Guided Tours

Audio tour

El Retiro Park’s Rise, Ruin and Redemption

  • Take in 500 years of history on this audio tour of Madrid’s famous Retiro Park
  • Learn about Goya and Velazquez’s art in the Prado
  • See the remains of playboy King Philip IV’s pleasure palace where recreations of naval battles and grand balls once took place
  • Find out about the forces that shaped the area’s stunning landscaped gardens
  • Hear the history of blood sport in Spain at the park’s old zoo
  • Visit the Palacio de Cristal gallery and learn about the old human zoo

Beginning with the remains of a splendid pleasure palace and finishing at a stunning statue of Lucifer, this walking tour takes you on a fascinating journey through Madrid’s Retiro Park. In El Retiro Park’s Rise, Ruin and Redemption, I’ll tell you all about the rich history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site while you enjoy a relaxing walk through beautiful scenery. From the decadence of a playboy king to the destructive power of Napoleon’s army, the story will sweep you up through the ages into the present day giving you an insight into the story of modern Spain. Made in conjunction with Voicemap, it’s a great way to find out more about this historic park.

Private walking tours: not taking bookings until October 2024

See another side of Madrid on a unique walking tour of the city with Lonely Planet guidebook author, Felicity Hughes.

Each of these historic tours lasts one and a half to two hours and is followed by a drink and tapas at the end. Prices start from €35 per person without tapas to €50 with tapas (based on a group of six). Get in touch for more details.

Larger groups can negotiate a price privately.

To book, contact Felicity by email at: [email protected]

There are currently three unique walking tours of Madrid on offer:

Madrid, The Early Years

Covering the city’s origins as an outpost of Islam up until the end of the Habsburg dynasty, the tour reveals how a Protestant smear campaign still colours our view of the Spanish Inquisition and exposes a conspiracy to destroy the original royal palace that implicates the first Bourbon king himself. Along the way you’ll visit some of the few surviving medieval buildings in the capital, a secret garden and the remains of the original city wall.

The Making of Malasaña

Burning corpses, sex mad nuns, revolution and prostitution! Even before becoming the hipster paradise it is today, Malasaña has never been boring. On this tour you’ll find out about its roots as a pious and yet somewhat sleazy suburb, about the emergence of its native tribe of majos, about the Dos de Mayo uprisings, and about how during the 19th century the neighbourhood turned into a university city and industrial hub. Then, of course, we’ll finish up by delving into the heady post-transition days of the Movida.

Lavapiés: Defiance in its DNA

From the foundation of Madrid up until the recent riots, this tour takes a deep dive into Lavapiés’ turbulent past and is a history of the city told not from the perspective of its kings, but from the perspective of its poorest citizens. Starting off with the Rastro, the bloody trail that led down from the city’s medieval slaughterhouse, we learn about the fate of the manolos, a tribe of Jewish conversos who were the first inhabitants of the barrio. Travelling downhill towards its modern heart, we end up in the barrio’s multi-cultural present day.

The Manzanares River with Clare Starkie

Find out more about Madrid’s hidden gem: The Manzanares River. Flowing from the mountains in the north, this river runs through one of the city’s newest parks, yet has some of the oldest and most fascinating stories to tell.
Starting at the Matadero, a 1920s slaughterhouse and now a cultural centre, this 2.5km walking tour will explore prehistoric wildlife, Golden Age feats of engineering and the river’s role during the Civil War. The tour finishes at one of Madrid’s oldest bridges, the Puente de Toledo (near Marques de Vadillo metro).

For this tour, your guide will be Clare, who has lived in Madrid for over 3 years after moving from England, where she was a museum curator for more than 20 years. She now teaches English to adults and researches Spanish history.