When Felipe II made Madrid the capital of Spain in 1561, he overlooked an important detail: its distance from the coast. Smack bang in the middle or the country it might be, but it's also around 3 hours drive from the nearest beach in Alicante. The city's extreme climate (sometimes punishingly cold in winter, brutally hot in summer) means that a coastal escape is on everyone's weekend wishlist once July and August roll around. Thankfully for those who can't afford regular breaks (that'll be most of us, then), Madrid has a good number of outdoor swimming pools where you can sunbathe and cool off with a refreshing dip.
The council runs a number of open-air pools around the city, including a few easily accessed from the centre. In 2014, the pools opened on 31 May and will close on 7 September. This year, an adult swim at any council pool costs €5 during the week and €6 at weekends, while young person's rates are €4 and €4.80 and children's €3 and €3.60. You're young if you're under 20 and a child if you're under 14, for the purposes of this exercise. If you're planning to go often, you can buy a bono of 10 visits which works out cheaper. You can find all pricing information here.
|The pool at Francos Rodriguez|
You can find details of summer swimming pools here, but the most central are the ones in Casa de Campo (metro Lago) and at Francos Rodriguez (same metro). The Casa de Campo complex has 2 large pools (50 and 33 metres) and a kids' pool, plus a cafe serving drinks and meals. It gets very crowded at weekends though, and the pool at the top is a gay poser's paradise. The facilities are great though, and it's easily accessible from the centre. Francos Rodriguez is generally a bit quieter, with a big grassy area and volleyball court in addition to a 50 metre pool and kids' pool. There's also a cafe here, or you can bring a picnic and use the tables provided. There's another central pool on Avenida de Filipinas, but this one doesn't have any grass to lie on.
If you've got a bit more cash to splash and fancy reclining on a lounger while sipping a cocktail, some Madrid hotels open up their pools to non-residents. These include Hotel Emperador on Gran Via and Room Mate Oscar (although its 'Splash' pool is pretty much just that), which both have rooftop pool areas with bars and great views over the city. You pay for the privilege, though: Emperador costs from €33 for a day's access, while you'll pay from €20 for entry to Oscar's terrace (including a glass of cava and use of a towel). For a cheaper alternative, a few sports clubs and other facilities around the city open their doors during summer months too; you can find details here.