Madrid is the fourth biggest and most populated city of Europe, with more than 3.2 mio inhabitants living in the city. Only considering that fact, you can imagine that there are many things to see and do.

Madrid in a nutshell

The city of Madrid is the capital of both The Autonomous community of Madrid and Spain. It is situated on the banks of the Manzanares River, in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula. It is the third largest city and third most populated in the European Union, after London and Berlin.

As the state capital, Madrid is the headquarters of the government, Parliament, ministries, and partner organizations, as well as the official residence of the kings of Spain, Madrid is considerate the major financial center in Southern Spain because of its economic output and high standard of Living.

Madrid is the 10th most livable city in the world according to Monocle magazine- 2010. Madrid is the fourth most visited city in Europe, it is well known for its large quantity of cultural attractions and possesses many historic neighborhoods and streets. The favorite tourist attractions are: the Royal Palace of Madrid; the Teatro Real (Royal theatre), the Buen Retiro park, the 19th-century National Library building and the Golden Triangle of Art. (source: Madrid Guide)

Top experiences in Madrid

I spent a long weekend with a close friend of mine in Madrid. We basically had no expectations, so that we were pleasantly surprised when exploring the city. We totally digged the flair, the food and generally the city’s diversity.

These are my top four picks:

Buen Retiro Park

The Buen Retiro Park (“Park of the Pleasant Retreat”, in english) is the first biggest park of Madrid city. It has 1.4 km2 (350 acres) at the edge of the city center. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park. It’s a magnificent park, filled with beautiful sculpture and monuments, galleries, a peaceful lake and host to a variety of events.

My friend and I truly enjoyed our daily walks through the park, had lunch at the lake and I even went for a morning run. It was just very peaceful and relaxing. However, on Sunday afternoon it can be pretty crowded around the lake.

Museo del Prado

When it comes to art, Madrid knows few rivals. The Museo Del Prado justifiably attracts more visitors than any other museum in Spain. You can easily spend a whole day inside the museum.

Widely considered the world’s best single collection of Spanish art, The Prado Museum, in central Madrid, is not to be missed. Priceless paintings and sculptures by Spanish masters like Goya, Velázquez, and El Greco, not to mention the largest collection of works by Italian masters outside Italy, are housed in a beautiful 18th-century government building.

For me, it was very impressive.

Best steak restaurant in the city: La Cabaña Argentina

I can honestly say, it is the best Argentinian restaurant in Madrid: excellent service, fair prices and the food and wine are to die for. It is very popular. So make sure to get a reservation via email or phone.

Chocolatería San Ginés

This is the most famous churro (fried-dough pastry) destination in Spain, and rightfully so. The location large with marble flooring is only a few blocks away from Plaza De Mayor

For 4 Euros you get 6 (very long and curly) churros with hot chocolate dipping sauce. The churros are hot and crispy on the outside with a fluffy center. But beware: it gets pretty crowded in the evening, since it literally is the BEST place to get your pastry.

All in all, in Madrid you can do almost anything you want. You can walk through the narrow streets of the medieval part of the city (Madrid de los Austrias), go to a theatre in the Times Squarish Gran Vía, go shopping to the very upscale Salamanca district, have dinner at midnight in any restaurant, go to a fancy club until 6 am or more, have a beer and talk to foreign students in an Irish club, relax in a spa, ski in an artificial mountain at Xanadú shopping mall, ride a boat in Retiro’s park lake, enjoy an opera, sit in a Paseo de Recoletos terrace, eat at the top of a skyscraper, visit the impressive Royal Palace, admire the local architecture, go to the zoo from the city centre in a cable car or spend a day at the Warner Bros. funfair.

The only problem is that you won’t have enough time to do it all in three days. But then you have many reasons to come back again.


photo credits: V’s World