the wandering bean – one day in Madrid
Adventures Europe

the wandering bean – one day in Madrid

Madrid was the first stop on my grand European adventure. When I got there I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing or where I was going, but I did know I wanted to see the city and make the most of my time there. As I was a first time solo traveller with a tight budget, my one day in Madrid was very solitary and very cheap. If you’re the kind of person who very much enjoys wandering around with only their own company, then my experience will be perfect for you too.

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

the spicy bean - one day in Madrid - www.itsthespicybean.com
Parks and kinda my thing, and this is the biggest park in Madrid so naturally I had to go there. Casa de Campo is very much like a country park rather than a city park as it’s full of unspoilt nature. There are loads of trees, streams and lakes to explore, and a whole load of wildlife to spot that you’ll struggle to find elsewhere in the city. You could walk around for hours and still find yourself discovering new parts.

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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

the spicy bean - one day in Madrid - www.itsthespicybean.com
The Templo de Debod is at the top of a hill, which boasts fantastic views of the city. The panorama itself made the climb worth it. You don’t have to climb the hill but I got the Metro to Principe Pio station, which drops you off at the very bottom. I did not realise this at the time, however I quite enjoyed walking up the path through the trees and rambling through a bit more of the park.

the spicy bean - one day in Madrid - www.itsthespicybean.com
The temple itself was closed when I was there, so I didn’t get to go inside. The structure is enough though, an Egyptian relic against the backdrop of Spain’s biggest city is pretty interesting. And of course, it’s located in another big park which I also enjoyed exploring.

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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

tips for travellers in Madrid - www.itsthespicybean.com
Retiro park is fantastic and was hands down my favourite part of the city. It was a bustling place but not too busy. Full of energy, but not overwhelming. I loved wandering around on my own, sitting on a bench every now and then when I found a nice pretty spot to daydream or write in my travel journal.

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.

the spicy bean - one day in Madrid - www.itsthespicybean.com
If I were there with someone else I would have really liked to go in one of the little rowing boats, but it looked like it would have been a bit crap on my own. Instead I just sat and watched for a while, enjoying the peace amongst people that exists there. I fully recommend a visit to Retiro Park for anyone exploring Madrid.

Here’s a map of the places I went when I was in Madrid:

 

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