Trips to Madrid are a fantastic opportunity at any time of year, and summer is no exception! The Spanish capital might not have a beach, but you’ll soon forget all about that once you start reading all about the great ideas waiting for you in Madrid this summer.
7 top plans to do in Madrid in summer and beat the heat
At the height of summer, when you’re battling the heat, the only thing you want to do is drink something refreshing, dive into a pool, hang out in air-conditioned buildings and spend unforgettable nights at a local neighbourhood party… Well, you’re in luck! Madrid has everything you need and far more besides. Here are some ideas we know you’ll love:
- Amazing pools: Madrid might not have a beach, but it does boast some of the best swimming pools in Spain! The 130-metre-long piscina deportiva Puerta del Hierro is one of the biggest in Europe, and we’re great fans of the pool at the Room Mate Óscar hotel, in Chueca: you don’t need to be a guest to use the pool and you can enjoy 360º views of the city while you take a dip or sip a cocktail! But if you fancy getting out of the city for a breath of fresh air, head for the Embalse de San Juan. Just over an hour from Madrid, it’s the only reservoir in the area where swimming is permitted. It has over 14 km of beaches along its shores! Rascafría in El Valle del Paular, Riosequillo and the Dehesas en el Valle de Fuenfría are other great places for a refreshing dip in the Madrid region.
- Open-air summer festivities: Madrid never stops partying, but there’s nothing like an open-air summer celebration! If you’re in Madrid between 2 and 8 August don’t miss the verbena de San Cayetano in Rastro/Embajadores; from 9 to 11 August there’s the verbena de San Lorenzo in Lavapiés; and from 12 to 15 August La Latina throws its popular verbena de la Paloma. Expect fancy-dress contests, tapas crawls, a whole host of open-air concerts, the Virgin Mary paraded through the streets and chulapos and chulapas dancing a traditional chotis. The streets are adorned with bright colours and garlands. A must for any summer visitor to the capital!
- Summer cinema in Madrid: The city centre is full of cinemas and is home to most premieres in Spain: you may well see some film stars! But in summer what you really want is outdoor screenings under the stars… Madrid has lots of summer screenings, including Saturday nights at the Terraza Magnética de la Casa Encendida. And the Galería de Cristal del Palacio de Cibeles screens classics, cult films and box-office hits every night at 10 pm. And have you always dreamt of going to a drive-in like Danny and Sandy in Grease? The 25,000 m² Madrid Race, with 350 places, is the biggest in Europe! Close to the Paseo de la Castellana, in Chamartín neighbourhood, its huge screen shows legendary films and the latest hits. You’ll also find a genuine American diner and a host of food trucks… The Fescinal en el Parque de la Bombilla in Madrid shows the year’s biggest hits. But if you want to catch films before they reach cinemas, the Cineplaza en Matadero is the place for you! You can enjoy 16 international arthouse gems.
- Romantic evenings and music in the parks: nothing better than finishing the day watching the sun go down, and Madrid’s parks are the place to do it in summer. Besides the world-famous Parque del Retiro and Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid, we also recommend checking out the Olivar de Chamartín: close to the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, where Real Madrid play, with 100 olive trees over a hundred years old. In summer, the Noches del Olivar put on wonderful music in an unbeatable setting. If you love history, you should know that Napoleon Bonaparte camped here during the Peninsular War. La Quinta de la Fuente del Berro and the Capricho de la Alameda de Osuna are two of the loveliest and least-known parks in Madrid and great places to watch the sun go down in good company. In August, don’t miss the Veranos de la Villa programme of concerts and open-air shows in the city’s parks and gardens.
- Madrid with kids: if you’re wondering what to do in Madrid with children, we’ve got a few ideas… The Warner Park in Madrid is great for a fun family day with some of the kids’ favourite heroes. Where else are they going to come face to face with Tweety, Bugs Bunny, Batman or Wonder Woman? The Parque de Atracciones de Madrid might not have all the magic of Warner and DC Comics characters, but its attractions are always a hit with kids. The Zoo Aquarium is another great family option: with over 6,000 animals and 500 different species, it’s one of the biggest zoos in Europe. If you want to cool off, as an alternative to the city pools, check out the Aquópolis de Villanueva de la Cañada and Aquópolis de San Fernando water parks, great refreshing fun with the kids! The Museo del Ferrocarril, Museo de Cera, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Planetario and Robot Museum are also surefire hits!
- Classy cocktails and tapas: see yourself as a bit of a foodie? Forget about getting your body beach-ready and enjoy yourself! It’s summer, people are on holiday and you can eat out in some of the best tapas bars without having to queue! Vinos 11 Casa Dani, Docamar, Taberna Almendro 13, Bodega de la Ardosa, El Viajero, Restaurante Mareas Vivas and Juana la Loca should all be on your list. And what better way to follow your dinner than sipping a refreshing cocktail on a charming terrace. Our favourites? The rooftop of the Círculo de Bellas Artes boasts stunning views over the city, and the Radio ME Madrid Rooftop Bar puts on amazing music sessions.
- Soak up some culture: make the most of empty museums and theatres in summer! It’s a great opportunity to see Velázquez’s Las Meninas, Goya’s La maja desnuda or Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights in the Museo del Prado without the crowds! And you can get tickets for hit musicals like The Lion King or cut-price plays. There’s no excuse for not soaking up some culture!