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How to Have a Relaxing Weekend in Madrid

Parque del Retiro

Parque del Retiro (photo: David Lee)

Madrid is well-known for its party credentials. You’ll find no end of bars, neighbourhoods and streets which come alive well after dark, and stay open well beyond sunrise.

But sometimes, sampling the nightlife and going crazy for a weekend just isn’t on the agenda.

Occasionally – very occasionally – you might just be looking for a few days in a place where you can relax and unwind.

So here are some suggestions if you’re looking for a chilled out time in Madrid.

Lounge in the Park

Another thing that Madrid has in droves – aside from the bars – is a fair amount of open space.

On one side of the city, in particular, you’ve got the Parque del Retiro. Here, you’ll find 320 acres of space, encompassing a boating lake, monuments such as the imposing Alfonso XII Monument and the regal Palacio de Cristal.

However, these well-known areas can get busy, so head away from the crowds, entertainers and fake sunglasses and explore the wooded paths and rose gardens dotted around the periphery.

Wandering around the outskirts of the park, you’ll also find benches, shady spots and even some basic outdoor exercise equipment to help you wind down should the mood take you.

Stay in a quiet part of town

While the party animals tend to congregate around the lively streets of Gran Via, Malasaña and Chueca, those of you seeking a quieter night might find solace in the Salamanca and Retiro neighbourhoods.

If you’re staying near the latter, you’ll find Calle Ibiza full of small tapas bars and restaurants where you can have a quiet bite to eat alongside the locals.

Another option is La Latina, situated in the old city, parts of which are quieter than the main streets, but still close enough to the Rastro flea market and numerous tapas bars to get a taste of the evening atmosphere.

Museo del Prado

Museo del Prado (photo: David Lee)

Stroll around the museums

During the day, Madrid’s temperature can soar – and that’s where the city’s many museums come into their own.

While you won’t want to miss the Golden Triangle of Art, home to three top-class art museums: the Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, there are other museums worth a shout, too.

For example, there’s the art academy where Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali once studied – the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando; a grand building which now contains a museum and gallery collection of fine art from the 15th – 20th century.

Sightseeing from up high

One way to see all the main tourist spots without battling the crowds is from the air.

Madrid is lucky enough to have El Teleférico, a cable car that scoops you up from its base near La Rosaleda Park, and takes you above the parkland over to Casa de Campo.

Along the way you can see the Royal Palace and La Almudena Cathedral in the distance, but most of all, you can just enjoy five minutes of peace and quiet and you take in the city from above, before strolling around the parkland at the other end, or having a cheeky glass of Sangria in the restaurant before hopping back on again.

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Friday 7th of December 2012

I like the museums in Madrid; nice article and nice pictures


Monday 17th of September 2012

Loved Retiro Park and the Crystal Palace. Stayed in La Latina which had a authentic neighbourhood feel about it. Pretty down to earth and gritty in places. Spain is a wonderful country to visit, the cities are all so different.


Monday 17th of September 2012

Wow! This is indeed a place to see. I never visited Madrid but after reading this, I am quite sure that visiting the place is all worth it. :)

Elle @ [link removed]

Jeff Broman

Saturday 15th of September 2012

Retiro Park is one of my favorite places in Madrid. I have spend a lot of time there on my visits. I did not know there was a cable car ride. I will check that out on my next visit.


Monday 17th of September 2012

I didn't know about the cable car ride during my first visit to Madrid either!

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