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As a thriving cosmopolitan city, it’s easy to get lost in the winding alleys and festive feeling throughout Madrid. As soon as the (super clean) metro opens its doors, you can immediately feel the energy from not only the people of this enticing city, but the rich culture conveyed on every street corner. noted as one of the most open cities on earth, music is the heart beat of this local with Spanish music radiating out onto the streets at all hours. It is here that people truly absorbs the after siesta in order to prepare for late night dinners (we’re talking 10pm at least) followed by hours of dancing. While Madrid is not known for an particular structure or single monument, the architecture as a whole has details and stories not to go unnoticed. And if you’re not too busy in awe of the buildings and people around you, it’s time to get down to business…the food. It is here that you’ll find the best churros, arguably in the world, along with delicious paella and salty olives. Not sure where to begin? These are the must-sees (and must-tastes!) of Madrid.
Palacio Real de Madrid
The Palacio Real de Madrid, translated to the Royal Palace of Madrid is hard to ignore once in the city. As the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family although they no longer liver there, it exudes wealth and glamor even from the outside walls. It is the perfect place to be introduced to Spanish history and absorb how this city came to be. A tour of the premise is well worth your time, especially a walk through the The Royal Armory which is one of the most noted of it’s kind, housing armor and weapons from the 13th century.
Templo de Debod
A short walk from the palace is the Templo de Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple that was moved to Madrid. Located in Cuartel de la Montaña Park, another lively outdoor area, this temple is well worth the line outside. Initially built as a chapel dedicated to the god Amun and the goddess Isis in 2nd century BC, it was later abandoned due to the conversion of Christianity until it was presented to Madrid as a gift from the Egyptian government.
Puerto del Sol
From the Templo de Debod, you can walk down Calle Mayor to get to Puerto del Sol, one of the most bustling regions of the city. Instead of having a destination in mind, plan to simply absorb the culture, street artists and performers surround the area. As the main public square, you’re sure to find numerous restaurants and cafes to grab lunch, which leads to your next must-do!
The most famous of Spanish dishes consisting of rice, saffron, chicken, seafood and whatever else the chef may find that day, is on the menu. As the biggest meal of the day, it’s imperative to truly set aside a couple of hours for lunch to truly enjoy the experience. You can easily find a restaurant off the main square, of take time to wander the back roads and ask locals for their suggestions on the best paella in the city. And don’t worry about having a glass of wine with your dish as a meal is customary in the mid afternoon.
El Retiro Park
Rested and well-fed, it’s time to head to Retiro Park, where you can also find Prado Museum and the Crystal Palace. One of the largest parks in Madrid, this green oasis is full of botanical gardens as well as a variety of cultural and recreational activities. From rowing in the lake to picnicking in the center, there’s something for everyone here.
Plaza Mayor Nightlife
Despite it being a full day, it’s only just begun for many Madrilenians. It could even be argued that this city is best viewed at night. To make the most of it, head to Plaza Mayor to experience the brightest nightlife. Now lit up with crowded restaurants and city dwellers looking to stop for sangria and tapas, it’s quite a sight to take in. Following their lead, I suggest stopping at La Alhambra on C/ Victoria for a tasty final meal. However, while filling up on spicy shrimp and blueberry coated goat cheese, make sure you have room for the next stop!
While it’s still debated among locals, Chocolatería San Ginés has been known for decades as the best stop for churros. Enjoy these long sticks of fried dough with the chocolate sauce served for dipping!
Los Tablas’ Flamenco Dancing
While most people’s nights would end here, there is still so much in store for an evening in Madrid. Buy tickets beforehand to attend a nightly show at Las Tablas. Along with a fabulous performance, cap your night off with the extensive wine list and savory appetizers served throughout the night.
Can’t get enough of Spain? An easy train ride will take you to many of the other sights to see in this beautiful country. Be sure to check out what to do in Barcelona and Segovia!
What is your favorite city in Spain? Have you been to Madrid?