If you're ever fortunate enough to visit the exciting city of Madrid during the hot summer months, you might welcome a bit of respite from museums, galleries and shopping. A great way to sample a slice of local life and cool off is to visit the Instalación Deportiva Municipal swimming complex in the endless Casa de Campo. For 3.8 euros or 2.15 euros for under 16s, you'll have the use of an Olympic sized pool, a smaller pool and a childs pool. There are plenty of shady areas for relaxing and a cafeteria on site and you won't hear an English word spoken! The El Lago Metro station stops right outside the entrance. Having worked up an appetite, you will find a great choice of restaurants just outside the complex under shady trees overlooking Lago lake.
Numancia, 128039Tel: 34 91 459 9871
An absolutely wonderful natural park just outside Madrid, it is a mountain river which falls in gentle cascades to form pools, some deep enough to swim in. In the summer it is a marvellous place to escape the heat of the city, but go early, it fills up fast.
From Madrid take the M607 to Manzanares el Real (about half an hour) and La Pedriza is just past the village.
We spent a day birdwatching within an hour of Madrid with Santiago Villa. It is amazing what can be seen in the area and we were delighted to see magnificent views of Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture and Eagle Owl amongst the 50+ birds we saw in the day. Santiago is a great guide and a very congenial companion. A great day.
El Retiro is the nicest park in Madrid. It's pretty big and has loads of interesting features: the lake, where you can hire little rowing boats; Casa de Vacas where you can see art exhibitions; and the Palacio de Cristal where art exhibitions are shown. El Retiro is great all year round for walking, running, cycling, having a drink or simply lying on the grass.
On Sunday afternoons, after a long lunch, this is the best park to laze around in. Surrounded by natural beauty, with the sun sparkling upon the waters of the boating lake, you can enjoy the spontaneous gathering of people as they dance amongst the statues to the beat of crazy tribal drums. Not to be missed if ever you are in Madrid.
Nearest Metro Stations: Retiro and Ibiza.
Beautiful botanical gardens right next to the Prado. An oasis of calm to wander, read and relax when you want to escape the noise and pace of central Madrid. Also has a gallery with changing exhibitions showcasing contemporary artists - I saw fantastic Stephen Gill photographs when I was there in June.
Pl. de Murillo
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