Please sign in to post.

Madrid the first of June

We are planning a 7 day trip the first of June to Madrid with a day trip to Toledo. We plan to spend 1 night in Toledo. We decided against city hopping so that we could leisurely enjoy the museums and other sites that Madrid has to offer.

My questions?

  1. Good places to eat paella in Madrid?
  2. Good places for tapas?
  3. Time it takes to see major attractions (museums, palace), will they be crowed at this time?
  4. Any suggestions of other things we should not miss?
  5. Any suggestions to make our trip more enjoyable?
  6. We live in the south with 90 degree days and high humidity from May through September. How will this compare to the first week in June in Madrid?

Sondra

Posted by
18 posts

Hi Sondra,

What a fabulous time you will have in Spain! My husband and I were there this past June as well and it was one of THE best vacations we ever had. We started in Granada and were there a couple of days to enjoy the city and their jewel, the Alhambra and then took the train to Madrid for the rest of our time in Spain.

This is just my opinion, but 6 days in Madrid is a lot. I know you are counting on one extra day for a side trip to Toledo, but I would pack in as much as you can while you are there. Spain is one of the most beautiful places on earth and although Madrid is fabulous (I lived there for a couple of years many moons ago), I would recommend you add in additional side trips...you will find that you can still probably see everything you want in Madrid. I would encourage you to do a day trip to El Escorial (home of the Spanish Inquisition) and Valle de los Caidos (a memorial to the victims of the Spanish Civil War). The train ride is about 25 minutes and it is an experience you will never forget. I would also highly recommend a day trip to Segovia. The Alcazar is magnificent and so worth the trip (we spent the entire day exploring this gorgeous castle).

With regard to Madrid, we walked from one extreme to the other and loved it. We did the walking tour that Rick has carefully laid out in his book and it was fantastic. We covered absolutely everything he mentioned (Gran Via, Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, etc. etc.). We walked to the Royal Palace and enjoyed about 4 hours exploring everything it had to offer. While we were looking through our book, a young lady asked us if we found it to be a helpful tool (a resounding "yes" from us!)...it turns out that she works for his company and was there to gather updates for the newest version of his Spain volume (talk about a small world!). After lunch, we walked to the Retiro Park and enjoyed the afternoon people watching and soaking up the sun (don't miss the Crystal Palace).

Another day, we took in both the Prado and Reina Sofia museums. We didn't encounter any lines, but that is because we purchased the Madrid card which let us avoid the lines altogether. I would just say that if you purchase it, remember that the clock starts ticking the moment you use it. You will want to plan out your activities so that you get the most out of it (you can buy it for a single day or more). After the museums, we then walked back over to the Retiro Park and had a lovely afternoon picnic there.

You MUST have chocolate y churros. Imagine hot chocolate with the consistency of a thick pudding and fried dough...to die for!!! You can get this anywhere, but I would especially recommend Chocolateria San Gines...they are a an institution! Churros are fantastic, but I prefer the Porras (they are the same, but a fatter and more delicious version of the churros (I bet you cannot tell how much I love them :-).

If you are still exploring where to stay, I cannot say enough wonderful things about Room Mate hotel. They have 3 locations in Madrid and are perfectly situated so that you are close to everything. We stayed at Room Mate Laura and it was phenomenal! The staff were so helpful and kind and the breakfast for 8 euros is a really good bargain.

With regard to weather, I would say pack a light sweater or jacket (I took a sweater and a denim jacket to alternate and it was all I needed). We are from Tucson, and used to the wonderful dry heat (I truly love our weather!). It was in the low to mid 70s and pretty chilly in the morning, but by noon I was able to take off my sweater and go sleeveless. Pack an umbrella just in case. It only rained once and even then it didn't last too long.

Just so you know, everyone speaks amazing English! I do speak Spanish (having lived there myself), but I noticed that they frequently responded to me in English. I obviously did not retain my Castillian accent :-).

I hope you have a phenomenal time!!!

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you so much for your suggestions! Will definitely look into another day trip. I know in the past when we went to Paris and London/Scotland (spent a week at each)that we spent so much time going from place to place that we did not have time to just enjoy our surroundings. We are big into museums and plan to go to the main three, the palace, botanical gardens and would like to see some of the architecture. Is the crystal palace different from the royal palace? We are not into bull fighting or flamenco dancing. We are so looking forward to our trip.
Sondra

Posted by
18 posts

Hey Sondra,

Yes, the Crystal Palace and the Royal Palace are separate structures. The Royal Palace is gorgeous and ornate beyond belief. The Crystal Palace is located in the Retiro Park and is just a really lovely structure to admire both inside and outside. There is absolutely nothing in it, but it is enchanting nonetheless.

I am not into bloodshed of any animals, so bullfights are out for me as well. Since you are lovers of art, you may want to spend the majority of a day at the Prado. I know this is terrible to say, but apart from Las Meninas and Guernica, a couple of hours was more than enough for me. I enjoyed the Reina Sofia museum much more. They were having a Dali exhibition which was very interesting.

I was a bit of an anomaly in Spain as I don't eat meat or seafood (my husband LOVES both, so he was in heaven), but I was very content with what they consider to be tapas food...tortilla a la Espanola (potato omelette). I think I ate it almost every day and never got tired of it.

Honestly, we did so much walking during the day that we were "too pooped to pop" and just enjoyed our hotel at night, reading up on what we would do next. I hope you have a phenomenal time!!!

Maria ()"o)

Posted by
11798 posts

Pealla isn't really a Madrid dish. You can find people who will serve it, but it's similar to ordering Creole food in Baltimore.

We didn't find any Tapas we were overjoyed with in Madrid. Our favorite ended up being the Bull bar Rick talks about in Plaza Mayor. If you go, order drinks and let them give you a tapa with each drink. We ordered drinks and tapas and ended up with more than we wanted and paying twice as much. A couple we met from Mexico there did fine just ordering a drink at a time.

The Prado is the major attraction. I'd give it a full day or parts of several days. It is literally the only museum my wife has ever said she wished we had more time to see. After the Prado, Temple Debod is a good visit - but no more than an hour. The Cathedral is new and uninspiring. The palace is just that, but much newer (less history) than almost any other palace in Europe.

Madrid has great green spaces (one benefit of being a new city) and wide streets. In June you should really be able to enjoy strolling and sunning in the parks.

We were there at the end of April and it was freezing, but were told that was the result of an unusually cold winter that refused to go away. June will probably be really nice.

Posted by
5373 posts

Sondra, since you like museums, consider an hour or two at the Palacio des Bellas Artes, #4 after the big 3. Although often overlooked, it has low admission, zero crowds, and quite a few important paintings among the hundreds on show. Separate admission to the Print cabinet, shortest walk from Plaza Mayor.