Madrid, Spain’s largest city and its capital, is one of the top travel destinations in Europe. I have never been there before, but I felt like I knew it a little from pictures my friends and relatives shared it with me. A vibrant cosmopolitan city pulsing with life and overflowing with energy, that’s what I felt in my day trip to Madrid! I met up with my girlfriend @ninamclernon and took an early flight from Bergamo.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO:
- Plaza Mayor
The most famous in the city and the starting point for most tours, this plaza was once host to bullfights, markets, symphonies, tournaments, and even executions. Now it’s ringed with tourist shops, cafés, and restaurants. It’s a good place from which to indulge in some people-watching, offers some good (though overpriced) bars, and occasionally has concerts and events.
- Parque del Buen Retiro
This park located in the heart of Madrid is the place where people from all parts of the city gather to take in the nature, read, jog, listen to music or drink a cold beer at one of the open-air cafes. It was originally created as a royal park built in the reign of Philip IV and it was the place where royalty used to hang out. It a 320-acre park with 15,000 trees, abundant greenery, exhibition halls and palaces and of course, its focal point, the giant lake. El Retiro is not just a normal park like any others; you can visit the pond Estanque del Retiro to rent a rowboat. Then, maybe haggle with street vendors, find a snack, or stroll a garden pathway and relax! Next, make your way over to the Palacio de Cristal: A beautiful greenhouse-style pavilion made of glass, located in the center of the park.
- Palacio de Cristal
This building is right in the middle of Retiro park, and is one of the most iconic buildings you’ll find in Madrid. Made entirely in glass, you will be mesmerized by the image of the sunlight streaming through a glass creating an almost otherworldly vibe throughout the whole place. The building is surrounded by a small lake where frogs and ducks add to the fairytale vibe of the whole area.
- Puerta del Sol
It’s the most famous central square in Madrid, and is considered the nerve center of the city. Home to the famous bear statue, El Oso y el Madroño, which is the heraldic symbol of Madrid, is pedestrian friendly and all the nearby parks, shops, bars, restaurants and museums are super accessible from there. There are a variety of food options here, but be wary of tourist places trying to overcharge you!
- Mercado San Miguel
Close to Puerta del Sol, about 5 minutes walking, you can find this beautiful traditional iron structured market, the only one of its kind surviving to the present day.
It will take you through a journey of Spain’s gastronomy scene as it’s one of Spain’s most important markets that reflect the culinary culture of the country. You’ll not only find dozens of stalls with different types of food, but also courses, launches, fairs, wine bars and of course – delicious tapas! Take some time to shop and try amazing Spanish foods.
WHERE TO STAY:
A large, super-hi-tech four-star hotel with chic contemporary design in uptown Madrid, near the airport. The hotel is just off the Paseo de la Castellana in the business area, which means you’ll have to use buses, taxis and the metro to get to the downtown sights and shops (10-20 minutes).
The 431 rooms are spacious, comfortable and full of light with white, streamlined furniture. All rooms have great beds, a good desk chair and Nespresso machines or kettles. Bathrooms are partially open plan with blinds for more privacy if required. Two floors have rooms with baths, but most just have rain showers, which are blissfully straightforward.
Padre Damián, 23, Madrid, 28036, Spain.
WHERE TO EAT:
Do not miss Celso y Manolo the perfect mix between the best of the traditional tapas made with good raw material and a few masterful touches of contemporary cuisine.
Chuletón de tomate de huesca con 6 cosas ricas
A juicy and enormous ecological tomato, of those that taste like tomato, cut into thick slices and seasoned with avocado, papaya, mango, red onion, dried tomato, cilantro, and organic olive oil. A fresh and simple dish, but surprising and full of flavor, which may be the best of the menu.
Taquitos de chuletón
Here the meat is first class and comes with a designation of origin: these taquitos are made of ripe rib-eye of a “Frisona Cántabra” cow, and they are really tender and full of flavor (perhaps the only problem is that the ration is a bit scarce).
The restaurant is walking distance from Gran Via but still tucked away from the main streets. I loved the attention to detail and design. Ambiance is intimate and noise level is great for family or a date. I recommend it!
Have you ever been to Madrid? Do you have any place to recommend me on my next trip? Write me in the comments down below!
I hope you enjoyed reading my guide about Madrid!