Parque del Buen Retiro, or Retiro Park, is Madrid’s huge city park. It is so huge, that we’re dedicating an entire blog post to the park. Retiro used to be the private park of the Spanish royal family, but it was opened to the public in 1767. Retiro is our favorite city park in the world and we love strolling around there. We make sure to go there every time we’re in Madrid. Besides enjoying the nature, Retiro has many things to see and must-visit attractions, which we’re all going to share in this blog post. You can’t miss Retiro Park on your visit to Madrid!
Opening hours Retiro Park
Winter: daily from 07.00-22.00
Summer: daily from 07.00-00.00
In the middle of Retiro, you’ll find a large artificial pond: Estanque Grande del Retiro. What’s special about this pond is that you can rent a rowboat and paddle across the pond. It’s a very fun activity when the weather is good (which is very often in Madrid). We always do this during a summer trip. You can find the boat rental house at the north side of the pond.
Opening hours boat rental:
Summer: daily from 10.00-20.30
Winter: daily from 10.00-17.30
Saturday & Sunday: €8
Monument to Alfonso XII
The Monument to Alfonso XII is located right next to the pond, so it’s hard to miss it. It’s a huge monument with a statue of Alfonso XII as its centerpiece. The monument was designed as part of a national contest, which was won by architect José Grases Riera. Grases Riera died while the construction of the monument was still in progress. The architect that finished the monument didn’t modify the original design. The monument was finished in 1922. The Alfonso Monument makes the otherwise boring pond look very interesting!
The Rose Garden (or Rosaleda) in Retiro is a beautiful and well-designed rose garden. It’s hard to tell what the best time to visit the Rose Garden is, as roses have different bloom cycles and some of them bloom more than once. We aren’t rose experts, but when we visited the Rose Garden in early July, many roses were blooming. It’s a beautiful garden to walk around and a perfect place to shoot some (Instagram) photos.
Velazquez Palace (or Palacio de Velazquez) is one of the exhibition halls in Retiro. Velazquez Palace was constructed from 1881 to 1883 by architect Velazquez, engineer Palacio and ceramist Zuloaga. Since 1908, National Fine Arts exhibitions are hosted in the palace. The palace is currently dedicated to temporary exhibitions of the Reina Sofía Museum. Entrance to the exhibition in Velazquez Palace is free.
Crystal Palace (or Palacio Cristal) is also made by architect Velazquez. The Crystal Palace was designed for the Philippine Exposition of 1887 and served as a greenhouse for an exhibition of tropical plants from the Philippines. Crystal Palace is a beautiful building and a must visit when you’re in Madrid! In the Crystal Palace you can also admire a few pieces of art from the Reina Sofía Museum, but the stunning structure of the palace is too distracting to really notice the art works. Entrance to the Crystal Palace and the exhibition is free.
As the building used to be a greenhouse and is almost completely made of glass, it gets very hot inside during summer, so be aware of that. In front of the building is a small lake which is home to quite a lot of turtles. Make sure to watch those as well, they’re very cute!
Cecilio Rodríguez Garden
The Cecilio Rodríguez Garden (or los Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez) is one of the lesser known gardens in Retiro, but it’s definitely a spot you shouldn’t miss. The garden is beautifully designed which makes it the perfect spot for some (Instagram) photos. A bunch of peacocks live in the garden, and if you’re lucky, you might see a male peacock showing off his feathers.
Summer: daily from 10.00-20.00
Winter: daily from 10.00-18.00
Just outside of Retiro Park on the Calle Claudio Moyano, you can find a cute second hand book market called Cuesta de Moyano. The stalls are very pretty and it’s a lovely place to check out. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any English books, but if you can read Spanish you might find some good books as well!
Daily from 09.30-13.30 and from 16.30-19.00
Royal Botanical Garden
The Royal Botanical Garden are not really located in Retiro, but next to the park. The Garden features 5000 different species of plants, varying by month and season. It’s a nice garden to walk around and explore all the different kinds of plants and flowers. We really loved the greenhouses in the Gardens. There are 3 different kinds of subtropical and tropical sections, that all house different kinds of plants. We especially loved taking photos in the greenhouses, the different kinds of tropical plants make for a good looking backdrop. The greenhouses alone make a visit to the Botanical Garden worth it already.
General ticket price: € 6
Every Tuesday after 17.00 the entrance to the Royal Botanical Garden is free.
General information about Retiro Park
Food in Retiro Park
As Retiro Park is huge, you’ll easily spend hours in it. Luckily, there are multiple cafés scattered around the park. They serve similar food and drinks at all cafés and it isn’t anything special, but it’s perfect for a quick food and/or drink fix. We often have a tuna sandwich and a cold coke zero, which is perfect for us to keep on going.
Toilets in Retiro Park
It’s important to drink enough water, especially on hot summer days in Retiro Park. However, if you drink lots of water, you have to use the toilet. All the cafés in the park have a toilet, but it’s not always operating. There are a few public toilets in the park, indicated by a small sign at the top of the stairs which leads down to them. We found that these toilets aren’t always operating either. Our best bet to use the toilet in Retiro Park is Crystal Palace. Inside the Palace there are stairs leading down to the toilets. These toilets are often clean too!
How to get to Retiro Park
Retiro Park is a 20-minute walk from Puerta del Sol and is pretty accessible from the city center. If you don’t want to walk that far, the park also has its own metro station: Retiro. From Puerta del Sol, it’s only 8 minutes by metro to Retiro Station. The Retiro metro stop is located at the northern entrance of the park.
Have we convinced you to visit Retiro Park in Madrid? Let us know in the comments below!
Be sure to check out more of our visual experiences on Instagram!