Living in Madrid is a dream for many. Here we have an article from the lovely Gabriele Pletaite of Lithuanian Abroad, who has made her home in Spain’s beautiful capital city.
I know Madrid is not the first choice of travellers coming to Spain. Many people chose Barcelona or Malaga instead of visiting Madrid. They want to enjoy the beaches, I know! But, I think Madrid is should not be a second choice of someone that is visiting Spain
And it’s definitely not another boring Capital city you just visit to cross it from your bucket list. I moved to Madrid more than four years ago for an internship that was part of my studies. After my internship was over, I liked Madrid so much that I decided to extend my stay. Then, I extended it again. And again. And now, I call Madrid my home.
Madrid is famous for its world-class museums, amazing cuisines, beautiful parks and amazing nightlife. And I am sure I can give you some tips on the best places to visit in Madrid if you are ever in town.
I hope I can convince you to spend a couple of days in Madrid, and trust me, you will fall in love with this city!
The Retiro Park
The Retiro Park is the most popular park in Madrid and is located in the very centre of Madrid. I love that Madrid has so many green places and I enjoy spending time there especially during the weekend. You can just walk around the park and explore all the different areas of the park. But here are the places you have to see at the Retiro Park:
Palacio de Cristal
It is a conservatory that belongs to the Reina Sofia Museum. It hosts great temporary art exhibitions. The current exhibition is about colonialism and very interesting. Entrance is free, by the way!
The Lake in the Retiro Park
In the centre of the park is a beautiful lake with a promenade. Did you know you can go on the little boats and row around the lake? A great experience to do with friends in the park!
El Retiro Park has its own Rose Garden that is absolutely beautiful! Especially, if you are in Madrid during the warmer months you have to visit this little park in order to see hundreds of roses in all colours and shapes.
Puerta del Sol
Every Madrid Tour usually starts at Puerta del Sol, or as the locals call it “Sol”. This is Madrid’s most popular square and also the most important public transport hub of the city.
This semi-circular square is always full of people and you can most definitely catch a street performance there. You will find dancers, mariachis, live music or other kinds of performances.
Apart from that, don’t forget to take a photo of the Tío Pepe sign. And look for the “Oso y el Madroño” statue (The Bear and the strawberry tree) that you can find on Puerta del Sol as well.
BUT! As Puerta del Sol always gets very crowded you should look out for pickpockets
Madrid’s world class art museums
As mentioned before, Madrid has world-class art museums that you definitely need to visit during your stay. Here is a summary about the 3 most important art museums in Madrid and what you can do there:
The Reina Sofia Museum
The Reina Sofia Museum is one of Madrid’s largest art museums. It mostly has art from Spanish Artists like Goya and Picasso. But they also host temporary art exhibitions you should look at. The highlight of the museum is Picasso’s painting “Guernica”.
The Prado Museum is Madrid’s most important art museum and has Spanish art as well as art from international artists like Albrecht Dürer. It is so big that you can just get lost in there for a whole afternoon.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is located in the ‘Palacio de Villahermosa’ in Madrid. It contains art owned by Heinrich Thyssen and his son. The Thyssen Museum, together with the Prado and the Reina Sofia Museum make part of Madrid’s “golden triangle of art”.
If you are an art fan, those are the three museums you cannot miss!
Templo de Debod
Templo de Debod is an Egyptian Temple that was gifted to the Spanish Government for its help in building dams in Egypt. It has been open to the public since 1972.
Did you know that this beautiful temple arrived in Spain with single stones? And then it was assembled right at the same spot where you can see it standing now.
I will tell you a secret: It is one of the most beautiful sunset spots in Madrid. From there, you have the perfect view of the lights on the Royal Palace and can look at the sun going down at the same time.
And if you have some time during your visit, you can stand in line in order to see the temple from the inside. A true treasure of Madrid!
Gran Vía is the main street of Madrid and used to be Madrid’s most important shopping street until the 60s.
Even after living in Madrid for so long I still enjoy walking around Gran Vía and looking at all the beautiful skyscrapers surrounding me. Seriously!
When you are walking around Gran Vía you have to look up. The buildings are incredibly beautiful.
Nowadays, you can find all kinds of shops on Gran Vía. Very popular are Primark, Zara or H&M.
Apart from that you can also find souvenir shops, theaters or restaurant chains.
Círculo de Bellas Artes
Since we are already talking about Gran Vía it only makes sense to mention “Círculo de Bellas Artes” as well.
Circulo de Bellas Artes is a very popular rooftop Terrace in Madrid. It is located right at the end of Gran Vía, next to the Banco de España.
You will have an amazing view over Gran Vía, the Metropolitan Building over to Palacio Cibeles. The terrace has a bar with many places where you can sit down and enjoy a drink while having fantastic views over the city.
Did you think that Madrid was going to be a dead city on a Sunday?! Think again.
Many markets, shops and museums are actually open on Sunday. And there is one attraction that you have to see if you happen to be in Madrid on a Sunday: El Rastro Flea Market.
El Rastro is the most popular open-air flea market in Madrid. It is located in the Neighborhood of Embajadores, right next to the metro station Puerta de Toledo. In this market you will find everything from used furniture, books, souvenirs to local products, accessoires and other random things.
Plaza de España
I am very excited to share this one with you, because Plaza de España was under construction for years, and opened to the public only a few days ago:
Plaza de España is a huge square in the centre of Madrid that was turned into a huge pedestrian area with a park and a chillout area. Apart from that it is surrounded by the skyscrapers and big buildings from Gran Vía. If you happen to visit Madrid in December you will see a beautiful Christmas tree in the centre of the Plaza. A great place to escape the noisy city for a while.
Jardín Secreto de Salvador Bachiller
This little secret garden is the perfect place for brunch or a drink in the afternoon. The “Salvador Bachiller” Shop in “Calle Montera” has a hidden bar and restaurant on their last two floors. And they are decorated so beautifully to make it look like a garden!
They have a very good brunch menu on the weekends. And if you ever feel like a cocktail, their cocktails are great and look very unique! In case you want to have a seat on the roof top bar, make sure to reserve before!
Elle, along with Alan, is the owner of Spain Buddy and the busy web design business – Spain Web Design by Gandy-Draper.
Born a “Norverner”, she then spent most of her life “Dann Saff” before moving to Spain in 2006. Elle’s loves are Alan, the internet, dogs, good food, and dry white wine – although not necessarily in that order.