Madrid

"Art, History, Gastronomy and Retail Therapy all Jostle for First Place in Majestic Madrid!" - Reviewed by Lisa

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  • Miguel says: “Do not miss the food market – Mercado San Miguel – it’s THE best!”
  • Lisa says: “Shop till you drop…and then stop for Cava!”
  • Aaron says: “Insane number of great places to eat!”
  • Francisco says: “An early morning run in El Retiro Park is the best way to see Madrid waking up, then stop for a hot coffee and freshly-baked pastry – no guilt!”

Pack in a culture-vulture weekend or stay and linger longer enjoying the hospitable culture of Madrid. However long your sojourn, you will not find yourself languishing at home for long. This is a city that calls for action: walk for miles, take the metro, jump on an open-topped bus, but explore you will! Then you’ll return again and again to broaden the exploration.

Elegant architecture abounds: majestic monuments, spacious parks, markets and historical barrios (neighborhoods) packed full of places to eat, things to do and stuff to buy.

Madrilenians love to shop; wherever you wander you’ll never be far from a retail temptation, or, for that fact, from a gastronomic feast in the guise of a tapas snack or a full-blown gourmet meal. Shopping and eating are both local pastimes, with an astounding variety of both flavours and finds.

Madrid is a real, cosmopolitan city, not a tourist trap. It is constantly offering up glimpses of the daily lives of those who live and work here. What could be more fun than strolling to a neighborhood market for a freshly-ground coffee and breakfast bocadillo (sandwich) and finding yourself sitting amongst chattering locals. People are kind and courteous but they will not stop their routine – visitors fit in with their reality. It’s an easy city to quickly become immersed in the local culture.

Art and history stare you in the face at every intersection, in every street, on every corner. Take in the famous museums or amble for hours without a map. Wherever you wander, you’ll find historical landmarks, imposing sculptures, eclectic galleries and street art installations.

Despite the overall size of the city, the inner historical areas are relatively easily to navigate on foot. Monuments are well-marked and often have eye-catching information plaques.

LOCATION

  • 20 minutes from the Madrid-Barajas International Airport

Madrid is located roughly in the center of the Iberian Peninsula – making plane, train, car and bus travel to all points north, south, east and west (including Portugal) very accessible.

EXPERIENCES

  • Sightseeing – Do not miss the highlights; Visit the Palacio Real, National Library, Plaza de España, and Plaza Mayor.
  • Museums – Art buffs will not pass on the world-famous Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sophia museums.
  • Walking tours – The whole city is easily walkable with lots of guided tours to choose from.
  • Metro services – Its efficient metro system makes it easy to get around.
  • Gastronomy – Thousands of restaurants and Tapas bars to suit every taste and budget.
  • Night clubs – Abundance of nightclubs and bars throughout the city. Madrilenians keep going until the wee hours.
  • Flamenco clubs – Authentic bars and halls offering some of the best-known names in Flamenco.
  • Shopping – Boutiques and specialty shops selling everything from local designer clothing to unique Spanish traditional goods such as lace, embroidery, gourmet items, shoes and leather goods. This is the home of El Corte Ingles, the famous Spanish department store.
  • Markets – Local food markets can be found in all neighborhoods. But the icing on the cake (so to speak) is Mercado San Miguel. El Rastro, the most popular open-air flea market, offers hours of Sunday entertainment.
  • Parks – Do as the locals do and head for the parks of El Retiro and Casa de Campo. Enjoy the scenery, take a boat ride, watch some street theatre, grab some hot churros, it’s all happening in the local park!