Madrid is such a wonderful city and is one of my favourite places to visit. Not only because it’s like a second home to me, but I love the chilled atmosphere of the city. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as sitting in a Spanish restaurant at night with a few beers. But Madrid is still a city with a great buzz about it. The city offers travellers so much and has a different feel from other European capitals. Madrid is a city that offers a true Spanish experience, with the seemingly infinite variety of different foods and its cultural history.
When I am in Madrid one of my favourite things to do is eat all things Spanish, whether that be tapas, paella or a Spanish omelette, you must try at least some of them. One of the best places that offers great Spanish food is the ‘Mercado De San Miguel’. The market has a wide range of traditional food as well as drinks for you to try. I have visited the market so many times and can really recommend this place for its food and atmosphere.
Madrid has a lot of activities for you to choose from. You can choose to partake in flamenco dancing, a Spanish cooking class or enlightening yourself in its many art galleries. However, as we wanted to embrace Spain’s culture and history in one, we decided to visit the ‘Plaza Toros las Ventas’ – Bull Ring. Even if you do not like the idea of bull fighting, the tour was very educational and gave you a great idea of how the stadium was built and how the sport plays out. The tour is quite long so make sure you have plenty of time to spare if you want the full experience. The tour allows you to walk around the bull ring at your own pace whilst listening to an audio headset. Personally, I enjoyed the tour as it gave me a greater insight on how bull fights work, as well learning about the history of the sport and what it means for Spain.
Another must see sight in Madrid is the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace is quite simply mind blowing. There is so much in the form of history, art and architecture. Make sure you do not miss the armoury as it is made up of Spanish weapons from over the centuries. Each room in the Palace is decorated superbly and you really can see why it was the former Palace of the Monarchy. Unfortunately, you will not be rubbing shoulders with any Spanish royalty, as it is now used for ceremonies only. Again, if you want to truly appreciate just how good the Palace is, I’d recommend giving yourself a couple of hours so you don’t have to rush anything.
You can’t mention Madrid without mentioning football. Real Madrid is not only the biggest club in Spain, but the biggest in Europe. With its recent domination of European football visiting the stadium is a must! If you’re a fan of football and/or basketball, then the Santiago Bernabeu is a paradise. The stadium tour allows you to see the stadium at your own pace and does not require a tour guide. This is very rare for football stadiums and makes the experience a lot more enjoyable. Having access to indulge in the history of one of the greatest footballing sides was a wonderful experience. The tour is very interactive and not a bore like some other stadium tours are. I would highly recommend visiting the stadium as it is so iconic to the city and Spanish history in general. The tour gives you a chance to take a picture of their 11 (now 12) European trophies all in one.
During our stay, we took a short-day trip to Toledo via the train, a small Spanish city close to Madrid. Whilst in Toledo we ate at more Spanish restaurants as well as visiting its castle. The castle is a bit of a walk away from the train station (it doesn’t help that we got lost) but is certainly worth the effort. The castle grants the opportunity to take pictures of some stunning views that are a must see! I really enjoyed visiting Toledo as it was something completely different from what we have done whilst visiting a capital city. Toledo also has a magnificently designed cathedral that you should visit if you have the time.
I have been to Madrid many times and with my family been to lots of pubs and restaurants. And what always stands out is the amazing atmosphere and buzz you get from the city. However, this was the first time that I went with my friends and was old enough to drink. The nightlife is incredible in Madrid. It was such a pleasant surprise as we were not expecting just how good It would be. Like a lot of other cities, I would recommend signing up to a bar crawl online or at your hostel for the best exposure to what a night in Madrid has to offer. The pub crawl took us to some of the best bars and clubs in the city and made the night out one to remember.
Overall, Madrid is such a wonderful city and I would recommend anyone to go. Whether it be for a weekend or more, you will not run out of things to do. I can guarantee there’s something for you there. If you like the chilled atmosphere, Madrid can give you that. If you like a city on the move Madrid is one of the best. All in all, Madrid makes my top three cities that I have visited.