Classic Madrid

  • El Madrid más clásico
    el_madrid_mas_clasico.jpg

To discover the most typical Madrid, the best place to start is the bustling Puerta del Sol, which has been pedestrianised and is the perfect place to take a photo with the Bear and the  Strawberry Tree, Kilometre Zero mark, Mariblanca, Casa de Correos and the legendary Tío Pepe neon sign. The itinerary continues in Plaza Mayor, where history spans four centuries, and then in Plaza de la Villa, the beating heart of the city in the Middle Ages, where you can still see some of the oldest buildings: the Lujanes House and Tower, the Cisneros House and Casa de la Villa.

Madrid’s cathedral, La Almudena, is a pebble’s throw from here. Take a look at the neo-Romanesque crypt and the dome, which affords marvellous views of the city. Next to the cathedral you can still find the remains of the Arab city walls and, of course, the Royal Palace, which is worth a visit. When you get out, take a few minutes off at the Sabatini Gardens or Campo del Moro Park, an extensive English-style garden  at the foot of the Palace where peacocks can be seen walking about.

In addition, Madrid has numerous statues scattered throughout the city, some of them with very curious and interesting stories such as El Día y la Noche (Day and Night) or " La mano " (The hand) by Botero.

Salón Gasparini del Palacio Real de Madrid

Parks and gardens

There are lots of green areas in Madrid. El Retiro Park is obviously a must – a historic park in the heart of the city where you can take a break or engage in interesting cultural activities. Main sights at El Retiro include the The Glass Palace and the Velázquez Palace (both of which host exhibitions mostly of contemporary art), the Monument to King Alfonso XII and the statue of the Fallen Angel. El Retiro is close to two of Madrid’s most popular attractions: the Alcalá Gate (Puerta de Alcalá) and the Cibeles Fountain.

It is also worth visiting Juan Carlos I Park (next to Campo de las Naciones), which has a lake where you can do several sports, fly kites and there is a free bike hire service, Cerro del Tío Pío (Vallecas), which offers spectacular views of Madrid from its seven hills, or the Palacio del Príncipe de Anglona Gardens (La Latina Quarter), an authentic –and hidden- haven of peace.

Finally, there are three parks that are becoming increasingly popular with locals: El Capricho, where you’ll find labyrinths, fountains, a pavilion and even a bunker that was the barracks of the Central Republican Army during the Civil War, Quinta de los Molinos with its beautiful almond trees, and Quinta de Torre Arias, with an amazing collection of plants and large patches of trees.

Art and about

There are three museums in Madrid that no art lover can miss, housing masterpieces from the Middle Ages to the present day. At the Prado Museum you can meet Goya, Velázquez, Titian, Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch, among other masters. The Reina Sofía Museum is home to Picasso’s Guernica and other great modern and contemporary art gems. Finally, the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum houses a rich art collection spanning several centuries, from the Trecento to the avant-garde.

If you’re planning to visit all three museums, the Paseo del Arte Pass could come in handy, as it offers interesting discounts.

In the nearby Barrio de las Letras (Literary Quarter) you can visit the Lope de Vega House Museum, not far from Miguel de Cervantes’s burial site at the Trinitarian Convent. For a selfie with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, you should go to Plaza de España (due to remodelling works, traffic through the gardens and the plaza will be affected until its completion, scheduled for February 2021). From here, you’re a short walk away from the Egyptian Temple of Debod, whose gardens afford some of the most stunning sunset views you can get in Madrid.

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. Salas ©Pablo Casares

Strolling, bar hopping, shopping

Madrid is great city for walking around and for going out for shopping and tapas. El Rastro, the city’s traditional flea market, and the taverns or tascas where you can have your evening aperitif are a must. Rehabilitated market halls – Antón Martín, San Antón, San Miguel – now gather some of the finest food stalls in town. There are others away from the city centre: Chamberí, Maravillas, La Paz, Las Ventas

In terms of shopping, the Sol-Preciados-Carmen and Mayor-Arenal areas form an immense open-air shopping centre, open every day of the week with multi-brand and designer shops.

Don't forget the century-old shops, which include alpargaterías (shops dedicated to the espadrilles trade), jalmerías (saddles), guitarrerías (guitars), cordelerías (ropes), cuchillerías (knives), sastrerías (tailors) or corcheras (cork stoppers).

Flamenco and football

Madrid is one of the most passionate cities about football in Spain. There are three stadiums you can visit: Santiago Bernabéu (Real Madrid CF house that is currently under renovation); Wanda Metropolitano of Atlético Madrid, which has undergone major renovation; and Vallecas Stadium, where the city’s third football club, Rayo Vallecano, plays.

Madrid is also considered to be the world capital of flamenco, home to some of the oldest and most traditional tablaos.

 

You can explore the most alternative side to Madrid, too!

 

DON'T MISS

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Discover the city's most popular sights and attractions, from one of Europe's largest royal palaces to the magnificent Prado Museum and Real Madrid's stadium. 

  • There’s something for everyone in Madrid: budget, luxury, families, LGTBIQA+, alternative or classic… Pick your own Madrid!

    Choose Your Madrid
  • Puesta de sol desde la azotea del Círculo de Bellas Artes. © César Lucas para Madrid Destino
  • A short but fascinating introduction to the city’s main museums which boast an important cultural heritage encompassing most European styles

    Art in Madrid Guide (PDF)
  • Art in Madrid Guide
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  • A selection of ten statues around the city that come out to meet visitors

    Madrid Statues
  • Estatuas de Madrid
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  • All public parks and gardens in the city are once again fully open to the public.

    Parks and Gardens
  • Lago de la Casa de Campo
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