Madrid, the capital city of Spain, has always been one of my favorite cities in the world due in part to my Spanish heritage but also because as cities go, it's quite lovely. For starters, the city has some of the best tapa bars in the Country but also a beautiful expansive city park, a Palace, museums, and rich history. Be sure to taste some of my most favorite Spanish foods here like Paella, Jamon, Chorizo, Croquettes, Manchego, Spanish Tortilla, Olives, Patatas and so many more. Though the entire Metropolitan area is quite large, the majority of the site-seeing is within walking distance of the Central neighborhood of Sol. Public transportation is easily accessible as well.
Catedral de Sta Maria la Real de la Almudena: This Gothic revival style Catholic Cathedral sits across from the Royal Palace and on the Plaza de Oriente. Consecrated in 1993, this Cathedral is relatively new as compared to other main Cathedrals in Spain's larger cities.
Royal Palace of Madrid: This functioning palace is the home of the Spanish Royal Family. Tours of the palace include rooms where official state ceremonies take place. Check the website for updates as you may qualify for free entry.
Retiro Park and Puerta de Alcalá. Retiro Park is a 15,000 tree park in the heart of Madrid. Rent a row boat and enjoy some time on the park's Lake or simply stroll through this manicured park and enjoy the greenery and sculptures. Puerta de Alcalá is located in the Plaza de la Independencia right near the entrance of Retiro Park. Completed in 1778, this Neo-Classical gate was built at what was once the main entrance of Madrid.
Plaza Mayor & Free Walking Tour: The Plaza Mayor was first built in the early 16th Century which has over the centuries hosted events, bullfights, coronations and other historical occasions. Plaza Mayor is also the meeting place for Sandeman's Free Walking Tour. We highly recommend this 3-hour tour as it is a perfect way to get a crash-course in Madrid history. Don't forget to tip your tour-guide for this tip-based program.
Prado Museum and Queen Sofia Arts Center: Museo Nacional del Prado holds the best collection of Spanish art including Las Meninas by Velázquez and collections from Francisco Goya. The museum also holds priceless paintings by Rembrandt, Monet, and other well-known artists. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (no photo) is a 20th Century art museum that holds collections from two of Spain's most famous artists of that Century, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. It also holds Picasso's well-known painting, "Guernica."
Mercado San Miguel: This market is a tourist attraction for sure but it's worth it because in just one stop, you can sample all the local delicacies you can't miss while in Spain. Chorizo, Olives, Marcona Almonds, Sangria (our favorite on a hot day), Jamon, Manchego cheese, and more.
Where We Stayed
Air BnB: Located near the center of the Sol neighborhood in Madrid, this centrally located apartment flat was perfect for our needs. Clean, spacious, and easily accessible. (Photo credit right: Air BnB Listing).
Where We Ate
Taberna la Carmela: Located near Sol District of Madrid, this restaurant came recommended for their Paella. We had a local, family friend, with us and we were spoiled by the server and host when they learned we were Spanish-Americans.
Cafetería Magerit: Located on Plaza Mayor, we stopped here just before heading out for a walking tour for churros con chocolate. This was perfect sweet, warm treat on a cool morning in Madrid.