Madrid’s answer to New York’s Central Park is a warren of paths carved in green with a large, central man-made lake and plenty of space (330 acres) for lolling about. Originally conceived as a royal garden, Retiro has been a public park for 300 years. Madrileño families arrive in droves on Sundays, many with picnics or on bicycles, to relax and breathe a bit or play soccer. In the late 1880s the Palacio de Cristal, a palace-like pavilion entirely of glass, was built in the center. Modeled after London’s Crystal Palace greenhouse, it now hosts occasional exhibits.
Biking is the most convenient way to see the park; rentals at By Bike (Av. Menendez Pelayo, 35; www.bybike.info; 011-34-90-287-44-83) start at 4€ (about $5) per hour.