Casa de Campo park
Madrid has many beautiful parks and by far the best is the amazing Casa de Campo. It’s a huge park that is actually the largest green space in Spain. It covers an area of 1,722 hectares that’s 6 ½ times bigger then Hyde Park in London and 5 times bigger then Central Park in New York!!
The name Parque Casa de Campo translates to Country House Park and was originally the hunting estate for the Spanish royal family. It’s now a popular area for locals to spend the day with their families. There are nature trails, bike paths, a zoo & aquarium, amusement park, boating lake, outdoor swimming pools, restaurants and a cable car all inside Casa de Campo!
I usually walk to Casa de Campo to get lunch at one the nice lakeside restaurants or to go for a swim in the pool but I was starting to think that I was really only seeing a small corner of the park. So, we decided to hire a BiciMAD bike and go exploring.
How to hire a BiciMAD bike in Madrid
The BiciMAD bicycles are public hire bikes that are available for casual rental all over Madrid city centre. There are over 2,000 bikes across 165 roadside stations. This system is really popular with locals and makes casual bike rental for tourists really simple.
The bikes are electric power assisted (lazy girl bonus!) and designed to help you pedal. It gives you a little boost of speed every time you pedal and really helps you get up those hills. Don’t worry, you can turn it down or off altogether, as it does take some getting used to. To start with I kept turning it off but by the end I was loving it! Anyone over the age of 14 can hire a bicyle and the speed is restricted to 25km/ph
Ok, so I’m not fit at all. I don’t go to the gym or enjoy long weekend hikes BUT this was awesome! I don’t think I’ve ridden a bike since I was a teenager, so if I can do this anyone can!
It’s really easy to hire a bike in Madrid, follow these 10 steps to make it even easier 🙂
- Find your chosen BiciMAD station or check the website to see if there is a bike available near you.
- Go to the “totem” which is the tall information stand with the electronic touch screen.
- You need be ready to pay by credit or debit card, it will not take cash payment. Also, you will need to have your passport number handy.
- As an occasional user (which I’m guessing you will all be as visitors to Madrid) select if you want to hire for 1, 3 or 5 days.
- Then follow the on screen instructions and fill in your personal info.
- A deposit of €150 will be charged as security. This amount is returned to you after the bike is returned.
- You will be given a free BiciMAD card to release the bike and billed at the end when you return it.
- Select your bike, it must have a green light on the base. A blue light means that bike is reserved, a red light or no light means something is wrong with that bike.
- Put the card in the slot on the left-hand side of the docking stand to release the bike and pull it off the stand.
- Adjust the seat and off you go!
On the handlebar:
- The red on/off button turns the electric power boost on or off
- The green mode button controls the power level as low, medium or high
- The power charge remaining is shown on the right side of the control button
- The gear change is a twist mechanism on the right handlebar
- A bell is next to gear change
My BiciMAD bike rental tips
- Check the current hire rates here
- Have a time frame in mind eg. 3-hour ride or a destination you want to cycle to so that the costs do not build up too high
- Go easy with the electric power assist until you get used to it
- Stay away from busy roads and be careful if you are not wearing a helmet
- When you return the bike make sure it is secure in the docking station, give it a good tug to check before walking away
- Don’t be alarmed if your card isn’t charged for the hire for 2-3 days after, you will receive an email when it’s done.
We really enjoyed our bike ride, the power assist made it even more fun and the hiring process was so quick and easy. We picked up our bikes at Calle de Segovia, entered the park at Puente del Rey and cycled for approx 45 mins. We stopped and had a picnic, cycled back and it cost €10 each for roughly 2.5 hours bike hire.
Casa de Campo is a great place to cycle in Madrid. The natural surroundings, the views and the seclusion were perfect. We didn’t have to worry about cars, just move aside every now and then for serious cyclists or joggers.
What’s inside Casa de Campo
The lake is 80,000 square metres in size and dominates the south-east corner of the park. You can hire small wooden boats or kayak here. The grassy banks surrounding the lake are the perfect spot for summer time sunbathing. There is a great selection of restaurants, all with outdoor seating and lots of little ice cream kiosks.
The park is full of native trees, bushes and wild animals. You can usually spot rabbits, hedgehogs, lizards and birds. There are well maintained and sign-posted paths for walking, jogging and cycling or you can go off-road and take the dirt tracks.
There are 2 big outdoor swimming pools and a children’s splash pool. In the 40°c Madrid summer heat, this is where you’ll find me! It’s one of the most popular parks for running and there are lots of weekend jogging groups that meet here. Many charity race events are held in the park and the Madrid Marathon route goes through here.
Madrid Zoo & Aquarium
There are more than 6000 animals in Madrid Zoo and I was amazed by how close you can get to some of the lesser seen species. You can see Giant Pandas, Brown Bears & Hippopotamuses all really up-close! My favourite enclosure was the Gorillas because they have such a successful breeding history and a family of Gorillas at all different ages.
Parque de Attraciones
The Parque de Attraciones is one of 2 big amusement parks in Madrid. Here you’ll find an awesome Nickelodeon area for children to enjoy. As well as some big rides for adults to get the theme park thrill. Such as Tornado (the 80km/h looping one), Lanzadera (the 63 metre free-fall), Abismo (the BIG rollercoaster) & The walking Dead Experience (I will do a full feature blog on this soon).
Teleferico cable car
The Teleferico is the cable car that runs from Paseo del Pintar Rosales. It’s another great way to travel into the park and the view from 40 metres above ground is fantastic. It takes approx 15 mins each way.
If cycling is not really your thing or you’re too worn out from exploring you can get the Metro from these stops in Casa de Campo park:
Casa de Campo (Line 5 & Line 10)
Batán (Line 10)
Lago (Line 10)
You might also be interested in reading What you need to know before visiting Madrid
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If you’ve been to any of these sights or want to know more info please let me know in the comments box!