Length 9.1 km (5.6 miles) or 6km if you turn around at stadium, terrain: flat
NOTE: Of course you can turn around any time you please, making the run shorter to fit your needs.
One of Madrid's best-kept running secrets is the great route along the Manzanares river. This stretch of waterfront provides quiet promenades and parkland for miles. And we're lucky that it's this way: there are actually freeways under the promenades, so if the city planers hadn't decided to cover them up, the river would be wedged into a corset of inaccessible urban blight.
|The Manzanares at the start of the run|
The Rio Manzanares flows along the west side of the city. The city center sits on a plateau to the east, with the palace and cathedral perched on the bluff, looking out over the river and to the Casa de Campo nature reserve further west.
The part of the river which has been turned into parkland begins just west of the palace, and continues southwards past Calderón Stadium, home of the Atletico Madrid soccer club. Actually, south of the stadium is the best part of the river run, where the riverside park widens to include more than just a narrow promenade with some lawns and trees.
In the wide park area, called Arganzuela, there are fountains, a skateboard park, playgrounds and greenhouses.
|In Arganzuela park|
The promenades line both sides of the river, but the one on the west shore is continuous, whereas the one on the eastern shore is interrupted for a couple of kilometers where the stadium and some uncovered freeway block access. But the best part of the parkland is on the eastern side, so you'll probably want to switch sides for at least part of the run.
So, if this sounds like something for you, get yourself down to the riverside, just west of the royal palace, at the beautiful old stone bridge, the Puente del Rey. You can take the Metro to stations like Príncipe Pío, Plaza de España or Opera to get close to it, if you like.
|The Puente del Rey|
|At the Puente de Segovia|
Soon after, a footbridge covered by trees veers off to the left, crossing the river.
After you pass a green metal footbridge, the Puente de Andorra, you'll see Calderón Stadium coming into view, sitting right on the water's edge on the left shore. From this point onwards for a while, only the west shore is open to pedestrians.
|Calderón Stadium, Atletico's home|
|Approaching Puente del Toledo|
|Walkable DNA strand|
When you come to the second of twin modern covered bridges, at about the 4.3-km mark, cross the river and now head back north along the other shore.
|Cross the river here, botanical garden in background|
|At the skateboard park|
|Puente del Toledo|
Just after the 7-kilometer mark, you'll see the green-metal Puente del Andorra. Cross back to the east side here and continue northwards. Watch out when you come to the bridge of trees that you don't accidentally take it back to the west side.
|Along the eastern shore|
You'll see a brick church there, the Ermita de la Vírgen del Puerto, then you'll be back at the start. Great stretch of riverfront!