Want to get high in Madrid? If you want to get as high as possible you must go to Peñalara peak, at 2,428 meters (7,966 feet). That’s Madrid’s ceiling, even though it’s partly in Segovia province. (Sound fun? it’s an accessible hike for experienced walkers).
In the city, remember that high is relative. Plaza de Castilla is one of the highest parts of the city in altitude, as well as having the highest buildings. But getting high in downtown Madrid has its own charm – red tile roofs, pretty squares, rooftop cafés and much more. Read on to learn tips and tricks for getting high in Madrid.
Centro Centro / Palacio de Cibeles. Madrid’s old post office, designed by Antonio Palacios, inaugurated 1919, now City Hall and cultural center. Mirador observation deck on 8th floor, get tickets to the right of main door. Visits are timed due to limited space, first elevator does not go all the way up, you take a second elevator when your time is called. If your knees can take it walk all the way down to admire this fabulous building. Restaurant-café and cocktail bar on 6th floor. Where: Plaza de Cibeles, southeast side of square. More info on observation deck and ticket fees: www.centrocentro.org/centro/espacios scroll down to Mirador – but check out other things in this cool building.
Círculo Bellas Artes. Private cultural center, offers lots of things to general. Also designed by Antonio Palacios, inaugurated 1926. The CBA Azotea (rooftop) observation deck and bar has one of the best views in the city center. Where: calle Alcalá 42, entrance from side street Marqués de Casa Riera. Metro Banco de España. More info for observation deck and ticket fees: www.circulobellasartes.com/azotea.php
The Roof – Hotel Melia ME. Rooftop bar, fabulous views of Santa Ana square and surrounding area. One of Madrid’s see-and-be-seen scenes, complete with dress code and 25 euro entrance fee (at least last time I checked, that’s not on the website). Where: Plaza Santa Ana 14. Metro Sevilla or Sol. More info: www.melia.com/hoteles/espana/madrid/me-madrid-reina-victoria/the-roof.html
La Terraza del Urban – Hotel Urban. Rooftop bar on a five-star hotel, near Santa Ana square. Only open spring to fall. Where: Carrera de San Jerónimo 34. Metro Sevilla or Sol. More info about the rooftop bar: www.hotelurban.com/#!en/restaurants/la-terraza-del-urban-1-info/
Casa de Granada: A rooftop bar with a sliver of terrace, now partly glassed in. Good view of Tirso de Molina square, south part of the city and if you go at night and get the right table, a nice sunset. Not elegant, but a great location near Yelmo-Ideal movies in English. Where: Dr. Cortezo 17, 6th floor. Metro Tirso de Molina. Approximate hours: noon to midnight, creaky elevator NOT working all that time. Cannot find website with any decent info.
El Viajero: Good view of San Francisco del Grande church, great sunsets. Very crowded on Sunday afternoons with post-Rastro scene. Address: Plaza Cebada 11, metro La Latina. More info on location and hours: www.elviajeromadrid.com/#la-azotea
Gaudeamus: This used to be a well-kept secret but the word is out on a great rooftop café. Find it on top of the UNED (Distance Learning University), a modern building tacked on to a ruined church, converted into a gorgeous library. Views of the surrounding neighborhood, with La Corrala and red tile roofs. There’s an elevator but be sure to walk up or down to see how the new and old buildings integrate – and peek into that library from the stairs. Where: Tribulete 14, 4th floor (UNED building), Metro Lavapies and Embajadores. More info: www.gaucafe.com UPDATE: alas, this place has closed, apparently they were in a gray area license-wise and also made too much noise for nearby apartment dwellers.
Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience. Umm. On principal I rarely mention this department store, but the cafetería /gourmet shopping area on the top floor of Callao store has a truly fabulous view. Where: Plaza de Callao, 9th floor.
Moncloa’s Lighthouse (Faro), that strange spaceship next to Museo de las Americas. Inaugurated in 1992, closed for a long time after 2005 for rehab to bring it up to fire code. Now open, though they reserve the right to close down in adverse weather. Fabulous observation deck over this edge of the city, the Complutense University and out towards the mountains. Visit length limited to 30 minutes. How high: 110 meters (361 feet). Website for info about hours, prices, etc: https://www.esmadrid.com/informacion-turistica/faro-de-moncloa
Higher and higher: Madrid’s Ten Tallest Torres (towers)
Cuatro Torres / Four Towers Business Area. Four skyscrapers, mostly office space, built 2004-2009. Where: just north of Plaza de Castilla. How high: Torre Bankia 250 meters (820 feet) / Torre Cristal 249 meters (817 feet) / Torre Price Waterhouse Cooper 236 meters (774 feet) / Torre Espacio 230 meters (755 feet). The Cristal Tower has a garden on top, and the PwC Tower has a hotel and restaurant.
Torre Picasso. Madrid’s tallest for 30 years, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, same architect as the World Trade Center. Construction finished in 1989. Where: Azca business center, just west of Paseo Castellana near the soccer stadium. How high: 156m meters / 512 feet.
Torre Madrid. Classic white skyscraper, built for offices, apartments and leisure activities. Construction finished in 1957. Where: Plaza de España, corner Princesa. How high: 142 meters / 466 feet.
Torre Europa. Oval building with vertical metal columns and glass, clock near the top. Construction finished in 1985. Where: Paseo Castellana, across from soccer stadium. How high: 120 meters / 394 feet.
Edificio España. Massive red and white pyramid shape building, used to be office space, now empty. Construction finished in 1953, recently rehabbed. At last news, owned by a bank and for sale. Where: Plaza de España. How high: 117 meters / 384 feet
Torre Colon. Tallish twin buildings with a green thing on top that looks like an electric plug. Buildings hang from central columns (built from the top down), construction finished in 1976. Where: Plaza de Colon, corner of Genova street. How high: 116 meters / 381 feet.
Kio Towers. Two tallish buildings that lean towards each other on on both sides of the Castellana, sort of scary standing underneath looking up. Buildings hang from central columns (built from the top down), construction finished 1996. Now dwarfed by the nearby Cuatro Torres. Where: Plaza de Castilla. How high: 114 meters / 374 feet.