The Spanish capital is not all hustle and bustle; nibble tapas in a cobbled square, visit ancient churches, or relax in one of Madrid’s spacious parks.
Madrid is a city of contrasts where old meets new and quick meets slow. From street performers and old-time cafés to high-end concert halls and fancy restaurants, there really is something for everyone to explore here – and that’s before you include the beautiful palaces, churches, galleries and museums that are dotted about the metropolis.
Madrid boasts three world-renowned art museums all within a stone’s throw of each other, the so-called “Golden Triangle of Art”. The Prado Museum boasts an enormous collection and can take a day to explore on its own. This is where you’ll find the works of some of Spain’s home-grown masters, like Velázquez and Goya, although it features art from all over the world. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum was once the private collection of an aristocrat but this range of works spanning some seven centuries is now open to the public. The last corner of the triangle, the Reína Sofia Museum, is a true gem offering a historical perspective on important modern and contemporary trends in art.
If old buildings are more up your street, there are plenty of them to be found in Madrid too. You'll see a lot of different architectural styles just walking around the city, but you might like to head to the Royal Palace for a guided tour through a history of the Spanish royal family's extravagant taste, or else to the Almudena Cathedral to soak up an original blend of ancient and modern flavours.
Madrid’s City Hall is also worth a look, and guided tours are available here too. From here you won’t be far from the cobbled Plaza Mayor and its high-end boutiques.
If you feel like getting away from the city streets and finding some green space, there are a number of options. El Retiro is probably the most interesting; here you'll find architectural monuments and statues, as well as street performers, each more innovative than the last in their efforts to attract your attention.
After your trip to the park, head over to El Rastro, the flea market, where you can catch a glimpse into the lives of the Madrileños and you’ll find almost anything under the sun for sale.
However you decide to spend your days in Madrid, remember there’s always a table laden with tapas and a cold beer waiting for you at the end. ¡Chin-chin!