Top 5 things to do in Madrid
Madrid is without doubt, one of the best holiday destinations anyone could wish for. It’s such a beautiful city with so much to do and see that you’ll be tempted to extend your stay – permanently. And you wouldn’t be the first. Many travelers have gone to Madrid on holiday and instead chose to make it their home. Madrid is a city of startling contrasts– a modern, vibrant city with an incredible night life and at the same time a sedate, artistic city dotted with medieval mansions and royal palaces that hearken back to an older time. Throw in the unrivalled sporting culture and a rich culinary tradition, and you have a holiday dreams are made of!
If you’re fortunate enough to visit Madrid, make sure you plan your time well so you can enjoy most of what the city has to offer. Here are a few tips on what to do and see:
1. Food, glorious food
Madrid’s dining culture is as diverse as it is steeped in history, and your visit would not be complete without trying out some of the delicious food on offer. There are many restaurants serving a variety of cuisine from the different regions of Spain as well as international cuisine. You will find cocido a la madrileña, a chick-pea, meat and vegetables stew that’s a staple of Madrid; Castilian suckling pig, paella and fideuá which are staples of Valencia, tapas from the Basque region and so much more. It’s a meat lover’s paradise, but if you’re vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry. You won’t go hungry. In recent years, Madrid has been experiencing a growth in the availability and popularity of vegetarian cuisine and many vegetarian restaurants now operate in the city, Yerbabuena and Al Natural are two of the most famous.
No discussion of the cuisine in Madrid would be complete without a mention of Botin. Established in 1725, Botin is named in the Guinness Book of records as the world’s oldest operating restaurant. It is located near Madrid’s Plaza Mayor and has an exceptional legacy. It is mentioned in Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’ and Goya is believed to have worked at this beautiful restaurant as a dishwasher.
Some of the dishes served here include puddings, artichokes with Iberico, and Segovian-style mushrooms. In the summer, cooling gazpacho is prepared for guests while garlic soup (sopa de ajo) is a prominent feature in winter. Other delicious dishes include roast Cantabrian clams and hake, Spanish classics such as cuttlefish prepared in its ink, and other seafood dishes.
2. Art attack
If you like art or are artistic in any way, get ready to be blown away by Madrid. Head out to the Museo del Prado. Considered the biggest art gallery in the world this museum mainly exhibits coins, drawings and sculptures, although there are many, many other works of arts. Its global fame primarily stems from its enormous collection of paintings. The Museo del Prado houses over 8,600 paintings, although less than 2,000 are usually exhibited because of inadequate space.
The Museum incorporates unique works of Spanish art including Goya’s Executions on Principle Po, Ribera’s Jacob’s Dream, and Velazquez’s Las Meninas. The Prado Museum also stocks famous masterpieces of European art including Rubens’s Three Graces, Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of the Earthly Delights, Rogier van der Weyden’s Descent from the Cross, Tintoretto’s Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet, and The Annunciation by Fra Angelico. Set a day aside to view these works and prepare for a unique lifetime experience.
You should also visit Fountain Cibeles, located near Sol, Gran Via, the Puerta de Alcal, and El Parque del Retiro. This monument to the Greek goddess of fertility, Cybele, is designed with over 10,000 kilograms of marble. It depicts her on a chariot that is pulled by two mighty lions. Make sure to check in advance when it is open, as it is often closed off due to traffic and to allow for various celebrations such as VIP visits, shows, and concerts. Visitors can take photos at this unique place.
3. Shop till you drop
Among all the famous shopping streets in the world, the Gran Via is probably the most interesting from an architectural point of view. Gran Via or the Spanish Broadway as it is sometimes referred to, is an upscale and ornate shopping street positioned in the heart of Madrid. It houses numerous shops of superior quality, and you can buy all of the major brand names here. Gran Via is a magnificent place to visit for those who wish to people-watch, go shopping, see nice buildings, and capture the soul and heart of the capital city regarding the modern culture and the atmosphere of Madrid. The vast Telefonica Flagship store is adjacent to the Metro Gran Via Station and in the center of Gran Via. The store is an excellent example of mixing historical building with modern technology.
4. Take in the sights
Of course. You definitely ought to see the sights because they are magnificent. Start with the Plaza Mayor one of the major tourist attractions in the heart of Madrid which features spectacular renaissance architecture that is bordered internally with Bars, Restaurants, Cafes, and Shops. Enjoy a coffee while basking in the delicious warmth of the sun. At the same time you can take in some entertainment as you watch a variety of actions from acrobats, buskers, musicians, and other entertainers who ply their trade to the guests from different regions of the world. Like other visitors, you will be amazed by the incredible architecture and the vibrant atmosphere. A visit to Madrid is incomplete without a visit to this Old Square which full of life and entertainment.
And then of course, there’s the Royal Palace of Madrid, the official residence of the King of Spain (although he doesn’t actually live in it – he lives in the Palacio de la Zarzuela). However, the Royal Palace is worth visiting because it is – in one word – magnificent! At has a mind-boggling 1.5 million square feet of floor space and 3,418 rooms. Many important artworks by famous artists such as Tiepolo and Caravaggio adorn the walls. It also holds many priceless items, including the world’s only complete Stradivarius sting quintet. Guests can also expect to view the 13th-century tapestry and weapons collections. The palace is usually open to the public when not being utilized for official business.
5. Party like it’s…
Madrid’s nightlife is legendary. The city is said to have more bars than any other city on earth. With the myriad bars, nightclubs and pubs, you can stay out until the early hours of the morning every day of the week, without running out of new places to try. Whatever your age, nationality and preferences, Madrid’s nightlife has something for everybody. Areas around Plaza de Santa Ana, Malasaña and La Latina are especially good for taking in the atmosphere. You can dance the night away at many of the nightclubs or if that’s not your thing, take in a show at one of the many theatres. The Teatro Real near the Royal Palace offers great entertainment for opera lovers and there are other shows also available around the city to cater to different tastes. Regardless of your tastes, one thing is for sure – you will not be bored with the night life!
The above are just a snippet of what is available – there is so much more. So whether you’re planning to visit Madrid for a weekend or stay for a lifetime, rest assured you are in for a treat. The beautiful city of Madrid offers you countless options of what to do in Madrid Spain and see.