Spring is in the air and there’s no better time to visit the Spanish capital than when the city is in full bloom! After a frigid winter, Madrid comes bursting back to life as the temperatures start to warm up and the days grow longer. There are plenty of things to see and do during this time of year, many of which include spending plenty of time out in the sunshine enjoying the beautiful weather. Grab your sunglasses and get ready for everything that there is to enjoy this spring in Madrid!
Take a stroll through the park
For being a sprawling urban city, Madrid boasts plenty of spots where you can stretch your legs and breathe in some fresh air. In the spring, the city’s parks and gardens are bursting with colorful blooms and the weather is just right to enjoy them: perfectly warm, not too hot, and full of sunshine.
Your first stop should be Parque del Retiro, Madrid’s most famous park. It’s one of the largest in the Spanish capital and covers 1.4 square kilometers. Inside, you’ll find plenty of paths to stroll, so it’s easy to spend some time here. One point of interest that makes for a perfect Instagram moment is the Palacio de Cristal, a glass pavilion set next to a small pond that’s home to animals like turtles, ducks, and other birds.
For a few euros, you can enter the Real Jardín Botánico, a botanical garden next to the Prado. This garden is bursting with all kinds of blooming flowers and plants in the spring that are divided between seven sections and five greenhouses. This garden is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for both its scientific importance and its beauty.
Marvel at the Semana Santa celebrations
Semana Santa, the week leading up to Easter, is one of the biggest celebrations of the year in Spain. Every day of the week leading up to Easter you can see processions winding their way through the streets of Madrid. These processions include penitentes, people wearing traditional cloaks and hoods, and pasos, religious figures that are carried through the street. These processions happen both during the day and at night, so there’s a good chance that you’ll spot one.
While culturally important, this week is religious. Madrileños who aren’t especially devout normally take a short vacation during Semana Santa to get away. This means that the city is less crowded than usual, making it the perfect time to visit Madrid.
Enjoy tapas on a sunny terrace
While you can enjoy tapas and beer at any time of the year in Madrid, spring is the season of enjoying tasty drinks and snacks in the sunshine. As you walk through the city streets, you’ll notice that many bars and restaurants seat up terraces outside so that diners can enjoy both the beautiful views and amazing weather. And since this is Spain, you can enjoy a leisurely meal at your own pace without feeling rushed to leave. Order your favorite tapas and a cheap beer and relax!
Food and drinks are famously cheap in Spain, so do as the locals do and hop from one bar to the next. It’s a delight to have a drink and a tapa on one terrace and then move on to another one to enjoy the house specialty somewhere else. No trip to Madrid is complete without enjoying an ice-cold Mahou beer paired perfectly with a mouthwatering bocadillo de calamares.
Another way to enjoy the sun is from one of the city’s many rooftop bars. Dozens of bars and restaurants set up terraces where patrons can eat, drink, and soak up panoramic views of the city. There are many to choose from and they range in style, from casual brunch spots to more exclusive locales that have a dress code and a waiting list. Some of the most popular rooftops are:
Stop by the Madrid Book Fair
For a few weeks between May and June each year, one of the top cultural events in the Spanish capital is the Madrid Book Fair. Since 1933, more than 350 set up on Paseo de Carruajes, the road that leads up to the entrance of Parque del Retiro. These stalls offer a wide variety of books, including both classics and new ones fresh off the press. Each day, publishers and bookstores organize book signings and opportunities for the public to meet various authors.
Not only are there tons of books to browse from every genre but many are sold at discounted prices. In 2023, the Madrid Book Fair is taking place from May 26th until June 11th. The fair is open every day of the week, but like most things in Spain, it closes around lunchtime and opens up later on in the afternoon.
Dive into local cultures at city festivals
All over Spain in the spring several festivals celebrate different aspects of Spanish culture. In Madrid, there are two interesting ones to check out, both in May. The first is Dos de Mayo on May 2nd and the action takes place in the Móstales district of Madrid. This celebration commemorates the Spanish rising up against Napoleon in battle in 1808. Today, you’ll see people wearing traditional costumes from this time period and acting out scenes from the battle. It’s almost like artwork coming to life in front of your eyes! Besides reenactments, you can also catch free workshops, concerts, activities, and gastronomy tastings throughout the week.
The second event is San Isidro, which takes place on May 15th. This day celebrates the patron saint of Madrid, so there are some religious aspects to the celebration. Even so, there is plenty to do for everyone as the celebration spans the whole city. It’s a bank holiday for locals, so do as they do and take advantage of the free concerts, parades, and activities that are on. Madrileños wear traditional outfits, called chulapos, and dance in the street to Spanish music. Be sure to snag a rosquilla, a special pastry that’s similar to a doughnut and is a treat that’s a favorite to eat on San Isidro.
Find treasures at El Rastro Market
By far, one of the best ways to spend a sunny Sunday morning in Madrid is by perusing all the treasures at El Rastro. This open-air flea market dates back to 1740 and has a little bit of everything. You’ll find it on Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores but it spills over onto several other streets, as well. Starting at 9 AM on Sundays and public holidays, more than 1,000 merchants open up their stalls selling items like jewelry, clothing, books, and home goods. The market ends at lunchtime, around 3 PM. A trip to El Rastro can be an experience for the senses. Be prepared for crowds of people packed into the streets to sort through tables upon tables of goods.
While many go to shop the local wares, visiting El Rastro is more about the experience. There are plenty of little bars and cafés in the La Latina neighborhood where you can stop and get a drink or tapa to enjoy in the sun while soaking up the atmosphere. Musicians will often come and play in the street, which only adds to the fun. There are also a number of churrerías in the area where you can get a steaming paper cone of fresh churros for just a couple of euros.
Explore the Spanish capital by bike
If you want to do some sightseeing, why not rent a bike and cover more ground? Several private companies offer bike rentals, or you can try biciMAD, the city’s public bike rental system. Using biciMAD you can choose to rent a bike for just a couple of hours or save money by signing up for a yearly membership. There are bike stations located all over Madrid so that you can quickly and easily grab a bike and be on your way.
If you really want to see the sights, take advantage of the flat pathways that stretch from Atocha and up Paseo del Prado. This allows you to take in some beautiful architecture, like the Museo del Prado, Biblioteca Nacional de España, and CaixaForum. If you follow this route up to Recoletos, you’ll also pass by Plaza Colón and Plaza Cibeles, some of the most famous public squares in Madrid.
See all that Madrid has to offer this Spring and beyond
As you can see, there’s plenty to see and do in the springtime in Madrid, whether you’re in town for a quick visit or planning to stay long-term. It’s easy to fall in love with this city, which is why so many people come back again and again. If you’re a remote worker or plan on staying in Madrid for a season, check out Cohabs, the new way to live and work in Madrid. Once you see all that Madrid has to offer, you too will understand why the locals say “de Madrid al cielo,” from Madrid to heaven!