Madrid is the capital of Spain and home to almost 3.3 million residents, which makes it the sixth most populous city in Europe. No doubt because of this, Madrid is a city famed for its hustle and bustle, almost as much as it is for its breath-taking architecture. Whether you’re living in Spain or overseas, there’s nowhere better for a weekend getaway than vibrant Madrid. It doesn’t matter whether you’re travelling with friends, travelling solo, or looking for a romantic break, Madrid is a city with something to offer to everyone. Here is our guide to this fabulous city:
What to See: Museums and Palaces
The architecture and rich culture are what draw many visitors to Madrid. If you’re seeking cultural enrichment or artistic enlightenment during your stay then there are several attractions that are not to be missed.
First, head to the Prado Museum; considered one of the finest art galleries in Europe it is also one of the largest and displays works by Velázquez, Goya, El Greco, Titian, Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch and many many more. Putting aside the extravagant beauty inside the building, the building itself is also an attraction. Built in a renaissance style and first opened in 1819, this year celebrates 200 years of the Prado Museum.
The jewel in the crown of a historical tour of Madrid is surely the Royal Palace. This is the largest royal palace in Western Europe, and with its grand approaches and extravagent gardens, it is an attraction not to be missed. Home to the Kings of Spain from Charles III to Alfonso XIII, a visit to the Royal Palace is a journey through the rich history of Spain and with over 3,000 rooms, you should allow at least half a day for your visit.
Finally, although Madrid is home to so many wonderful museums and galleries it feels impossible to shortlist them, if you’re visiting the city for just a short weekend, the final musuem to add to your itinerary is the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum. This spectacular attraction is home to a broad range of art from over seven centuries, and their collection includes works by the likes of El Greco, Canaletto, Monet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Hopper, Picasso, Dalí and Chagall. All of art history is here, and you’re sure to leave with a greater and deeper appreciation of the works of these great masters.
Where to Stay
With so many residents, and a thriving tourism industry, you’ll be spoilt for choice when looking for somewhere to stay in Madrid. Whether you’re looking for a quiet family-run bed and breakfast, a well-known chain hotel, or a smarter and more upmarket 5 star affair, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for. Some tried and tested recommendations to suit a range of budgets include:
Room Mate Oscar: Offering modern, affordable accommodation in the heart of the city centre, Room Mate Oscar is a hotel with another big selling point – it has a pool! Perfect for relaxing after a long and hot day of sightseeing if you visit Madrid during the summer months.
Hotel Emporador: This hotel really does have it all. Spectacular views over the city’s skyline, a rooftop cocktail bar, and the largest rooftop swimming pool in the city. It’s almost enough to ensure you never want to leave your hotel!
The Westin Palace: If you’re looking for five star luxury then the Westin Palace is the perfect choice. Located just a stone’s throw from the city’s museum district, you’ll find spectacular architecture, stunning service, and a feel of old-school decadence.
Where to Eat and Drink: From Fine Dining to Street Food
There are more than ten Michelin starred restaurants in Madrid, so if you’re looking for fine dining then you’ve come to the right place. Enjoy modern twists on traditional Spanish dishes, all washed down with rich and hearty locally sourced red wine. If your budget is a little more modest then don’t worry: the Spanish pride themselves on the quality of their cuisine, no matter where you’re eating. Try tapas in a friendly street bar (look for one that attracts plenty of local residents for a guarantee of quality) or dip doughy churros into rich hot chocolate from a street café for breakfast in the morning. With delicious smells to stimulate your senses on every corner, you certainly won’t go hungry when you stay in Madrid.
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