Are you planning a trip to Madrid this spring or summer? Madrid is a truly captivating metropolitan city with a sweeping greenery both sides of the Manzanares river. Madrid boasts in elegant modern and historic districts filled with culture and history. This charming city is on the list of many art lovers who want to admire masterpieces by Picasso, Velazquez, Goya, Dali or Miro.
When it comes to culinary, Madrid also doesn’t fall behind. It is a pure joy to indulge on their famous Spanish tapas, pinchos with a glass of Rioja wine. Plaza Mayor or Puerto del Sol, the two main squares of Madrid are ideal spots to soak up the city’s consistent buzz, while you are wine and dine or just munching on delicious tapas. If you are at Puerta del Sole take a closer look at the legendary bronze bear sculpture, The Bear and the Strawberry Tree.
Here is a list of places you shouldn’t miss in Madrid apart from the two main vibrant squares.
1; Royal Palace of Madrid – Palacio Real de Madrid
The opulent Baroque palace is the highlight of Madrid with its history and vastness. It belongs to the Spanish Royal Family, but they only use the palace for royal ceremonies and functions. The palace was built on the site of a Moorish fortress to arrange state receptions, royal visits and later became the residence of Philip V.
In 1734, a huge fire swept through the palace, which made the Spanish monarchy to reconstruct the entire palace and build this splendid palace we eagerly visit today. By the time, it was Charles III, who first used the palace as his residence in 1764. The palace occupies more, then 3000 elaborately decorated rooms. Visitors can take a tour around some of the extraordinary rooms to be mesmerised by the wealth of art the palace treasures. If you intend to visit the palace best to book your tickets in advance.
The embroidered walls in the Rococo Room took 20 years to complete. Yes, 20 years! The whole room comes alive when you walk inside. It takes your breath away straightaway. It shows the creator’s genuine dedication in every inch. The Porcelain Room adorned with porcelain to the ceiling. The luxurious Gala Dining Room decorated with Parisian bronze, marbles and gilded reliefs where they used to host balls and festivities. The centerpieces are the huge chandeliers. The chandeliers were made in the same factory, like for the Versailles palace in France.
Wherever you look, you will also notice the walls are covered with tapestries. Tapestries used to keep the palace warm.
Note: You won’t be allowed to take photos inside. But there are allocated areas where you can take some shots.
Location: Royal Palace of Madrid, Calle de Bailen, s/n, 28071
2; Prado Museum – Museo del Prado
Prado Museum is the pride of Madrid where every art enthusiasts first heading to. Prado possesses a superb array of paintings by Francisco de Goya, Diego Velazquez amongst Italian, Flemish, German, French, British painters. Undoubtedly, visiting Prado Museum requires a few hours to be allocated, as the collection not only exquisite, but also comprehensive.
A visual treat to see Las Meninas (The Ladies-in-waiting) by Velazquez or the thought provoking Maja paintings by Francisco de Goya, who painted the same female figure twice with and without clothes.
Location: Museo del Prado, Paseo del Prado, s/n, 28014
3; Retiro Park – Parque del Buen Retiro
Do you want to escape the lively city life for a short while? Retiro Park is a spectacular park to enjoy the peace, that nature provides. When it comes to leisure, sport or culture ~ the park also offer them all. It is an extensive park, so there is place for all kinds of activities.
In the past, it used to be a hunting ground and a place for performances. What is more, in the pond mock battles were acted out to entertain Philip IV and Charles II. Plan a few hours to explore this vast park. There is a lake for rowing, the Velazquez building exhibition housing contemporary artwork, the Monument to King Alfonso XII, the Rosaleda Rose Garden and the stunning Crystal Palace. You will be able to take stunning photos for your Instagram feed.
Location: Retiro Park, Plaza de la Independecia, 7, 28001
Rosaleda Garden is like a colourful rose island with thousands of rose bushes hugging the fountains around. During spring and summer, Rosaleda Garden turns into a colourful spectacle. Roses are eager to talk to your senses and mesmerise you with their beauty.
Crystal Palace – Palacio de Cristal
Most tourists head to admire the Crystal Palace. Next to the lake this stunning glass complex embraced by nature in a picturesque setting. Simply beautiful and pleasing to the eyes. It looks like the glass treasure box of the park. Today, in this Crystal Palace art exhibitions take place. Originally, it was designed as a greenhouse in 1887.
4; Botin (Sobrino de Botin)
How about having lunch or dinner in the oldest restaurant in the world? By the Guinness Book of the World Records Cafe Botin considered to be the oldest restaurant exist on earth. In 1725, Jean Botin and his wife opened the restaurant, at that time it became known, as Casa Botin. The restaurant was renamed to Sobrino de Botin. It attracts many guests from far and wide to taste their signature dishes, especially their Roast suckling pig.
Location: Botin, Calle Cuchilleros, 17, 28005
5; Chocolateria San Gines
Have you ever heard of Churros? It is a must-try. Chocolateria San Gines attracts all generations with their Churros dipped in scrumptious thick hot chocolate. Chocolateria San Gines has been serving this typical dessert of Madrid since 1894. It is hidden away in a passageway closed to the San Gine’s church. You can indulge on Churros any time of the day, as they are open day and night! 24 hours a day, so you don’t have to rush before it closes, as it never does.
Location: Chocolateria San Gines, Pasadizo San Gines, 5, 28013
Chocolate con Churros
What a typical treat? Small crispy sticks freshly cooked and served with a cup of hot chocolate. You dip the Churros into the delicious thick hot chocolate and let your taste bud do the rest. When it comes to enjoy Churros don’t hesitate on the fact that they are deep fried. Everybody deserves a bit of treat while travelling and try the traditional cuisine of each city. Churros is a must-try local treat! Put away your healthy regime and give your diet a day off!
6; Mercado S. Miguel
The Market of San Miguel is unique in its terms with an awesome buzz through the market. It became an essential stopping point by tourists and should be on your culinary bucket list as well. The market dates back to 1916, so it treasures its own history in the same time. If you are in the neighbourhood of Plaza Mayor, the market is an excellent option for grabbing some breakfast or a light lunch. An array of vendors offer their mouth-watering produce and freshly prepared pinchos (pintxos). The selection of pinchos are feasts for your eyes holding a promise in every bite. Would you be able to resist the temptation? I wouldn’t. I cannot think of a better lunch than munching on delicious pinchos, tapas, ham or seafood with a glass of Rioja. I have never seen a market so lively and colourful. It has a fabulous buzz all around.
Location: Market of San Miguel, Plaza de San Miguel, s/n, 28005
7; Cafe de Oriente
It is an elegant cafe and restaurant in the heart of Madrid. It is only a few steps away from the Royal Palace where you can have your own royal treats. The peaceful pretty interior is ideal to enjoy coffee or indulge in their beautifully decorated desserts. The outside terrace area particularly relaxing from spring when the temperatures start to rise. When it comes to romantic or business dinners they provide many dining spaces to choose from in different styles, so it would be an ideal place for any type of occasions.
Location: Cafe de Oriente, Plaza de Ote, 2, 28013
Art, culture, culinary, historical monuments and buildings are in great balance to guarantee a genuinely satisfying trip in Madrid.
What did I like the most about Madrid?
Personally, I was impressed by the greenery all around the city. I have never seen a city with so much green spaces, like Madrid. Not even mention, how well maintained the parks are. All the parks are manicured to perfection. Wherever you go, you will find stunning parks with a spirit-lifting scenery and with a hint of elegance. Every now and then, statues peak out from their leafy surroundings. I would say, Madrid is a romantic place to visit if you want to season your trip with a rich culture from world-class art to outstanding culinary delights.