is transformed into electrical energy which at the end of the working day is used to recharge the vehicles.
There are 19 enormous abstract sculptures in the park. Renowned artists from different countries participated in the International Symposium of Open Air Sculptures that was held in the Juan Carlos I park in 1992. Eleven of the 19 sculptures are from that date, with the remaining added in later years. A walk through the park offers the possibility to admire some of these fantastic sculptures. Not all of them will be to everybody´s liking, but we are sure you will love some of them at least! Our favorite ones: the hand that gets out of the soil and the knights at the lake!
Playground and picnic areas
The Juan Carlos I is a perfect place to enjoy with the family. There are many playground areas for children, large grass fields, and fountains to cool off and play in summer. You can also eat in the picnic areas that are located in different areas of the park. Our favorite one is located near the Olivar, with part of the lake next to it and a good playground area not far.
Bycicle riding, kites and other sports
At Juan Carlos I park, you will find soccer fields and basketball courtyards, and an immense bike lane. Bicycles can be rented at one of the facilities available. You will find to provide with either an identity card or a passport to profit from this service. Kayak is offered as a regular service by the kayak club (subscription is needed to practice it) and last, but not least, the Juan Carlos is probably the best park in Madrid to enjoy kite flying.
Is it worth visiting?
The Juan Carlos Primero is with no doubt a top highlight in Madrid, but probably due to its location, it is a park mainly for locals. Despite being well-connected by line 8 of the Metro network (the closest station is feria de Madrid) the park is far from other attractions in Madrid. If you plan to stay several days in Madrid it may make sense to visit it if you are with the family (despite other attractions like the Zoo auquarium or Faunia may be higher on your list).
Berlin park near the Bernabeu Stadium
The Berlin Park (Parque de Berlin) is a beautiful 5-acre park that honors the Berlin city.
The Berlin Park is an urban park limited by street Ramón y Cajal, Marcenado and San Ernesto. The park is located in the Chamartin district and since 1990 it houses remains from the Berlin Wall. The park is beautiful, with fountains, very old trees, and excellent children’s playground areas
It is situated in the north of Madrid on Calle Ramon y Cajal, and has on display 3 pieces of the Berlin Wall that was brought over in 1990.
Things to do near the Berlin park
The park is located very close to the Bernabeu stadium, and it boasts terraces, bars, and restaurants which are frequented almost exclusively by locals since the park is outside the most frequented tourist routes and attractions in Madrid. Great if you want to enjoy things locals do in Madrid.
What to see in Berlin park
The upper area of the Berlin park, the one closest to Príncipe de Vergara street is dedicated to sports; there are courts where locals enjoy basketball, some picnic tables, a playground area normally crowded with local children, and an auditorium where open-air concerts are offered in summer.
The lower area of the Park is dedicated to Berlin and the demolition of the Wall. There stand three pieces of the wall which contain original graffitis and that serve the purpose to remind visitors of the existence of a wall that divided Germany for decades and which was brought down in 1989.
The main fountain, located in front of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe (a modern church with very interesting architecture), in the lower area of the park, is dedicated to the demolition of the Berlin Wall.
There is also a sculpture called the “Oso de berlin” (Berlin bear) and a sculpture dedicated to Beethoven.
Is it worth the visit?
This is not an impressive park (if you seek one, then El Retiro park or the unknown Capricho park are much better options) . The Berlin park is not a beautiful area with immense botanical value like the botanical gardens of Madrid near the Prado museum. The Berlin park is small, just five hectares, but it is worth the visit if you plan to visit the Bernabeu stadium and would like to enjoy a bit of greenery and local life. Children will enjoy for sure the playground areas and the park boasts some terraces which are perfect to enjoy a drink and a light tapas lunch. Besides that, there is an element of history and collective memory which make it always an interesting visit, especially with children.
Located at the heart of the Paseo del Prado, almost in front of the Neptune Fountain, the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum shares the limelight with two of the other art museums in Madrid: the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofía museum.
Since these three museums are located very close to each other, this area of Madrid has become popularly known as the Triangle of Art. … Read More