We always book a trip to Madrid around this time of the year. The city is bustling with life and in festive mode. The pretty streets are illuminated and there is lovely atmosphere all around. Alas this year it was not meant to be. With Covid we felt it safer not to travel. But I do miss visiting one of my favourite cities. Thankfully I did get to visit Valencia earlier on this year, just before lock down. Well, hopefully we’ll get back to some form of normality soon and be able to travel safely once again.
If you are planning on visiting Madrid I have rounded up the 6 must sees. Even if it’s a just quick trip, Madrid is so easily accessible that you can do most of these attractions in a short time. If it’s a longer trip all the better!
1. Gran Via
Built in the early 20th century Gran Via is Madrid’s most iconic street. Known as the ‘broadway’ of Madrid, this is where all the theatres and shows are. If you love musicals then Lion King is definitely a must see. Most of the art deco cinemas along this avenue have been kept alive by being transformed into retail outlets. Gran Via’s Zara is housed in a historical gem, as is Primark and many other outlets. Don’t forget to look up and admire the facades. You’ll see the most impressive statues perched on top of these majestic buildings. Landmarks like the Metrópolis and Casino are truly impressive architectural gems. When I’m on a short trip I always like to choose a Hotel in this area.
2. Retiro Park
Parque del Buen Retiro as it is known in Spanish, is one of the most beautiful parks in Europe. A peaceful haven within this bustling city. Popular with locals and visitors alike, here you can spend an hour or so, or even a full day if you wish. Marvel at the sculptured marble statues as you stroll through the beautifully landscaped gardens. Discover Madrid’s rich past as you wander past the impressive monuments and fountains. You can even hire a small boat and row leisurely down the lake. Make sure you don’t miss the Crystal Palace located within the park. An impressive structure built in 1887 to house exotic plants. It is now used to host temporary exhibitions. The park is dotted with cafeterias where you can enjoy a coffee, lunch or a quick snack.
3. Debod Temple
Yes, there is an authentic Egyptian temple in the heart of Madrid. This temple dates back to 2BC and was gifted to Spain by the Egyptian government back in the 60’s. It was deconstructed for transportation and reconstructed onsite keeping to the original orientation. Debod temple is located in Parque Oeste on the western side of Madrid. This park is also known for its beautiful Rose garden. The temple itself is surrounded by water making for the most Instagram worthy photos. Try visiting as late in the day as possible. Sunset is the ideal time to witness the most magical scene.
4. Paseo del Arte
A definite treat for all the art lovers out there. This avenue is just beautiful. Here you will find Spain’s top 3 Art Museums. The Prado museum which houses the most comprehensive collection of Spanish Art. Masterpieces dating from the 13th century can be found at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum. Spain national museum the Reina Sophia houses collections by the great masters Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali as well as contemporary works. Ongoing exhibitions are held in all museums throughout the year.
5. Chocolateria de San Gines
One of Madrid’s oldest chocolateries, Chocolateria de San Gines is the place for Churros. If you have never tried them, Churros are a traditional dessert made of fried dough served with thick hot chocolate for dipping. You can enjoy this delicious treat indoors or outside on the terrace. The interior has not changed much through the years. White marble tables, wood paneling and velvet seats decorate the ground floor and lower level of the outlet. This famous brand has its sites on going global with outlets already opened in Asia and South America.
6. Flamenco Show
The rich culture of Flamenco is popular with locals and tourists alike. Mostly held in cosy underground venues offering a menu alongside the show. Originating in the Andalucia region, this art form is expressed through a variety of forms. Vocals, guitar, dance and other instruments are combined to present the most fiery show. All of the top artists perform in the capital on a regular basis and are experts in their craft. For a truly authentic show and gastronomical experience at one of Madrid’s most popular venues visit Corral de la Morería. For a feast of the senses visit Torres Bermejas. The interior is a reproduction of the famous Arab fort by the same name in Granada.
Where to stay
- Hotel Emperador – Conveniently located in the heart of the city on Gran Via, this Hotel is most popular for the roof terrace and amazing views. The classic décor of the club suites offer a peaceful haven in this bustling city.
- Hotel Indigo – A hip Boutique Hotel just of Gran Via. The jewel toned interior of the rooms matches the vibrancy of the Madrid nightlife. Amenities include a seasonal rooftop infinity pool and fusion restaurant amongst others.
- Hotel Urso – This luxury Hotel & Spa is housed in a historical building right in the centre of Madrid. The sophisticated interior and beautiful terraces make for one relaxing stay. Their ‘gourmet spaces’ offer local Madrilena cuisine using fresh produce from the local market.
- The Principal – A cosmopolitan Boutique Hotel located just off Gran Via. This calm retreat offers all the amenities to make your stay complete. Onsite you’ll find a fine dining restaurant run by a renowned chef and cocktail bar with panoramic views.