10 things you shouldn’t miss in Madrid
1. The Crystal Palace
No kidding, this picture on Driftwood Journal’s blog made we want to go to Madrid. When I arrived at the Crystal Palace for the first time, it was even more magical than in the picture because they had a peaceful sound installation going on. With or without art projects, this is my favorite place in Madrid.
2. The Prado museum
Many articles have been written about the Prado, so I will refrain from telling you how humbling a visit is an how classy and educated you will feel when you come out. Me, being not quite that classy I first heard about it in the movie “Ocean’s Twelve” and then sort of stumbled upon it during my first visit. When I came back to Madrid a few years later I took advantage of their free entrance on Sunday afternoons. If there is one thing I want to leave you with about this museum it’s this: if you are interested in going in for free, be there at least an hour or two before they open the doors to non-paying patrons! Behind us, I could literally not see the end of the line.
3. The Nightlife
During one of my visits to Madrid I was lucky enough to travel with somebody who had local friends, which is how we ended up with a private “guided” tour of the bars. They are not joking when they say there is nightlife every day of the week. Vermouth is the thing to drink apparently – love! And in one night walking around the center of town we saw the cozy bars, the vintage bars, the rooftop bars with a view, the tapas bars, the wine bars, countless types of gin and tonic and the celebratory spirit of the locals.
4. The tapas
During my years of living in Spain tapas have really grown on me, they are regionally different and just perfect with a glass of wine or cava. I was surprised to learn that one of the most popular dishes in Madrid is a calamari sandwich (bocadillo), given that the city is about as far away from the sea as you can get in Spain. And while we´re on the food subject: also make sure to try churros in one of the historic churrerias – dipped in barely liquid hot chocolate this has become my favorite Madrid treat.
5. The Reina Sofia museum
Even if you are not into art – check out the roof top!
6. The bull fighting arena (if you can stomach it)
I always struggle with these things – do I put them on the list or not? As much as I don’t support bull fighting as such, architecturally some of these arenas are worth seeing. In Madrid, bull fighting is still legal, which I did not know until I literally showed up at Las Ventas. But you can also just take a tour and learn about the history and the structure.
7. Edificio Metropolis
Made famous on posters, to me this building with its statue crowned dome is to Madrid what the Flatiron building is to New York: regardless of what’s inside the building it makes for wonderful easy to capture photos.
8. The Royal Palace
Royal Palace Madrid
Spain still has a king and a royal family. They allow visitors inside the Royal Palace, where you can wander through the halls where history was made. Even though it feels a lot like a museum, they still use these rooms – one of them for example was the location of the abdication in 2014.
9. Bernabeu stadium
If you like European football, don’t miss this! I am not a fan, so I didn’t take the tour, but I was lucky enough to attend a work function once in the VIP lounge of the stadium overlooking the field over tapas dinner. I was impressed. It’s a little out of the way though, so I recommend this if you a little more time in Madrid. I happened to be lucky and was staying within walking distance, at the Meliá Castilla.
10. San Miguel Market
If you can stand the crowds, visit this gem – fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, fish, cheese, meat and tapas in a historic building with little eateries serving their specialties. It’s very centrally located, not far from Place Major and easy to get to.
What´s your favorite spot in Madrid?