A visit to Madrid in Spain is not complete without a walk in its fabulous park, Parque del Buen Retiro. It literally means ‘relaxing park 🙂
I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but the park is H-U-G-E: about 300 acres!
It first opened as a public park in 1868. Earlier, the park belonged to the grounds of Phillip IV’s royal palace.
And you can certainly tell its regal origins! While many of its buildings were destroyed in the war with Napoleonic (begin 19th century), there are is still plenty to convey its grandeur.
For one, the grounds are gorgeous! Both locals and tourist love its lakes and botanical gardens. Particularly in summer, the park becomes the go-to spot for tourists as well as locals. It’s when the park really comes alive. You’ll find musicians, fortune tellers and other forms of entertainment. Really fun. And all this makes for my most favourite pastime in the park: people watching!
Second, there are lots of sculptures and monuments in the park that are of that ‘must-see’ calibre. And the natural beauty of the park and artworks seem to go hand-in-hand.
In the gorgeous Rosaleda rose garden, you’ll find all kinds of rose varieties as well as the statue of the El Ael Caido. This work shows the Satan as a fallen angel. Seems so perfect and romantic of good winning over evil.
Third, there are the classy remains the Cason Del Buen Retiro and the Museo del Ejercito, both really worth a visit.
The works by the Spanish master, Sorolla, are part of the 19th to 20th century art collection in the Cason.
The Ejercito holds Spain’s premier army museum. If you are planning a visit here, be sure to see the most elusive pieces of its large collection: the sword of the famous warrior, El Cid; and a cross carried by Christopher Columbus on his voyage to the New World. I just love this last piece, although the former is more famous, I believe.
The park is centred around a big lake. Rent a boat or follow the trails and paths around it. It is very scenic everywhere. Particularly noteworthy are the statue of King Alfonso XII on his horse backed by a magnificent colonnade. I love it. This is one side of the lake.
On the other end you’ll find the must-see Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace). a late 19th century greenhouse for exotic plants! Near it, is the Palacio de Velazques. In this palace you’ll find temporary exhibits from the Queen Sofia museum of art. — I told you there is a lot going on in this park! —
Another natural feature of the park is the Cecilia Rodriguez gardens which have a delightful array of flora and are located close to the fine dining restaurants on Serrano Street. Also near this is the Prado Museum which can easily be combined with a trip to the park.
So if you’re in Madrid, make sure you take a stroll through the magnificent and charming Parque del Buen Retiro. It is sure to be a highlight of your holiday.
We all want something different from a beach. Whether you prefer facilities, peace, privacy or entertainment here are a few Spanish beaches which come highly recommended.
Spanish Beaches to go to with children
Look for beaches with fine sand, without stones or pebbles and with wooden walkways to the shore because these are easier to walk on. The best beaches for children are those which have shallow water and only very small waves. In addition, access should be easy and comfortable for buggies and it should have good facilities: foot washers, showers, easily visible danger signs, assistance points, play areas and shady places. If children are small, it is important to check out nearby toilet and changing facilities. To keep them amused, choose beaches with activity centres and supervised courses for windsurfing, swimming or fishing.
La Costilla y El Rompidillo on the Costa Ballena (Cádiz)
Situated between Rota and Chipiona, there are seven kilometres of fine sandy beaches, which are not dangerous and which have all sorts of facilities. The children can be kept amused for hours watching the corrals, small stone walls in the sea where fish, shrimps and crayfish are trapped at low tide.
Favorite city beaches in Spain
Need stay close to urbanisation while enjoying a moment or two at the beach? Then city beaches are for you. The best thing is that you don’t have to go far to find them – they are separated from the shops and offices by a promenade, from which you can access the sand by means of ramps and steps.
La Concha in San Sebastián (Guipúzcoa).
Queen María Cristina elevated it to the status of “the” place to spend summer, at the end of the nineteenth century and, from that time, it has kept its charm. Framed by its two mountains, Igueldo and Urgull, the beautiful beach is bordered by superb decorative walkway. In the centre of the bay is Stanta Clara Island and lighthouse, which can be reached by ferry in the summer.
If when it gets hot, you find clothes are too much, you’ll surely enjoy naturism, which consists, among other things, of living the beach experience in your birthday suit or “how your mother brought you into the world” as the Spanish put it. Well, you can wear a thong if you want. In Spain there are several hundred beaches with a nudist tradition which goes back to the 1960s, the majority with difficult access and unspoilt scenery. As well, there are those which must live with the “textiles” (as naturists call those who don’t go nude) in separate zones, including certain remote caves in which there is a natural mixture of bathing costumes and exposed skin. You can also find areas of coast specifically for nudism; authentic naturist centres, equipped with all types of set up (hotels, supermarkets, swimming pools) for those who go around completely naked.
Cala Fonda, in Altafulla (Tarragona).
Also known as Waikiki Beach, it is situated in the middle of a leafy pine grove and sheltered by a vertical cliff which makes access difficult. Precisely because of the complications of getting here (it is necessary to walk more than a kilometre through woods), it has become a complete nudist paradise. There are more than 200 metres of fine sand with clear water and absolutely nothing else.
…for friends of the wild and the natural
The more difficult the paths are to negotiate, the more possibilities you have to have the beach to yourself. These coastal spots well deserve a hike of several hours, but to be remote from civilization as well implies a total absence of infrastructure, so don’t forget to carry a good supply of water with you and whatever you need to give you some shade. The locals know the best places and how to get to them, so use your charm to get the information from them.
Los Genoveses, in San José (Almería).
Positioned in the heart of the Parque Natural del Cabo de Gata, you get there by a small earth road, signposted from the town of San José. The small bay of Los Genoveses (so called because in its day, it was an anchorage for pirate ships) opens up to the left of the road and has an improvised parking area. It is a beach of dunes, surrounded by vegetation.
Have you been dreaming about going to Spain? If you have, then you most likely have some places that you will want to visit. Why not go on a Spain bike tour and combine the best of sightseeing and biking? This would help you to see Spain in a way that few people do. You will learn more about taking a Spain bike tour in this article.
Spain Bike Tour: Running of the Bulls
This popular event is what most people who visit Spain think of. This event lasts for an entire week beginning on July 7th every single year. The event is held at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, where you can see the men in traditional Spanish dress running down the streets with bulls chasing them. There are smaller bull runnings in other cities across Spain, including Sanguesa (September 11th – 17th), Estella (first Saturday in August), Tudela (July 24th – 28th), and Tafalla (August 20th – 25th). You cannot visit Spain without seeing the Running of the Bulls.
Spain Bike Tour: Flamenco Dancing
Flamenco dancing is another thing that most people associate with Spain and there is an entire week devoted to this kind of dancing in Seville each April. This event began as a cattle market, but it has gradually evolved into a flamenco dancing event with Tapas and wine tastings. This event is not to be missed with all of its bright colors and fun. This is a not to be missed event on your Spain bike tour.
Spain Bike Tour: Passion of Christ
This event is normally help during Easter Week (two weeks before the Febria de Abril) and it consists of people acting out the Passion of Christ story. This event brings in thousands of people who watch this very emotional event. It was first created by Catholic priests to help make the store more real and understandable to people. If you are on your Spain bike tour during this time, then you will not want to miss this event.
Spain Bike Tour: Las Fallas de San José
This event is the springtime celebration in Valencia. This ten day event consists of fireworks, costumes, flamenco dancing, and bullfights. On the last day of the event (March 19th), the cardboard constructions are burned to the ground.
Spain Bike Tour: Ceremonia del Tributo de las tres Vacas
This event began back in 1375 and it is translated as the “Three Cow Tribute Ceremony.” It is located in the Roncal Valley of Spain on July 13th. It is centered around a ceremony where the French citizens of the Baretous valley gave three cows to the citizens of Piedra San Martin in tribute. They are costumed in medieval gowns. It is a beautiful event to visit on your Spain bike tour.
Magnificent, unique monuments. Streets that carry you back in time. In Spain you will find unique places where you will live art and history at each step. These are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Exploring them you will enjoy a privileged journey back in time, where you can discover Spain’s important cultural heritage.
There is lots to see in Spain. It is no coincidence that Spain is the country with the second largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Presented here in no particular order other than roughly north to south, you will discover outstanding examples of Spain’s rich, varied cultural treasures.
In each location you will find a beautiful “urban museum”, packed with history, offering a range of superb monuments in different artistic styles. Just one piece of advice: take your time. Take a relaxed stroll through the streets and let each city captivate you with its own special magic.
We start in the northwest in Santiago de Compostela. With its majestic Cathedral, it is the final destination for thousands of people who go on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route every year.
In the west central region not far from the border with Portugal, you will come to the historic city of Salamanca where you will find unique places like its University, one of the world’s oldest and its emblematic Plaza Mayor Square.
Further south along the Portuguese border, is Caceres with its amazing succession of historic buildings and palaces, especially when they are illuminated by night.
In central Spain grouped around Madrid are five more UNESCO Historic Sites.
Segovia has some of the best-conserved Romanesque monuments in Europe. You will be left speechless when you see its Roman Aqueduct, a truly stunning feat of engineering.
In Avila you will feel like a medieval knight – here you can imagine what towns were like in the Middle Ages. Its defensive wall is the best conserved in Europe and its Gothic Cathedral is Spain’s oldest.
Alcala de Henares on the road to Guadalajara from Madrid, is the model of a university town that was exported to Europe and America. Its University is not to be missed, of course, along with Calle Mayor Street and the house where Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, was born.
Toledo was a melting pot of cultures for centuries. Go on an adventure and search out the legacy of Muslims, Jews and Christians, who once lived together in these narrow city streets.
Cuenca’s unique historic center looks out over rocky canyon walls in the heart of the Cuenca mountains in the region of Castile-La Mancha. Its famous “hanging houses” are an example of architecture and nature in perfect harmony.
In southern Spain you will find the historic old town of Cordoba. Here you will see the splendour of ancient Moorish culture, with the Great Mosque – considered the most important Islamic monument in the Western World – being the prime example.
Not forgetting Ibiza in the Balearic Islands also has UNESCO’s prestigious designation: for its biodiversity and archaeological heritage. The same is true of the town of San Cristobal de la Laguna in the Canary Islands, whose architecture displays the origins of Latin American urban development.
In these Spanish cities, overflowing with art and culture, you will be sure to discover the pleasure of history. Enjoy!
Discover the beautiful province of Valencia for your Walking and Hiking Holidays in Spain.
Here, there is space…..and lot’s of it! Rugged mountain walks, gentle strolls through the hilly countryside and historical towns, such as Xativa, overlooked by it’s imposing castle.This is an incredibly green region of Spain, where oranges, lemons and olives grow in abundance. Where the sun shines for over 300 days a year and where the terrain supports superb fauna and flora, which,in the delicate cycle of life, also sustains the varied array of wildlife. Whether it be the African bee eater or the wild boar or even the insects and lizards, the whole area is an enormous nature reserve.
The people of the region of Valencia are keen nature lovers and many of the local ranges have their own recognized walking trails, with literature and maps available.
Options for groups range from single travelers wishing to join a larger group, to team building exercises – all tailor made to suit particular needs.
Accommodation in the region ranges from budget pensions, log cabins, private villas to luxury hotels where you can soak away the rigors of the day.
Don’t forget that on days off, there is so much to explore away from nature – Valencia is the 3rd largest city in Spain, and has a wealth of historical and modern sights to see whilst visiting. The City of Arts & Sciences, The ancient Carmen District, the many museums and theatres, the superb nightlife….. the list is endless.