The Spanish capital is one of the most visited cities in Europe, and worth every bit of the praise it receives for being a world-class city that so beautifully integrates traditional with modern. It’s one of Europe’s most exciting destinations to visit, and if you’re planning a getaway this year, put Madrid right at the top of your travel list.
As the third largest city in Europe, only after London and Paris, Madrid offers travelers an experience unlike anywhere else in the world. To begin with, it’s the gateway to all things Spanish and your sojourn through this country should begin with the capital city that sets you up for a journey of a lifetime. From a legendary art scene to the finest nightlife destinations, from football to food, architecture to intriguing medieval history, great monuments to some fine Mediterranean weather, what more could you ask for! Madrid is all this, and so much more.
While the capital city possesses a wealth of cultural attractions, you need to give yourself plenty of time to soak in this marvelous city and its offerings. There’s no time to waste as there’s always so much happening in Madrid, and irrespective of the time of the year you choose to travel here, it’s always a good time to be in Madrid.
What makes Madrid so unique?
Madrid is a really lively metropolis, always bustling with energy. While there are a few things that are common all around Spain, there are certain things that set Madrid apart, and you must, must take time to experience these things on your trip.
Madrid is home to the world’s oldest restaurant! Founded in 1725, Sobrino de Botin is the oldest continuously running restaurant churning out the most delectable suckling pig and roast lamb. And what’s more…there’s a flame in the restaurant oven that has never been extinguished since it was started. Make sure you have a meal here, both for the amazing food and its historical relevance.
Since you’ve made it all the way to Spain, why not make it to the heart of the country. Madrid lies in the geographical center of the country, and the exact point from where all of Spain’s six major roads begin is in an area called Puerta Del Sol or Gate of the Sun. You’ll even find a plaque reading 0 kilometers at the center of the square which also happens to be one of the busiest locations in the capital. While you are there, don’t miss the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the start of the New Year.
Whether you are a football fan or not, when in Madrid, you have to partake in football frenzy since it’s a part of the very fabric of the city. Home to the famed Real Madrid Football Club that is housed in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, a visit here is a must.
What not to miss when in Madrid
Madrid is that perfect European city offering that perfect blend of art, history, fashion, culture, food, nightlife, entertainment and more. Whether you plan a trip to the city for a few days, or a few weeks, there is plenty to fill every moment you spend in this charming Spanish capital.
The Golden Triangle of Art Galleries – Madrid is home to some of the finest art galleries in the world, and the golden triangle happens to be the three very best of the best. All located very close to each other, and literally forming a geographic triangle, the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen Bornemisza are Madrid’s finest, filled with artistic riches that you shouldn’t miss for the world!
The Royal Palace showcases Madrid’s opulence and royalty. The official palace of the Royal Family of Madrid is used for state ceremonies, and a part of the palace is open to visitors for viewing. After visiting the Royal Palace, you’d really wish you were born in an era where you could actually live there!
Plaza Mayor is the main public square of Madrid, that has been witness to many a historic moment – from coronations to bullfights and even executions. Don’t sweat it though – today it’s just a bustling square filled with cafes and bars, street musicians and locals out to catch some gorgeous Mediterranean sun.
Going back to shopping and Gran Via, it also happens to be Madrid’s most iconic street, having been featured in dozens of movies and shows, apart from being popular as a shopping street.
Making merry in Madrid
Madrid is known for having one of the best nightlife scenes in the world. From rooftop bars to tons of pubs, from whole districts dedicated to nightlife, you’re guaranteed a hell of a good time partying in Madrid. Make your way to Plaza Dos de Mayo, a massive square in the heart of the neighborhood of Malasana. Pubs, bars and nightclubs abound in this area, making it one of Madrid’s best nightlife spots. Another exciting area that you shouldn’t miss is the Literary Quarter that doesn’t rest on any day of the week. For a sophisticated evening of wine and dine, head to the Salamanca neighborhood that comes to life at night. Flamenco lovers should make a beeline for La Latina, filled with bars, clubs and flamenco ‘tablao’ venues. And if you want a heady intercontinental mix of nightlife, the neighborhood of Lavapies offers reggae, hip-hop, belly dancing and flamenco in a heady mix.
When you travel to Madrid, a big part of your trip is going to be about food. Madrid is known for its amazing tapas bars, and one street that you simply cannot miss visiting when in Madrid is Calle de Cava Baja; it’s the perfect street for a tapas crawl, so much so that it’s nicknamed ‘tapas street’. Some of the most authentic Madrileno tapas bars are found here, and you’re going to find yourself coming back here over and over again, for the food, the people and the heady atmosphere.
And on the topic of food, you must indulge yourself in two Madrid favorites – calamari sandwiches and churros con chocolate, sinful dough sticks doused in hot chocolate!
And these are just a few of the many, many reasons why you should plan a trip to Madrid. One thing is for sure; you’ll be planning a second, third and perhaps fourth trip to this magical city, because once is never enough!