Madrid: A few unconventional things to do

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A sunny day in Madrid means one thing: Retiro Park. And that's all well and good, but sometimes I just don't want to lie on a crowded piece of grass dodging runners and Spanish children who, for some reason, seem to be temporarily inhabited by the devil himself. Last weekend marked the arrival of summer in Madrid and also a turning point in my affections for the city; I've always appreciated Madrid is a cool place to live but it's never brought me the same wow factor that any other of my adopted European homes have. Monday afternoon walking back from the gym though, I noticed it: the silly, smug little grin that appears, unbidden, on my face when I realise how lucky I am to be living somewhere so uh-may-ZING was back! Hoorah! So here's a few things to reinvigorate your love for Madrid.

Hire Bikes on Madrid Rio

Mi Bike Rio, located near Principe Pío were, for some reason, willing to let us loose on one of their tandem bikes and go-karts this weekend. I was a bit dubious about the go kart at first, thinking that I was going to get a few weird looks, then once I got on I realised I didn't care and proceeded to hog it for the entire hour. The tandem bike was much more difficult than I initially anticipated, particularly when faced with a roller-blading over 50s group but if you want to recreate the experience of learning how to ride a bike I would definitely recommend it. Cost of hire is: Tandem (10€/h), Go Kart (6€/hour), Bike (5€/hour).

Madrid Zoo

A lot of people were surprised when I said I went to the zoo this weekend. Whether that was because they didn't realise Madrid had a zoo or because they thought it was a strange place for three 23 year old girls to want to spend a Saturday in Madrid, I'm not sure. But it was great! It costs 19.90€ to get in if you buy your tickets online and you could easily spend your entire day there.

There was so much to see that Becky was all tuckered out by the end. Aw.

The bears were my favourite:

There is also an aquarium, dolphin show and petting farm. Any self respecting 23 year old would love it.

Botellon at the Templeo de Debod

Earlier I mentioned that the hoardes flock to Retiro park when the sun comes out. But, you can also find a great atmosphere on the grassy banks behind the Egyptian Temple on a beautiful day. If you're there at the right time you'll even be treated to a great view of the sun setting pink and orange over the mountains towards the west of Madrid.

Check out the Vintage Shops in Malasaña 

Or just check out Malasaña in general really. Not exactly an unconventional thing to do if you know Madrid but it wouldn't necessarily be on the tourist radar. Cool shops (practically a whole street of vintage clothes shops) cool bars and ever cooler crepes and cakes to be found at La Rue on Calle del Espíritu Santo. 


The small scale artesan market which takes place every Saturday in Spring and Autumn in Plaza Dos de Mayo is worth a (relatively) early morning wake up call. If you want a good atmosphere outside of the centre and away from the tourist prices then this is the place for you.

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