Madrid Activities: Cycling along Madrid Rio Park (Manzanares Riverside)

Madrid has a great new riverside park, and the best way to discover it is on a bicycle. Unless you’re up for a leisurely 7 kilometer stroll, that is, which is not such a bad idea if you’ve got the time for it. There’s plenty to see and do along the way…

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Try a return trip so you can enjoy everything the park has to offer on either side:

  • 23 new pedestrian bridges
  • 3,200,000 square meters of new green areas
  • 26,263 new trees
  • 30 kilometers of cycle lanes and pedestrian paths
  • 11 play spaces for kids
  • 6 quiet spots for the elderly
  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Matadero Madrid: formerly a slaughterhouse and cattle town converted into a cultural space for art, events, etc.

Enjoying an electrocumbia concert the other night with newfound Colombian and Peruvian friends at Matadero Madrid for the Fiesta San Isidro

Following the advice of Tita Camille and Tito Santi, who we’re staying with in Alcobendas, we headed to Rio Madrid one afternoon and found an absolutely lovely green area along the river brimming with life: picnickers, sunbathers, kids in several play areas, joggers and cyclists… I wondered why I had never heard of Madrid’s gorgeous river before?

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View of Palacio Real (Royal Palace) and the Almudena Cathedral
View of Palacio Real (Royal Palace) and the Almudena Cathedral

A few clicks on Google soon revealed the reason why Madrid’s main river has not the same renown as the Thames or Seine. The Manzanares, taking its name from the mountains north of the city, used to be the site of a highway called M-30.

Before (08.03.2005. Puente del Rey before remodeling)
AFTER
AFTER

Where once circulated thousands of cars has now become a large linear park, a green corridor that stretches from El Pardo to Getafe, linking forests, parks, historic gardens and urban parks, which were [once] scattered without [an essential link to connect them]. This operation has allowed the city to look south and west, incorporating the center Casa de Campo,finally retrieving and integrating the river into the urban structure, making the Manzanares a new backbone of the city. (Madrid.es)

Cycling towards Puente de Segovia
Cycling towards Puente de Segovia

So walking along the river bank from Metro Principe Pio, Joyce (my sister) and I encountered this bicycle shop [www.ecomovingsports.com/es/], one of many along the way:

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They had several different types of bicycles, but of course we chose a couple of city bikes to suit our purpose: a 2-hour casual ride for around 9 euros each. More serious cyclists can explore 30 km of trails cycling trails that are connected with the  Green Belt Cycling in the north and south – from the town of Getafe  to the Sierra de Madrid. [Click here for more info]

Yet another bicycle rental shop
Yet another bicycle rental shop

We needed to leave our ID and fill out a form to rent the bikes. I’m guessing that’s the standard procedure here. Another popular rental place is www.mibikerio.com which even offers electric bikes if you’re feeling lazy…

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Other points of interest along the way include a few miradors/viewpoints, the Pine Park, an “Urban Beach”, the Esplanade of Puente del Rey, where the Spanish national team celebrated its victory in the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, etc.

Of course I tried the slides... felt like a kid again
Of course I tried the slides… felt like a kid again
Couldn’t resist

Get there

Puerta del Angel (L6) or Principe Pio (L6, L10, R)

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