Having just spent a few days holidaying in Madrid and Toledo, I thought I would share some great places to run if you ever visit the Spanish capital.
Parque Madrid Río
This is an extensive park running along the banks of the Rio Manzaneres with multiple footpaths on either side of the river. The park was developed in the past few years to remove the busy highways that once lined the river and provide residents and visitors to Madrid with another green space.
The park has a quiet wide cycle lane that is perfect for running or riding along, with distances marked every 50m. There are plenty of small fitness stations, and children’s parks along the entire route that stretches for a number of KM from the Principe Rio to the Matedero (the old slaighterhouse).
The park also offers a number of great views of other attractions of the city. The large Casa de Campo park can be seen stretching away from the Western bank of the river, whilst on the other side the impressive Royal Palace stands tall on the hill next to the river. Around halfway along the park, the Estadio Vicente Calderon (the home of Atletico Madrid) sits next the water.
All along the river are a number of bridges; a mix of both old (Puente de Toledo, Puente de Segovia) and new. There are a number of quirky designs found in the newer bridges, including a bridge in the shape of a corkscrew, a Y shaped bridge and one bridge that spans the river at an oblique angle.
Casa de Campo
A large park, formerly a hunting ground, rises up away from the river on the opposite side to the main part of the city. It’s perfect for trail running because it has numerous paths that criss cross the path on a mixture of grass, stone and gravel paths. As you climb into the main part of the park, you find some brilliant views back towards the city. Visitors can even use the cable car to reach the park from the main part of the city.
It was incredibly quiet the morning I ran around here and saw many rabbits hopping in and out of bushes and burrows as the sun began to rise above the tress.
Parque de El Retiro
A more formal park in the heart of the city right right next to some of the art museums (Reina Sofia, Prado, Thyssen). It’s perfect for running around, or even taking a stroll to get a bit of quiet from the hustle of the city. Once again there are a large amount of different paths, from wide tarmac lanes to small gravel tracks that snake between a wide variety of trees and plants.
Inside the park is a long rectangular lake, where you can rent a rowing boat and leisurely punt along. Among the fountains and statues, look out for the Palacio de Cristal a beautiful glass building that often houses exhibitions from the Museum del Prado.
Around half an hour from Madrid is Toledo, a medieval walled city with Arab, Jewish and Christian influences throughout. The city sits on a steep hill (plenty of hill sessions on offer here!) above the Tagus river.
Running wise, you can’t go wrong with the Camino de Quijote, a trail that follows the river as it snakes its way around 3 sides of the city. Lots of beautiful views of the river, parts of the city as well as the opposite valley side.
- La Bicicleta Madrid: A cool cafe and workspace with a cycle theme. Some great coffees and you can even grab some food named after a famous former rider: Lance Armstrong sandwich anyone?
- Art: Check out some of the art in the city, especially the Reina Sofia which holds Picasso’s Guernica as well as some works from Salvador Dali.
- The Markets: Loads of brilliant tapas and cheap drinks on offer in the many markets that are dotted all over the city. Especially check out the Mercado de San Miguel and the Mercado de San Ildefonso
- Atocha Station: A small botanical garden right in the middle of the main railway terminal. A great use of the original arched section of the station. Bizarrely it’s also full of turtles!