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We were so lucky my sister met Ken from Totally Spain on one her trips to Spain to walk the Camino. When we decided to come all the way from sunny Perth Western Australia she insisted we make contact with Ken and our wonderful visit began to be plann...

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2023-08-11

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Madrid, Spain's vibrant capital city, offers something for everyone. The Telegraph describes Madrid as “perfect for a culture-rich long weekend or city break, with great food and a lively atmosphere at night.” The New York Times praises it for its “resourcefulness, creativity, and reinvention.” National Geographic says it “offers a selection of delights so tempting it reduces even the most seasoned traveler to giddiness.

Art enthusiasts will want to spend time at the triangle of world-class art galleries: the Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museums. Here, you can marvel at masterpieces by Velázquez, El Greco, Goya, and Picasso. These galleries are a must-visit to truly appreciate the depth and richness of Spanish art.

The city's iconic squares, such as Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol, are essential stops on any Madrid itinerary. Plaza Mayor, with its stunning architecture and vibrant atmosphere, is perfect for people-watching and enjoying a coffee at one of the many outdoor cafes. Puerta del Sol, the heart of Madrid, is where you'll find the famous clock tower and the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, a symbol of the city.

Retiro Park is another must-see, offering a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. This expansive green space features beautiful gardens, a large lake where you can rent rowboats, and the stunning Crystal Palace. It's an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

Food lovers will be delighted by Madrid's many food markets, including the historic San Miguel Market and the contemporary Platea. San Miguel Market is renowned for its gourmet tapas and vibrant atmosphere, while Platea, housed in a former cinema, offers a modern culinary experience with a variety of food stalls and live entertainment.

To soak up the essence of old Madrid, visit the Royal Palace and the La Latina district. The Royal Palace, with its opulent rooms and extensive art collection, provides a glimpse into the city's royal past. The La Latina district, known for its traditional taverns and lively nightlife, is perfect for experiencing authentic Madrid.

For a taste of the well-heeled side of Madrid, explore the upscale Barrio Salamanca. This elegant neighborhood is home to high-end boutiques, gourmet restaurants, and beautiful architecture. It's the perfect place for a shopping spree or a luxurious meal.

Historians will want to visit the Plaza Dos de Mayo, a significant site in Madrid's history, commemorating the uprising against French occupation in 1808. Literary fans should not miss a coffee at the Café del Espejo or the Círculo de Bellas Artes. The latter offers a rooftop terrace with unbeatable views of the city, especially at night.

Madrid also serves as a great base for day trips to nearby historical and cultural sites. Highly recommended are visits to Toledo, with its rich history and stunning architecture; Segovia, known for its Roman aqueduct and fairy-tale castle; El Escorial, the grand monastery and palace complex; and Alcalá de Henares, the birthplace of Cervantes and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Whether you're exploring its world-class museums, savoring delicious food, or simply soaking up the lively atmosphere, Madrid has something to offer every traveler. Let us plan your visit to this dynamic city and discover its many treasures.

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Madrid - THINGS TO DO

  • Puerta del Sol: Start at the bustling heart of Madrid, a lively square home to the famous clock tower and the "Kilometer Zero" plaque marking Spain's radial road network center.

  • Plaza Mayor: Just a short walk away, explore this historic square lined with impressive architecture, charming cafes, and street performers.

  • Mercado de San Miguel: Enjoy a culinary adventure in this gourmet market, sampling Spanish delicacies like tapas, oysters, and wine.

  • Plaza de la Villa: Discover the medieval charm of one of Madrid’s oldest squares, featuring historical buildings like the Casa de la Villa.

  • Catedral de la Almudena: Visit this magnificent cathedral with its impressive interior and panoramic views from the dome.

  • Palacio Real: Tour the grand Royal Palace, exploring its opulent rooms, beautiful gardens, and the Royal Armory.

  • Templo de Debod: Head to this ancient Egyptian temple, a gift from Egypt, offering spectacular sunset views over the city.

  • Plaza de España: Relax in this expansive square, surrounded by notable landmarks like the Cervantes Monument and the Torre de Madrid.

  • Gran Vía: Walk along Madrid's most famous shopping street, known for its stunning architecture, theaters, and vibrant nightlife.

  • Círculo de Bellas Artes: Enjoy a drink at this rooftop bar with panoramic views of Madrid’s skyline.

  • Plaza de Cibeles: Admire the grand fountain and the impressive buildings surrounding this iconic square, including the City Hall.

  • Puerta de Alcalá: View this neoclassical triumphal arch, a symbol of Madrid, located near Retiro Park.

  • Parque del Retiro: Stroll through this large, historic park, enjoying its beautiful gardens, boating lake, and various monuments.

  • Palacio de Cristal: Visit the stunning glass palace within Retiro Park, often hosting contemporary art exhibitions.

  • Museo del Prado: See masterpieces by Velázquez, Goya, and other great artists in Spain’s premier art museum.

  • Museo Reina Sofía: Discover modern and contemporary art, including Picasso’s famous "Guernica".

  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza: Explore this extensive collection spanning from medieval art to modern masterpieces.

  • Iglesia de San Antonio de los Alemanes: Marvel at the stunning frescoes adorning this Baroque church's interior.

  • Barrio de Malasaña: Experience the vibrant nightlife, quirky boutiques, and hip cafes in this trendy neighborhood.

  • Barrio de Chueca: Enjoy the lively atmosphere, diverse culture, and excellent dining options in Madrid’s LGBTQ+ district.

  • El Rastro: Shop for antiques, vintage items, and unique finds at Madrid’s famous flea market, held every Sunday.

  • Santiago Bernabéu Stadium: Tour the home of Real Madrid, exploring the museum, trophy room, and pitch.

  • Chocolatería San Ginés: Indulge in churros and thick hot chocolate at this iconic 24-hour café.

  • Casa de Campo: Enjoy outdoor activities like boating, cycling, and hiking in this vast urban park.

  • Teleférico de Madrid: Get a bird’s-eye view of the city from the cable car, traveling from Paseo del Pintor Rosales to Casa de Campo.

  • Museo Sorolla: Discover the works of Joaquín Sorolla, housed in his former home and studio, showcasing his beautiful impressionist paintings.

 

MADRID LOCATION AND HISTORY

Madrid is situated in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula, right at the center of the Castilian plain, 646 meters above sea level. The city boasts a population of over 3 million residents.

Madrid experiences a continental climate typical of the Spanish plain, characterized by severe winters and very warm summers, with temperatures often exceeding 30ºC.

The grand metropolis of Madrid traces its origins back to the era of Arab Emir Mohamed I (852-886). Throughout history, it was a contested territory between Christians and Arabs. By the end of the 17th century, under the Bourbons, a defensive wall was constructed to protect the newly developed areas. Today, contemporary Madrid remains the geographic, political, and cultural center of Spain.

MADRID TYPICAL DISHES AND GASTRONOMY

Madrid is a melting pot for cuisine from all over the peninsula. Traditional Madrid dishes include the cocido madrileño (a type of stew). Callos or tripe is another of the typical dishes identified with local cuisine. Also the humble and savory sopa de ajo (garlic soup) and caracoles (snails). Typical desserts are barquillos (rolled wafers) or buñuelos (fritters filled with custard, cream, chocolate, etc.).

MADRID DAY TRIPS

Madrid to Toledo Day Trip

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