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Parque del Buen Retiro

Madrid's lush central park, one of many green spaces in the city, covers 350 acres (142 hectares) and was laid out originally as the private garden of Philip IV. This beautiful, huge park, was opened to the public in 1868 and remains a favourite spot with locals and tourists. The vast park features formal gardens, a statuary, fountains, lakes, exhibition halls, children's playgrounds and outdoor cafes. Visitors can stroll among the trees, admire the rose garden, and take a boat ride on the lake. Although usually quiet during the week, at weekends the park comes alive with buskers, clowns, fortune-tellers and sidewalk painters. Thanks to its size, even when the park is crowded it is possible to find a quiet nook. There is a lot to see and do in the park, but favourite attractions include the metal and glass Palacio de Cristal, among the trees to the south of the lake, which was once a greenhouse but is now used as a space for temporary exhibitions; and the Bosque del Recuerdo (Memorial Forest), in the southwest of the park, which is a simple memorial to the 191 victims of the 2004 train bombings. For people-watching, exercise, relaxation on the lawns, and picnics, the Parque del Buen Retiro is ideal.

Opening times: Daily from 6.30am to 10.30pm