Amazing as it may seem, there are several places in Madrid where you can forget you're in a major city. Amid the busy roads and the buildings there are plenty of spots where you can enjoy some fresh air, nature and peace and quiet. The Spanish capital's parks and gardens are a welcome surprise that is well worth discovering. Madrid is green too. Come and discover it.

Madrid is culture, business, shopping, entertainment… and countryside too. The Spanish capital's extensive green areas cover over 250,000 hectares. Pay a visit to Madrid and you'll find that its many parks and gardens are the lifeblood of the capital and much more besides: places to walk in, play sport in, learn, look at monuments, watch shows, or just relax in the open air amidst the trees. Below is a list of just some of Madrid's most welcoming and famous gardens. Enjoy!

The Retiro: a park for everyone

The Buen Retiro Gardens are like a second home for the people of Madrid. Amidst the fountains, trees and monuments of this huge park in the heart of the city you will always find people enjoying a boat trip, roller skating, jogging, cycling... There is lots to do amongst the trees and monuments. You can also visit exhibitions at the Palacio de Cristal, pick up a book or two at the Book Fair or enjoy a relaxing drink at one of the terrace cafés. The large lake is a popular spot for weekend visitors, much frequented by musicians, puppeteers, mime artists and even fortune tellers. Take a stroll along one of the Retiro's many paths, however, and you're sure to come across secluded leafy corners where the only noise is provided by birdsong.

Take a walk of discovery at the Botanical Gardens

The Royal Botanical Gardens are situated very close to the Retiro. The gardens feature over 30,000 plant species from all over the world and the herb garden is one of the largest in Europe. Stroll through its landscaped terraces and you'll come across aromatic and medicinal plants, roses of every hue and trees as unique as a two hundred year-old cypress tree and a giant sequoia. Venture into the greenhouses and you will find exotic specimens from desert, temperate and tropical climes.

The lush gardens of the Royal Palace

The Royal Palace is a monument that is well worth a look inside and out. It is surrounded by three gardens: Plaza de Oriente, Sabatini and Campo del Moro. Statues, fountains and lush vegetation combine to create a magnificent natural setting as grand as the palace itself. It is little wonder then that this is a popular location with newly-weds for their wedding-day photographs. Don't forget to take your camera - take a walk through the Campo del Moro and you are sure to come across strutting peacocks, swans and ducks.

Parque del Oeste Park and the finest roses

One of the most magical experiences in Madrid is to sit in the Parque del Oeste and watch the sun go down. Climb up to the Debod Temple, an Egyptian monument from the 2nd century BC and find out for yourself: the views are spectacular. Do not forget to visit the Rose Garden either, particularly in May, when the International “Villa de Madrid” New Roses Competition takes place, an event that attracts the finest specimens from around the world with the winner being decided by a popular vote.

Animals and fun at the Casa de Campo

The Casa de Campo is a green area covering 1,722 hectares. You can take a walk through its wooded areas, populated with holm oaks, pines, ash trees and poplars, and inhabitated by twittering goldfinches, nightingales and hoopoes, or while away the hours visiting its many man-made attractions, including the Amusement Park, the zoo, cable car, exhibition centre and the lake, where you can often see people canoeing.

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