Madrid is often considered the poor cousin to Barcelona. On the surface, Barcelona seems to have the trendy markets and the easy lifestyle. It’s southern beaches, and sunny climate is appealing to Europeans and the West.
But Madrid has treasures all of its own. And I took the time to go and find out what those treasures were.
I should point out that in Madrid food is everything you don’t come here to lose weight. We tried everything and anything we could. From the Tapas to the wine, we savoured our experience.
We stayed at the Melia Madrid Princesa which is a comfortable 5-star hotel with plenty of cosy corners. If you’re thinking of visiting Madrid here are five places you should consider stopping to enjoy.
Whether it’s the Historic sites, the art all the nightlife and shopping precinct, Madrid has something for everyone.
1. Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is considered the heart of Madrid by many. We hired a car from the Madrid airport and headed straight for the Grand Casa de Correos.
We could have taken public transport but (and this is not for the faint-hearted) this seemed like the easiest way to get into the city and get our short holiday in Madrid underway.
The Grand Casa de Correos is the home of Spanish politics. In the centre of town, you’ll find a statue of a tree and a bear which is the traditional emblem of the city.
Heading north we hit the Gran Via which is where we found plenty of activity among the bars, cafe’s and boutique shops.
To the west lies the 17th century Colonnaded Plaza Mayor. We grabbed our tourist maps here and took a snapshot of the Felipe III statue.
2. The Palacio Real
The Palacio Real is the stately and traditional home of the royal family in Spain. These days, this beautiful Palace from the 18th century is only used for important occasions, but it’s well worth the visit.
Built from white Colmenar stone, it has something like 3,000 rooms. Some these are open to the public which meant we could go inside and take a look at all of its treasures.
The gardens outside a stunning and there are often live concerts and shows held there during summer.
Despite its Grandeur, it’s actually quite relaxing place to visit.
3. Madrid’s Art Scene
Being art lovers, this was something we really wanted to see. We able to get an ArtPass in order to see plenty of Madrid Attractions which meant we had entry to over 50 local tourist attractions for free. It also gave us a number of discounts to restaurants shows and shops.
The three main art galleries are known as the Golden Art Triangle. I’m only at work you will find Picasso, Goya and Velázquez – just to name a few.
We also found this amazing four story vertical garden at the CaixaForum, which is worth a look in.
4. Tapas, Festivals and Hot Chocolate
Sweet doughnuts, hot chocolate and tapas are all part of the Madrid experience. We found one place called thePasadizo de San Ginés 5, 28013 Madrid) Which, since 1894, has been making the same blend of hot chocolate for its customers.
If your thing is savoury food, then you can’t go past the Sangria, juices and selection of cheese and cold meats along the promenades.
If you turn up to Madrid in October, then you’re in for a real treat. The Tapapiés is a Tapas festival that lasts for ten days. The Tapapiés is CelebrationWhere you can enjoy food from around the world as well as live street performance and theatre.
5. El Rastro flea market in Madrid
The last place we visited was the El Rastro flea market in Madrid. This is not hard to find. Just follow the crowds through the Embajadores area and down to the Ribera de Curtidores.
Regarded the most famous, as well as the oldest, flea market in Madrid, if you look hard you will almost certainly come away with plenty of souveniers and cultural treasures to take back home.
There are hundreds of stores to look at here including, artwork, traditional ornaments, clothes as well as ordinary everyday Spanish tableware.
We didn’t have any opportunity to visit a football match. But this is something that I would seriously recommend. If you can get tickets to the stadium and see a Real Madrid game, you will be in for a treat.
It’s not so much the football that entertains you as much as it is the atmosphere and the crowd.
Madrid has everything you would expect from a grand old city. From the Historic churches and cathedrals to the art and the music Madrid is a lively City and well worth a return visit.
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