Madrid lends itself to the pedestrian, with the layout of the centre making travel on foot, from one side to the other, both easy and fascinating. The excellent metro system is easy to navigate, so a quick trip to the football stadium or further afield isn’t daunting for tourists whatsoever. Unlike its Spanish compadres, Madrid tends to be overlooked by tourists or used as a short stopover en route to the beach, but to really discover Madrid, here’s just a starter on why this exciting, captivating city is not to be missed!
Discover Madrid Arts and Culture
Madrid boasts several renowned museums with the Museo del Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen museums catering to a broad range of artistic tastes, from ancient to modern.
In addition to the greats, the unsung heroes of the arts of Madrid include the Caixa Forum, a huge building on the Paseo del Prado which not only offers a vertical garden on its outer wall, but several floors of ever-changing exhibitions and installations – all for free!
The Matadero is a converted abattoir next to the river, which exhibits contemporary art and films. It also has a great bar where you can soak up the (unexpected) charm of this old municipal building.
For cinephiles, there is nothing quite as authentic as a visit to the Cine Doré. Dating back to the 1920s, this beautifully restored cinema screens at least two films per night and will take you back to a world where red velvet and gold leaf were prominent fixtures of the cinema-going experience.
Flamenco shows are just about as traditional as it gets here and Madrid does not lack in Tabernas, where impromptu Flamenco sessions are just as common as scheduled shows. For one of the best shows in Madrid, visit Casa Patas for a first-class show and a platter of delicious Iberian treats, before heading down the road to La Candela, a small Flamenco club, where you can try out your own Flamenco skills on the tiled dance floor!
Discover Madrid Parks and Plazas
The opportunities to soak up the year-long sunshine and the mesmerising atmosphere are abundant, as Madrid boasts numerous green areas across the city centre.
The most famous park of Madrid is the Buen Retiro park, with a colossal expanse of almost 1.5km square. Cafés, exhibitions and an impressive boating lake make for a great day of strolling and relaxing beneath the beautiful blue Velazquez skies, distinctive to Madrid.
For a breath-taking sunset, head to Templo de Debod – a park overlooking West Madrid where an illuminated Egyptian temple provides a stunning backdrop to any social gathering.
Casa de Campo, accessed by metro or alternatively by cable car, and the Lago lake at its edge next to the river, are perfect locations for a spot of fresh air and a spectacular view of the city from a distance. Charming plazas punctuate the labyrinth of cobbled alleys and pathways, offering the passer-by a chance to sit at a terrace, peruse market stalls and watch street artists perform.
Aside from the famous 广场市长, surrounded by cafés, beautiful residential balconies and wall murals, Madrid is bursting with enchanting squares of all shapes and sizes.
Malasaña, an artistic district just North of Sol, is just one of the many neighbourhoods offering an abundance of lively open areas, surrounded by restaurants and bars. The youthful spirit of a flourishing 80s Madrid is still very much alive too and a spot where locals, and foreigners alike, congregate in the multitude of squares in the warmer months – to practice the fine outdoor drinking art of the botellón, seeking refuge in the coffee shops, and bars that surround them in the colder months.
Food and Drink
Madrid has one bar to every 60 inhabitants, which reflects the sociable, warm atmosphere that characterises this city.
Tiled cervecerias and taverns line the streets, many offering outdoor terraces in the warmer months – perfect for a pit-stop and perhaps a small caña of beer, and tapa at any time of the day. A local favourite, the La Latina area, is famed for its culinary delights, with Calle Cava Baja bursting at the seams with tapas and wine bars.
Despite its central location, seafood in Madrid is some of the freshest in the country, as much of it is sent directly to the capital before being dispatched elsewhere. Grilled gambas, paella and a whole host of fried fish are usually on the menu, with meatier options such as steak, roast chicken and cocido stews, alongside the nation’s perpetual favourite – Ham. Ham is a big deal here and you’ll find it everywhere, particularly in the popular ham-lined Museo de Jamon (Ham Museum) restaurants, dotted all over the centre. Here you can pick up a ham sandwich and a beer for just two Euros! Of course, vegetarian options are also available with the traditional Spanish potato tortilla served anywhere and everywhere, alongside a vast array of other Madrileño delicacies.
The possibilities offered by the vibrant Spanish capital are endless with a great range of cultural richness, gastronomy outlets and nightlife hot spots. Madrid retains its traditional Spanish charm in a delicate balance with the modern, whilst persistently thriving to seduce all those who visit. In short, Madrid is a city not to be missed.
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Mad for Madrid
Located at the very heart of Spain, Madrid offers much more than the usual sunny holiday.
Spanish tradition is still very prevalent in all parts of this ever vibrant city, offering a vast array of culture, entertainment and cuisine without being pretentious or overly-touristic.
Sure, the bustling tourist shops and overpriced chain restaurants still exist, but the beauty of this city lies in the fact that you're guaranteed to find an oasis of authenticity just a few steps away!