Enjoy the peace of being immersed in nature while visiting Spain’s capital and largest city.
Madrid might be a vibrant and busy metropolitan city, full of tourist attractions, shops, and restaurants for all tastes. But Spain’s capital is also surprisingly green, with many beautiful and well-maintained outdoor areas that are well worth a visit.
Many of these locations were constructed for Spanish royalty, and opened to the public not so long ago, providing locals and tourists green areas to get fresh air and relax.
From beautiful picnic spots to excellent sports parks and ancient trees, the city’s outdoor areas have something for every type of traveler. Whether you are planning a trip to Spain’s capital to do some tourism or to take spanish lessons madrid and want to know which are the best outdoor spots for a lovely picnic, for practicing sports or for having a break from the noise and bustle of the city, we have compiled a list of Madrid’s five best parks and gardens. Check them out.
- El Retiro Park
Located in the very heart of Madrid, El Retiro is definitely the city’s most beautiful and well-known park. Covering around 125 hectares, this enormous outdoor space is Spain’s most visited urban park.
El Retiro is the ideal place for a family stroll, for practicing sports, or just for taking a quick break to relax during a heavy day of sightseeing. The park is home to a lot of exciting sights, such as a rose garden (the Rosaleda), a glass building used for exhibits (the “Crystal Palace”), play areas for children, a large tranquil lake, and beautiful sculptures, fountains, and monuments dedicated to the Spanish Royalty. In this fantastic green oasis, you will also find a number of outdoor cafés and kiosks to enjoy a snack.
Felipe IV originally designed el Retiro in the 17th century for the Spanish royalty, but in 1868 it opened to the general public and became an iconic place in Madrid. One interesting fact about it is that last year, the park was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, helping attract more tourists from across the world.
- The Royal Botanic Garden
For botanists or just gardening lovers, Madrid’s Botanic Garden, located in the city’s heart – just in front of the Prado Museum – is a must-stop when visiting the country.
The garden was founded by orders of King Fernando VI in 1755 and was designed by two prestigious architects. The botanic garden covers 8 hectares – divided into seven sections – and five greenhouses to cultivate plants that are not suited to Madrid’s hot Mediterranean climate. Throughout the whole place, visitors can find an incredible collection of more than 5000 rare and unusual species of live plants (medicinal, aromatic, and fruit-bearing, among others) from all across the globe.
The Real Botanic Garden also hosts temporary expositions, festivals, and cultural events and activities that attract green lovers and gardeners from all over the world and students who come to the city to learn spanish in madrid.
- Juan Carlos I Park
This jewel, named after King Juan Carlos I, is located in Campo de las Naciones, which is just a short metro ride from the city center (pink line). The park has a modern, innovative, and unique style, filled with giant and unusual sculptures designed by recognized artists in the early ‘90s and dedicated to Galileo, victims of the Holocaust and world peace.
Juan Carlos I Park is the best place for practicing outdoor sports. Visitors can enjoy a large skating rink, a golf course, a cycleway, fishing areas, and a lake for water sports. Bikes can be rented, and there is also a free train that circles the entire site every half hour (if the weather is nice).
Juan Carlos I Park hosts many exhibitions and music festivals regularly, such as the Music MetroRock – an annual event generally in June and attracts a young and demanding audience year after year.
- El Capricho Park
El Capricho is a historical park built in the 18th century (between 1787 and 1839), located on the east of Madrid, near the international airport, known as Barajas. The park is probably the most romantic and charming outdoor spot in Madrid, as it was designed in a Spanish, French, and Italian romantic style.
El Capricho is home to many botanical treasures, fountains, and sculptures worth discovering, especially during summer. There is also a mansion, a ballroom, a labyrinth of bushes (actually destroyed in the 40s by a plane that crashed into the building), and a bunker built during the Spanish Civil War. It should be noticed that the park is not ideal for practicing sports. In fact, no ball games, bicycles, and skates are allowed.
Although it is not located in the city center, El Capricho park is easily accessed by a short metro ride – line 5. In fact, it has a metro station named after it.
- Jardines de Sabatini
Jardines de Sabatini is a beautifully designed garden located right in front of Spain’s Royal Palace (but not connected to it). The park’s name comes from the Italian architect Francesco Sabatini, who designed the palace’s stables that were once on the same site.
The gardens are not very large (they cover 2 hectares) but are very elegant (they have a neoclassical style) and well maintained. There are many benches across Jardines de Sabatini where visitors can sit and watch the world go by, along with some fountains, sculptures, and amazing statues of Spanish kings. Definitely worth some time for a relaxing stroll when visiting the Spanish Royal Family’s dwelling.
We hope this short guide has inspired you to dream of your next nature adventure! As you can see, Madrid offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy a quiet and peaceful experience. Green spots in such a metropolitan city give visitors a freedom feeling and a new perspective of Spain’s capital.