If anybody’s got life figured out, it has to be the Spanish. The “fiesta and siesta” approach to life is sure to resonate with travellers, and there’s no better place to soak it up than in Spain’s bustling capital. With more tapas than you could eat in a lifetime, dazzling historic buildings and a pumping nightlife, there is an unmistakable atmosphere in Madrid.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Madrid and narrowing down your itinerary can be a challenge. To help you out, here are our top 5 things you just can’t miss.
1. The Royal Palace of Madrid
Many cities have Royal Palaces but few are as enormous or as imposing as that in Madrid. It is the largest palace in Europe, with over 3,400 rooms and 135,000 square meters of floor space. Only a small selection is open to the public, but it is enough to get an idea of the absolute grandeur of this 17th Century building. Prepare to be amazed.
2. Dance Bachata and Salsa
The passion in Madrid is infectious and there’s few better ways to show your passion for the city than dancing the night away. The two most famous types of dance in Madrid are salsa and bachata, and there are plenty of clubs and bars where you can watch and join in. There are also organized classes if you’d prefer to learn some moves before unleashing on the good people of Madrid.
3. Eat Tapas
While there may be more tapas than you could eat in a lifetime, you sure can try! Forget whatever you have tried back home, tapas in Spain is an art form, and Madrid bars are the masters. Half the fun is simply dropping into a humble tapas bar and ordering whatever is on the menu (bonus points if you don’t understand it), but if you’re on the hunt for some of the best tapas in the city, try La Casa del Abuelo, still run by the same family who started it in 1906.
4. Plaza Mayor
A recognizable feature of most Spanish towns is the plaza, a meeting spot for important events and activities. Today, the important events and activities tend to be sipping on a café con leche and people watching. The square itself is very impressive, first built in the 16th Century but extensively redesigned over time. It is famous for the symmetry amongst its buildings, which gives a uniformed, cohesive look. It is also the best place to try a “calamari sandwich” – an unusual but tasty lunch option.
5. Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
If Madrid is a city of passion, it reaches a fever pitch whenever cross-city football rivals Real Madrid and Madrid Atletico meet. The home stadium of Real Madrid – Europe’s most successful team, as any fan will tell you – is a gigantic 85,000 seat complex that is frequently filled with screaming fans. Even if you can’t get in to watch a game, you can still tour the stadium and get a taste for the city’s love of the world game.