Madrid, the capital city of Spain, is a thousand different worlds itself. If you are lucky enough to get some time to visit it explore it all, ride through its streets and become amazed both by big monuments and small forgotten streets, get into its bars and taste its incredible gastronomy, let the city embrace you and make you feel more 'Madrileño' than ever with our city cycling guide of Madrid.
STAGE ONE Sol- Retiro Park
We start our journey at the Km 0, which is historically the starting point of all roads in Spain, and which has witnessed thousands of events throughout history. Just behind this point is the famous clock of Puerta del Sol, where, each year, thousands of people come to celebrate New Year’s Eve, while millions others watch on TV. Here, it’s tradition to eat 12 grapes (1 for each strike of the bell leading up to midnight) and start the year with a bang. This is also the site where the brave citizens of Madrid fought against the French army during its occupation on the 1st of May, 1808.
Our route begins on the other side of the square, passed the statue of King Charles III, the protector of the city of Madrid, on Calle de Alcalá, itself marked by the famous statue of the bear and the strawberry tree. Up this street you’ll find some of the most beautiful buildings in Madrid, such as the Casino, the Círculo de Bellas Artes, Saint Joseph's Church, the Gardens which hide the palace of Buenavista (which now headquarters of the Spanish Army) and the Bank of Spain building.
We next arrive to the Plaza de Cibeles, famous for being the center of all victory celebrations of Real Madrid Football Club and the Spanish National football team. The fountain displays the Roman goddess resting on her chariot, pulled by her two lions and guarding the immense Palacio de Correos (historic central post office of Madrid), now transformed into the City Council. Also next to Cibeles is the Palacio de Linares, a beautiful palace which is said to be haunted by a little girl, daughter of the first Marquis of Linares and his wife, who also happened to be his sister.
From here we continue uphill through Calle de Alcalá until we reach another one of the city’s most distinctive monuments, the Puerta de Alcalá (triumphal arch), which has been the entrance of Madrid for centuries before the city became the capital. Just next to it, we have the entrance to the beautiful Parque del Retiro, Madrid’s most famous park.
What to do:
Take some time to have a drink and see the whole city at your feet both from the terrace of the Círculo de Bellas Artes or the Palacio de Correos, and don't forget to sail placidly on one of the small boats at the Retiro lake... and watch out for the carps!
STAGE TWO Retiro Park - Matadero
Once out of Parque del Retiro we rush downhill through the Cuesta de Moyano, where many small antique book stands are waiting for us to stop, look and, why not, buy something. We then continue our adventure through Paseo del Prado, where we can find the spectacular Botanical Garden and what is called The Triangle of Art, named after the three most important art museums of the city which are located here. Following our path, the first of the three is the Museo del Prado, the biggest and most visited museum in the city. Inside one will mostly find great classics of the arts like Velazquez, Rubbens or Caravaggio and sculptures from Ancient Greece to the XIX century. Next on our route is Neptune’s Fountain and across the street we find the second museum of the triangle, the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, the biggest private art collection in Spain.
Going back to where we started this stage, on this same sidewalk just in front of Neptune's fountain, we see, on one side, the Palace Hotel, which inside hides a beautiful crystal dome, and on the other, the Spanish Parliament, guarded by its majestic lions.
We continue our path until we reach the CaixaForum and its magnificent garden wall. This culture centre holds art expositions, conferences and even a space for kids. Next we reach Carlos V square where we see the enormous Atocha Train Station, as well as the Reina Sofia Museum, home to the city's modern art collection, and which hosts both national and international artists like Dalí, Miró, Magritte, Picasso or Francis Bacon. From there we take a delightful downhill ride through Paseo de las Delicias until we reach the Matadero, a former slaughter house complex transformed into an art laboratory with several expositions constantly on display, and which includes a library, a film archive and a design workshop for new fashion talents.
What to do:
Most attractions offer free entry at an assigned schedule. For the Prado Museum it's from Monday to Saturday from 18 to 20 hrs, the Museum Thyssen is free only on Monday from 12 to 16 hrs and for the Parliament it’s on Saturdays from 10:30 to 12:30 hrs, so don't miss your chance for some free sightseeing!
STAGE THREE Madrid Río – Casa de campo
The Matadero marks the beginning of our new pathway named Madrid Río, which follows the Manzanares River. This is a wonderful walk for the whole family and through our journey we’ll encounter many other people cycling, skating, walking or simply enjoying a sunny afternoon on the many expanses of grass. During all its length you’ll encounter luscious gardens, modern bridges and various viewpoints oriels to enjoy the views from all the city, including the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral.
Among its leisure areas it includes a small beach (which is quite useful during summer due to the high temperatures), 17 playgrounds and 4 different garden areas.
Following the path we leave behind the Vicente Calderón stadium (Atlético de Madrid) and the whole city until we reach Casa de Campo, a park five times the size of New York's Central Park and where we can enjoy a ride along its 1,766 hectares and where we can find a number of local residents, like rabbits, squirrels, parrots and even turtles. Also nearby is Madrid's Zoo, its Cable Car, as well as the city's Amusement Park. Casa de Campo used to be a hunting ground of the royal family but nowadays you can see pretty much all kinds of people enjoying a walk, a nice picnic or playing sports, specially near the crystal clear lake of 80,000 m².
What to do:
For the football fans, the Vicente Calderón stadium offers an incredible tour where you'll discover everything about the Atlético de Madrid Football Club. And for the adventure lovers, Madrid's Amusement Park has high adrenaline rides, along with some more family oriented ones meant for all kinds of public.
STAGE FOUR Casa de campo Plaza mayor 4,7 km. 10
After enjoying Madrid's biggest park, we head to Temple of Debod, an Egyptian temple given to Spain as a gesture of appreciation for protecting the temples by the Nile endangered by the construction of the Aswan Dam. We then visit the Sabatini Gardens, right next to the impressive Royal Palace, whose design draws inspiration from other Royal Palaces, such as Buckingham Palace or Versailles, but whose surface doubles the two others. It is the official residence of the kings of Spain, although today they actually reside in the Palacio de la Zarzuela, in the northwest of Madrid.
You can also see the beautiful Plaza de Oriente, with the incredible equestrian statue of King Philip IV, an authentic work of engineering, whose creator received guidance from none other than Galileo Galilei. To solve the problem of excess weight of the rider, the famous Italian engineer added extra support to the statue through the horse's tail, which reaches the base of the statue.
In that the very same square, opposite the Palace, we find the Royal Theatre, considered one of the most important opera theatres in Europe.
Face to face to the Palace is Madrid’s Cathedral, the Almudena. This way of positioning both buildings is a symbol of respect between the Church and the Church to the Spanish Crown. The Almudena was constructed from 1879 to 1993 making it a very recent cathedral and whose modernist details won’t leave anyone unmoved.
Afterwards, we take the Calle Mayor, which will become more and more narrow until we get to our final destination, the Plaza Mayor, center of the city for ages and which has, along the centuries, been given many different uses; like as bullfighting ring, theatre, market, public trial court and as a public meeting point.
What to do:
During your walk through Calle Mayor, be sure not to miss certain little details like the Gossiping Neighbor statue looking at the first ruins of the city, the Plaza de la Villa, which has a building representative of the architecture of every century since the XVI, and the Mercado de San Miguel, a former market, now turned into a gourmet experience for all to enjoy.
Bike rental business in Madrid
Biker’s factory strategically located in a small shed on the Matadero’s main avenue and right next to Madrid Río. Promoters of different initiatives linked with the biking world: from conventional services and renting, to advanced technical courses, bike schooling for adults and the little ones, and guided routes through Madrid.
Upmarket bike rental, courses and guided routes through the city´s terrace and rooftops.
Upmarket bike rental, courses and guided routes through the city´s terrace and rooftops.
Whole day bike renting: 15€.
Guided tour by bike: 35€
ECO MOVING SPORTS
Small business with personalized attention which offers their services to explore Madrid Rio and its surroundings. Its strategic location and huge mobility offer for a mainly familiar public. Guided routes in all kind of ecological vehicles: karts, segways, electric bikes, tandems, skates...Repair and sale services. Ecological vehicle renting and guided routes on segway.
4 people tandem: 20€/h. Guided route in segway: desde 25€.
A very complete business where bike lovers will be able to make their dreams come true. Not only for its wide variety of bikes available for rent or sale anywhere on the planet but also for its incredible cycling routes and trips which they organize all around the world, as well as the different technical courses for experts and beginners.
Urban bike rental: 5 €
The public bike rental service
BiciMAD is Madrid's new public transport service. It makes available 100% electric bicycles: a clean, healthy and sustainable form of transport. This service is available for all citizens and visitors to the city of Madrid.
The station consists of a Totem which is the center of interaction with the user and the anchors which is where the bicycles are stationed. To withdraw a bicycle you must validate the card, issued by the totem, on the corresponding anchor.
The battery on the bikes last approximately 70 km and can only be charged at the BiciMad stations.
Public bicycle service approved and facilitated by the City Council of Madrid. Its rates include insurance covering any mishap during use.
INFO & RATES
BiciMad offers two different cards: one year card, which costs 25 euros–+ cost of use and an occasional user card for tourists and people who make little use of the service , which can be valid for 1,3 or 5 days.
RATES ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION:
Madrid Transport pass holder: 15 euros. Non-Transport pass holders: 25 euros
RATES AIRTIME SERVICE FOR ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION:
First fraction 30 Minutes: 0.50 euros. Following 30 minute fractions: 0.60 euros
RATES AIRTIME SERVICE FOR THE OCCASIONAL USER:
First hour or fraction: 2 euros. Second hour or fraction: 4 euros
More info: http://www.bicimad.com
Where to eat - cycling in Mdrid -
Bocadillo de Jamón y Champán
Gourmet sandwich shop with crystal bread, a rare delicacy made with triple fermentation. Small place with tall, outdoor tables, just in front of the Retiro Park, an upscale neighborhood of Madrid. They have a second place at Fernando VI street.
A classic spot for cyclists and coffee enthusiasts in the heart of the Malasaña neighborhood, they also offer a cocktail menu, as well as light cold food and gourmet sandwiches. This cyclist themed café is also an ideal space for working, with free WIFI, plug sockets, big tables and lockable drawers… You can park your bike at the entrance and there is even an area for inflating your tires, complete with repairing tools.
Founded in 2011, Harina is a quaint bakery-café, offers daily lunch menus and even drinks at night (we recommend the mojitos). Their cakes and artisan bread are their specialty. With breathtaking views from the terrace to Madrid's answer to the Parisian Arc de Triomphe (the Puerta de Alcalá) and its chic and refined decoration, this is the perfect place for breakfast or a snack before or after a ride in Retiro Park.
Mercado San Miguel
A special place for people who love fine gastronomy and vintage atmosphere. The great variety of gourmet food stands maintains the essence of this classic traditional market. A point of reference for all Spanish gourmands.
French cheeses made from raw milk
This is a must visit for any self-confessed cheese-lover. More than 150 kinds of cheese on display, including exceptional French cheeses, where Comté is the star, and Spanish cheeses, like the strong flavoured goat cheeses (Montenebro, Los Meleses, Río Vero, Payoyo…), as well as the traditional Manchego and the creamy Torta del Casar.
OSTRAS DANIEL SORLUT
High Standard mollusks
One of the most popular oyster producers in the world. Before opening his store at the Mercado de San Miguel, Daniel Sorlut supplied very exquisite places such as the Ritz Hotel. In a quite modest stand, where its products are definitely the stars: three different kinds of oysters, each one with the Special Daniel Sorlut star of quality, caviar and champagne are also available.
Founded in 1894, here you can taste the most famous chocolate with churros in Spain. A delicious corner in a small alleyway in the centre of the city. The place and its waiters look like they’re taken directly out of a XIX century novel. Open 24 hours, this is where night-owls, celebrities and tourists from all over the world meet.
BAR EL BRILLANTE
Bar founded in 1952. Huge, ancient and authentic. Popular and cosmopolitan, located in front of Atocha train station. It claims to have the best squid sandwich (bocata de calamares) in Madrid. Lovely back terrace, just next to the Reina Sofia Art Museum, while the one up front is quite noisy.
Casual yet sophisticated hostel next to Plaza Mayor and focused on foreigners of a medium/high level. It is located in a former palace and it has a wonderful rooftop bar with breathtaking views of the city. They organize activities, including bike tours, and meetings between tourists and locals. They also have space to keep bikes.
ROOM MATE MARIO
The original hotel of the renowned Room Mate company in the city. It is a fun hotel with a minimalist style. Very focused on urban tourists. Located on a quiet street very close to the Royal Palace. The staff is very casual and attentive. Room for bike keeping. They also organize guided routes around the city
HOTEL PETIT PALACE ARENAL
A modern hotel between the Puerta del Sol and the Opera. It offers free Wifi and in-room computer. Other services include free bike rental, free guided tour of Madrid, parking and it’s also worth noting that the hotel is pet friendly.
OBJETOS DE ARTE TOLEDANO
Unique store with a spectacular medieval gallery on its second floor (swords, armors, coats of mail, etc.). Located right in front of the Prado Museum, it sells souvenirs and artisan reproductions of medieval products. They also collaborate with fencing schools and medieval fairs in Spain.
On Calle Mayor, just two steps away from Puerta del Sol, Gracias Mamá is quite the discovery for seekers of unconventional souvenirs. It has exclusive French, Italian and German suppliers. Innovative conceptual gifts and souvenirs that are far from traditional. Funny, colourful objects and easy to carry. They also organize cooking courses.
There's nothing more typical than the esparto grass espadrilles (typical casual, flat shoe) for Madrid's summer, and Alpargatus is the go-to place to get them. They boast a huge selection in their store, where the quality is the best in the business for, not only espadrilles, but also Menorcan shoes, and leather boots. They also sell very cheesy, yet lovely souvenirs like keychains and fridge magnets of the most famous monuments in the city. Choose from a variety of colours and styles and slip on pair of these comfortable shoes for your journey through Madrid.
Public transportation in Madrid is a quite interesting option for covering big distances in short time. However, taking your bike with you can be a little bit problematic, since bicycles are not always allowed in public transport.
In case of folding bikes, there is not big problem, since you can always take them with you excepting in buses, where you must be careful that the bus is not full and interurban buses, where it should be conveniently packed and kept in the cargo hold only if the driver accepts.
In case of regular bikes, it can become slightly more complicated.
There is no problem while using the short distance trains (Cercanias). However, for taking the underground lines with your bike during weekdays it can only be from 9:30 to 14 and from 16 to 18, and all day long during weekends and holidays, since there is not many people using them and only in the platforms at the beginning and the end of the trains, since they have more space adapted for that. In case of the buses they can only be transported in routes with external support, which is only possible in line 33, and in interurban buses it follows the same premises as with folding bikes.
Metro & Official Apps: http://www.metromadrid.es/en
Short distance trains: www.renfe.com
Cops aren’t everywhere and most of us have broken these rules from time to time, but these are the fines you can expect if you get caught doing any of the following:
Riding on the sidewalk:
Riding at night without lights:
Riding with headphones in: 91€
Riding while on a cell phone:
Riding through a stop sign: 120€
Riding the wrong way: 150€
Running a red light:
Blowing positive when drunk:
Priority Bike lanes: Frequently the priority bike lanes (30km with a bike logo) just end in the middle of nowhere, or suddenly jump over to a different lane with no warning, or let you out into a four-lane roundabout. Some cars pretty much ignore them.
When you’re in them you have the right of way, but if it’s possible and safe, hang to the right so cars can pass with more room. You don’t have to, but it’s polite.
Bus-Taxi lanes: It currently is not permitted to use these lanes on a bike.
Streets without designated bike lanes: It’s best to stick to the far right lane (without going into the taxi-bus lane) and to occupy the entire lane so that cars don’t try to split the lane with you. Occasionally they’ll honk, but you have every right to be there. If you’re feeling polite you can pull further right and let them pass, but this is not an obligation.
Try to ride with traffic at all times, or else dismount and walk your bike. This city has some very inconvenient one-way streets to discourage cars from going through the center, and unfortunately the rest of us get caught in the mess. The police have started to fine cyclists going the wrong way recently, so be very careful.
If you have time and feel safe, you should weave to the front of the cars for both a better position when the light turns green and for visibility reasons. (Be careful though—watch out for pedestrians and cab doors that might swing open.) This move is perfectly legal and sometimes there is even a designated space for bikes and scooters in front of the traffic. Aside from this, remember that you’re considered “one more vehicle” on your bike, which means you have to obey all the same traffic laws as a car. The fine is 200 euros if you get caught running a light, 120 euros for running a stop sign.
SIDEWALKS AND PEDASTRIAN AREAS
It’s illegal to ride on the sidewalks, so do it sparingly or not at all. I’ve heard rumors of a law excepting sidewalks wider than five meters, but enbicipormadrid.com offered a reward for anyone who could find the law and as far as I know, nothing turned up. Do not ride down Montera, the mall-like part of Fuencarral, or any other pedestrian walkway unless you are going very slowly or walking your bike.
These are worse than cabs and scooters combined when it comes to bike awareness, so be very careful when they’re roaming about. They cross the street by sound instead of sight in Madrid, so if they don’t hear you coming, they won’t even look up before stepping out in front of you. And, inevitably, it will be your fault.