You don't have to leave the comforts of civilization behind to experience Spain's more natural side - the bustling metropolis of Madrid actually conceals a number of wide open spaces, green areas, and opportunities for some close encounters with wildlife.
Our top pick, the Casa de Campo, is Madrid's best bet for a day away from it all. The Casa de Campo is a vast recreation area better known for its boating lake and amusement park, but it has several hundred acres of wild areas where you can picnic, hike, and simply enjoy nature.
Our second pick, the biological theme park Faunia, is a hit with the kids. From ecosystems as varied as the jungle and the Arctic, there are many different animal and wildlife species on view. It's like a zoo, but there's more interactivity and technology. Also, at certain times of the year they have special programs, like the opportunity to swim with sea lions.
For gardening fans or those in search of a leafy refuge, El Real Jardín Botánico is a must. Spain's former royal botanical garden is open to the public and full of plants, flowers, fruit trees, and herbs. The greenhouses also contain tropical species. Naturally, the garden is more spectacular in spring and summer.
For another look at some wildlife, the Zoo Aquarium de Madrid is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon. Keep an eye out for the dolphins, tropical fish, and a whole lot of poisonous snakes.
Camino de los Romeros
Paseo de la Florida and Avenida de Portugal
Plaza de Murillo 2
Casa de Campo
Casa de Campo
Avenida de la Alameda de Osuna
Paseo de la Alameda de Osuna
Carretera de Extremadura N-V Km 32
Aldea del Fresno
Virgen del Puerto, s/n
Paseo de la Virgen del Puerto
Paseo del Pintor Rosales, s/n