The Palacio Real has to be seen to be believed. It’s enormous! With its 1,000’s of rooms, even a stroll around the outside is impressive enough to pass half the morning.
Another one of the fantastic things to do in Madrid is to check out the museums. Madrid is famous for its so-called ‘Golden Triangle‘ where you can find three of the most impressive Art museums in Spain all within fifteen minutes walking distance of each other. The Reina Sofia boasts a superb collection of 20th century art, and is best known for Picasso’s painting, ‘Guernica‘ that depicts the bombing of the town of the same name during the Spanish Civil War. The Prado houses an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures from as far back as the 10th century. There are works of art from a huge number of international artists, and with over 100 paintings from Goya alone it’s well worth a visit. Right next door to the Prado is the Thyssen-Bornemisza, which was once a stunning 18th century palace.
We don’t think you can find a wider choice of food anywhere in Spain. As a capital city, Madrid caters for every taste. This is one of the few cities in Spain where even vegetarians will be spoilt for choice! Prices range from expensive, for top quality restaurants, to cheap as chips for surprisingly good quality tapas bars; of which there are hundreds! The tourists normally head for the Plaza Mayor, which pushes the prices up. I recommend sticking to the side streets off the Plaza for the best value. Madrid is also home to the legendary ‘churro’ which is a donut like strip that should be dunked in gloopy hot chocolate. To try churros at their sticky best you must visit the famous San Gines churreria in the centre. The selection of tapas is mind boggling and some of the best tapas bars are to be found on the trendy Cava Baja street not far from the Plaza Mayor. The great thing is that you can eat tapas at any time until about 1am! I would also recommend trying every bar around the Plaza Santa Ana, although when you reach the bustling Vinoteca, you may have to stay a while to get the chance to try everything on the menu. If you are looking for somewhere more intimate. It has an extensive wine list and sumptuous food.
Museo del Prado The Museo del Prado is the main Spanish national art museum, located in central Madrid. It features one of the world’s finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and unquestionably the best single collection of Spanish art. Founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture, it also contains important collections of other types of works. A new, recently opened wing enlarged the display area by about 400 paintings, and it is currently used mainly for temporary expositions. El Prado is one of the most visited sites in the world, and it is considered to be among the greatest museums of art. The large numbers of works by Velázquez and Francisco de Goya (the artist more extensively represented in the collection), Titian, Rubens and Bosch are among the highlights of the collection. The collection currently comprises around 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings, in addition to a large number of other works of art and historic documents. By 2012 the Museum will be displaying about 1300 works in the main buildings, while around 3,100 works are on temporary loan to various museums and official institutions. The remainder are in storage. The best-known work on display at the museum is Las Meninas by Velázquez. Velázquez not only provided the Prado with his own works, but his keen eye and sensibility was also responsible for bringing much of the museum’s fine collection of Italian masters to Spain.
Bars and Clubs Madrid is known as the city that never sleeps, and with good reason! The locals have adopted the name ‘gatos‘ meaning ‘cats’, as they are out on the tiles all night. I think they manage it because most bars serve an accompanying tapa (small snack) with each drink, which gives you the strength to carry on! Whatever your taste in nightlife, it will undoubtedly be here; there are Irish bars, Latino bars, Flamenco bars and dance clubs. Bars are to be found in the most surprising locations. At the weekend many of them charge an entrance fee, which includes your first drink – redeemable with the ticket you are given when you pay at the door. Some good places to start discovering the plethora of nightlife on offer are listed below. Palacio Gaviria is an ultra cool dance club near Puerta Del Sol. It also holds Tango classes during the week! Be prepared to dress smart, and to pay more for drinks than you would do in the bars. The area of Huertas, not far from the Plaza Santa Ana is bursting with bars and clubs. This is a hugely popular zone, where the young crowd go to drink and dance until the small hours. The bars are all pretty similar, but the fact that they are all crammed into one street means you don’t have to stumble far between each one! In the heart of the area known as La Latina, tucked into the street of Cava Baja is the bar El Tempranillo. It has a stunning selection of wines and delectable tapas, and gets very busy later at night. A lively gay scene is waiting to be discovered at night in the Chueca district. Although Chueca is great fun for everyone and there are bars that attract a mixed crowd. The district of Chueca is easy to find. Take metro line number 5, which runs right through it.