If you’re visiting Madrid for the second time and have seen the big sights before, or if you just fancy doing something different, you can do far worse than a ride on the city’s cable-car for the best views in town.
The teleférico has been in Madrid since the late 1960’s, taking passengers on the 2.5km trip from Parque del Oeste to Casa de Campo in the western suburbs. To get to the station in Parque del Oeste, take the metro to Arguelles, and then walk a couple of blocks to Rosales station. Alternatively, do as we did and get a taxi – from Puerta del Sol, it cost us €7, and as we were sharing with another couple (Hi Ben and Jo), this turned out to be cheaper, quicker and cooler than sweating it out on the underground.
At Rosales, we paid €5.90 each for the return trip and did not have to wait long for our car to arrive. Staff photographers take cheesy pictures of you at the start and then try to flog them to you at the end – I’d assumed this kind of business would have died a death by now owing to the selfie phenomenon.
Once on-board, over the next eleven minutes we crossed the railway tracks and Madrid’s piddly little river, the Manzanares, and took in views of the Palacio Real, the Basilica San Francisco and La Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Almudena as well as apartment blocks and office buildings.
The cables are very low-slung being no more than 40 metres above ground, and are practically horizontal all the way. Our blue car headed towards Casa de Campo, a huge park that guidebooks call the green lungs of Madrid, with its walking trails and picnic spots. In the baking July heat, green was not the colour that sprung to mind as we passed over scorched earth scattered with olive trees.
I was naively expecting the car’s windows to wind down to give us the benefit of a cooling breeze, but no such luck although they did open a couple of inches to give us a bit of breathing space as we cooked away in 40C temperatures. Anyway, soon our car sped-up and landed at the docking station, where we were glad to browse the air-conditioned gift shop and restaurant.
The outdoor terrace of the restaurant is thankfully covered with a canopy and has that magical water cooling spray you see installed in most Madrid bar umbrellas. You’d almost forget you were on the edges of the 6th biggest city in Europe if it wasn’t for the the panoramic view of the Madrid skyline in the distance, assuming you can bear to stand exposed in the heat for a few seconds while you enjoy it.