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Things to do in Madrid in summer 2021

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Although in summer Madrid feels like a rather more peaceful city, there’s still lots happening, and lots to do. It’s the time of festivals and open-air cinema, neighbourhood celebrations and strolls in the parks until sundown, of visiting museums with gardens, or a getaway to a pretty village nearby where you’ll find natural pools for swimming. All spaces comply with strict safety measures. So, what are you waiting for? Summer and Madrid could be a brilliant combination for your getaway this year.

  • Open-air music and cinema and a night at the opera

    There are various festivals to choose from, each one of them a classic in the capital. For example, the “Nights at the Botanical Gardens” are concerts held in the wonderful setting of the Real Jardín Botánico Alfonso XIII at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.There will also be live music at the Río Babel Festival, at the Veranos de la Villa and at DCODE. Those performing are local and international artists, and to go with the music there will be food stalls, a great atmosphere and all the appropriate safety measures. An new open-air space is due to open called the MadBeach Club, which will host concerts, sports activities, workshops and lots more.  It also organises concerts and different themed events, the biggest drive-in cinema in Europe with a huge Ferris wheel. And if you’re a music lover, you’re bound to like Madrid’s first audiophile club too.Music, opera and dance have a date this year in one of Madrid's most emblematic buildings: the Teatro Real. Whether you're a big fan of opera lover or just starting out, make a date in your diary for Puccini's "Tosca", which will be performed from 4 to 24 July.  It is undoubtedly one of the great events of the year for opera lovers.

  • Small boats on the lake at the Retiro Park, Madrid

    Parks and gardens are great for so much more than just a stroll

    It’s always a pleasure to spend a summer’s day going for a stroll, or taking a turn in the boats on the lake at the Retiro - the capital’s most emblematic park that together with the Paseo del Prado and its surroundings is a World Heritage Site. There’s also a pleasant rooftop terrace that’s a perfect spot for a drink at sundown. Also waiting to be discovered is Madrid Río, a leafy green walk by the Manzanares river. There are two really good stopping points along the way: in front of the Royal Palace you’ll find the recent sculpture created from recycled glass that forms the word “Madrid”, a must for a photo. Further on, you’ll come to the beautiful Greenhouse at the Arganzuela Crystal Palace, which has reopened after being closed for many months. Next door is the Matadero cultural centre, with exhibitions and summertime markets that are always interesting. Any other great spots for summer? From May to September the Royal Botanical Gardens organises a series of “Paseos musicales”: a symphony orchestra plays the music of Bach, Mozart or Edith Piaf to give your imagination wings as you stroll around and explore these lovely gardens by night.And one last novelty: the spectacular gardens of the Finca de Vista Alegre have recently been opened to the public for the first time in their history.

  • Terrace at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid

    A dinner with a view

    Many of the prettiest rooftop viewpoints in Madrid have a restaurant service The terraces of the Círculo de Bellas Artes in the CentroCentro building, or the newly opened “Dani Brasserie” on the Four Seasons terrace.In summer there are loads of lovely spaces that make you feel you’d like to spend time enjoying them too: La Casa Encendida, the garden terrace at the Palace of the Marqués de Linares, the restaurants by the lake at the Casa de Campo Park - the green heart of the city - the Olivar Centenario de Castillejo where there are concerts of classical music and tables dotted between the trees.You could also organise your own picnic by the Temple of Debod, the only Egyptian temple in Spain. The views at sunset are stunning.

  • Left: Entrance to the Thyssen Museum © JJFarq / Centre: Patio of the Reina Sofia Museum © ItzaVU / Right: Statue of Velázquez in the Prado Museum, Madrid

    Exhibitions and new museums with an original flair

    Reunited at the Prado Museum is one of the most interesting exhibitions currently being held, and it is on until the end of July. You could also go to the Reina Sofía, or the Thyssen-Bornemisza which is celebrating the centenary of the birth of Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza with a series of activities and exhibitions such as the “Treasures from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Family Collection”. Some of the original spaces that have recently opened include Espacio SOLO, the Sweet Space Museum, IKONO: the first immersive art experience gallery in Spain, or the Museum of Illusions. You’ll want to take photos of absolutely everything. And how about discovering the Liria Palace, where they’re organising a thematic visit about the fascinating life of Eugenia de Montijo, Empress Eugénie of France?Given the warm summer temperatures no doubt you’ll feel like going to see exhibitions and museums in green spaces. For example, the exhibition by Pep Agut in the incredible space of the Palacio de Cristal del Retiro or the 24-metre vertical garden at CaixaForum (with the exhibition "The Human Image: Art, Identities and Symbolism"). And there are museums with lovely little interior gardens that look like something out of a fairy tale, like the Lázaro Galdiano, the Cerralbo, the Sorolla and the Museum of Romanticism where you can make your day that little bit sweeter with coffee and cake. Get to know the Royal Palace in Madrid from the inside - a classic that never fails to please. It’s the biggest in western Europe, and one of the largest in the world. Interestingly, there are also special visits that focus on the famous palace kitchens. Additionally, the impressive Throne Room and the spectacular Royal Chapel have now been reopened. 

  • View of Buitrago del Lozoya, Madrid

    Houses with a seafaring feel in the Sierra de Madrid mountains

    Madrid doesn’t have a beach, but what it does have is a multitude of pretty villages in the heart of the countryside just a short drive away that are great for spending a refreshing day far from the tarmac. Like Cervera de Buitrago for example, on the shores of the El Atazar reservoir. Or Rascafría, Cercedilla and Buitrago de Lozoya with their natural swimming pools. Or San Martín de Valdeiglesias and Pelayos de la Presa, right by the San Juan reservoir, the first “beach” in the Region of Madrid to be awarded Blue Flag status.Many of these places are starting points for hiking routes, and offer opportunities to do activities such as kayaking.

  • Ideas for things to do with kids: theme parks

    In the summer months many different spaces in Madrid organise some great activities, such as the guided night visits at the Zoo Aquarium . Seeing how the animals behave in the moonlight is a whole new experience. You could also check out Faunia, the Theme Park or the Warner Park

  • Chef plating food

    Ibero-American Capital of Gastronomic Culture

    This summer you can enjoy Madrid's terraces for tapas, its markets converted into gourmet spaces, its century-old taverns... What's more, this year the city is Ibero-American Capital of Gastronomic Culture (a title it has held since last year) and you will be able to wander from restaurant to restaurant in search of different culinary experiences.

These are just a few ideas on things to do in Madrid in the summer. One last thing: in August the capital celebrates its biggest neighbourhood festivals: San Cayetano and San Lorenzo (in Lavapiés, on 7 and 10 August) and the Verbena de La Paloma (in the La Latina district in mid-August). If the festivals are indeed held this year, all the activities will be adapted to comply with the health regulations in force. Therefore the best thing to do is to check the programming on the Turismo de Madrid website. 

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