Madrid, the sensuous capital city of Spain, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan metropolis with a rich history, world-class museums, stunning architecture, and a thriving culinary scene. The town is situated in the heart of Spain, at an altitude of 650 meters above sea level, and is home to over 3.3 million people. Madrid has a temperate climate with hot summers and cool winters, making it an ideal destination to visit anytime.
Madrid’s long and fascinating history dates back to the 9th century when the Emir of Córdoba founded it. Over the centuries, the city was ruled by various empires, including the Romans, Visigoths, and Moors, before finally becoming the capital of the Kingdom of Spain in 1561. The city has since become a cultural and political centre known for its vibrant street life, music, art, and dance.
Where to stay
Madrid offers a diverse range of accommodations to suit every budget and taste. For luxury travellers, there are several high-end hotels, such as the Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques, a five-star hotel located in the historic centre of Madrid. The hotel boasts a spa, a rooftop terrace with a pool, and a gourmet restaurant.
For travellers seeking a more intimate and unique experience, Madrid has many boutique hotels, such as Only You Boutique Hotel Madrid. This hotel is in a converted 19th-century palace, featuring stylish, modern rooms with a retro-chic vibe. The hotel also has an eclectic cocktail bar and a contemporary Mediterranean cuisine restaurant.
What to do
Madrid is a city that offers a wealth of attractions for visitors. One of the must-see landmarks in the town is the Royal Palace of Madrid, which was built in the 18th century and is the official residence of the Spanish royal family. The palace is available to the public and offers guided tours of the opulent interior, including the Throne Room, the Royal Chapel, and the Armory.
Another popular attraction in Madrid is the Prado Museum, which houses one of the world’s finest collections of European art. The museum has over 8,000 works of art, including masterpieces by Goya, Velázquez, and El Greco. The museum also offers audio tours and guided tours in various languages.
For those who love green spaces, Madrid has several beautiful parks, including Retiro Park, one of the city’s largest parks. The park features a boating lake, formal gardens, and several sculptures, including the famous Crystal Palace. The Casa de Campo is another large park located on the outskirts of Madrid, which has a zoo, a theme park, and a cable car that offers spectacular city views.
Food & Drink
Madrid is renowned for its food and drink, with many options for all tastes and budgets. Traditional Spanish cuisine is a must-try when visiting the city, and several excellent restaurants serve authentic dishes.
One of Madrid’s most famous traditional dishes is the Cocido, a hearty stew made with chickpeas, meat, and vegetables. Casa Carola is a popular restaurant serving this dish and other traditional Spanish dishes in a cosy and welcoming atmosphere.
For those who prefer gourmet cuisine, Madrid has several Michelin-starred restaurants, such as DiverXO, which has three Michelin stars and offers an innovative and creative menu with Asian and Spanish influences. Another excellent restaurant is La Terraza del Casino, which has two Michelin stars and provides a contemporary and experimental menu created by renowned chef Paco Roncero.
In addition to the food, Madrid is also known for its lively bar scene, with many bars and clubs open until the wee hours of the morning. For a classic Madrid experience, head to a taberna, a traditional bar serving drinks and tapas. One of the oldest tavernas in Madrid is Casa Alberto, which has been open since 1827 and serves excellent vermouth and classic Spanish dishes.
How to get around
Madrid has an impressive public transport system, with a network of buses, metro lines, and trains that can take you to all corners of the city. The metro system is convenient and efficient, with 12 lines and over 300 stations.
For those who prefer to explore the city on foot, several walking tours offer a unique and informative way to see the sights. For example, the Madrid City Tour offers several different routes, including a historical tour, a tapas tour, and a tour of the city’s most famous landmarks.
When to visit
Madrid is a city that can be visited year-round, with each season offering its unique attractions and events. The summer months are the busiest and hottest, with temperatures often reaching over 30°C. However, this is also the time when the city comes alive with festivals and events, including the San Isidro festival, which celebrates the patron saint of Madrid with bullfights, concerts, and processions.
The spring and autumn months are milder and offer a more comfortable climate for exploring the city. This is also when many cultural events occur, including the International Festival of Jazz and the Madrid Book Fair.
Madrid can be chilly and wet in the winter, but the city is still full of charm and character, with several Christmas markets and decorations.
Madrid is a city that has something to offer for every type of traveller, whether you are interested in history, culture, food, or nightlife. With its vibrant street life, stunning architecture, and world-class museums, Madrid is a destination that should not be missed. From the luxury hotels to the traditional tabernas, Madrid is a place that will leave you wanting more, and it will surely be a trip you will never forget.
Main image: Die Einkaufsstraße Gran Via in Madrid, Spanien, bei Sonnenuntergang By moofushi, Adobe Stock