Take the children to have fun at multiple playgrounds, relax beneath the summer sun at waterside lawns and attend contemporary visual and performing arts events.
Recreational and cultural activities abound at Madrid Rio, a sprawling urban park set along the banks of the Manzanares river. Once a busy highway and industrial area, today Madrid Rio is one of the city’s most popular green spaces. The highway was moved underground to create a 3.7-mile (6-kilometer) long park that includes a cultural center, ornamental gardens, picnic areas and water features. Join the city residents that come to bike, exercise, skate and walk dogs along a network of meandering trails.
The park stretches from Puente del Rey bridge to Lineal del Manzanares Park. Esplanades connect pretty gardens, such as Jardines de Segovia and Jardines de Toledo, where fountains and pools intersperse decorative flower beds and topiary tree displays. Pass beneath bridges that showcase a range of architectural styles. Among them are the 430-year-old Puente de Segovia, Baroque Puente de Toledo and contemporary Arganzuela footbridge.
Children of all ages will delight in the 17 play areas spread throughout the park. The Salon de Pinos section has everything from timber-and-rope climbing frames to tube slides and a wooden pirate ship. Watch BMX bikers, rollerbladers and skateboarders perform tricks at the skatepark.
Summer is a great time to visit, when the riverfront turns into an urban beach. Throw a towel down on the lush green grass and cool off from the hot sun in the three oval-shaped splash pads. Bring your own food or purchase drinks and snacks at an open-air café. See people kayaking and rowing along the gently flowing river.
Be sure to check out events at Matadero Madrid, an arts center set inside a one-time slaughterhouse. Its exhibition spaces host art installations, concerts, dance shows and educational talks. The center’s cinema is dedicated to screening documentaries. On the last weekend of the month, an artisanal food and drink market called Matadero Productores takes over the courtyard.
The Legazpi, Marqués de Vadillo, Pirámides and Príncipe Pío metro stations all serve Madrid Rio. Bike rentals are available at Matadero Madrid.