Madrid Travel Guide

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Templo De Debod

Templo De Debod

Antony Bruce

Madrid is a lively city, meaning that Madrid activities are plentiful and readily available just about any time of the day. And according to just about every Madrid travel guide, the city really heats up at night and the frenzy continues into the wee hours of the morning. No one really knows when the Madrileños sleep. It may be the afternoon siesta that gives them the endurance to keep things going well after sunrise or maybe it's the multitude of fuel filled foods and dishes prepared in one of the thousands of Madrid restaurants.

It's ok to book a room in one of the top Madrid hotels--if only for the memorable  experience, but don't count on spending much time in your room. Remember, Madrid truly is one of the best cities to explore in Spain.

Plan several hours to enjoy Madrid activities such as visiting San Nicolas de los Servitas – the oldest church in Madrid. Visit the Victory Arch, the Palacio Real, and the Plaza de las Cibeles and Puerta del Sol- And no Madrid activities list is complete without a visit to a Madrid flea market.

Plan on leaving your Madrid hotel early one Sunday morning to head to El Rastro Flea Market. Located in La Latina, this is where you will find the Madrileño's real essence! And don't worry about running out of fuel. La Latina has a wide variety of tasty Madrid restaurants to choose from suited to just about any budget.

Skim through any Madrid travel guide and you will also come across dozens of museums that shouldn’t be missed.  Including the Royal Palace, Madrid has 15 significant museums, dozens of galleries, and several private collections. The three most famous Madrid museums are: the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Reina Sofia museum. You might end up spending more than just one day just exploring museums. In fact, you could spend days in the halls of the Prado alone.

While this Mardrid activity is well deserving of a top spot on your to do list, it is, however, quite possible to grow tired of all the museums in the city. If this happens, take a break, sit down at a terraza (outdoor cafe), and watch the world go by. You can even visit one of the many beautiful parks and lakes in the city. One of the nicest parks in Madrid is Retiro Park near the Prado. For a panoramic view of Madrid take the elevator to the bar on the 26th floor of the Edificio de Espana, which faces the Plaza de Espana.

Madrid is a city that never seems to close down. Madrid restaurants and bars are open very late and the city's Santa Ana district, in fact, never does close down. Dinner typically begins after 10 p.m., and with dinner out of the way, revelers usually head off to their favorite disco show, jazz club, or late-night cafe to party until dawn.

Those who love traditional performing arts will want to go to the Teatro Real for Spanish light opera known as zarzuela. You can also find good flamenco shows in several nightclubs including Cafe Chinitas – a popular Madrid restaurant and flamenco club.

If you're in Madrid during the second half of May be sure to book your Madrid hotel early so you can join Madrileños in celebrating the Feria de San Isidro. Feria de San Isidro features music, operas, concerts, bullfighting, dancing, and all-night entertainment. Also, in mid-August, Madrid celebrates the Verbena de la Paloma.

Madrid hotels are stylish, plentiful, and downright cozy, but don’t be afraid to check out and leave the city for a night or two – especially if you’re planning to stay for two weeks or more. Outside of Madrid, day trips can be made to Avila, El Escorial, Guadalajara, Segovia, and Toledo.

Top Ten Things to Do in Madrid

Bullfighting Performances at Las Ventas – Not for the faint of heart, bullfighting is considered a form of art in Spain, not a sport. The bullfighting season runs from March-October and bullfighting performances are held every Sunday afternoon. Las Ventas is the largest bullring in Spain and it is located at Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, c/Alcala, 237, Ph: 91 356 22 00, www.las-ventas.com .

Art Walk: The art walk covers the three most famous Madrid museums the Prado, the Thyssen- Bornemisza, and the Reina Sofia Museum. The Prado is located at Calle Ruiz de Alarcon 23, Ph: +34 91 330 2800, www.museodelprado.es . Thyssen-Bornemisza is located at Prado 8, +34 91 369 01 51, www.museothyssen.org , e-mail mtb@museothyssen.org . Reina Sofia Museum, Calle Santa Isabel, 52, Ph: +34-91-774-10-00, www.museoreinasofia.es.

San Nicolas de los Servitas – San Nicolas de los Servitas is the oldest church in Madrid. The bell tower, built in the 12 th century, is one of the oldest structures in Madrid. Inside the church you will find sculptures by Nicolas Busi and paintings by Pedro de Mena as well as exhibits, which detail Islamic history. San Nicolas de los Servitas is located at Plaza San Nicolas, Ph: 91-559-40-64. Admission is free.

El Rastro Flea Market -  Located in La Latina, El Rastro Flea Market helps you get up close and personal with Madrileño's real essence! El Rastro takes place every Sunday from 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and it is located between Plaza Mayor, La Latina, and Puerta de Toledo. Tip: Prices are not set in stone so remember this phrase: cuanto cuesta? (kwan-to kwes-tah) – This means “How much is it?”

Retiro Park – Located behind the Prado Museum (Calle Ruiz de Alarcon 23), Retiro Park is one of the nicest and most popular parks in Madrid. Highlights include: a Victorian greenhouse, Crystal Palace, and a small swan filled man-made lake. Rent a rowboat to explore the surroundings or for a panoramic view of Madrid take the elevator to the bar on the 26th floor of the Edificio de Espana , which faces the Plaza de Espana.

Teatro Real -   Perfect for those who love traditional performing arts, Teatro Real features Spanish light opera performances known as zarzuela. If you feel like a late bite or a vodka drink just pop into 1917 Blinis & Vodkas, a few meters from the theatre. Teatro Real is located Plaza de Oriente, Ph: 91-516-06-96, www.teatro-real.es , e-mail: info@teatro-real.com.

Palacio Real (The Royal Palace) – The Royal Palace features 2,800 magnificent rooms. Highlights include: Salon del Trono   (throne room), the Royal Library (Biblioteca Real), the Banquet Hall, and Salon de Gasparini   -- King Carlos III’s private apartments. The Royal Palace is located at Calle Balien, Ph: 91-454-8800. A two-hour, one-mile guided tour is available.

Contributors

August 07, 2008 change by flamenco (1 point)

February 22, 2007 change by rfujitani (1 point)

May 15, 2008 change by mcburton (1 point)

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