We’ll be in Madrid for 4 nights this Spring. We plan to visit the main museums and markets. But would love ideas for particular sites or experiences you’ve had. We love wandering around and visiting off beat sites. We’re not looking for day trips as we’ll be going to Toledo and elsewhere later. Thanks!
We toured the bull ring pretty interesting behind the scenes look
I think the Buen Retiro park when people are out strolling over the weekend is a highlight. The Plaza Santa Ana area with Cafe Central jazz club (if you like that sort of thing) is a real highlight. Calle de Huertas pedestrian boulevard. I really enjoy just walking around the city. The general area between the Prado and the Royal Palace is a good corridor to walk. I am sure Rick's book will have some good walks.
I really enjoyed my day trip from Madrid to Segovia. Toledo is more enjoyable and has the sites to do one or two nights, but if you can't, I would consider a day trip to Toledo a must.
We loved the Devour food tours. We took the tapas and history tour and not only learned about how best to experience the tapas culture, but some of the local history. Here is the link if you are interested: https://madridfoodtour.com.
Suggestions for experiences in Madrid:
- Walking tour with www.ogotours.com. Great introduction to Madrid!
- Hemingway self guided walking tour. See route @ www.gypsy.com. Visit one of his haunts (Restaurant Botin)
- Strolling various Plazas in the evening-- The vibe of Puerto Del Sol, the magic of Plaza Mayor and Plaza Ana.
- Have Churros and chocolate @ Chocolateria San Gines.
- Mercado San Miguel: pick up some lunch items & picnic outside weather permitting. We went there especially for the wonderful dried figs.
- El Cortes ingles for reasonable food, Sangria & view.
- Tour the Royal Palace. Have lunch at an outdoor cafe across from there. Wish I could remember the name! We met a couple sitting next to us who we saw in Toledo the next day at the Jewish Synagogue.
- Can't beat the beauty of El Retiro Park on a lovely day!
- Reina Sofia Museum and Museo Nacional Del Prado.
Enjoy Madrid's vibrant culture!
A couple places few people visit are the Puerta de Toledo and Puente de Toledo. (Gate and bridge) They are not terribly far from the Plaza Mayor but it is a walk. Also, Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida. It has some frescos by Francisco Goya and he was interred there for a while. For something a little quirky, the Rana de Suerte (lucky frog) sculpture on a corner by the Christopher Columbus monument. If you’re a Don Quixote and Sancho Panza fan, then visit the Plaza de Espana.
I liked the Botanical Gardens next to the Prado. By Madrid I was getting building weary, so green space became important. I also agree Segovia is a great day trip. As it is in the mountains, depending when in Spring, check the weather forecast and temps. I will go further to say take the slow direct train from Atocha Station, to see the little villages, buzzer stop only train stations, and a slower pace. Toledo needs more than a day trip, but go anyway. Oh, and just visit the Atocha Station. It is almost a vonservatory with gardens, fish and turtles (and the odd misplaced sparrow)
I found out my last evening in town that there was an Alphonse Mucha exhibit, so I attended. It is in an old palace that for a time was a disco and now an exhibit hall. I loved the Mucha exhibit, but the building - the Palacio Gaviria - had this old world faded glamour that appealed. Check out what might be showing there. It gets good reviews.
In addition to the famous museums, I really liked the Museo Sorolla. It's Joaquín Sorolla's former house; the outside has an Andalusian-style courtyard, and the inside is filled with his paintings. It's outside the center (Google Maps helped me find the way from the metro station). I went on free day and it wasn't too crowded, so I'll bet it's pretty empty at other times.
I also agree with the recommendations of Mercado San Miguel and Parque Retiro.
I liked the walk in Rick's book, around La Latina. You can also walk other neighborhoods, like Chueca (gay) and Salamanca (purring with wealth).
We did this tour on day 3 and learned so much. https://madridfoodtour.com/tours/tour/huertas-neighborhood-food-and-market-tour/ Our only disappointment was we hadn't done it earlier since it gave us a much better sense of both the food and the neighborhood.
Also, we heard of and then tracked down Motteau a tiny (3 tables) but perfect neighborhood bakery with a great back story. Calle de San Pedro, 9, 28014 Madrid, Spain. Open Tuesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, 4:30pm to 8:00pm, Saturday 10:30am – 3pm. Closed Sunday and Monday. Metro Antón Martín or Atocha (both on Line #1).
And then we went there every single day. Honestly, I didn't love Madrid but if I went back it would be to have lemon tart from Motteau every single day.
I liked the Naval Museum (golden age of exploration . . . ). Take passports for entry, it's under the auspices of the Spanish Navy.
we enjoyed strolling El Rastro market. Every Sunday in La Latina area, just south of Plaza Mayor. Good souvenir shopping!
we found the royal palace a real surprise, far better than 'similar' places we have visited in europe before. we were there in December 2018.
Madrid has some great evening scenes. Mercado de San Miguel after dark emits a lovely glow from within its all glass exterior. Plaza de Santa Ana is very central and very lively after dark. Very close from there is perhaps our favorite scene, just wandering in the area around Calle de la Cruz, not far from Puerta del Sol - there's a lovely, tangled mess of narrow streets around there where the buildings all seem to have a very Spanish architectural flair and where you will find endless choices for tapas places, bars and traditional sit down restaurants. Eat late (10 pm) like the locals and find a great evening scene and make it yours - that was one of the things my wife and I enjoyed most about Madrid.
The Royal Palace was my favorite palace, when compared to Versailles, Windsor, Kensington, Blenheim. It is prettier and the size is more manageable-I could actually imagine living there.
Thank you all for the wonderful ideas. Can’t wait to visit many of them.