Retiro Park is a hotspot for locals and tourists in the heart of Madrid. This beautiful public park offers a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy a few moments of peace and relaxation. Retiro Park, initially designed as a private retreat space for the Spanish Royal Family, is now one of the biggest parks in Madrid. A visit to Parque del Buen Retiro offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy gorgeous greenspaces, beautiful monuments, galleries, and many picturesque buildings.
During my recent visit to Madrid, I thought I would run into the park, see the lake and Crystal Palace, and leave. Instead, I found myself exploring Retiro Park for hours! I found it peaceful and serene while having a lively, fun atmosphere making me want to linger just a bit longer.
Let’s dive into all the fantastic things to see in Madrid’s Retiro Park.
1. Lago Del Retiro (Retiro Lake)
Retiro Lake is one of the highlights of Madrid’s Retiro Park. The man-made lake was completed in the early 1600s and is located in the middle of the expansive park. This beautiful lake is the perfect little oasis within the park. A popular activity on Retiro Lake is to rent one of the small boats and enjoy some time out on the water.
While boating, visitors enjoy rowing around the peaceful lake while feeding the large grouper fish that call it home. In addition to paddling on Retiro Lake, people often walk the lake’s perimeter or sunbathe on the lake’s edge. During my time at the lake, I loved seeing all of the families around enjoying a perfectly sunny day in Madrid.
The water’s edge is also home to the massive columns and statues that make up the monument to Alfonso XII. Take time to explore the monument up close to understand the size of this massive structure.
Pro Tip: If you visit the park on a Sunday, be on the lookout for the musicians that gather near the Alfonso XII Monument. This is an extra special treat!
2. Palacio De Cristal (The Crystal Palace)
One of the most popular attractions in Retiro Park is the Palacio de Cristal, or Crystal Palace. Originally built to house exotic plants, the Crystal Palace is now home to fabulous art exhibits and is a tourist hotspot. The Palacio de Cristal is free to enter, making it one of the fabulous free things to do in Madrid.
The Crystal Palace really cannot be missed. Just look for the large structure made of glass. The glass windows surrounding the structure provide incredible views of the small pond and green area surrounding the Palacio de Cristal. The side of the palace closest to the pond also provides numerous terraced areas perfect for a beautiful photo. For an incredible photo of the Crystal Palace, head to the opposite side of the little pond. This vantage point will allow you to capture the gorgeous vegetation and water with the palace in the background.
Pro Tip: The line to enter the Crystal Palace can sometimes be long as they limit the number of guests inside. Try to visit on a weekday to avoid waiting in such a long line.
3. Casita Del Pescador (Fisherman’s House)
While touring Retiro Park, you will probably stumble upon a small picturesque cottage located on a man-made island in the middle of a pond. This is Casita del Pescador. Thanks to the beautiful pink color adorning the structure, you can’t miss it.
According to the informational signs in the park, the Casita del Pescador was built by Ferdinand VII following the War of Independence. The Casita del Pescador served as the Fisherman’s House, where the king and some of his court would go fishing. Today, this park area is a tranquil green space that is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a picnic under the trees. Located next to the park is a small hill with a waterfall.
4. Ruinas De San Isidoro De Avila (Ruins Of The Church Of Saint Isidore Of Ávila)
Believe it or not, Retiro Park is also home to a set of ruins! The Ruinas de San Isidoro de Avila are located directly behind the Casita del Pescador and are easy to spot. There is no entry fee to see the ruins and they are an interesting addition to the city’s park.
Note that the ruins are relatively small in scale, so if you run low on time, you might skip seeing this. However, if you are a history lover, you will probably want to be sure and include the ruins on your Retiro Park itinerary.
5. Palacio Del Velazquez (Velazquez Palace)
Visitors will find the Palacio del Velazquez between Retiro Lake and the Crystal Palace. The Velazquez Palace is part of the Reina Sofia Museum and is worth some of your time while visiting Retiro Park.
The Palacio del Velazquez is home to contemporary exhibitions and special events. In addition to the exhibits and events, the area around Velazquez Palace offers a serene environment, making it a great place to have a picnic or enjoy reading a book underneath a shaded tree. During our visit to Retiro Park, this area seemed less crowded than other areas. Adding Velazquez Palace to your list of things to see in Retiro Park is a definite win.
6. Jardines De Cecilio Rodriguez (Cecilio Rodriguez Gardens)
Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez is a gorgeous area of Retiro Park that shouldn’t be missed. The area comprises beautiful concrete pavers and perfectly-manicured shrubbery, making you feel like you have been transported to a perfect English garden. The Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez can be difficult to find, so check a park map. It is an enclosed garden located on one side of the park.
The tranquil maze-like bushes combined with the trees and small ponds make you feel like you have been transported to another land. The gardens’ natural elements are accentuated with beautiful statues and sculptures, adding to the appeal. During your time in the Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez, be on the lookout for the resident peacocks that call this garden home. We had a great time taking photos of the peacocks while following them around the tranquil gardens.
7. La Rosaleda (Rose Garden)
Retiro Park’s Rose Garden is delightful to visit any time of year, but especially in springtime. The circular rose gardens are home to over 4,000 species of roses, making the garden a delight to visit in the late spring and summer months.
While the garden is great to visit during any season, the Rose Garden comes alive from May through June with fragrant blossoms boasting beautiful colors like yellow, red, pink, and white. The beautiful trellises throughout the garden are covered in ivy and roses, only adding to the beauty of this glorious garden. Spread throughout the garden, you will also enjoy numerous benches and fountains. This was one of my favorite gardens in Retiro Park. In addition to the great smell, I found the Rose Garden to be the perfect atmosphere to sit in and take a moment to enjoy the fact that I was in Madrid, Spain!
8. Museo Nacional Del Prado (Prado Museum)
Just outside of Retiro Park is one of Spain’s premier museums, the Museo Nacional del Prado. The Prado Museum is a world-class museum home to an awe-inspiring collection of European art. The museum has an impressive permanent collection that draws in visitors from all over the world. In addition to the Prado Museum’s permanent collection, it also hosts rotating exhibits and special events throughout the year.
It is important to note that the Prado has a vast collection and you could easily spend all day exploring the museum. If you want to see the main art pieces, allow for about 3 hours of your time.
For complete information, please visit the Prado Museum website.
9. Paseo De Las Estatuas (Walkway Of The Statues)
Paseo de las Estatuas, also known as the Paseo de la Argentina, is a broad promenade in Retiro Park lined with statues dedicated to Spanish monarchs. As you walk along the paseo, which leads you to Retiro Lake, you get a glimpse into the vast history of the Spanish monarchy.
10. The Fallen Angel Statue
The Fallen Angel statue in Retiro Park is a unique and interesting addition that shouldn’t be missed. The Fallen Angel statue is located atop a large fountain within Retiro Park. The fountain is located at the Paseo de Cuba, Paseo Uruguay, and Paseo Fernan Nunez intersection. Atop the fountain is a beautifully-carved statue depicting the devil being cast out of heaven. I found the details in the statue’s facial expression mesmerizing and found myself analyzing it from every angle. The Fallen Angel statue was a popular attraction during our visit to Retiro Park and had a decent-sized crowd gathered around it, making it hard to get a good picture of the statue. Nonetheless, I highly recommend adding it to your Retiro Park itinerary, especially if you are an art lover.