Madrid Tourism

Hidden Corners of Madrid Cultural Heritage

There are so many ways to experience Madrid. That is one of the beauties of traveling. You get to see new places and meet different cultures in your own unique way. Your own perception and experience is what defines your trip and helps you find out more about the place you are visiting. As you are looking at the map and deciding what to visit, think about how you can organize your visit to create a personalized experience with landmarks that enable you to learn more about the cultural heritage of the Spanish capital.

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We would like to help you discover hidden corners of Madrid cultural heritage by suggesting interesting places to visit. Sites such as the Plaza Mayor and the Prado Museum are undoubtedly must-see places in Madrid. They are famous landmarks no one should miss, but the city actually has many other not-so-known sites that enable you to immerse into the local culture and explore its rich heritage.

 

The Auditorium of Universidad Complutense

As the museum with long history and tradition, Complutense has been an important part of Madrid life. The auditorium is a building that has been on the list of Spanish properties of cultural interest since 1980.

 

Casita del Príncipe (El Escorial)

Translated as the House of Prince, this is the place designed under the heavy influence of neoclassicism. It was a private residence of the heir to the Spanish throne, and it was constructed in the 1770s. Besides the impressive architecture, the landmark also has an amazing garden, but perhaps the most famous feature is the Sala de Porcelana, located on the upper floor of the residence, with a collection of jasperware.

 

Puente de Segovia

The Puente de Segovia is another landmark you should explore during your visit. It has been built during the late 1580s over the Manzanares river in Madrid.

 

Puente de Toledo

This bridge is another site worth seeing as its baroque style make it a true representative of Madrid’s architecture from the first half of the 18th century. Due to wonderfully arranged lights, visiting this bridge in the evening or at night is a real spectacle.

 

The Temple of Debod

This building is an ancient Egyptian monument located near the Parque del Oeste in Madrid. The building, which is now a famous historical monument is actually a gift from Egypt to Spain during the 1960s. It is indeed an impressive experience to visit such a landmark that represents an entirely different culture. The temple itself dates back to the beginning of the 2nd century.

 

Palacio de Velázquez

Palacio de Velázquez or the Velázquez Palace is located in El Retiro Park in Madrid. It is an exhibition hall which is now used as an art and crafts gallery. The building itself is listed as Spanish property of cultural interest. It is one of few surviving buildings that were constructed in this area, alongside the Palacio de Cristal, which is a far more famous landmark in El Retiro Park.

 

Terrazas del Manzanares

This archaeological zone is worth the visit as the place which holds more than a hundred of archaeological and paleontological sites. Its cultural value is undeniable because these sites provide a perfect glimpse into Madrid’s ancient times and cultural heritage each epoch has left. The area is located on the banks of the Manzanares River.

 

Puerta de Toledo

This site used to have such an important role in the city life. It was one of the entrances into the city. Furthermore, it was one of the last city gates to be built, which is why it dates to the first half of the 19th century. The name has been chosen as the gate allows access to the city center through Toledo Streets after crossing the Toledo bridge.

 

The Bank of Spain

The building of the Bank of Spain is an impressive, eclectic architecture construction that has a central location, facing some of the most essential Madrid landmarks including the Plaza de Cibeles, the Paseo del Prado, the Calle de Alcala, etc. It has a chamfer clock on the top as well as the coat of arms on the north facade.

 

Teatro de la Zarzuela

The theatre dates back to the 19th century, but it endured several closings and reconstructions since it was first opened. Teatro de la Zarzuela is the most famous theatre in Madrid dedicated to Spanish lyric.

 

Teatro Real

Opera house in Madrid is located at the Plaza de Oriente, and it represents a landmark worth visiting both for the interior and the exterior. Its construction lasted for most of the first part of the 19th century. Several reconstructions, including the most recent one in the 1990s, were done to bring out the original design and highlight the cultural value of such a construction and predominant neoclassicism and eclecticism styles in architecture.

 

The Church of Our Lady of Montserrat

Church of Our Lady of Montserrat is a Catholic church in Baroque style. Its construction was completed in the 18th century, and it represents a landmark which may not be as popular but certainly is an important piece of Spanish cultural life. Intricate details on the main facade and breath-taking interior of the church are features that make it a valuable site in both religious and cultural sense.

 

The Collegiate Church of San Isidro

Another religious monument that represents a cultural heritage in the life of Madrid is the Collegiate church of San Isidro, built in the 17th century. It is one of the most representative buildings of the time heavily influenced by the Baroque style and following models from Rome with a single ship, lateral chapels, and other details that adorn the church interior. Since several major renovations took place during the centuries, the church interior also shows the influence of Neoclassical style, mainly with the altarpiece, even though the goal was to keep the original design as much as possible.

 

The Museum of Romanticism

Madrid has a lot of museum, and you will probably end up visiting at least one of them. However, the Museum of Romanticism is unlikely to cross your mind as a place to visit, as it is one of those hidden corners that belong to the cultural heritage of Madrid. Romanticism is an artistic and literary movement introduced at the beginning of the 19the century, and this museum brings you the spirit and the creativity of this particular period through its collection which includes housing items, furniture, decorative objects, paintings, and textiles. It also has a miniature collection with more than 250 pieces.

 

The Palace of Liria

Constructed in the 18th century, the Palace of Liria is said to be the largest private residence in Madrid along with its gardens. It is one of the most famous mansions in the Madrid aristocracy. It also includes an art collection, which you can see during organized visits and tours.

 

Campo del Moro

Campo del Moro is a historic garden located in Madrid. The construction was finished in the late 19th century, and it occupies about twenty hectares of the property from the Royal Palace to the Paseo de la Virgen del Puerto. The main character is the steep slope, which makes a landscape with ups and downs. Having in mind the time since the creation of this garden was an idea to the actual construction, this landscape perfectly reflects how the planning circulated until the final design was turned into reality. The garden has a rectangular shape and several entrance doors.

 

The Fuentecilla

The Fuentecilla is a small monumental fountain located at the crossroads of two streets, the street of Arganzuela and the Toledo Street. It was designed as a quadrangular pilaster with the sculptures of a bear and a griffin. Other ornaments are also included, as well as a representation of a lion, which symbolizes the Spanish monarchy.

 

Casa Museo Lope de Vega

This historic home dates back to the 17th century. Spanish playwright and poet spent last 20 years of his life in this house. Its interior is carefully displayed so that many things from his time are preserved. Guided tours are available, which allow you to experience the recreated atmosphere of the house and the period in which he lived. Besides his life, this tour also shows you the way people lived in Madrid during the late 17th century. This is informative and interesting for the visitors and a perfect way to experience the culture of the time.

 

Parque de El Capricho

This park represents one of the natural heritage of Madrid. It is not a popular park, but it is one of the most beautiful ones in Madrid. It contains artistic wealth with numerous statues, temples, fountains, and small squares. The natural life includes a vast variety of spices, that shape the landscape of the garden. What is unusual about this park is the fact that there is a civil war shelter, 15 meters underground, which was built in the 1930s. Since the garden is a bit secluded, it was a strategic location to place this shelter here.

 

Museo del Traje

Museo del Traje is a museum devoted to fashion and costumes. Its impressive collection includes over 160 000 pieces of clothing and documents. These range from the Middle Ages to contemporary fashion and thus provide insights into how historical and cultural changes reflected in style throughout the centuries. It is certainly an exciting place to visit if you are curious to see how Spanish fashion has evolved and changed over the course of history. The museum is located in a delightful setting with the building that is surrounded by a beautiful courtyard with monuments and glass pavilions.

 

Hopefully, you did get to learn about some new hidden corners of the cultural heritage of Madrid. This should help you plan your visit and go beyond usual routes. Explore something more of Madrid and try out new hidden places you are not likely to find in popular guides. You would be surprised as to how these hidden gems can teach you about Spanish culture and historical events that shaped the city life. Ultimately, you get to experience the city of Madrid in an entirely new and unique way.

The Cultural Offer in Madrid

Over the years, we have been helping travelers from all over the world experience Madrid in a better, more comfortable way. As a renowned provider of apartments in Madrid, we have the first-hand experience of how travelers see the city and the challenges they might face once they first arrive. Wanting to help all travelers who first arrive in Madrid, we have started our series of guides, which have featured Madrid Travel Guide, Madrid Gastronomic Guide, as well as Madrid City Guide.

The next guide we want to share with you is a cultural guide. Here, you will find the landmarks that hold an exceptional value in the cultural life of the city, making it easier for you to choose the ones to visit.

 

Museums in Madrid

One of the things Madrid is mostly recognizable for are the museums. The city has a lot of museums you can visit, but most travelers choose to start with these.

 

The Prado Museum

With the finest works of European art and the pieces from the Spanish Royal Collection, this museum offers one of the largest collections and is the most visited museum in Spain.

Location: Paseo del Prado

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The Prado Museum in Madrid

The Reina Sofia Museum

This is a national museum that features collections of the most renowned Spanish artists together with an impressive art library.

Location: Calle Santa Isabel, 52

 

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Mainly based on the artworks from the privately-owned collection, this museum features contemporary art from Europe and America.

Location: Paseo del Prado, 8

 

The Museum of America

Spanish colonization of the continent has an important part in the country’s cultural heritage, hence the collection that features items brought from the American content during that period.

Location: Avenida de Los Reyes Católicos, 6

 

The Naval Museum

Offering a glimpse into the history of the Spanish Navy, the Naval Museum is a place that focuses on sharing historical heritage while educating the visitors.

Location: Paseo Prado 5

 

The Royal Palace of Madrid

Even though it is an architectural site you want to visit and admire its exterior, the Royal Palace actually features an indoor museum with beautiful design, luxurious furniture, and decorations that originate from the Spanish royals.

Location: Calle Bailen

 

The best way to plan your visit to one of these museums is to check out the website and find out the opening hours, entrance fee, and if the museum offers guided tours. Most of the museums offer free entrance on a particular day or period of the day, which is a great option to explore cultural offer in Madrid even if you are traveling on a budget.

If you want to find out more Madrid museums worth visiting, take a look at this article: Museums to Visit in Madrid.

 

Historical sights

 

Numerous historical sights are scattered around the center of Madrid, highlighting the cultural value of the past. Different epochs have left a trace that cannot be erased. The traces of everyday life, court life, as well as a general spirit of the time can be seen in those sights. Regardless if we talk about artistic expression, amazing craftsmanship or style, the cultural value of these sights is priceless.

 

Basilica de San Francisco El Grande

Built in the Neoclassical style, this Roman Catholic basilica is a representative of a style rich with murals and paintings. It is known to have the largest Christian dome except for the dome in Rome, which makes it quite extraordinary construction. It is built in the 18th century, with several restorations over the past few centuries.

Location: Calle San Buenaventura, 1

 

Palacio de Cibeles

This architectural sight is a part of the modern Spanish culture, being first opened in 1919. It has become an important monument and a part of city life, now serving as the seat of the Madrid City Council. It also offers a modern art exhibition inside the palace.

Location: Plaza Cibeles 1

 

The Neptune Fountain

Representing a blend of the religion and history, the Neptune Fountain is a part of the cultural heritage that still plays an important part in the life of the locals. It was built in the 18th century in honor of Neptune, God of the sea.

Location: Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo, s/n

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The Neptune Fountain in Madrid

The House Museum of Lope de Vega

The house of the well-known Spanish writer Lope de Vega is another part of the cultural offer in Madrid. The house is from the 16th century, and it now serves as a museum. The house is located in the part of the city which is known as Literary Quarter in Madrid. The guided tours are available for free but should be scheduled in advance.

Location: Calle Cervantes, 11

 

The Convent of Las Descalzas Reales

Translated as the Monastery of the Royal Barefooted, this sight is a royal monastery from the 16th century. Today it houses a museum with rarities such as artworks, portraits of the royal children, relics, tapestries, etc.

Location: Plaza de las Descalzas

 

Temple of Debod

The reason why this temple is a part of historical sights is precisely the fact that it represents the crossover between different cultures. With its distinguishable design, the Temple of Debod is not a landmark typical of the Spanish culture. In fact, it was a gift from Egypt, so the style is something unique for Madrid’s landscape. It is a remarkable piece of architecture that combines religious motives with the ancient Egyptian style.

Location: Calle Ferraz, 1

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Temple of Debod at sunset

The Espacio

Designed as a display of the 21st architecture, the Espacio is a unique building that brings modern architecture to the spotlight. It combines the artistic style of the interior with the exhibition of the technology and its rapid development throughout the 20th century.

Location: CalleFuencarral, 3

 

The National Library of Spain

Not only is it the largest library in Spain, but it is also one of the largest libraries in the world with over 26 million items. These primarily include books, as well as other items such as manuscripts music, newspaper, etc. This makes the collection an endless source of information that has been gathered throughout the centuries. This way the cultural value of the past is preserved for the generations to come which can fully explore the life of the past hidden inside printed books. Exhibitions and guided tours are part of the activities available in the library.

Location: Paseo de Recoletos, 20-22

 

Estación de Chamberí

It is no accident that a metro stop is on the list of cultural activities. In fact, the metro ride taking you to Estación de Chamberí will prove to be an amazing cultural experience. The historic metro station from the early 1920s with its platform 0 has been closed since 1966. Now, it offers a historic experience with original ceramics, billboards and the furniture, that will take you back in time to see the origin of the Madrid Metro.

Location: Plaza de Chamberí, s/n

 

World Heritage Sights

A lot of World Heritage Sites are located in Spain, acknowledging the cultural and historical value of those sites. Three of them are located in Madrid area.

Monastery and Site of the Escorial

Its cultural value lies in the fact that it has been a residence of the royal family. Constructed in the 16th century, the Monastery and the site were meant to highlight the role of Spain and its culture.

Location: Av Juan de Borbón y Battemberg, s/n

 

Aranjuez Cultural Landscape

Another remnant of the royal life that has become a part of cultural heritage is the area around the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. The design of the Aranjuez Cultural Landscape spread throughout three centuries, but it represents an exclusive insight into the royal life. It introduces some innovative horticultural ideas, which have been opened to public in the 19th century.

Location: Aranjuez, a part of the Community of Madrid

 

University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares

The University of Alcalá was founded as a type of planned university city, a concept that has later been accepted as a model for universities in Europe and America. It was introduced in the 15th century in the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, perhaps the most famous person to bring Spanish literature to the global popularity.

Location: Plaza de San Diego, s/n

 

Other cultural activities

 

While the monuments and sights represent the most important part of the cultural offer in Madrid, you can find many other activities that will help you get to know the culture and the life of the locals. Make sure you check out the events scheduled in Madrid for the period during which you will be visiting and choose the ones to attend. Here are a couple of suggestions:

 

Gastorfestival

Organized for the ninth time in 2018, Gastrofestival Madrid is a perfect choice for all the gastronomy enthusiasts and those looking to explore the local cuisine in the original setting. A series of events supporting this festival includes food and wine tastings, lectures, discussions, workshops, guided tours, culinary training, etc. Numerous restaurants all over the city join this event offering these activities. Gastroculture is a part of the festival where the local museums also take part in the event. Exhibitions of the old kitchens, tastings of hot chocolate and other traditional Spanish dishes, as well as photography exhibitions are also part of the program that brings food and culture together for this festival.

 

Flamenco

It is impossible to talk about Madrid’s cultural offer without mentioning flamenco, the dance that has been identified with the nation with a good reason. Followed by the folkloric music from the Southern Spain, the style of flamenco impresses the people worldwide. Its popularity has grown tremendously, to the point that it is taught in many countries around the world. However, watching flamenco in Madrid is certainly an experience you will never forget. Not only does the dance and music represent a perfect blend of tradition, but the entire setting provides an immersive experience.

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Flamenco dance originated in Spain

Madrid Carnival

One of the most cheerful events, highly anticipated by the locals, Madrid Carnival is an event that brings together tradition, cultural heritage, and cultural life. The activities during the Carnival include fancy dress completion, music band performances and competition, colorful costumes worn by the participants, etc. The grand parade is the highlight of the Carnival. It starts from the Retiro Park and ends at the Plaza de Cibeles. The festival is organized in February with the cultural program that lasts five days.

 

Regardless of the time you choose to visit Madrid, you will find a lot of cultural activities in the city.

Tips for Traveling to Madrid

Most tourist arriving in Madrid for the first time are not sure what to expect. They have gone through all of the trouble of getting to the city, but one might become overwhelmed rather quickly, as there is so much to know about the city and so many things to see. If you want to learn a thing or two about how things work in Madrid, what to expect and what not to expect, you should keep reading this article. The tips about Madrid will surely make your traveling more enjoyable, and you will come prepared.

 

1. Knowing about transportation options can be quite handy

There are several ways to get to your destination in Madrid, and knowing some basic things about your transportation options will surely be handy. The Madrid Metro connects all of the central areas, and it is color coded so one can easily follow each route. Public buses are also commonly used for reaching destinations, but metro is known to be the quickest way, especially for longer routes.

Here are the options commonly used by tourists:

  • Single metro ticket – It costs €1.50 (5 stations) and €2 (10 or more stations). It is available at ticket offices or specialized machine located in front of each station.
  • Single bus ticket – It costs €1.50, bought at the driver.
  • Combined single ticket – It can be used for both types of transport around Madrid area, and it costs €3.
  • Metrobus card – It can be used for both metro and bus. It costs €12.20 and it can be used for ten journeys.
  • Tourist pass – Available for one, two, three, five or seven days, this ticket allows the unlimited number of rides using metro, bus, and train. Depending on the number of days, the card costs between €8.40 to €70.80.

For more information about tickets and ticket prices, it is best to check the official Madrid Metro website: https://www.metromadrid.es/es/index.html

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2. Book accommodation to get better rates

Madrid is a popular destination, so the rates are always higher during the peak season which lasts between May and October as well as during holiday season in winter. This means that the rest of the year is the best period to find cheap accommodation in Madrid. If you are on a budget, still, you want to make the most out of your travel, and you are looking for ways to keep the spending to a minimum when traveling, this is what you need to have in mind. Also, it is sometimes cheaper if you book accommodation in advance. Obviously, you cannot always plan everything too much in advance, but if there is a possibility to schedule the accommodation months before you are supposed to travel, it is best you do so.

 

3. Rent an apartment in Madrid for a more comfortable stay

We all know there are plenty of accommodation opportunities in a city such as Madrid. A diverse city such as the Spanish capital also offers quite a selection of different accommodation types, which can be suitable for many travelers. However, apartments in Madrid have been proven to be a perfect choice for various types of travelers, mainly because apartments provide a very comfortable stay. It does not mean that apartments are more expensive than other types of accommodation because they are comfortable. On the contrary, you can find a lot of cheap apartments in Madrid, so you will never have to compromise on the quality of the accommodation.

 

4. Mealtimes and what you should know about food

Unlike in some countries, where you can expect breakfast to be a big meal, Spaniards are known to have lunch as their main meal. This means that you can expect light breakfast to be served when eating out, while lunch will include quite a large portion. Typically, lunch is served between 1 pm and 4 pm, which is a bit later than some people are used to. Since you will probably end up eating a lighter breakfast, you might want to grab a quick snack before lunchtime. Dinner is also served rather late, usually after 8 pm or 9 pm.

Additional things to know about eating in Madrid:

  • Siesta – Generally known as the nap time, siesta might be unfamiliar custom to foreigners, but what it means is that most restaurants and cafes are closed between 5 pm and 8 pm. Sometimes other establishments, such as shops might be closed during the daily siesta time.
  • Tapa – This term is used for small appetizers usually served with wine in Madrid’s restaurants, taverns, and bars. Some people do not want to eat much in the evening and want a light dinner instead. If that is the case, eating tapas with drinks would be enough without the need to go out for a full-sized meal.
  • The menu of the day – Some restaurants offer a menu of the day during the workdays for lunch, most often between 1 pm and 4 pm. It is usually posted outside the restaurant. It is a great option if you want a good deal and to eat out at reduced prices. The menu of the day commonly consists of two plates, appetizer or soup, and the main dish. This menu often includes bread, desserts and even a glass of wine or beer, which makes it a great selection when eating out. The prices may be different from restaurant to restaurant, but what is safe to say is that the menu of the day is the most affordable option for eating lunch in the restaurant. It is much cheaper to order this menu than to order each of the items individually.

 

5. Tipping is not expected

Tips are not included in the price of meals and drinks, but they are not always expected, like in some countries. However, if you plan on eating again in the same restaurant, you could leave a tip.

 

6. Buy in supermarkets to save some money

You can buy a lot of things in the supermarket, such as bread, cheese, desserts, fruits and vegetables, wine, etc. Basically, everything you need to have a good meal is available in the supermarkets, and it is much cheaper. Having in mind that it is the capital city, there are supermarkets open even on Sundays, as well as during the night, which means that there is always an option to prepare your meals instead of eating out. This is a great option if you are staying in an apartment in Madrid. In the Madrid apartment you will have a kitchen where you can easily prepare meals. Additionally, if the budget is tight, this is an amazing way to reduce your costs. Instead of eating out all the time, try some home-made meals instead.

 

7. Try to learn some basic Spanish phrases

To be honest, no one really expects you to learn Spanish just for that one travel to Madrid. However, it is recommended that you still learn at least a couple of basic Spanish phrases. Knowing these phrases will save you so much time and effort when finding your way around the city. Use the internet while planning the trip and check out the commonly used phrases for travelers. Spanish is relatively easy to read, but you can always use an online tool to read the text out for you so you can repeat and practice. Do not worry if your pronunciation is not perfect. The important thing is that you can understand some Spanish and you can respond.

 

8. Things to know about sales tax refund

Sales tax is called IVA in Spanish. Non-EU residents are eligible for a tax refund if the purchase was at least 90 Euros in one store. To be able to claim the sales tax refund, you should look for stores that have a tax free sign. Then, during your purchase, you will receive an invoice which includes the price and the tax. You will need the invoice(s) and a refund form filled out, which you will then drop at the airport at places specially assigned to accept these forms. The refund will be paid to your credit card, usually up to two months after you have submitted the forms.

 

9. Visit museums when they are free

Visiting museums is one of the highlights when traveling to Madrid. It is impossible to visit the city without visiting at least one of them but can be costly. This is why it is worth knowing that each museum has one day or a period of the day when they offer free entrance. Simply choose the museum you want to visit, go to its website and check under entrance fees. This tip for traveling to Madrid can help you save money but still enjoy the beautiful masterpieces that are part of the collections featured in the local museum.

 

10. Exchanging money in Madrid

The best solution is to bring Euros when arriving in Madrid. Alternatively, you can use your credit card to pay for things or take cash from an ATM. In this case, you will face the lowest exchange rates. If you choose to go to a bank or an exchange office, you will usually pay higher rates when exchanging money to Euros.

 

11. Tap water is a safe choice

Unlike many other large cities, tap water in Madrid is completely safe to drink. You can still choose to buy bottled water, but there is not much of a difference, apart from that you will save a lot if you drink tap water.

 

12. Free tours and sightseeing

This trend of free tours is growing in popularity around the European cities, and Madrid is no exception. The best place to look for tours (including the free ones) is the internet. You can see the exact schedule and location from which the tour starts so that you can plan your sightseeing of Madrid accordingly. Most often you can get a city map at a tourist office or at reception, which allows you to plan the sightseeing on your own. Planning this way has so many perks. When you plan individual sightseeing, you get to plan at your own pace, enabling you to see everything you want and to spend any amount of time you want exploring different sights.

 

13. Driving around Madrid

Although driving your own car offers so many perks and it is generally very convenient, the reason why most tourists choose against it is the fact that parking is quite expensive. Some accommodation providers might offer free parking when staying with them, but this is not a general rule, so you might end up paying a lot of money for parking if you want to spend time in Madrid and have a car while you are there.

 

14. Health and travel insurance

All the EU citizens are entitled to free or discounted treatments in state hospitals. You will need to have European Health Insurance Card to be entitled to the treatment. Even so, you can still use your travel insurance if you have got one.

 

15. Explore Madrid on foot

Finally, make sure you spend plenty of time walking around Madrid. You will come across beautiful historic places as the central area has historically been the place from which the city evolved. And if you choose an apartment in Madrid as your accommodation for this travel, walking around Madrid’s central area will be quite convenient. That is the main benefit of apartments in Madrid. All of the most important landmarks, best restaurants, and bars, everything is within walking distance when you stay in the city center.

5 Days in Madrid: What to Visit

Planning a city trip can become a bit of challenge. There are so many things to do on such short notice, so if you are unable to organize everything right, you will be at risk of missing some important sights. This is one of the main reasons why people turn to travel agencies for help. They want a ready-made itinerary that will help them see as much as possible during their trip. However, with the amount of resources available online, organizing your own trip has never been easier.

In this article, we will show you how to spend five days in Madrid to get the most out of your stay.

What to Visit – Day 1 in Madrid

For the first day, we suggest a couple of activities that will be quite easy to organize and handle, having in mind that you might arrive late during the day and you might be travel from the trip. This is why you want to focus on the area near your apartment in Madrid. We suggest the Plaza Mayor as the main landmark of the day, with some extra activities in the nearby area.

Get to the city

Sometimes you cannot be flexible with the time you get to the city because there is only one flight which arrives at a particular time. However, whenever it is possible, always choose a morning flight. This way, you get to the city early, you drop by your accommodation, such as an apartment in Madrid, and then you have the rest of the day to start your adventure.

Have lunch at the city center

We all know that traveling can be tiring, especially if you are coming from a distant country. This is why we want to keep this day easy-going but still enable you to immerse into the local environment. If you find an apartment in the center of Madrid, this gives you an instant edge. You can immediately go to a nearby restaurant and try out some of the local specialties.

There are so many restaurants, cafes, and bars in the city center, that you might even have a hard time choosing which one to visit. In situations like these, travelers love turning to popular apps such as Yelp, Foursquare and similar, to get reviews and recommendations regarding best places to visit.

Plaza Mayor

After the lunch, go for a short walk and visit the Plaza Mayor. It is an impressive landmark, a distinguishable square in the center of the city, which has great historical value. It is a perfect location to take photos, have lunch or simply enjoy the local atmosphere.

Calle Mayor

If there is enough time, continue your walk along the Calle Mayor. Since it is the central area, you will find a lot of gift and souvenir shops along the street. Other stores, including the supermarkets, are also located here, so you will have an opportunity to go for a quick shopping spree. In case shopping simply is not your thing, then perhaps having drinks in one of the tapas bars is. Either way, the city central area around the Plaza Mayor will certainly be an interesting place to visit during your first day in Madrid.

What to Visit – Day 2 in Madrid

The second day of your Madrid adventure is focused on the west, with the life of the Royalty being the central aspect. There will be quite a few landmarks to visit here, so many sure you get an early start in the morning.

The Royal Theatre

The Royal Theatre is on your way as you head to this area, so it is worth having a look around of Madrid’s opera house founded in the 19th century. You can simply admire the exterior, but if you are interested in more, the interior tours are available as well.

Plaza del Oriente

Your next stop could be the Plaza del Oriente, a historic square with a beautiful garden around it with a central monument. It is actually in front of your next destination, the major attraction for the second day of exploring Madrid.

The Royal Palace of Madrid

The official residence of the Spanish Royal Family is actually an amazing landmark to visit in Madrid. The construction started in the 18th century, and now a part of the palace is open for public so that you can explore the impressive collection of armory, porcelain, furniture, etc. This way you get the glimpse of the court life and different epochs that influenced it.

Sabatini Gardens

The gardens are a part of the Royal Palace, but they were not opened to publish until mid 20th century. An outstanding structure and meticulous attention to details are what makes this garden truly royal. It is a perfect place to wrap up the day and have some rest of all the sightseeing.

Catedral de la Almudena

As a country with strong religious and architectural heritage, Spain has so many impressive churches built in its unique gothic style, and the Almudena Cathedral is one of them. Beautiful interior with colorful chapel outside, the Roman Catholic church is one of the places you can also visit in this area.

What to Visit – Day 3 in Madrid

The third day in Madrid is all about the central district, outstanding architecture and a little bit of shopping. As you leave your apartment in Madrid, embrace yourself for another exciting day in the city.

Plaza de España

A grand square in the center of the city, the Plaza de España in Madrid is definitely the place to visit. This will be the starting point for today’s sightseeing. The main attraction on the square is a monument to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. There is also a part of the green surfaces with lots of colorful flowers. It is surrounded by two large skyscrapers, and it directly leads to another destination in the city you will want to visit.

 5-Days-in-Madrid-What-to-Visit

Plaza de España in Madrid and the monument to Miguel de Cervantes

 

Gran Vía

On the east, you can continue your trip to Gran Vía, Madrid’s Broadway, as this street is known for. While you walk down the street, enjoying the view of stunning architecture and design, you will come across a lot of shops. In fact, this area is known as a favorite shopping destination, so it is only natural to be tempted to stop by. Let this day be about shopping as well. Besides international brands, you will find lots of Spanish brands with their stores in this area, such as Zara, Pull&Bear, Stradivarius, Bershka, etc. You can also have a drink in local cafes or even visit one of the rooftop cafes with an amazing view of the city.

Once you reach the opposite end of the avenue, you will enter Calle de Alcalá. If you are all done with the sightseeing for today, you can go back to your apartment in the center of the city. If you would like to see a little bit more of the city, this street will take you to your next destination.

Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles with its impressive fountain is another landmark worth visiting while in the city. The Cibeles Fountain is in the middle of the square, and it is heavily inspired by the Roman deity, while the surrounding buildings are influenced by distinctive Gothic style. In all, it is a perfect day to end another they of sightseeing.

What to Visit – Day 4 in Madrid

This day is all about nature and culture. If you love both, visiting these places will help you enjoy the unique spirit of Madrid. You could always choose only one of these. So you could either focus on nature and spend the day exploring the natural life or explore the culture and artistic heritage the country is so proud of.

Atocha station

We will start the day four in Madrid from the Atocha station. This is the largest railway station in Madrid, but what is interesting about this location is its steel and glass construction with a unique interior. Inside of the station, you will find a tropical garden.

Botanical garden

The next destination is the botanical garden located nearby. It is a perfect place to enjoy the natural life and species that originate from all over the world.

Retiro Park

If you are fond of nature, the Retro Park is a perfect destination for you. It is the largest park in the city, and one of the greatest ones in Europe. It has a lot of green surfaces, but you will also find lots of monuments around the park. Two most notable landmarks in the park are certainly the Crystal Palace, a glasshouse which is now housing contemporary art and the lake with Monument to Alfonso XII next to it. It is an impressive place, and you will probably spend a lot of time exploring the park. You might also want to go for a short ride around the lake.

Paseo del Prado

Let us end this exciting day of sightseeing with a nice walk along the Paseo del Prado, one of the most famous avenues in the city. This location is of great cultural and historical value for the city, which is why you will find lots of monuments and other historical places along the avenue.

The Golden Triangle of Art

A walk along the Paseo del Prado slowly takes us to the three most famous museums in Madrid:

  • The Prado Museum
  • The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
  • The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

If you want to experience the local culture, as well as to explore masterpieces of international artists, choose to visit one of these museums as the final activity for your day. In case you are too tired to enjoy such visit, just leave it for the final day. The museums are in the center of the city, so your apartment in Madrid will probably be quite near. This way you will get to enjoy the final day of the trip, especially if you are scheduled to depart later in the day.

What to Visit – Day 5 in Madrid

Like with the day one, day five is all about travel, this time going home. Unlike with arrival, where you want to get to Madrid early on, you can take advantage of the final day if you are able to schedule a departure for the late afternoon. If that is the case, that would be perfect, because there is one more landmark you need to visit.

Puerta del Sol

If you are staying in the apartment in the center of Madrid, this square will be quite near you. Seize the morning and spend it exploring the favorite meeting point of the locals. Once you get there, you will soon notice the statue of King Carlos III and 0 km marker stone. You could also explore the local cafes, shops or even pastry shops if you would like to have a quick breakfast in the city.

Finally, it is time to wrap up everything. The landmarks we have highlighted here are all the major points you need to see in the city. However, if there is an activity that takes too much of your time, and you do not get to see all of the places in the same day, it is perfectly fine. The whole point of going on holiday is to enjoy and have fun, and that is what your goal should be all the time.

How to Spend Summer in Madrid?

When you first think about summer holiday, you instantly think of a beach. It is what most people will do. All you want to do is lay down and enjoy the sun. This image is what most people associate with a summer holiday.

But did you know that summer in a city can also be fun? Do you know how you can spend an exciting summer in a big city such as Madrid? If the beach holiday does not fit your schedule or plans for some reason, the alternative of spending the summer in the city also sounds amazing. In case you decide to visit the Spanish capital this summer, here are a couple of suggestions you need to consider to spend an awesome summer in Madrid.

Seize the morning

Morning is such a beautiful part of the day in summer. Despite the fact that you are on holiday, wake up early and enjoy this amazing experience while you walk down the streets of Madrid. It will not be as crowded during the day, and it will definitely be less hot. Morning is such a perfect setting for a peaceful walk around the central city area. Stop by one of the lovely street cafes and have your Spanish breakfast or take a cup of coffee to go.

Then let the walk bring you to one of the Madrid’s parks. The Retiro Park is in the city center, so it is quite convenient to visit it. There is some special vibe in the park in the morning. The air is rather fresh, and there are not many people. Yes, you will probably come across a busy runner or an enthusiastic photographer. But if you prefer solitude and if you want to enjoy nature, try visiting the park in the morning.

The Crystal Palace in the Retiro Park - How to Spend Summer in Madrid

The Crystal Palace in the Retiro Park

Another great location for a nature-inspired, morning walk is the Botanic Gardens. With its seven outdoor areas and five greenhouses, which holds an impressive collection of over 90.000 plants, flowers, and trees, the garden is a perfect location if you want to explore natural life. If will surely keep you busy the entire morning, and perhaps you will extend this walk until lunch time. The Botanic Garden is also in the city center. In fact, it is next to the Retiro Park.

Find an accommodation with air-conditioning

Since the temperature can get high and it might be rather hot during the day, we always recommend that you look for an apartment that has an air-conditioning during the summer months. It is unlikely that you will need it throughout the year, but when it comes to July and August, it can get too hot during the day, especially around 2 pm or 3 pm.

Besides the air-conditioning, another thing you should think about concerning finding accommodation is the location. If possible, you should always choose to rent an apartment in the center of Madrid. This location provides a dose of convenience when traveling to Madrid and exploring the city area. Most of the city landmarks will be within walking distance in case you choose an apartment in the center.

Enjoy Spanish cuisine

Renowned worldwide, Spanish cuisine is perfect to explore while you are visiting Madrid. Famous dishes such as Spanish tortilla, croquettes, hues rotos, are all part of the menus which you will come across as you explore the local restaurants during the lunch time. In case you are renting an apartment in the center of Madrid, you will be able to find restaurants rather quickly, as lots of them are actually located in the central area. If you want suggestions on which of them to try out, check out our Gastronomic Guide with restaurants, pastry shops and other places to eat out in Madrid.

Embrace the siesta

Siesta is a nap time in Spain. It usually happens from 2 pm until 5 pm, and it means that some restaurants, cafes and even shops can be closed during that time. Siesta is a traditional custom, which some people love, and some people do not. If you want to have some rest in the middle of the day, simply stop by your accommodation and enjoy having rest in the apartment during the hottest period of the day. It would be a perfect break to prepare you for an evening out. However, if you are not tired, and you want to get the most out of your day in Madrid, we have an indoor and outdoor activity suggestions for you.

Visit the museums

If you do not want to take a nap and you prefer to spend the middle of the day indoor, you should stop by museums. They are air-conditioned, so it would be a pleasant walk away from the heat. Consider this visit a delightful cultural tour where you get to experience a glimpse of cultural life and historical event that shaped the life of the locals. Go to the Golden Triangle of Art and choose one of the three museums to visit. The Prado Museum, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum are three museums you should explore. All three of them are in the center of the city, quite near each other, so if there is enough time, you can always choose to visit two in one day. However, to make sure you explore them indeed, you should focus on one of them and take as much time as you need it to look around.

Stop by a swimming pool

Here is another amazing, middle-day activity for all outdoorsy people – swimming. Madrid may not have a beach, but swimming is an activity you will definitely want to try out during the hot summer days in Madrid. Simply choose on of the local pools and enjoy the day. The swimming pool season in Madrid starts from May, and it lasts until September (the exact dates might vary from year to year). Most pools are opened from 11 am to 9 pm every day, but this can also vary depending on the facility and you will often find community pools that open as early as 8 am. The entrance for adults starts at around 5 Euros. Children and seniors have a discount, and the entrance is generally more expensive on weekends and holidays.

Swimming Pool - How to Spend Summer in Madrid

Relax by the pool during hot summer days in Madrid

Parque Deportivo Puerta del Hierro

One of the biggest swimming pools in Madrid, Parque Deportivo Puerta del Hierro stretches on over 300,000 square meters. Its outdoor pool is known as one of the largest ones in Europe, being 130 meters long. Besides the swimming pool, there is a golf course, tennis courts, and other areas to play different sports, making this complex into a wonderful sports park. There are grassy areas for enjoying the sun, as well as children’s pool. It is a perfect oasis to seek shelter on hot sunny days.

Location: Ctra. de La Coruña, km 7, Madrid

Centro Deportivo Municipal Casa de Campo

Besides its 50-square meter pool, the center also has another 33-meter pool and a children’s swimming pool. Unlike other sports centers, this one primarily focuses on water-related activities organized next to the swimming pool and other water sports.

Location: Paseo Puerta del Ángel, 7, Madrid

Centro Deportivo Municipal Vicente del Bosque

Another huge sports center with courses for football, basketball, tennis, beach volleyball, etc. is Centro Deportivo Municipal Vicente del Bosque. Of course, the swimming pool is what we want to focus on during the summer months. There are two 50-meter pools as well as children’s pool, so it is perfect for travelers, for families with children, etc.

Location: Avenida Monforte de Lemos, 13, Madrid

Centro Deportivo Municipal Francos Rodríguez

In this sports center, you can spend a fantastic summer day, sitting by a large outdoor pool, or playing beach volleyball or table tennis with friends. With its 11.5000 square meter surface, the center is a bit smaller than the previous ones, but still a perfect place to enjoy outdoor activities in summer.

Location: Calle  Numancia,  11, Madrid

There are more public swimming pools you can find around the city, but what is also interesting is a number of private rooftop swimming pools. These are usually owned by a particular hotel or a restaurant, but they sometimes offer admission for non-guests, which is great to take advantage of if you want to enjoy swimming and the fantastic view from the rooftops.

Check out a water park

If you are up for a more adventurous water time, instead of going to a swimming pool, stop by a water park. An activity popular among people of all ages, water parks are great resorts during the summer months in the city.

Warner Park Beach

Although certainly more famous for its theme park, Warner Park also has a beach section with exciting rides and cool attractions to keep you cool on a hot summer day. There is even Baby Olas, a section for the youngest children with Looney Tunes inspired theme with sure school and beach houses.

Aquopolis

This might the most popular water park in Madrid. It is approximately 30 minutes away from the city center. Lots of exciting rides, slides, children area as well as a sandy beach are good enough reason to check out this park while in Madrid. There is even a restaurant if you decide to plan to spend an entire day here.

Explore terrazas

As the evening time approaches, you will probably start getting hungry or thirsty, which is the great moment to look for one of the terrazas or outdoor eating areas to have dinner. With your evening drink, you will probably want to order tapas, as this is what Madrid bars and restaurants are famous for. Enjoy the night breeze while the evenings get cooler as it is much more pleasant to spend time outside in the night than during the day.

Enjoy an evening walk

While some of you will prefer a morning walk, some will always choose to sleep late, and then spend the evening exploring the city. While the entrance to the facilities is closed, there are many more landmarks to see around Madrid in the evening time. Squares and monuments with their night lights shine so proudly and give that unique charm to the city late into the night.

Organize a day trip

While most of the activities tourists focus on is usually in the city center, the Community of Madrid actually extends over a much larger area, which also includes interesting places such as Navacerrada. Even though the location is a popular winter destination, for those interesting in skiing in Madrid, during summer it becomes a sort of a resort, with daily temperatures barely passing 20 degrees. It is located 52 kilometers from Madrid. It is a great destination for hiking, cycling and generally enjoying the nature.

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments

The city of Madrid has so much to offer. Sightseeing is one of the main activities most travelers are focused on during their stay, with eating out and shopping falling behind. There also are business travelers, in which situation they might even skip sightseeing altogether. One of the main things that will ensure spending a great time is a comfortable stay in one of the Madrid apartments. This refers to all kinds of travelers, younger or older, solo travelers, travelers with kids, business travelers, etc. As a specialist in this area, we want to suggest several neighborhoods to find Madrid apartments.

First of all, the city of Madrid is very big. It is the third largest city in Europe, with over 600 km2 municipality area. The city is divided into 21 districts. The districts are then divided into wards, called barrios, and there are 128 of them in the city.

When you first plan on visiting Madrid, you might be a bit confused in terms of choosing the location of the apartment. It is completely natural to feel this way, because there are so many choices in front of you. Since this is a dilemma many travelers are faced with, it is best to explore the city area of Madrid, and find the best neighborhoods in the city to rent long-term or short-term apartments. Each of the neighborhoods offers something different and unique, but you will not be wrong to choose any of them, because after all, what matters the most is that you have a great time and enjoy visiting Madrid.

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments: Las Letras or Cortes

Las Letras or Cortes is a part of district Centro. Being located in the center of the city gives an immediate edge to this area, over other parts of the city. The most important Madrid museums, including Prado Museo, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo are located in this area of the city. This way, you can start sightseeing as soon as you arrive. Of course, restaurants and bars are part of the neighborhood as well, which is very convenient when eating out. Restaurant terraces at Plaza de Santa Ana are frequently praised as one of the best places to eat out when the weather is nice. And if you are a fan of Ernest Hemingway, you would want to visit Cervecería Alemana where he was once a regular.

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments: Malasaña

Malasaña is another Centro district, particularly famous for nightlife. Lots of nightclubs and bars are scattered around, and it is generally referred to as hip and alternative part of the city. Plenty of urban art is on display around the area, which additionally prove the trendy and hipster aspect Malasaña is known for. In fact, there are tours to show off the best graffiti used to decorate the neighborhood.This is why the area is particularly popular among younger travelers. If this is the case, finding an apartment in this neighborhood will be a right decision. On the other hand, if you prefer a more quiet neighborhood, check out other suggestions.

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments: Gran Vía

Named after Madrid’s grand boulevard, Gran Vía neighborhood is an urban area, with magnificent architecture and design being the most important aspects. As much as it is cool to live in such area, you need to have in mind the fact that this neighborhood is considered a classy, high end area, with accommodation prices that match that reputation. Gran Vía is also considered a business center, which is important thing to know when traveling on business.

 Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments

The view of Gran Vía Street, a famous boulevard with its well-known 20th-century architecture

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments: Castellana

Castellana is a part of Salamanca district. Generally known as an upscale area, with lots of high end shops, Salamanca is also popular among travelers due to its vicinity to the center of Madrid. Paseo del Castellana, one of the well known boulevards, goes through this district. If you are fond of shopping, you will love this part of the city. ABC Serrano shopping mall is in Castellana neighborhood, with stores like Calzedonia, Poly, Reebok, etc. Zara Home, Gucci, Cartier, Jimmy Choo and other brands also have stores nearby. Obviously, this is a shopping paradise for all those looking for places to start their next shopping spree. When it comes to a stay, plenty of residential properties can be found.

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments: Recoletos

Next to Castellana, we have Recoletos ward, another busy neighborhood in the center of Madrid. You should know that living in such neighborhood have both pros and cons. While it is very convenient to live near trendy cafes and famous landmarks, as you will probably spend most of your time in Madrid walking from one place to another, some people still prefer staying a bit away from all the hastiness. Plaza de Colón and the National Archaeological Museum are two major landmarks you should visit in Recoletos ward of Madrid, regardless if you will be staying there or not.

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments: Chamartin

Even though it is in the heart of the city, Chamartin is characterised by an easier pace. Fewer tourist attraction make this area less desirable destination for travelers, but it provides great conditions for living. This is why the district is more popular as residential and business area. People who arrive to Madrid for business are most likely to stay in this part of the city. Despite the fact that the number of landmarks is scarce, there is still one very popular especially among male travelers – the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home of the Real Madrid soccer team. Since quiet neighborhood and less crowd is what some travelers prefer, this could also be a great place to find an apartment in Madrid.

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments: La Latina

One of the oldest wards in the city, La Latina is another busy place, which is yet loved by travelers. Most travelers enjoy the busy atmosphere, and most of them love staying near the places they would like to visit during their stay. This is why La Latina is in the group of neighborhoods where you could find an apartment. Lots of plazas can be found around the area, such as Plaza de La Paja, Plaza del Humilladero, Plaza de San Andrés, etc. However, what the area is really famous for are tapas. Therefore, if you want to try out traditional Spanish cuisine, and its specialties such as ‘huevos rotos’, make sure you stop by La Latina neighborhood in Madrid.

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments: Moncloa

This neighborhood is a recommended place to stay mostly for students, because Madrid’s Complutense University, the largest university in Spain, is located here. Although it is a bit away from the city center, it has many features that make it a desirable place to stay in Madrid, especially if we talk about long-term stay. It has plenty of outdoor spaces, parks and playgrounds, cafes and bars. The most remarkable landmark of the area is certainly Templo de Debod, the Ancient Egyptian Temple.

 Neighborhoods-to-Find-Madrid-Apartments-02

The most important landmark of the area, Templo de Debod, holds great historic significance

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments: Retiro

Besides being the largest and the most famous park in Madrid, Retiro is also a district located at the southeast of the city centre of Madrid. Unlike Salamanca and Castellana, it has fewer places to go out, but it has more green areas. It is a great place to stay in if you prefer a quiet surrounding. In fact, the nearby park can create such a tranquil and soothing atmosphere, that you will actually manage to escape all the city’s hustle. Many outdoor activities are available here, so if you would rather go running or riding a bike than go shopping, make sure you consider accommodation opportunities in this part of the city.

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments: Arapiles

A ward in Chamberí district, Arapiles is another great place to find an apartment in Madrid. It has many residential opportunities, but the neighborhood itself is quite near the city center. A couple of supermarkets and El Corte Inglés are good resources to have around if you are planning on preparing food in the apartment, and they can all be found in this neighborhood. The fact that the area has fewer landmarks means that it is a less busy neighborhood, perfect for finding accommodation.

Neighborhoods to Find Madrid Apartments: Goya

Goya is a ward belonging to the district of Salamanca. This is another central district, with lots of residential opportunities for travelers. The area has lots of restaurants, serving traditional Spanish cuisine. In case you prefer eating out while you are on holiday, and preparing food in the apartment in which you are staying is not an option, you will love living in this area. Since other central neighborhoods and landmarks are quite near, living in the apartment in Goya ward will be very convenient for sightseeing. Like other central district, you can easily reach it from the airport or bus station.

In the end, you should not get overwhelmed by the idea of finding a perfect place to stay in Madrid. As you can see, each area has something good to offer, and depending on your needs and budget, you will get to find what is suitable to you. Madrid is a great place to visit, and the important thing is that you will get to visit and explore one of the most exciting cities in Europe, with its museums, parks, restaurants, shops, galleries, etc. Everything is only a short walk away if you stay in the center, which is why an apartment in the center of Madrid is a great option for all the travelers.

How to Spend Winter in Madrid

Traveling all year long is a great pleasure and a way to spend some quality time, getting to know the world around and all the amazing and historic places we have heard all about. When it comes to traveling in Western Europe, most people choose to travel between April and October, waiting for the nice weather to be perfect condition for traveling. However, there is something magical about winter time, which makes traveling during winter pretty unique, especially during the time around Christmas and New Year.

Are you planning to explore Madrid this winter? If your answer is yes, here are all the things you can do to spend an exciting winter in Madrid.

Stay in an apartment Madrid

Staying in an apartment in Madrid provides many advantages over staying in a hotel. If you have never decided to rent an apartment before, this would be one more reason to try this type of accommodation. During winter, the number of tourists gets lower than during summer, only to peak again during winter holidays, but try booking apartment in Madrid online as a safe way to ensure you have accommodation in the city for your winter holiday.

Visit holiday markets

At the first hint of winter and upcoming Christmas, holiday markets open up around Madrid, and they usually stay open from late November until a few days into the New Year. During this period, there will be enough time for you to visit one of those markets and experience true meaning of the holiday atmosphere and cheerfulness, with Christmas songs heard on every corner, plenty of flashy lights and colorful decorations suggesting that holidays are upon us. You can buy all sorts of things on the holiday markets, but Christmas decorations and gift are the most commonly sold items, together with food stands selling typical Spanish dishes.

Here are two holiday markets we would suggest visiting:

  • Christmas market at the Plaza Mayor

Dates: 26 November – 31 December, 2016

Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10 am until 9 pm; Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am until 10 pm.

  • Christmas market at the Plaza de España

Dates: 10 December – 5 January, 2017

Opening hours: Everyday from 11 am until 9 pm. The market closes at 3 pm on the 24th and 31 December, and it is closed on the 25th December and 1st of January.

Source: http://www.xmas-markets.org/madrid-christmas-market/

Explore the Christmas lights

The Christmas lights are something that has become a sort of a tradition in Madrid, and it got to the point where there is a tour of all the Christmas lights in the city. The tour is called the Navibus tour (Navi is for Navidad, meaning Christmas in Spanish). The Christmas lights are turned daily from 6 pm until 10 pm. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve the lights will be on until late into the night. Light decorations of all kinds of shapes and colors hand around the streets of Madrid, and together with beautifully decorated shop windows they create a magical surrounding.

A walk down the decorated streets of Madrid

A walk down the decorated streets of Madrid

 

Discover nativity scenes

Since Spain is a Catholic country, the nativity scene is an important part of traditional Christmas celebration, so during the month of December you will find a lot of nativity scenes around the city. The scenes are usually set up in the mid December and most of them will remain intact until the mid January, when most of the Christmas decoration is being taken off. Some of the popular nativity scenes are at the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral and the Plaza Mayor. Therefore, if you are exploring the center of Madrid, you could visit these nativity scenes as well.

Have a hot chocolate

Tired of all the walking around the city? If yes, it is time for hot chocolate. Although moderate climate in Madrid does not allow harsh winter weather, it still can get a bit cold especially during the evenings. The best way to enjoy the Christmas lights is during the evenings, so try to grab a hot beverage to keep you warm as you walk around the streets and admire Christmas scenery all around you. Hot coffee or tea might be a nice option but there is something Christmassy about hot chocolate. You can have it with sweet marshmallows or with cream on top, or you can try traditional churros con chocolate.

Christmas shopping spree

Winter time is a great period to shop in Madrid. You will come across beautifully decorated shop windows, with plenty of Christmas decorations and creative ideas that will leave you speechless. The center of the city is perfect place to start your shopping spree, as this is where shop owners go overboard with Christmas decor. Besides shops, the entire central area will be decorated with winter lights and ornaments, so the Christmas cheer will be all around you.

Winter usually starts off with new collections and this would be an opportunity to refresh your winter wardrobe, especially if you are interested in Christmas inspired clothing, such as Christmassy jumpers or pajamas. As the holidays approach, the merchants offer better prices, so you will find a lot of sales as the winter time goes on. It is a general rule that the best deals are available after the holidays, in late January, because most stores will offer discounts for the winter items, trying to clear out the shelves and prepare for the spring collection.

Admire Cortylandia

Each year, El Corte Inglés, well-known Spanish department store, brings out a lovely decoration in front of its store at the Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, 10. It has become a sort of a tradition for people in Madrid, as decorations are brought out in the late November, and they signify the beginning of the holiday season. The theme of the set changes every year, but the main idea remains the same – it is all about the children. Usually, the theme revolves around children stories, tales, animals, cartoons, etc. The characters move and the songs are played as a part of a 15-minute show which is on a couple of times a day. Here is the schedule of the shows for this year:

Cortylandia 2016 Schedule:

  • Monday  – Friday

Morning: 12:00, 13:00 and 14:00. Afternoon: 18:30, 19:30 and 21 hours.

  • Saturday, Sunday and Holidays

Morning: 12:30, 13:30 and 14:30. Afternoon: 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 hours.

 

Special schedule

  • Friday 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 December

Morning: 12:00, 13:00 and 14:00 hours.

Afternoon: 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 hours.

  • Monday 05 and Wednesday 07 December

Morning: 12:30, 13:30 and 14:30 hours.

Afternoon: 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 hours.

  • December 24 and 31 December 31

Morning: 12, 13, 14 and 15 hours.

Afternoon: 18, 19 and 19:30 hours.

 Christmas decoration Cortylandia at the Puerta del Sol

Christmas decoration Cortylandia at the Puerta del Sol

Source: https://www.elcorteingles.es/centroscomerciales/es/eci/centros/centro-comercial-preciados-callao/eventos/vuelve-la-magia-de-cortylandia

If you happen to be visiting this winter, especially if you are visiting Madrid with kids, make sure you do not miss this traditional fairy-like setting. You are going to love it, and it sets you in that Christmas spirit, together with the rest of the decorations around the city central area. This tradition has become so popular and loved by the locals, that it has even been replicated in many other cities in Spain.

Go ice skating

One of the great symbols of winter season, as well as the holidays, is ice skating and many people love spending cold winter evenings on the skates twirling around. Madrid has a couple of indoor ice rinks, some of which are open during the entire year, but during winter in Madrid, you will find a couple of outdoor ice rinks, which is a great opportunity to spend an evening out in the city. Here are some of the outdoor ice rinks in the city:

  • Plaza de Oriente (Royal Palace)

Hours: every day including holidays from 10 am – 10 pm until January 20th.

Price: 5€ on weekdays and 7.50€ Saturday and Sunday including skate rental.

  • Plaza de la Luna

Hours: everyday from 10 am – 10 pm until January 10th

Price: 5€ on weekdays and 7.50€ Saturday and Sunday including skate rental.

  • CentroCentro Cibeles

Hours: everyday from 11 am – 9:30 pm

(On December 24th and 31st, 11 am-6 pm) until January 7th.

Price: 5€ on weekdays and 7.50€ Saturday and Sunday including skate rental.

Source: http://www.cheapinmadrid.com/ice-rinks-in-madrid/

When it comes to indoor ice rinks, they are open during the entire year, but they have a different schedule depending on the season, so if you would like to visit one of those ice rinks, it is best to check the schedule for the exact dates. Here are two ice rinks open during the entire year:

  • Palacio de Hielo

Calle Silvano 77 – Metro Canillas

www.sporthielo.com

  • La Nevera

Poligono El Caralero – Majadahonda

http://lanevera.net

Celebrate New Year at the Puerta del Sol

Traditional New Year celebration takes place each 31st of December at the Puerta del Sol and it gathers thousands of people, locals as well as the tourists. The official countdown is announced from the clock on top of the Casa de Correos building in Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid, accompanied by a hundred-year old tradition to eat Twelve Grapes, one on each chime of the clock. Parties are organized in various places around the city, and they last late into the night.

This time of the year is very festive in Madrid, and the weather is still nice enough that you can enjoy outdoor. You can still visit famous Madrid landmarks, but make sure you enjoy some of these activities typical of winter period.

 

 

 

Madrid Travel Guide

The excitement and anticipation that overwhelm you when preparing for a trip can sometimes distract you from planning every single detail about your upcoming travel. With so many things to consider, such as booking a ticket, packing and making the flight in time, you might forget about planning the itinerary for the actual time you will be spending in Madrid.

You do not need to worry, because we have a perfect Madrid travel guide, which is going to help you with practical information you will need when staying in Madrid, as well as suggestions on places to visit.

Few facts about Madrid

When traveling to Madrid, you will benefit from knowing few things about the city, such as:

  • Madrid is the capital city of Spain.
  • The metropolitan area has population of approximately 6.5 million, making it the third-largest city in EU.
  • Official currency is Euro.
  • Official language is Spanish.
  • Time zone: CEST – Central European Summer Time (UTC/GMT +2 hours)

Getting to the city

There are several ways to get to the city, and airport is one of the most convenient ways if you are traveling from abroad. Madrid-Barajas Airport is located 13 km from the city so once you get to the airport, you will easily reach the center of the city. There are several types of transport available to you at the airport:

  • Rent a car – Although a more costly option, this is something you could consider if you would like to be mobile while in the city, if you are planning on visiting landmarks that are away from the city center or shopping malls located in the outskirts.
  • Take a taxi – It is certainly a cheaper option, but provides the same convenience when it comes to traveling from the airport to the accommodation. Lots of taxi drivers are circulating around the arriving terminals, so you do not need any phone numbers in advance. You will see them once you leave the terminal.
  • Shuttle – This is specialized taxi service with fixed pricing of 23 Euros. However, this is not an exclusive ride and you will have to share the taxi with other passengers in case you are traveling solo.
  • Airport Express (Exprés Aeropuerto) – Buses operate 24 and take passengers from the airport’s terminal T1, T2 and T4 to one of these three places in the city: O’Donell, Plaza de Cibeles and Atocha. Ride at 5 Euros is certainly the main benefit for choosing the bus, but since it is an express bus, it has only three stops in the city, after which you will have to find other ways to reach your final destination.
  • Commuter train – Terminal 4 is connected to Atocha and Chamartin train station with a commuter train C-1. The train is available from 6 am until 10:30 pm with a ticket from €2.60.
  • Metro – Line 8 goes to Nuevos Ministerios station from all terminals, but to reach city center you will have to change metro line twice, which might be inconvenient if you have a lot of luggage.

In case you would like to use a train to arrive to Madrid, there is a connection with the French coast and Paris. Buses connect the city with major cities in Europe, and these international departures are scheduled from the Estación Sur de Autobuses. Metro is quite near the bus station, providing great connection with the rest of the city.

Finding apartment in Madrid

Preferably, you will have already found your accommodation prior to arriving to the city. Even though Madrid has a lot to offer when it comes to tourist accommodation including hotels, hostels and apartments in Madrid, during the peak season it can become more difficult to find accommodation. Therefore, it is advisable to book accommodation in advance. Due to conveniences and flexibility, we would suggest apartments in Madrid rather than any other type of accommodation. When it comes to how to rent an apartment in Madrid, we suggest browsing online as the best way to find available apartments in the city.

Finding your way around the city

Madrid has excellent public transport, allowing travelers to easily find their way around the city even if they are first time visiting. Different parts of the city are connected with 12 metro lines. The entire map of metro lines is available online.

 Metro and Light Rail Network - Madrid

Image source: https://www.metromadrid.es/export/sites/metro/comun/documentos/planos/Planoesquematicoingles.pdf

When walking around the city and looking for interesting landmarks to see, you will need a map. Tourist offices will have different kinds of maps available, including the one with metro lines, but you can always use an online map. Here is an interesting map of the central area of the city with the most important landmarks being represented through small graphics.

 Map of the central area - Madrid

Image source: http://www.esmadrid.com/sites/default/files/documentos/mapa_bloc_esp-ing_22082016.pdf

Going around the city with your map exploring the local landmarks is a great way to explore the city and get to experience your unique tour of Madrid. However, you will get in contact with a lot of locals, so learning a couple of Spanish phrases can be very helpful. Plus, the locals will be delighted by your trying to learn their language. Here are a couple of phrases you might need:

Hello/Hi (informal) – Hola
Have a good day – Que pase un buen día
How are you? (informal) – ¿Cómo estás?

How are you? (formal) – ¿Cómo está usted?
Fine, thank you – Muy bien, gracias.
Thank you – Gracias
I’m sorry – Lo siento / perdón
Goodbye – Adiós, Hasta luego
I speak a little Spanish. – Hablo un poco de español.
I can’t speak Spanish (well) – No hablo (bien) español
Do you speak English? (informal) – ¿Hablas inglés?
Do you speak English? (formal) – ¿Habla usted inglés?
Yes – Sí
No – No

If you need more helpful Spanish phrases, if you want to learn the numbers and how to tell time in Spanish, here is a great phrasebook which includes instructions on how to pronounce each phrase: Spanish Phrasebook.

Sightseeing of Madrid

Since the purpose of this travel guide is to help you get acquainted with the city and how to get the most when exploring the capital city of Spain, here are some suggestions on what to visit in Madrid.

  • Enjoy the art

If you are fond of art, Madrid is a place where you will absolutely enjoy! Permanent and temporary collections in the museums are always available and all you need to do is pick a museum in Madrid you would like to visit and have amazing time. Some museums offer free admission, while those that do charge the admission fee usually have group discounts and days when they offer free admission for everyone. When paying admission fee, the tickets start from 1.5 Euros and they can be up to 17 Euros. The prices in one museum may vary depending on the exhibition you want to visit. Most museums in Madrid are closed on Mondays and have shorter working hours on weekends.

However, there is more art to be seen apart from the museums. You could visit galleries and attend exhibitions. You could find out more about the Spanish royals by visiting the Royal Palace of Madrid and explore the art works displayed inside. Either way, you will get to experience the art works, some of which are centuries old and for an art lover, this would be an art tour of Madrid you will remember forever.

  • Admire the architecture

Madrid is well-known for its architecture that preserves the original look of historic neighborhoods especially in the central area of the city. As you walk down the streets of the city you get to admire the buildings and constructions that are product of different epochs, each of them leaving the traces on both interior and exterior. The Paseo del Prado is one of those streets where you get to see how the city landscape has changed over the centuries, preserving the best of the city’s history and heritage that will last for generations to come and still be symbols this city can be proud of.

 Madrid - Arquitecture

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/madrid-building-architecture-385104/

  • Indulge in the local cuisine

Since Spanish cuisine is renowned worldwide, it is only fair to explore these famous dishes and tastes in the original surrounding. Numerous restaurants, cafes, pasty shops and bars are scattered around the city, especially in the central area. Dinner is typically served later in Spain, so an ideal time to have dinner when in Madrid is around 8 or 9 pm. Here is a guide with interesting places you could visit when it comes to eating out: Madrid Gastronomic Guide.

  • Visit the landmarks

Visiting the landmarks is your primary goal when visiting Madrid as a traveler, but as you explore the map of Madrid, you will notice that there is so many interesting places you could visit. If you are going to spend only a few days in the city, you might find it difficult to choose which places to visit, and which ones you will have to leave for some other trip to Madrid. The three must-see places in Madrid we would recommend are the Royal Palace of Madrid, the Retiro Park and the Gran Via Street. They are all located in the city center, so if you rent an apartment in the center of Madrid, you will certainly have time to visit them, regardless how short your stay is.

  • Explore further

While most travelers tend to focus their stay in the central area where they go sightseeing, as most of the landmarks are in fact located in the center of the city, there is more to be seen in Madrid than the central part. Visiting outskirts of Madrid is an amazing opportunity to see some historic places and small towns surrounding Madrid. Alcalá de Henares and Toledo are two of those, both of which are UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

  • Have fun

If you would like to find out about even more about what to do in Madrid, here is the list of ten things to do in Madrid. The city of Madrid is also well known place to go out and have fun, so all those outgoing people will enjoy the friendly atmosphere in the local cafes and bars. Another popular form of entertainment in the city are festivals. Most of them are organized during the period of nice weather which start from April and ends in October. Explore some options and suggestions related to festivals in Madrid here.

Madrid City Guide

Are you planning to visit Madrid? Do you want to spend your holiday in the city famous for its cultural and historical importance? Do you want to experience the best of Madrid and make the most out of your holiday in the Spanish capital?

If your answer is yes, you will need a city guide to help you find your way around the city and ensure you do not miss any of the important landmarks worth visiting.

When to go?

Depending on your situation, choosing the period for your visit might not be as flexible, due to work, school or university classes, etc. These are the reasons that will influence not only the period of the year you will visit the city, but it will also affect the length of stay. Luckily, when it comes to Madrid, Mediterranean climate with mild cool winters and hot summers, creates great weather conditions throughout the year. July and August are the hottest months, with daily temperatures going over 30 °C, and January is the coldest month.

How to get to the city?

The answer to this question mainly depends on where you are traveling from. If you are visiting from another city in Spain, it is likely that you are going to use bus or train to get to Madrid. On the other hand, traveling from a different country, or perhaps from a different continent means you will probably be using a plane to arrive to Madrid. Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport is the main international airport in Madrid. With over 47 million passengers each year and regular flights towards all Europe’s large cities, as well as great connection with Americas, Madrid is considered as one of the largest and business airports in Europe. Conveniently, it is located around 13 kilometers from Madrid city center, which is why tourists can easily reach the historic center of the city.

Transport from the airport:

  • Aerocity – This is a type of specialized taxi service, available at 23 euros. One of the downsides is that you may have to share this taxi with two or three more passengers.
  • Airport Express (Exprés Aeropuerto) – This is perhaps the most affordable and yet the easiest way to get to the city center. The buses operate 24 hours, every 15 minutes during the day and every 35 minutes during the night. There are stops at terminals T1, T2 and T4, and three stops after the airport: O’Donell, Plaza de Cibeles and Atocha. The cost of transport is 5 euros. The main drawback is that there are only three stops in the city where the bus can take you, meaning you will have to walk or use other types of public transport to arrive to your destination.

Where to go first?

The first place you will visit in Madrid is certainly the accommodation you have booked for yourself, regardless if your choice is a hostel, a hotel or an apartment in the center of Madrid. In case an apartment is your preferred type of accommodation, and you have decided to stay in an apartment in Madrid, you might want to use Aerocity transportation service from the airport, as you will arrive exactly at the destination where you will be staying. Another thing to have in mind is that renting an apartment in the center of Madrid is always advisable if you are visiting for the first time and if you are in the city for a short trip, as this is very convenient when it comes to sightseeing, going out, etc.

Things to know when you first arrive

Since the purpose of this guide is to help you quickly learn how things in Madrid work, here are some things to know if you are visiting for the first time:

Local currency: Euro

Time zone: CEST (UTC/GMT +1)

Language: Official language is Spanish. Even though you will find lots of people being able to communicate using basic English phrases, you will still be much better off if you speak Spanish, or at least understand some basic travel terms.

Working hours: Siesta is an important part of Spanish culture, so you should have this in mind when you explore the city during the day. Siesta is an afternoon rest or a nap, during which most restaurants, cafes and even shops are closed. Therefore, working hours are usually from 9 am until 1:30 pm or 2 pm, and then again from 4 pm or 5 pm until the evening hours. Some restaurants or cafes remain open even until midnight.

Emergency phones: There are a few emergency phones you need to know when you visit the city. Have in mind that they are all toll-free.

  • General emergency services – 112
  • Madrid City Council Information – 010
  • Fire service – 080
  • National police – 091
  • Municipal police – 092
  • Ambulance – 061 or 112

Around the city

Choosing accommodation in the center of the city is great way to explore the city on foot. In this case, you would only need transport to get from the airport to the apartment in the center of Madrid, and you are ready for sightseeing. Most of the landmarks are actually situated in the historic center of the city, enabling you to easily walk from one point of interest to another. On your way, you will definitely enjoy city’s architecture and artistic display, present all around the city.

However, in case you do want to use public transport, here are a few useful tips that will help you optimize your journey around the city and choose the most convenient way to reach a certain location.

  • Madrid Metro

Metro in Madrid is known to be very fast and cheap way to travel around the city. It runs from 6:00 am to 1:30 am, in intervals between 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the line. The map of the lines is available at the airport, at the bus or train stations, and in tourist offices. You can also check out the online version of the metro map here.

  • Madrid Card

The Madrid Card is a great solution for tourists, as it combines free public transport with a pass for major museums and attractions in Madrid. The Madrid Card includes a tour around the Real Madrid Stadium and the Atlético de Madrid stadium, the Las Ventas bullring tour and a trip on a Cable Car. It also included discounts for restaurants, gift shops, etc.  The card contains your name and it cannot be transferred to another person. It is activated the first time you use it, and it is valid on consecutive days, as the card is purchased for the period of days. The price of the ticket starts from 47€ (one-day card).

Madrid Card

Image source: http://www.madridcard.com/en/que-es-una-tarjeta-turistica

  • Travel Pass

Travel Pass is also a personalized ticket, allowing you to use all types of public transport, and it is valid for 30 day. The price and the type of the ticket depends on the zones you want to visit in Madrid, so the best way to check if this card is what you need is to consult the official page of metro Madrid travel pass.

  • Tourist Card

Since most travelers are in the city for a couple of days only, the most practical way for them to use public transport is to use tourist card, which can be purchased in five different types, depending on the number of days the card is valid (1, 2, 3, 5 and 7).  There are two zones, but most tourist will be satisfied with Zone A (including the municipal district of Madrid) and the price of the tourist card is from 8.40€.

What to visit?

When it comes to places you should visit, each visit is distinctive and unique. There is no universal itinerary that will be perfect for organizing a trip around the city of Madrid, but Madrid is generally known as a place of culture and rich cultural heritage, with lots of landmarks preserved throughout the history as a legacy that proudly showcases the cultures and art movements that were part of Madrid’s city life.

This is the reason why most tourists choose to visit these particular landmarks in Madrid:

Royal Palace of Madrid is one of the most remarkable buildings in the city, originally constructed in the 18th century, with several renovations over the years. It consists of almost 3500 rooms and it represents one of the largest and most important royal palaces in Europe.

Royal Palace of Madrid

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/madrid-castle-palace-architecture-328126/

The Golden Triangle of Art is a great place to visit if you are interested in art and culture. The complex is comprised of three most important museums in Madrid, which include: the Prado Museum (National Museum featuring pre-20th-century art), the Reina Sofía Museum (National Museum featuring 20th century modern art), and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (private museum, historical through contemporary art). Of course, Madrid has a lot more museums, depending on the historic period or art movements you are interested in, which is why we suggest this guide featuring most important museums to visit in Madrid.

The Plaza Mayor is a large square, rectangular in shape, surrounded by three-story residential buildings, which their distinctive red façade and flower-decorated balconies. The square has had tremendous importance in the history of the city, and today is a very important landmark in the center of the city.

The Plaza Mayor

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/main-square-madrid-spain-722707/

The Puerta del Sol is another square in Madrid, which is known as the busiest place in Madrid and favorite meeting point of the locals.

Another landmark you would not want to miss when visiting Madrid is Gran Vía, the upscale street known for its remarkable 20th century architecture and well-known shopping area in the city. It leads from Calle de Alcalá to Plaza de España.

Madrid is known as a green city, with lots of parks and green surfaces inside the central area, but the most famous one is certainly the Retiro Park, which is also the largest park in Madrid. Wonderfully decorated, with lots of interesting landmarks inside the park and cultural events organized throughout the year, this park is definitely one of those must-see places in Madrid.

Where to eat?

The central area of the city is full of restaurants and cafes, where you can have a light snack or a full-size meal. Regardless if you would like tapas or pizzas, if you prefer Italian or Chinese cuisine, or you simply want to try out local specialties such as patata bravas, croquettes, Spanish Tortilla or paella, you will find a lot of interesting restaurants in Madrid.

La Musa Latina – a cheap restaurant offering a large selection of tapas, grill, roasted vegetables and desserts.

Botín – a very popular tavern, serving traditional meals and wines in a lovely surrounding.

La Bodega de los Secretos – seafood, pastas, as well as roasted meat are some of the delicious specialties on the menu of this restaurant in the center of Madrid.

Where to shop?

When we think about shopping in Madrid, we usually associate it with Gran Vía street, where most of the high-end shops are located. Apart from Gran Vía, central area of the city has a lot of shops scattered around so you will find lots of them in the Paseo del Prado or in the Paseo de la Castellana. Mentioning the most famous Madrid’s flea market is also important, so if you prefer flea market instead of big fancy shopping malls, you should visit El Rastro de Madrid.

Which places are on your list of places to visit in Madrid? If you have already visited Madrid, which one of these would you recommend?

 

Visiting the Outskirts of Madrid

When traveling, most people tend to stay around in the center of the city or town they visit, as by the rule the most important landmarks are usually located nearby. This is also the case when visiting Madrid, the capital city of Spain. Additionally, if you happen to find an apartment in the center of Madrid, the chances are you will probably spend your trip circulating around central area and visiting nearby landmarks, such as the Plaza Mayor, the Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace, the Retiro Park, etc.

However, the outskirts of Madrid are just as interesting and worth visiting, which is why we would like to suggest some of the best locations which are good enough reason for you to think about visiting the outskirts of Madrid.

Alcalá de Henares

Alcalá de Henares is a small city 35 km east of Madrid, especially known by its historical center which is one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The city has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, being a home to many different cultures, that affected the region and played an important part in developing the scenery we know today. The city now has population of around 200,000 people and many historical sites that attract the tourists who want to explore the outskirts of Madrid.

One of the major landmarks in the city is certainly the university. The Universidad Complutense, which is known to be one of the oldest universities in the world, is actually founded in Alcalá de Henares in 1293. The university largely became popular during the Renaissance, but it was moved to Madrid in the 19th century. A new university, Universidad de Alcalá, was founded in 1977, occupying some of the old university buildings, as well as some newly built modern buildings.

Apart from the campus and wonderful old buildings that were built for the original university, Alcalá de Henares Cathedral is another architectural masterpiece you should visit in the city. The original chapel was built in the 5th century, but it was destroyed in the 11th, only to be rebuilt at the same place in the 11th century. Additional reconstructions and the process of adding a tower followed in the subsequent centuries, until finally the cathedral was declared a national monument in 1904. The Cathedral of Alcalá is notable as one of only two churches in the world to be granted the special title “Magistral”. Belgian St. Peter’s Church is the only other church in the world granted with this title.

The most important person to be born in Alcalá de Henares is Miguel de Cervantes, and the city hosts a ceremony the Cervantes Prize, on the 23rd of April, the anniversary of Cervantes’ death and the World’s Book Day.

Segovia

Segovia is the capital of Segovia Province, located around 80 km away from Madrid city center. The old city of Segovia was declared as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1985, due to a number of historic buildings, as well as a lot of sites of Jewish origin.

Aqueduct of Segovia is perhaps the most famous site in Segovia dating back to Roman period. This Roman aqueduct is considered to be the best oldest preserved monument on the Iberian Peninsula, dating from the period between 1st and 2nd century.

Alcazar of Segovia is the royal palace, which is also worth visiting while you are in this area. The Alcazar was the favorite residence of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Castile, which is why it is also known as Fortress of the Kings of Castile. The historic data show that the palace dates back from the 12th century, but it may be even older as there is no information to confirm that the building existed prior to this period. Around the building there are two courtyards and two towers. You can visit the palace from 10 am in the morning during the entire year, but you should have in mind that there is an entrance fee for visiting the palace and the towers.

 Alcazar of Segovia

The view of the Alcazar from the heights of “El Parral” or “La Fuencisla”
Image source: http://www.alcazardesegovia.com/en/#section-multimedia

Segovia Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the mains square of Segovia, the Plaza Mayor. Besides its historic and religious importance, the church is considered to be an architectural master piece, showcasing the best of Spanish architecture.

Segovia also has many beautiful gardens and parks, several museums, including the Gastronomic Museum of Segovia and the Museum of Witch Craft, and you can attend local festivals, most of which are held between June and September, including the biggest festival of all, Virgin of the Fuencisla, Patroness of Segovia, taking place on the 25th of September.

Toledo

Located 70 km south of Madrid, Toledo is another one of the World Heritage Sites in the outskirts of Madrid. The town has been declared a cultural and monumental heritage in 1986 by UNESCO, as one of the best places to illustrate the merge of Christian, Muslim and Jewish culture. This is one of the reasons why the town is also known as “the city of three cultures”, where people and their different cultures co-existed over the centuries in the past.

Toledo is located on a mountaintop and surrounded by Tagus River on three sides. The Alcázar of Toledo is a fortress located in the highest part of Toledo, and perhaps the most important landmark you can visit in this town. It was used as a palace by the Romans back in the 3rd century, proving the long history and importance it had for Toledo and its inhabitants throughout the history. The Alcázar of Toledo is opened for visitors every day between 11 am and 5 pm, except on Wednesdays, when it is closed for visitors.

 Alcazar of Toledo

The Alcázar of Toledo located in the highest part of the city
Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alc%C3%A1zar_atardeciente.jpg

Toledo Cathedral, fully named the Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo, is another landmark in the town of Toledo you should visit while you are exploring the outskirts of Madrid. It dates back to 13th century and it is built in Gothic style. Its richly designed interior and exterior is breathtaking and it represents a true masterpiece of the style and craftsmanship of the architects who set up the grounds, as well as those who participated in subsequent renovations and preservations of the church.

Toledo has been home to El Greco, a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance, during his later years, so today the town of Toledo even has El Greco Museum, a house-museum designed as a recreation of the artist’s home, where several of his paintings are kept.

Toledo is also famous gastronomy center, with many different gastronomy tours organized in the town. The local cuisine is heavily influenced by the routed traditions of the three cultures that co-existed in this location, making it diverse and unique in many aspects. The most famous food productions in Toledo are Manchego cheese and marzipan.

Aranjuez

Aranjuez is another town you should consider when you are visiting the outskirts of Madrid. It is located around 40 km south of Madrid. It has been one of the Royal Estates of the Crown of Spain since 16th century. Along with others, this town has also been enlisted as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1983.

One of the most notable landmarks in the town is certainly the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, the residence of the King of Spain. The palace is open for visitors as one of the Spanish royal sites. Besides the impressive building and intricate details on the façade of the palace, the huge gardens are also part of this amazing site, which has been worthy of being a residence of generations of Spanish royals. The Royal Palace of Aranjuez even features an art collection, which includes the Museo de la Vida en Palacio, displaying the daily lives of Spanish monarchs.

 The Royal Palace of Aranjuez

The view of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez
Image source: http://www.traveltosun.com/2011/06/16/the-royal-palace-of-aranjuez/

When it comes to festivals and local events, there are many events you could visit, and the most remarkable one is certainly the Mutiny of Aranjuez, organized during the first week of September. The events organized during this festival include funfair, sports events, food and drink stalls, a concert at the Royal Palace, dramatic streets re-enactment, fireworks, etc. This celebration is very important for the locals, it gathers a lot of visitors and it has been declared a cultural event of National Tourist interest.

El Escorial

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as El Escorial, is an hour drive away from Madrid and it represents a great place if you want to spend a day far from the city noise. El Escorial is a complex of buildings, representation of the Spanish Renaissance, as most of the complex was built during the second half of the 16th century. Due to the fact that it is located near Madrid, and yet holds such an immense value in terms of historical and cultural heritage, El Escorial is one of the most visited landmarks in the outskirts of Madrid.

This location was chosen by King Philip II of Spain for the place to construct a royal palace so this location represents an important site in the lives of the Spanish royals. The interior of the Escorial was decorated by many notable Spanish and Italian artists of the 16th and 17th century.

The complex consists of a royal palace, a monastery, a college, a church and a library. There are also towers in the corner of the complex. The basilica of San Lorenzo el Real, a Gothic cathedral, is located in the center of the building complex. The exterior is also beautifully decorated with gardens and fountains. While you walk around and explore, you will feel like you are able to vividly depict the life centuries back, where the complex and its beauty was just as impressive as nowadays, for tourists visiting the town.

El Escorial is open for visitors every day between 10 am and 8 pm between April and September, while the complex is closed at 6 pm during the period between October and March. The complex is closed on Mondays. Besides a tour of the actual complex, San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a small town perfect for walking around and enjoying the view of the mountains.

 el-escorial-1237573_1920

The view of the El Escorial’ façade and tower
Image source: https://pixabay.com/

Valley of the Fallen, in Spanish Valle de los Caídos, is a Catholic basilica in San Lorenzo de El Escorial which you can visit after El Escorial. It represents a historic monument for all the victims of the Spanish Civil War. The basilica is a product of the 20th century architecture, constructed under the influence of Spanish Neo-Herrerian style. You can visit this landmark any day of the week between 10 am and 7 pm, except on Mondays, when the site is closed for visitors.

As you can see, the outskirt of Madrid is just as impressive and worth visiting for all travelers who come to Madrid. If you choose one of the apartments in the center of Madrid, you can easily reach any of these places using a car, or going by bus or train. In case you are staying in Madrid for a couple of days, make sure you pick at least one of these places to visit on a day trip away from Madrid city center.