Madrid’s zoo, in the Casa de Campo, is a fairly standard European city zoo home to about 3000 animals. Exhibits range from white Siberian tigers to mambas, Atlas lions, zebras, giraffes, rhinoceroses, flamingos, koalas and celebrity pandas. The 3000-sq-metre Aviario (aviary) contains some 60 species of eagle, condor and vulture. Spend long enough here, however, and the Disneyfication of the zoo will start to grate.
There’s also an aquarium with shows, but remember that animal welfare groups suggest interaction with dolphins and other sea mammals held in captivity creates stress for these complex creatures.
Arriving by bus is the best option as it leaves you right at the door; if you take the metro to Casa de Campo, you have a 15-minute walk from the station, or you can take bus 37 from the station for one stop.
Weekends can be busy, so try and visit during the week, although check the opening hours online before setting out. It might also be worth checking online the programme for the day (for shows) and planning your visit accordingly. And it's considerably cheaper if you book online.