Madrid is the runner's paradise. While you probably aren't heading to Madrid for a zen-like running experience, you should add it to your to-do list in between your shopping, touring, eating and partying. Madrid has enough trails, hidden views and varied landscapes to keep you going for as long as you can possibly go, with a total of 22 million square meters of parkland. The best running parks in Madrid are accessible by metro (as is everything else in Madrid), and built right into the city. Runners can also hit the streets to see the world-renowned architecture and to immerse themselves in the culture. Expect to encounter gorgeous high-rises, beautiful fountains, monuments, sculptures, cafes, lakes, ponds, streams, bridges and more.
While the running culture is not to be missed when visiting Madrid, there are a number of things that top the list of things to-do when in Madrid. Don't forget to visit The Prado museum, and enjoy a plate of Paella in Plaza Mayor. The city is extremely accessible by metro, but also by foot. It might be worth skipping the morning run (what?!) and spending your day walking the entire city, from Casa de Campo all the way to Parque del Retiro. You will cover miles and really get a feel for the bohemian spanish culture that drips from every building, museum and restaurant in Madrid. Madrid is not just another city. It has its own fashion, culture and active lifestyle with a Spanish flare. Olé!
- Smokers: While the laws for smoking in public places may have changed, the attitude in Madrid has not. So beware of "no smoking" signs in restaurants, clubs and bars. They mean very little. Apparently Spain has not yet gotten the memo that smoking is not cool.
- Late nights: Hungry for dinner around 6:30 p.m. and want to be in bed by 10? Not here. Try dinner at 10, in bed by 1 a.m. And that's the normal schedule for elementary school kids. You can toss your schedule out the window when visiting Madrid. You've heard that New York is the city that never sleeps? Well Madrid is the city where no one goes to sleep. At least not at night.
- Siesta: Lunch is usually the largest meal in Spain. Technically "siesta" is the short nap that is taken after the large mid-day meal. But the word often encompasses the entire meal/nap time. It's a time when people leave school and leave work to go home and take a break with their families. Beware because the shops shut down during siesta, and you might have trouble taking care of your needs. But instead of getting frustrated, embrace the hours between 2-4 p.m. Indulge in a little siesta yourself.
Did you know? Who's up for some altitude training? At 2,100 feet above sea level, Madrid is the highest capital city in Europe.