Casa de Campo
Casa de Campo is an enormous park to the west of downtown Madrid. It was set aside as a hunting estate by King Felipe II in the 16th century and was not opened to the public until the 1940s. The park is a staggering 4,200 acres (1,700 hectares) and is home to numerous public facilities, a zoo and even a theme park.
Wander around and enjoy the nearly untouched parklands. You’ll see squirrels, birds and the native flora of central Spain. Be sure to grab a map or plan a route, as Casa de Campo is so big that you’re likely to get lost. For great views of the area, take a ride on the Teleférico cable car. It runs between the park and the city center.
Kids will love the 49-acre (20-hectare) Madrid Zoo and Aquarium, where they can see more than 500 different types of animals. There’s a petting zoo, a dolphinarium and a giant panda exhibit. Check out the Madrid Amusement Park to ride roller coasters, flume rides and carousels. Have a look at local event boards to see what is on at the Madrid Arena, an indoor pavilion that hosts sports and cultural events.
Sports fans can swim a few laps in one of the public pools or rent out a tennis court for a quick game. There are also dozens of bike trails and a reservoir for kayaking. Picnickers will find tables and benches as well as plenty of green space for playing or relaxing. Continue to the lake and gaze out over the water or have a meal at a restaurant or café. Be warned, though, the view makes your meal more costly.
Madrid’s Casa de Campo is accessible at all hours of the day and night. Most facilities close toward the end of the day, while in summer most restaurants stay open quite late. For safety, try to avoid the park’s more remote corners.