Whenever I visit Madrid, I have always been amazed at the pride that locals feel for this majestic city. Madrid concentrates population from all around Spain, making it a unique place where different traditions and characters from this country converge and feed off of each other. If we add the international flavor that the city has to offer, we can understand its cosmopolitan and welcoming nature. If you´re planning a city break where you can enjoy a diverse range of activities, a Madrid city break may be just what you’re looking for. You may not have time to do it all, but at least you can relish in some of the most unique experiences this city has to offer.
If there is one thing Madrid is famous for, it´s for the street life it has. Good weather helps, and so does the amount of offer there is. The Gran Vía, going from the famous Metropolis building all the way to Plaza España, this is the main artery of the city. Shops, bars and theaters all come together along this wide street of over one kilometer in length. This street is probably the main image of the city, but don´t forget about the North-South axes: Paseo de la Castellana, Paseo del Prado and Paseo de Recoletos. Of the three, Paseo de la Castellana concentrates the financial nucleus of Madrid, exclusive shops and hotels. Along this unending street, you can also find the Museum of Natural Sciences, the ministeries and Castilla Square. Get out your walking shoes and hit the streets. With so much walking, you will soon be hungry! Head to la Latina and be prepared for a pleasant surprise.
Tapas, for those of you who haven´t visited Spain and been properly immersed in this way of eating will be surprised by the system. You go to a bar, ask for a beer or glass of wine, and with it comes a small portion of some delicacy from the Spanish cuisine, free of charge! Hence the beauty of the tapa. You can go out for drinks and enjoy a free dinner. It´s no wonder everybody here enjoys bar life so much. Go from bar to bar and make a game out of looking for the best tapas, which will not be few!
El Retiro: green shelter in the middle of urban chaos
If you need a complete break from city life, walking through the Retiro will transport you to a world of the palace gardens of the 17th Century. Madrid barely has one or two months of real winter, which makes this nearly a year round activity. The nature from this place will take you to new levels of relaxation. If you find yourself in need of some cultural stimulation, the palace is always presenting very interesting modern art exhibitions. If you are lucky, you will also be able to enjoy the annual book fair that is also celebrated here. To complete your experience, you can enjoy the multiple animation activities that are always going on throughout the park: concerts, dummy shows, street artists and fortune tellers.
Getting carried away along the Art Triangle of Madrid is a must in any visit to the city, however short it may be. The Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza give shape to the triangle, which can be found on the street which receives the same name as the largest art gallery in the world, paseo del Prado. Although, it isn´t necessary to access a museum to enjoy the art life of Madrid. Art can be felt in the air, from small galleries, such as Ivorypress, street artists like Suso33 and collectives as BoaMistura, as well as temporary exhibitions from young artists in bars and restaurants complete the art scene of Madrid.
I hope you take the time to break away from your daily grind for a quick city break in Madrid. I am sure you will be pleased with the city and your decision.