Madrid is Spain’s stylish, cosmopolitan and party-centric capital city. After enjoying the spacious parks, modern facilities, café terraces and outdoor art, venture inside to admire the city’s palaces and churches. Modern Madrid is commercially and politically significant for Europe, but its old Spanish culture is what is most prominent in the city streets lined with grand buildings, museums and galleries.
You could spend days exploring some of the world’s major art museums. Visit the Prado Museum (Museo Nacional del Prado) for a look at works by greats like Goya and Velázquez or head to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza) to see a collection of paintings spanning many centuries. Wander the galleries of the Reina Sofía Museum (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) to admire works by Spanish masters such as Picasso and Dalí.
Have lunch in the central square, the 18th-century Plaza Mayor, or take a tour of the old City Hall (Casa del Ayuntamiento).
The king resides on the outskirts of the city, but visitors can enter the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) in the city center to see lavishly decorated rooms and an impressive array of artifacts. Don’t miss the adjacent Almudena Cathedral (Santa María la Real de La Almudena): It took over a century to complete.
The iconic Puerta de Alcalá adorns a corner of El Retiro (El Parque de Retiro), an impressive green space with architectural marvels, gardens and ponds. Casa de Campo is an even bigger urban park. Visit the Museum of Natural Sciences (Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales) to learn all about the local flora and fauna.
Las Ventas has bullfights on Sundays. If this old Spanish tradition doesn’t interest you, watch a soccer match or browse the El Rastro flea markets.
At night, visit Puerta del Sol, surrounded by some of Madrid’s best “tabernas” and clubs. The tradition is to eat very late, so come closer to midnight to mingle with the Spanish. For local delights, order tapas or paella with a refreshing sangria or local wine.
Madrid is one of the liveliest cities in Europe and the sunny city is sure to steal your heart.