Spring is one of the best times of year to visit Madrid, as you avoid both the bitterly dry winter cold and the baking hot summer temperatures. It is also a great time of year to experience some of the city’s most famous festivals. Read on to discover the best things to see and do in Madrid in spring.
See the cherry blossom
Madrid’s cherry blossom bursts into life every spring, and there is no better place to see the trees in all their glory than the Quinta de los Molinos park, to the northeast of the city centre. Take line five of the Metro and get off at Suanzes station, just opposite the park gates.
Explore the city by bike
Before it gets too hot, make the most of the pleasant weather by exploring the city by bike. BiciMAD is Madrid’s city bike scheme; there are bike stations around the city and you can sign up at the machines at every station. Bikes are rented by the hour, or you can sign up for a year’s pass if you live in the city. A great place to cycle is along the Madrid Rio, Madrid’s riverside park area that has recently been spruced up by the city council.
Join in the San Isidro celebrations
Madrid’s patron saint is celebrated from May 11 to 15 every year in religious events, traditional dancing, bullfights, concerts, street parties and more. It’s a great time to experience Madrid’s fun-loving party spirit and learn about some of the city’s famous traditions.
If you happen to be in Madrid over Easter, don’t miss the parades that snake around the city. Dozens take place every Holy Week, attached to different churches. Penitents wear dramatic, cone-shaped hoods (they have nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, despite their unfortunate resemblance), while men carry huge statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary and women in traditional lace mantillas follow.
Al fresco drinking
Springtime is a lovely time to enjoy the city’s outdoor drinking culture, whether on a pretty plaza or cool rooftop bar. It’s also a great chance to indulge in a bit of people watching.
Visit the Rastro
Madrid’s biggest and most famous street market is a packed mishmash of stuff, from leather bags and antiques to old records and flamenco attire. It takes place every Sunday and public holiday; get there early to avoid the crowds, which tend to be at their worst at around midday. After browsing the stalls, do as the locals do and stop for some tapas and a chilled beer or vermouth in one of the little bars lining the route.
Take a walk in the park
Whether hiking in the Casa de Campo, rowing on the lake in Retiro or exploring the more under-the-radar Capricho Park, visiting one of Madrid’s beautiful parks is a must-do during springtime. The flowers are blooming and the weather is ideal for a picnic or lunch on a terrace of one of the parks’ little cafés.
Visit the Matadero
Madrid’s former slaughterhouse has been renovated into a thriving cultural space, which retains the beautiful architectural quirks of the original building. Catch a film at the documentary cinema, wander the exhibitions or visit one of the popular weekend markets.
Kill the night
Renowned Madrid fan Ernest Hemingway famously said that nobody goes to bed in Madrid “until they have killed the night”, and spring is a good time to experience Madrid’s nightlife. The nights are longer and warmer, ideal for sampling the city’s best bars, clubs and concert venues.
Watch a football match
Football fans should try to get tickets to see one of Madrid’s biggest teams: Real Madrid or Atlético de Madrid. Spring is getting to the end of the La Liga season, so could be the time for dramatic matches that could decide who wins Spain’s top football league. If you don’t manage to get tickets, you can visit the home of Real Madrid, the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, for a tour.