There are lot of things you can do in Madrid
apart from sightseeing. One possibility is to explore Madrid, the
shopping paradise. If you prefer to relax, you can chill out in
one of the many green oases of the city, which you can also use
for sports. It is very hot during the summer, perfect weather to
cool down in a swimming pool or would you like to discover the neighbouring
Here the most famous and popular parks of the Madrilenians.
Subway: Retiro, Príncipe de Vargara, Ibiza, Atocha
A must-see is the Retiro park, which is like a green island with
more than 15.000 trees, 130 hectare of forrest in total. You can
enter the park through one of its many elegant entrances, which
are situated at Plaza de la Independencia, Calle de Alcalá,
Calle de O'Donnell as well as Calle de Alfonso XII. In the park
you will see the “Estanque de Retiro”, an artificial
lake, which is close to the mausoleum of Alfons XII. During the
spring/summer season you can rent out rowing boats. More attractions
are the glass pavilion, Palacio de Cristal in Spanish, and a lot
of small cafés all over the park, where you can sit down
and have a cold drink or ice-cream. A peculiarity is the Angel Caído,
the only statue in the world in honour of the angel Lucifer. Apart
from that you will see a rose garden as well as the gardens of Cecilio
Rodríguez and many hidden corners (fehler im Original), where
you can enjoy some privacy. Especially during the weekends the whole
city meets up in this park to watch artists and drummers, to stroll
around or have a picnic and enjoy the good weather.
Parque del Oeste
with Templo de Debod
The park has been designed by landscaper Cecilio Rodríguez
in 1900 and especially the rose garden “La Rosaleda”
is worth a visit. The Templo de Debod is an Egyptian temple from
the 4th century BC and it offers a beautiful scenery at sunset,
where you can often see bridal couples posing for photographs. There
are various gardens not far from the royal palace: the playground
for children at Plaza de Oriente, the bordering Jardines de Sabatini
(Sabatini gardens) with its truncated trees and hedges at the Northern
part of the palace, which you can enter from Calle de Bailén
and Campo de Moro, which you can enter from Cuesta de la Vega.
Casa de Campo
Subway: Lago, Batán
At the right side of the riverbank of the Manzanares in the Western
part of the city we can find the green lung of Madrid, Casa de Campo,
a huge park with 4.000 hectares of land. It was founded in 1560
by Felipe II and it was used for hunting. In 1931 the park was opened
for the public and today it is a very popular destination of the
„madrileños“. You can rent rowing boats to paddle
on the artificial lake, swim, play tennis or just enjoy a drink
in one of the many “chiringuitos” and the nice view.
The Parque Zoológico (zoo) and the Parque de Atracciones,
a big amusement park (http://www.parque
deatracciones.es/ ) are to be found in the Southern part of
If you don’t want to take the metro, you have the opportunity
to reach the park via cable car (teleférico) from Paseo de
Pintor Rosales, which is a nice way to enjoy the view. The cable
car runs on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays between: 12:00 –
15:00 / 16:00 – 18:00; a single ride costs 3 Euros, a return
ticket 4 Euros; more information at: http://www.teleferico.com/
The entrance to the botanical garden is located at Glorieta de Morillo,
next to the Prado museum. The gardens, which include more than 30.000
different sorts of trees and plants from all over the world, have
been designed by Charles the Third for the botanical faculty. The
different parts are divided by beautiful avenues and every plant
and tree has a label with the Latin name and its species on it.
Open daily from 10:00 – 18:00.
If you are not very keen on jogging in the park, you have the opportunity
to go to the gym (http://www.descubremadrid.com/en/buscar.asp?tipo=100&id=22)
or to go for a swim in one of the numerous swimming pools of the
city. Here you find a list with a range of „piscinas“
with address and short description: http://www.descubremadrid.com/en/buscar.asp?tipo=100&id=14&piscinas=1
In addition, you should also inform yourself about
the sports programme at your university, as you can attend many
leisure courses for free and get to know a lot of people at the
same time. Regarding swimming pools, you can ask at your respective
uni, as they might run a swimming pool, where you can get a discount.
Cinema and shopping
In case you feel like going to the cinema, you will find a list
you can also search for a movie and then you can see in which cinemas
it is played.
It is of course a must to go shopping in Madrid,
as you have endless possibilites. Sol is a shopping paradise as
well as the streets of Princesa,
Goya and Castellana, where you will also find bigger department
stores. The district of Salamanca
is claimed to be very chic and it houses a number of juwellers,
shoe, leather, furniture and gift shops. Around
Plaza Mayor you will find a selection of shops with traditional
Spanish articles, which is perfect when you are in the mood for
strolling around and browsing.
Something you have to see is the famous
Rastro, a huge flea market in Madrid taking place in the
weekends. It is worth getting up a bit earlier, even though it is
weekend and you have been partying the night before (most of the
stands close in the afternoon) and joining this large crowd of people.
The crowd moves between the Plaza de Cascorro, La Latina and the
street of Embajadores and you will find everything and even more:
antique pieces, second hand items, clothing, shoes, collections,
books, records and CDs, paintings, jewellery, souvenirs…everything!
After a stroll through the Rastro you can refresh yourself in one
of the small bars with a cool beer (cerveza, clara) and tapas. But
careful: don’t bring your backpack or a big handbag and watch
your purse, as this place is full of pickpockets.
Even though life in a big city like Madrid is very exciting, it
is also nice to have a little bit of change and recreation once
in a while. Madrid offers a big variety of excursion destinations.
An ancient city, which is situated only 33 km from Madrid. In 1499
its famous university was founded by cardinal Cisneros and it has
been declared Wold Heritage Site in the meanwhile. The university
building at the Plaza de San Diego has a magnificent façade,
beautiful patios (Patio Trilingüe), interesting arcades and
gardens. Alcalá is the native city of Spanish national poet
Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quijote. Cervantes’ birthplace
is situated in the Calle de Imagen and it has been equipped with
furniture and household articles from his time. It is possible to
visit this place. There are also many churches and convents in the
city, which attract many people, like the church of the master,
built in the 21st century, the palace of the archbishop, the convent
of Las Bernardas, the Jesuit church as well as the oratorio of San
Trains from Atocha and Chamartín leave every 10 minutes.
Busses leave from the entrance of Avenida de América, also
every 10 min.
The city of Aranjuez was founded in the 18th century and this majestic
area, 47 km outside of Madrid disposes of real jewels like the Palacio
Real (royal palace) and the magnificent gardens surrounding it.
This place has been residence for kings since the 15th century.
In the 17th century the Bourbons built the palace and the garden
area, like the Jardín del Parterre, the Jardín de
la Isla and the Jardín del Príncipe, a garden in British
style. The Casa del Labrador is a neoclassical hunting lodge, built
for King Carlos the Fourth and located in the Jardín del
Príncipe. The palace of Aranjuez with its gardens and the
city are declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Trains run every 30 mins from Atocha, busses from Estación
Sur de Autobuses. Between the months of May and October (except
from August) a special train for tourists runs every Saturday, called
Tren de la Fresa (strawberry train).
Manzanares el Real
This is a picturesque city in the Sierra de Guadarrama, at the foot
of the mountain La Pedriza, where many Madrilenians have their summer
residences. The palace from the 15th century is a juwel of civil
architecture. It is worth to walk along the bank of the Manzanares
in the La Pedriza park. The city is situated 47 km outside of Madrid,
busses start at Plaza de Castilla.
The monastery is located in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 50 km north
west of Madrid. The construction of these terrific granite buildings
- monastery, church, palace - were ordered by Felipe II. Also remarkable
is the basilica, which has a 92 m high cupola and the vaults are
decorated with paintings from Lucas Jordán. There are a lot
of things to gaze at, amongst others:
Palaces: One of the palaces inhabited by the Habsburgs is the Sala
de las Batallas, which is decorated with frescos and is especially
beautiful. The elaborate rooms of the Habsburgs stand out with their
Chapterhouses: paintings of El Greco, Velázquez, Ribera,
Titian and Bosch as well as works from the Venecian School of the
16th century can be admired.
Library: the library disposes of more than 40.000 books, dating
back to the 9th century. There is also a museum with paintings from
Titian, Veronese, Zurbarán and Tintoretto, etc as well as
a museum of architecture, which exposes construction plans of the
monastery. Outside of the building complex it is worth to visit
the Casita del Príncipe, a small palace founded by Carlos
II, as well as the Casita del Infante, both designed by Juan de
The UNESCO has declared the palace area World Heritage Site on November
2, 1984. In Spain the buliding is known as the 8th wonder of the
world. Trains run from the train stations of Atocha and Chamartín.
Ávila is the highest located captial of provinces of Spain
with an altitude of 1.128 m. The most important monument is the
2500 meter long, completely preserved Romanesque city wall (11th
– 14th century) with 88 towers and nine city gates. The most
popular daughter of the city, who is still omnipresent in the citiyscape,
is the mystic and teacher of the church Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada
(1515 – 1582), also known as Santa Teresa de Jesús
or Teresa from Ávila. The city is located 115 km to the north
west of Madrid and trains run from the train station of Atocha.
If you want to take the bus, you have to catch it at Paseo de la
Segovia is situated 87 km to the north west of Madrid. The impressive
Roman aqueduct in the city, the majestic castle of Alcazar, the
Cathedral and numerous churches are attractions worth a visit. You
should also visit La Granja de San Ildefonso, a beautiful palace
with nice gardens and a monumental fountain, situated 11 km outside
of Segovia. Trains run from Atocha, busses from Paseo de la Florida,
This is a fascinating monumental city, 70 km to the south of Madrid
and centre of the empire of the Visigoths, imperialistic capital
and residence of Arabs, Jews and Christians. There are many masterpieces
in the city of El Greco (he lived in Toledo from 1577 until he died
in 1614). The old town with the Cathedral of Santa María
from the 13th – 15th century and the Alcázar from the
16th century as well as numerous churches, a monastery and museums
have been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in December
1977. Two rare and preserved synagogues from the Middle Ages, El
Transito and Santa Maria la Blanca, which were used as churches
after the persecution of Jews in 1492, are also woth a visit. Until
today you can see the chains at the church of San Juan de los Reyes,
where slaves have been kept by the Berberesques. Trains run from
Atocha, busses from Estación del Sur.
A bit further away but still worth a visit
is the city of Salamanca, where you can admire the oldest university
of Spain, unique facades, cathedrals, the beautiful Plaza Mayor
and the house of mussles. The city was declared UNESCO World Heritage
in 1998 and in 2002 it was the cultural capital of Europe. It is
also said that people speak the nicest and most correct form of
Spanish in Salamanca. Therefore you have a wide range of language
courses offered by private agencies and universities, which attracts
many foreign students during the summer.
More cities and events, which you have to see are the
Carnaval de Cádiz in February, the Fallas
(a festival, where huge figures made of cardboard are being burnt
), in Valencia in March and
the Sanfermines in Pamplona,
the famous bull run in the beginning/middle of July.