To meet Madrileños at their most relaxed, spend a Sunday among the families in Parque del Retiro. Originally a royal playground for the Spanish monarchs, the park covers 140 hectares (346 acres), but most of the main attractions are located adjacent to the central pathway, best accessed by the gate at the Puerta de Alcalá traffic circle. The park is big enough to be a playground for much of Madrid—whether they want to rent rowboats on the small lake where Felipe IV used to stage mock naval battles, watch puppet shows, practice tai chi, play cards or chess, have their fortunes told, or just lounge on the grass. Even winter chills don’t discourage Madrileños with their kids and their dogs. Visitors can also view contemporary art. The Reina Sofia museum mounts large-scale exhibitions in the two grand buildings constructed for the 1887 Philippines Exposition. The Palacio de Cristal is literally a glass palace, while the Palacio de Velázquez is as opaque as the Cristal is transparent. It was constructed of brick and marble with florid tilework in the Mudéjar Revival style. From May through September, there are free concerts in the park on Saturday and Sunday evenings; look for the program posted at the major entrances.
Parque del Retiro
Our Rating Hours Summer daily 7am–midnight; winter daily 7am–10pm. Palacio de Cristal and Palacio de Velázquez Apr–Sept daily 11am–9pm; Oct–Mar daily 10am–6pm Transportation Metro: Retiro Prices Free admission
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.