The Greener Guide to Seeing Madrid More Sustainably

Madrid is home to many beautiful green spaces perfect for strolling, including Retiro Park
Madrid is home to many beautiful green spaces perfect for strolling, including Retiro Park | © Antonio José Moubayed Hallak / Unsplash
Photo of Imogen Lepere
18 November 2021

Locals love to stay out late in the Spanish capital, but next-day guilt is put to rest with beds in B-Corp hotels, meals at veg-forward restaurants and walks through bucolic botanical gardens.

With its trio of top-tier art galleries, the capital of Spain hums with cosmopolitan energy. Laid-back locals – or Madrileños – are known for their love of going out late, and from around 10pm, tapas restaurants and cocktail bars in the city are always buzzing with late-night crowds. What’s more, in 2018, the government banned cars in the city centre, leaving you the option of strolling, cycling or hopping aboard an electric bus to sightsee your way around this curated list of light-touch things to do in Madrid.

Vincci the Mint

The rooftop at Vincci the Mint with a food truck and colourful seating under a yellow-and-white striped canvas
Courtesy of Vincci the Mint / Expedia

Funky and fashionable, this hotel backs onto trendy Chueca, where beautiful people come to sip vermouth on the tiered terraces of countless bars. The hotel runs exclusively on renewable energy, limits paper waste with electronic bills and gives staff regular training sessions on how to reduce waste. Don’t miss the fun food truck on the roof terrace for healthy snacks and fresh smoothies.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Botanical Garden, Park
A fountain in the middle of a green space and in front of a greenhouse at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Madrid, Spain
© Lucian Milasan /
This 8ha (20-acre) Eden is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with a book on a shady bench. It’s divided into three terraces, each with a unique feel – there’s a fragrant group of medicinal plants, neatly clipped hedges in ornamental shapes, a romantic flower garden and one with a collection of plants and fountains. There’s also a tropical greenhouse. The gardens are right in front of the Prado Museum, which has the most important collection of Spanish art in the world, including Goya’s pinturas negras (Black Paintings).

Antigua Casa Crespo

Rows of colorful espadrilles
© Du Tour Du Monde /

Antigua Casa Crespo, the most fabled espadrille maker in the city, has been making shoes for Madrileños every summer for more than 150 years. There are countless knock-off versions, but these are the real deal – made by hand by the fourth generation of the founding family. The faded shopfront is eminently Instagrammable, too.

La Vaquería Montañesa

Restaurant, Spanish, $$$
The striking black-and-white interior, complete with black-and-white photos, at La Vaquería Montañesa
© La Vaquería Montañesa

Provenance is the keyword at this classy joint, tucked away in an old dairy in Chamberí. Everything from the chairs to the cutlery has been thoughtfully selected from small producers, including tableware from a family of potters who’ve been spinning the wheel since 1857. The menu mainly features small plates and includes detailed descriptions of where each ingredient was produced – mostly from organic farms across Spain.

Perales de Tajuña

Architectural Landmark
Rows of olive trees
© Valentyn Volkov /

Take a 45-minute bus ride from Conde de Casal station to Perales de Tajuña, where the Via Verde runs alongside disused train lines on the banks of the River Tajuña. The route meanders for 49km (30mi) along the water, past vineyards, orchards and peaceful cornfields, with limestone hills in the distance. It’s the perfect escape from the bustling city.

The Hat Madrid

A stylish dorm-style room with blonde-wood bunk beds at the Hat Madrid
Courtesy of The Hat Madrid / Expedia

A hip hostel that feels more like a boutique hotel, the Hat is in the heart of Madrid de Los Austrias – the oldest part of the city, just back from the Plaza Mayor. From the outside, it’s all 19th-century elegance, while the inside has a Scandi feel, with white paint and lashings of blonde wood. It’s no slouch in the eco department either, being the first hostel in Madrid to run entirely on biomass energy. Head up to the rooftop to rub shoulders with guests and locals after dark.

Levél Veggie Bistro

Bistro, Vegetarian, $$$
A neutral-coloured dining area at Levél Veggie Bistro, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows that open to the outside
© Levél Veggie Bistro

Stroll through Retiro Park for dinner at this smart vegetarian bistro, which serves a globetrotting menu focussing on raw dishes. The sleek, warmly lit space is lined with art from emerging artists, while floor-to-ceiling windows are opened up in summer to draw in some of the buzz from the city.

Artiem Madrid

The stylish Green, a lounge-type area with tables, banquet seating and chairs in green and black, along with vibrant art, at Artiem Madrid
Courtesy of Artiem Madrid / Expedia

A half-hour outside the city centre, Artiem is an ideal base for a remote-working retreat in Madrid. All rooms have desks with ergonomic chairs, and the Green, a communal space furnished in soothing colours, is a lovely place to do some work. Plus, it has a self-service selection of snacks, teas and coffees. The hotel is also B-Corp certified, meaning it balances profit with purpose.

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