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Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spain | © ventdusud/Shutterstock
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The 10 Best Things to Do in Madrid in Summer 

Picture of Jessica Jones
Updated: 21 May 2018
Madrid is one of Europe’s top destinations, but temperatures can push 40°C in the baking hot summer months. From taking a much-needed dip in a rooftop pool to enjoying a laid-back picnic in the park, discover how best to spend summer in Madrid.

Swim

Whether it’s one of Madrid’s popular public outdoor pools or a glamorous rooftop pool, there is no better feeling during the city’s sweltering summer than plunging into refreshing water and cooling off. Lago, a public two pool complex in the Casa de Campo park, is one of the most popular spots in the city, just prepare for a bit of a queue at the weekend.

Cool off at a pool
Cool off at a pool | ©Pexels/Pixabay

Rooftop bars

Summer is a great time to explore Madrid’s rooftop bars, from the stunning panoramic views of Círculo de Bellas Artes to the hip rooftop bar of The Hat, one of the city’s newest boutique hostels. Watch the sunset in style over the city with a cooling cocktail in hand.

The view from the rooftop of Círculo de Bellas Artes
The view from the rooftop of Círculo de Bellas Artes | © ventdusud/Shutterstock

Verbenas

In August, Madrid is home to three local fiestas, or verbenas, when locals dress up, restaurants set up outdoor stalls and the streets are decorated with colourful bunting. The biggest fiesta, La Paloma, takes place from August 12-15 and is a great opportunity to see Madrid’s local colour in all its glory.

Locals dress up during the summer verbenas
Locals dress up during the summer verbenas | ©Barcex/Flickr

Picnic in the park

Madrid’s famous Retiro Park is always popular with locals, but especially during the summer, when all the trees provide much needed shade and cool. It’s the ideal place for a lazy Sunday picnic. Don’t miss renting a rowing boat on the park’s lake for a great summer day’s activity.

Retiro Park
Retiro Park | ©bjaglin/Flickr

Veranos de la Villa

Every summer, Madrid’s City Council hosts a series of cultural events under the umbrella of Veranos de la Villa, or Summers in the City. From open-air cinema nights and theatre performances to concerts by some of the biggest names in pop, rock and indie, make sure to check the listings if you are planning a summer trip to Madrid.

Day trip

It’s no secret Madrid can get pretty stifling during the summer, so if the temperatures are pushing 40°C why not do a day trip to the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, just north of the city? Temperatures are guaranteed to be lower, and the mountains are also home to some stunning natural swimming pools – great for a dip!

Enjoy the air con

You’ll never realise how much you appreciate air conditioning until you visit Madrid in summer. Enjoy the cool atmosphere at one of the city’s cinemas – the Cine Doré, a 1920s art house cinema in the Lavapiés neighbourhood, is home to the Filmoteca Española, which is dedicated to preserving old Spanish films. It shows films from around the world, as well as movies in English with Spanish subtitles, for a bargain €2.50. Alternatively get your air con fix at one of Madrid’s famous art galleries; the Prado and Reina Sofia both offer free admission during the last couple of hours of the day.

Hit the waterpark

Aquopolis, on the outskirts of Madrid, is a fun water park for all the family. It will keep kids entertained all day long and is a good chance to escape the busy streets of the city, if only for a few hours. You can take the cercanías commuter train from Madrid to the water park, located in San Fernando de Henares, in about 30 minutes.

Water park
Water park | ©jarmoluk/Pixabay

Pride

Madrid’s gay pride celebrations are among the biggest in the world and take place at the end of June-beginning of July every year. The city takes on a welcoming and inclusive party atmosphere, hosting a huge LGBT parade and several concerts across different neighbourhoods.

Open-air cinema

There are lots of different places across the city that set up open-air cinemas in the summer. Catch a flick on the beautiful rooftop of La Casa Encendida, a cultural centre, or watch a new release in the courtyard of Cibeles Palace, the grand headquarters of Madrid’s City Council.