Summary. 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.
Day 2 of our time in Madrid started with a stop at Cafetería Magerit. Located on Plaza Mayor, we stopped here for churros con chocolate just before heading out for a walking tour. This was perfect sweet, warm treat on a cool morning in Madrid.
The Plaza Mayor was first build 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.
Almudena Cathedral (photo above) is one of the stops on the walking tour.
After the walking tour we stopped and add our picnic lunch in the park just across from the Royal Palace entrance. After that we made our way to the Royal Palace. This functioning palace is the home of the Spanish Royal Family. Tours of the palace include rooms where official state ceremonies take place. Our tour guide explained how the floor carpets are brought up, along with the rails and signage, and instantly a room is available for use. The palace is also filled with works of art, both on the walls and also ceilings (photos below).
After taking a tour of the Royal Palace, we headed over to visit the 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.
Our last sightseeing stop in Madrid was at the 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. After our late dinner the night before, and after filling up on all the wonderful food at the market, we turned in early before our early train to our next stop, Seville.