To get around I did a lot of walking, but also used the Metro (if you’d like more info on the Metro system take a look here). I like walking because you see so much more of the city, and I suppose I am a sightseer at heart. Not just the big sights, but the smaller ones. Seeing the city streets, the shops – some you recognise, some you don’t, and witnessing the nuances that make up a culture, that’s what I like. I also really like parks.
I saw a bunch of stuff when I was in Madrid. Even though I was only there for one day, being by myself meant that I got a lot done while I was there. That’s one of the big advantages of solo travel – you get to see exactly what you want, when you want to see it. Cutting out the dilly-dallying and negotiation involved in travelling with other people saved a lot of valuable time. But for you I have narrowed down to my three favourite things I did while I was there:
Casa de Campo Park
I went first thing in the morning to make sure I didn’t overheat. It still got super hot though, so make sure you take plenty of water and sunscreen with you if you venture to Casa de Campo. There’s also a zoo and aquarium at the park, which I skipped in favour of visiting them in other cities (though had finances allowed I would have gone to every aquarium in every city).
I only spent a few hours here, but you could easily spend all day exploring. Take a picnic and plenty of fluids and you’re set for a great day out. Even for a family, a stroll round Casa de Campo would make a nice, cheap day out in Madrid. Especially if you visit the zoo and aquarium, though that would obviously add to the cost.
The only thing I didn’t like about the park was how alone I was there. I like my peace and quiet, but it was quite unsettling not seeing anyone around. Perhaps later in the day the place would be more populated, but there’s a certain vulnerability about being a solo female traveller which is amplified in a vast, empty park. I was acutely aware of it which meant I couldn’t really relax and enjoy the park as much as I would have liked. It is very beautiful and very peaceful, but maybe a bit too solitary for me.
Templo de Debod
Again, make sure you take plenty of water. By time time I’d climbed the stairs I was parched. Luckily there was someone selling water at the top. I’m not sure if they were supposed to be or where the water came from but at the time I would have slurped on a muddy puddle so it didn’t matter.
El Retiro Park
This park is very different from Casa de Campo. El Retiro has a definite feel of the city, with cafés lining the main pathway, a cute rowing boat lake, and well maintained ornamental gardens. I enjoyed some churros from one of the many cafés, people watching from one of the little tables they had set up outside.
Here’s a map of the places I went when I was in Madrid: