The capital of Spain, the third biggest city in European Union, after London and Berlin, with a history of over 1000 years, can be discovered in only a few days. Moreover, you have trains to take you to Toledo and Segovia, two cities located close to Madrid that you must not miss. You’ll get spoiled with tapas and sangria.
How to plan your holiday in Madrid
Madrid is a city full of energy, that perfectly mingles the old and the new, as well as the art and the gastronomic culture. Even though there’s no Eiffel Tower or Colosseum that they can brag about, the capital of Spain is definitely proud of its palaces and villas, Belle Époque (cca. 1900) and Baroque architectures, and an impressive number of bars, restaurants and museums that fascinate even the pickiest tourist.
What you can visit in 3 days
If you want to see only the main tourist attractions in Madrid, you will only need 3 to 5 days. However, if you want to get the most out of this experience, it is recommended you spend more than one weekend in this colourful and joyful city.
A city-break in Madrid would be enough to visit the following tourist attractions: Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, Prado Museum, Queen Sofia Art Center, the Retiro Park, the Almudena Cathedral, the Debod Temple, the Thyssen Museum and the Cybele Palace.
What you can do in 5-10 days
If you’re spending more than 5 days in Madrid, you should definitely add the Escorial Palace on your to-visit list. It is only a few kilometers away from Madrid. Also, you should visit Toledo and Segovia, two amazing cities that are only two hours away by train from Madrid.
Toledo is a city that has been included in the UNESCO world heritage ever since 1986. Also, it is one of the oldest and most beautiful settlements in Spain. There’s no wonder why it was named the “imperial city” and the “city of the three cultures” (Christian, Islamic and Jewish). It was the capital of the Visigoths and the place where the best swords in the world were crafted.
Another city that is extremely rich in history is La Segovia, where you’ll find an impressive gothic cathedral and the Alcazar Palace in Segovia, which is said to be the one that inspired Walt Disney in creating his fairy kingdom.
Tourist attractions you must not miss
- The Prado Museum is one of the main reasons why art aficionados choose to visit Madrid. It hosts over 1500 paintings, dating back to the 12th century and until today. Among the artists whose paintings make this museum an incredible place, there are Goya, El Greco, Velasquez, Titian, Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch.
- The Royal Palace, built during the 18th century, is definitely worth visiting it, especially for its sculptures, paintings and amazing gardens.
- Queen Sofia Art Center is the place where you’ll find various masterpieces created by Picasso, Guernica, Salvador Dali, Georges Braque and Juan Miro.
- The Retiro Park is located on the site of the former royal gardens and was opened in 1868. It is the biggest park in Madrid and it has an artificial lake right in the middle of it. There are numerous monuments, emblematic buildings, such as the Crystal Palace, and cafes in the area.
- Plaza Mayor is the main square in Madrid, one of the oldest and most coloured places in Madrid. Here’s where the annual Christmas Market takes place. During the rest of the year, Plaza Mayor is the perfect place to enjoy some tapas and the Spanish wine.
- The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is another worth visiting attraction, whether you are or not a Real Madrid fan. Opened in 1947, the stadium has a capacity of over 80.000 seats and, in order to visit it, you’ll have to pay a €24 (€18 for children) fee.
How to plan your budget for a holiday in Madrid
A holiday in Madrid doesn’t have to be an investment: the plane tickets are affordable, as well as the accommodation, restaurants and bistros. There are so many choices at your disposal that it’s nearly impossible not to find something that fits your budget. You can save more money for shopping, as the Spanish capital is known for being one of the top shopping destinations.
A visit at the Prado museum, for instance, will make you spend around €15. As far as transportation is concerned, you the Tourist Card, which you can purchase from any subway station or at the airport and which can be used on all means of transportation. A 7-day Tourist Card is somewhere between €35 and €70, depending on how much you plan to use the public transport.
Try the Madrilenian cuisine
During the past years, Madrid has made its place on the map of gastronomic tourism, even though the Madrilenian cuisine has limited offers. The restaurants are highly professional, as well as the bars (most of them are cocktail bars). Also, there’s the possibility to go to street food vendors, as there are plenty of them in Madrid and they have very good food.
One of the must-try things in Madrid is tapas – various snacks with cheese, fish, jamón (Spanish pressed ham) or any other delicious ingredients. Next to this dish, you must have a glass of sangria or any other Spanish wine. Sea food is also incredibly delicious, especially when it comes to shrimps, squids, octopuses and echinus, covered in breadcrumbs.
Another tasty and must-try dish is callos a la madrileña, which is boiled beef tripe and cooked in a special sauce or with fried cheese croquettes. Everything is extremely delicious!
When you should visit Madrid
Summer and winter in Madrid are not mild. The city has a Mediterranean and semi-arid climate, with high temperatures during the hot season and very low temperatures during the cold season (especially in December and January). Thus, the best time to visit Madrid is during either spring or autumn.
Other useful information
The best way to get to Madrid is via airplane. Blue Air provides several routes to Spain, some of them departing from Bucharest and Bacau (Romania). The main airport in Madrid is only a few kilometers away from the capital.
In order to get from the airport to the city center, you can take the bus or the subway (for about €5). You can check the prices for the Spanish metro system here.
Events you can attend while in Madrid
There are numerous art exhibitions that you can visit in Madrid, as well as history exhibitions. Also, there’s a marathon that has been held since 1978 and that you can enrol to as well. Madrid Cool Festival is another annual event worth going to while in Madrid, a series of concerts where you can see some of the most well-known singers, artists and DJs in the world.
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