Spring is the best time to visit these magical gardens, with endless rows of blooming tulips, lilies, and roses in every color of the rainbow. However, going in the off-season isn’t all bad, as the Bonsai tree garden and the greenhouse with carnivorous tropical plants are open year-round. The Botanical Gardens feature almost 6,000 different plant species and even a special plant library, so get ready to not only view, but learn about, pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about plants here.
The Retiro Park is Madrid’s most central and most famous park. Get lost in the canopy of green trees until you end up by the lake, where you can pay a few euros to lap the water in a rowboat. If you’d prefer a little more exercise, join the locals in jogging, bike riding, rollerblading, or working out at the outdoor gym area in the park. You can also take a yoga class (in English) during the warm weather months with The Natural Yogi (be sure to sign up in advance). Checking out the Palacio de Cristal, a palace made of glass, is a cultural experience as there’s often a temporary modern art exhibition inside the structure. Bring your own drinks and snacks for a picnic, or enjoy an ice cream or beer at one of the park’s many outdoor snack bars. There’s also a lesser-known rose garden and enclosed garden with peacocks towards the east edge of the park.
The whimsical Parque de el Capricho was constructed under the orders of the Duchess of Osuna in 1787 and was once a retreat for her and her royal family and friends. Now, the park is open to the public, but it still retains its regal charms from centuries past. The garden, which features design and architecture in French, Italian and English styles, is full of secret spots to discover. Enter through the towering gates and head left towards the small house, Casa de la Vieja, straight out of a fairy tale, with a slanted roof and tiny doors and windows made for elves. Climb the Greek-like columns and ruins, spot the black swans in the lake, wander the palace and the rose garden, or get lost in the labyrinth formed out of impeccably manicured trees and bushes.
One of Madrid’s newer green spaces, this park opened to the public in 1992 and has a lake, an auditorium, and a beautiful collection of outdoor sculptures. The park is geared towards family fun, as workshops and events area often held here over the weekend. There’s also a skating area, a fishing area, bicycle rental, and a free train that gives rides around the park every 30 minutes.
These small but perfectly curated set of very European style gardens is located next to Madrid’s famous Palacio Real. Since the gardens aren’t huge, this isn’t the spot you’ll have a picnic and lounge for hours; instead, visit when you really need a nice walk through a beautiful green space. The bushes and trees are carefully and perfectly trimmed, opening up to small ponds and, of course, a gorgeous view of the Palace’s north side.
Madrid’s largest green space, Casa de Campo is almost eight-square-miles large, perfect for a long, leisurely bike ride or even even some light hiking (it was once a hunting estate many years back). Madrid’s teleferico (cable car) has been a popular family activity since 1969, carrying passengers 40 meters above the ground on a 2.5-kilometer trajectory between the Casa de Campo and the Pintor de Rosales area. The park is also home to Madrid’s Zoo-Aquarium.
The Parque Europa offers a tour of Europe without leaving Spain. Located just a few miles outside of the city in the suburb of Torrejón de Ardoz, the park features giant replicas of 18 European monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Trevi Fountain, and Tower Bridge. An ancient Greek amphitheater, a Dutch windmill, Lisbon’s Tower of Belem, and Brussels’ Atomium can all be found in this unique park, which is actually free to enter.
Yes, you read the title right. This park is called “park of the seven breasts,” aptly describing the seven small grass hills for which it is famous. Regardless of its interesting name, this grassy spot is a great place to escape the crowds of the city, as it’s set on the outskirts of town in the Vallecas neighborhood. The best thing about this green space is the views of the city of Madrid you can see from afar from the hilltops, making it the perfect place to watch the sunset. You’ll spot the domes and peaks of many churches in Madrid, the famous Telefónica building, and the towering Colón building in the distance.
The area along Madrid’s Manzanares River is ideal for those looking to enjoy an activity-filled afternoon of rollerblading, biking, or skateboarding. If you aren’t feeling athletic, plenty of terraces offer food and drink options where you can chill out and take in the scene. The space is also ideal for families, as children can make use of 17 different play areas featuring bridges, webs, hammocks, vines, and swings all created from sustainable materials. There’s also a beach area for sunbathing, with various fountains in which to cool off when the weather is warm.
While the origins of this green space date back to 1630, it wasn’t until 1954 that this park became available for the general public to enjoy. The park, which is hidden away in a residential neighborhood of Madrid, is full of romantic fountains and carefully carved statues, one of the most famous being of Spanish writer and poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the waterfall, too.