A Tale of Two Parks – Retiro on a weekday morning and on Sunday afternoon

Madrid Parks, Retiro

by Amy Menchhofer

Retiro Park Entrance

On everyone’s list of must-sees in Madrid is El Parque del Buen Retiro. But when should you visit? A leisurely stroll through the Retiro on a Tuesday morning is a completely different experience than joining the masses on a Sunday afternoon.

Wander through the park on a weekday morning and you’ll likely find yourself alone more often than not. The terrace bars are closed, the chocolate-dealers are absent from the park entrances, your only company will be cyclists and joggers, and you can even find a swing on a deserted playground to pretend you’re a kid again. And you might even want to leave your iPod at home. The sounds of nature and even the occasional complete silence are a treat that will make you forget you’re at the heart of a city of 4 million.

Stop by on a Sunday and you’ll have to watch where you walk so as not to bump into someone. Particularly popular with young families, you’ll dodge as many wagons and tricycles as you do palm-reading gypsies. Despite the crowds, the ambience is a unique one filled with puppet shows, portrait artists, jewelry stalls, and fortune tellers. And should you be so inclined you can park yourself at one of the many terraces and get an ice cream, caña, or coffee – that is, if you can find a seat. Also of note: the Retiro is often host to various special events such as Cibeles Fashion Week, the annual book fair, and last weekend’s Bike Fest. On such occasions the influx of visitors is even greater than on your typical Sunday.

Crowded and festive? Quiet and calming? Which face of the park do you prefer?


Comment from Ben
Date: October 9, 2007, 5:28 pm

I know which one I like best – give me calm and relaxing any day!

Comment from King
Date: October 9, 2007, 11:20 pm

Those weekdays in the park are so good at this time of year, with conkers and woodpeckers and such like.

Pingback from Madrid Parks, Gardens and Other Green Escapes – Notes from Madrid
Date: January 21, 2008, 7:43 pm

[...] 2. El Retiro/Botanical Gardens: The Retiro park is located right in the city center, making it a convenient outdoor getaway. The royal botanical gardens are next door, and cost 2€ to enter. (Metro: Retiro) [...]

Pingback from A Night on the Terrazas – Notes from Madrid
Date: April 30, 2008, 10:36 am

[...] Starting at Calle Menendez Pelayo (on the eastern perimeter of Retiro), calles Ibiza and Alcalde Sainz de Baranda are proper boulevards whose wide, paved medians are dotted with newsstands, benches, and, April through October, a non-stop parade of terrazas. [...]