Madrid, the capital city of Spain formed the last leg of our Europe trip (read our adventures in Seville, Granada, Lisbon and Algarve by clicking on these hot links). Its a new-ish city, compared to the old world charm of Seville and Granada, and is a bustling metropolis filled with many attractions. In this post, I will guide you through some of the popular Madrid tourist attractions as well as a fun food tour that we joined during our 72 hour stay in the capital city. Much like in Lisbon, Seville and Granada, we opted for an Airbnb apartment too in Madrid which is conveniently located on Calle Arrieta, and is a stone’s throw from the Opera Metro Station. For your convenience, I have split the guide by day while listing the many Madrid tourist attractions. And if you have more time on your hands, read this guide to scenic nature escapades near Madrid or this charming guide on a day trip to Segovia or Montserrat that are easy excursions from the capital!
Madrid tourist attractions # 1. Puerto Del Sol
Start off in the belly of the beast with a walk along Puerto Del Sol, the main (and, super touristy) street of the city. Do not miss the Plaza Mayor on Puerta de Sol which is also the location for Madrid’s iconic symbol, the Bear and the Strawberry Tree which serves as a hotspot for photos, selfies and photo bombers alike. Next, stop at Círculo de Bellas Artes to get a bird’s eye view of Madrid stretching out below. Círculo de Bellas Artes, at the beginning of Gran Via, charges a mean 4 euros for their terrace view which is not that bad considering what you get in return, i.e., a spectacular view of the city. The terrace also doubles up as a bar and place to have a drink and is thus a perfect place to have a good time over the setting Madrid sun.
Madrid tourist attractions # 2 Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Stop by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, simply named as Thyssen (after its founder) which is home to nearly a thousand pieces of art spanning from the 13-20th century, and is part of the “Golden Triangle of Art” in Madrid, the other two being the Museo De Prado and the Reina Sofia galleries. Awesome tip time: Sundays after 6 are free at the Prado, so if you are a frugal museum freak, you might want to come in early and stand in line to get your fill of art for free! if you have kids in your group, make sure you introduce them to these fantastic books on Spain so that they can appreciate the arts and culture of this destination even more!
Madrid tourist attractions # 3 Chocolatería San Gines
If you have the case of the notorious sweet tooth, then you cannot leave Madrid without a visit the famous Chocolatería San Gines, where you have to rest your achy feet and indulge in some of the best drinking chocolate and churros in the world (basically the only two products they sell). Sip into the deliciousness of the sinful chocolate, which is as rich and dark as the man in your wildest fantasies (sorry gentlemen, couldn’t find an appropriate contextual subject for you, so pardon the unintentional sexism). Better still, dip the churros in it and be transported to an utter state of Nirvana.
Madrid has lots of great places to eat and drink. But why do all that hard work and sweaty research when you can get experts to guide you? Also, what better way to know a city than sample some of it’s local cuisine? To get these two together in one package, simply go on a food tour of Madrid, just as we did. You can read all about our experience (one of the best food tours that I have been on and I have been to many) here in this blog post. I highly recommend joining this food tour for fellow foodie travelers!
Madrid tourist attractions # 4 Prado museum
Whatever you do, dear art lover, do not miss visiting the Reina Sofia where lies Picasso’s Guernica, one of the most famous paintings in the world. I did and I cannot tell you how much I regret not figuring out that this particular museum is closed on Tuesdays. During our visit, we did get to see some Picasso creations at the Prado museum next door, which had ten Picassos on loan from the Kunstmuseum, Basel. After being awed by Goya and van der Weyden at the museum (photography prohibited in most galleries), we headed out to explore what was left of Madrid in a leisurely pace.
Our last day in Madrid was nothing much to write about except two wonderful meals that we had at two small restaurants, that were on the list provided by our food tour guide. I can still taste the garlic prawns at the small cafe, which till date is the best that I’ve ever had. Again, you get many such good recommendations when on a food tour, so do not give one a miss when in Madrid.
This brings me to the end of 72 hours in Madrid, listing some notable Madrid tourist attractions. Madrid is a beautiful city and I highly recommend making it a part of your itinerary when you visit Spain. Thank you so much for reading! Finally, the main train station at Madrid has electronic lockers for you to store your luggage, so if your hotel does not have a concierge service or you are staying in an Airbnb, then this is a good option to check out so that you don’t have to haul your luggage around while touring the city.
We spent only a week in Spain and could not cover all cities! So in case you want to visit Valencia, the third largest city in the country, read this superb Valencia guide to organize your travel itinerary.
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