If you're looking for travel plans linked to ecology, sustainability and the outdoors, and you've also thought about organising a trip to Madrid, we're going to give you eight tips to enjoy a perfect escape, because in the capital of Spain, you can plan loads of activities outside in contact with nature.
Admire the biodiversity of Madrid Río and take postcard-worthy photos
Madrid Río is a stretch along the river Manzanares which thanks to its restoration, now features surprising flora and fauna.During your visit, you can take postcard-worthy photos by the sculpture of the word Madrid and iconic bear and strawberry tree, made from recycled glass packaging. You'll find it along the esplanade of Puente del Rey, with one of the most spectacular views of the city in the background, featuring the silhouettes of the Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral and the San Francisco el Grande Royal Basilica.You'll also find culture centres like the Matadero, and in summer, head to refreshing spots like Madrid's "beach": watery enclosures with fun jets of water for children to enjoy.
Cycle around the biggest park in Madrid
On the west bank of the Manzanares river, you'll find the largest public park in Madrid, Casa de Campo. At over 1535 hectares, this is the ideal place not just to walk and cycle along its different routes, but also to enjoy its outdoor terraces cafés located by its impressive artificial lake, the origins of which date back to the 16th century. If you feel like it, you can throw yourself into the adventure of rowing one of its recreational boats, available from its huge jetty.
Row around El Retiro
Ideal for strolling, exercising, climbing to a viewpoint, sitting at a terrace and even for rowing in a classic boat. El Retiro is a park covering 125 hectares, and is the most famous in Madrid. Together with Paseo del Prado, the park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to outdoor activities, you can explore interesting exhibitions in the Velázquez Palace and the Crystal Palace, which are both situated within the park.
See what it's like to be a botanist for a day
Thanks to its strategic location on the Paseo del Prado boulevard, the Botanical Gardens are also part of the UNESCO candidature. Declared an Artistic Garden in 1942, its collections include a herbarium with over a million specimens, the library and the archive (with almost 10,000 drawings), as well as its display of 5000 species of living plants. Sign up for a guided tour and get to know the species that populate this green space in the centre of the city.
Take the chance to discover other parks
El Capricho. This is one of the most beautiful and least known parks in Madrid (and a little further away from the centre). It was created in 1784 by the Duke and Duchess of Osuna with the idea of creating an authentic natural paradise, frequented by the most distinguished people of the time. Another tip for you: Quinta de Los Molinos park. This is a public garden, originally a recreational property, which is worth visiting for its wide range of species, such as olive trees, eucalyptus trees and above all, its spectacular almond trees, the flowering of which signifies the end of winter in Madrid.There are also little "hidden" gardens, such as the Príncipe de Anglona or the Huerto de las Monjas gardens, or charming museum gardens such as those of the Casa de Lope de Vega, Romanticism, Sorolla and Lázaro Galdiano museums.
Explore the outdoor bookshops
A fresh surprise is waiting for you close to El Retiro park and the Botanical Gardens: outdoor bookshops. You'll know this Bohemian pedestrianised street, known as Cuesta de Moyano, by its charming stalls filled with second-hand books of all genres. There are 30 wooden huts, designed to look like those which first filled this space in 1925, promoted by prestigious Spanish writers like Pío Baroja.
Browse the stalls in El Rastro street market and spend Sunday like a local
A Sunday visit to El Rastro street market, the most popular open-air market in Madrid, can't be missed. Located in La Latina district, it has everything on offer from craftwork, clothes and accessories to furniture, kitchen utensils and CDs. A typical visit finishes with an appetiser in one of the bars in the area, where people enjoy a glass of wine, beer or vermouth accompanied by a snack, such as a calamari baguette.
And don't miss Madrid at sunset
You can enjoy it from lots of spots, such as Las Vistillas garden, which gets its name from its magnificent views of the Manzanares riverbanks and Casa de Campo park. On sunny days, this leafy little park is filled with terrace bars, turning it into the perfect place to watch a sunset. This magical scene can also be experienced from the Temple of Debod, the only Egyptian temple in Spain.