12 Things you Shouldn`t Miss in Madrid
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When I think of the time that I have spent in Madrid and trying to choose the best things for you to see and do I feel a bit overwhelmed. This is the city where I had my first Couchsurfing experience and I have met so many lovely people and at the same time this is the first city where I traveled solo for the first time.
Madrid is a city where you can walk from place to place thanks to the fact that all attractions are within walking distance. The only time I used the metro was to go to the train station and catch my train to Vigo. This is a list of 10 things you shouldn`t miss in Madrid.
1. Plaza Mayor
I will start with Plaza Mayor because this is the main square in Madrid and it is also considered as a meeting point not only for tourists but for locals too. The square is walled in with buildings and it has many cafes where you can relax or have your first morning coffee.
INTERESTING FACT: The statue that is in the middle of the square was omitting an odor in the past. For some time they didn`t know where the unpleasant smell was coming from to later on discover that the smell is from bird`s skeletons that got trapped in the horse`s mouth. After the realization they have sealed the mouth of the horse.
2. Templo de Debod
Templo de Debod is te perfect place where you can get away from the busy city and relax. The perfect timing would be when the sun sets. This is an actual Egyptian temple that was brought to Madrid from Egypt. Templo de Debod is very different from the buildings that you see in the center of Madrid, but this is what actually makes the city to be so diverse. The place is packed with locals during the weekend. Unfortunately when we visited it was on a rainy day so we couldn`t enjoy the place that much.
3. Palacio De Cibeles
Palacio De Cibeles is my favourite building in Madrid with its white façade and the fountain in front of it. Nowadays the palace serves as Madrid City Hall but in the past it was a post office. What I wish I knew when I visited Madrid was that it is possible to go inside the building for only $2. The reason to go inside is that there is a spectacular view from the rooftop.
INTERESTING FACT: If you are Real Madrid`s fan, the fountain is the official place where you can celebrate big wins together with the players.
4. Parque del Retiro
Retiro Park is the most popular park in Madrid that covers 350 acres. You can go for a walk, have a picnic or rent a boat and paddle around the pond. You visit is not complete if you do not spend some time at the Crystal Palace. The Palace is breathtaking during a sunset. In the 17th century this park was a private park where the royal family organized bullfights. The park was open to public a century later but even then it was required to dress elegantly to enter it.
5. Mercado de San Miguel
One of the most beautiful markets in Madrid is the Mercado de San Miguel. This is the oldest market where you can have some of the best local dishes. This is the place where I had the best paella. I can prepare it muself now, but it never has the same texture as the one that is sold at the Mercado de San Miguel.
6. Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is the official residence of the royal family which is open for public. You can visit the palace and see paintings and furniture that are centuries old. As a matter of fact the King and the Queen live in another more modest palace but I guess they still need these many rooms.
7. KIO Towers
Kio Towers might resemble the Leaning tower of Pisa, but actually these gravity defying towers are the first leaning skyscrapers in the world.
8. Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is a busy square that is located in the exact center of the country. The most famous symbol of this square is the bear with the strawberry tree. I was surprised to find out that the statue is actually very small. For some reason I expected a colossal monument instead. Puerta del Sol is also known as the Gate of the Sun and it is one of the busiest squares in Madrid where you can see various street artists.
9. Puerta de Alcala
Puerta de Alcala is one of the 5 doors that was being used to enter the city in the past. The walls that surrounded the city of Madrid have disappeared but this monument is still present as a reminder of the Spanish Civil War.
10. Prado Museum
There are a couple of museums in the world that you have to visit and Prado Museum is one of them. If you are visiting Madrid during the spring as I was, it is probably going to rain at least for one day. So check the weather conditions and lan your trip well. Prado museum is a great indoor activity that you would truly enjoy. This museum is mainly about famous Spanish authors like Goya and El Grecco but at the same time you can find famous works of art from Albrecht Durer too.
INTERESTING FACT: The entrance fee is free after 6 pm, so if you get there right on time you can enjoy visiting the museum until 8 pm, which is the closing time.
11. Calle De Alcala and Grand Via
I do not know if I have to mention Calle De Alcala and Grand Via at all because these 2 large avenues are hard to miss once you are in Madrid. Taking a stroll here seems to be the best way to explore Madrid, ahe things that you can do are endless. You can go shopping, try some local food or enjoy the beautiful architecture.
12. Have some Churros
I think that this list would be not complete without churros. I had the best churros in Madrid at Chocolateria San Gines. This place is popular with the tourist because it has been serving churros con chocolate since 1894.
Where to stay in Madrid
Madrid is a very popular city so you can imagine the choice of hotels and hostels it has. You can find the best place on Booking.com according to your price range, since that is the website that I always use when I am looking for accommodation. You can also rent an apartment with AirBnb, use this code to get $27 free AirBnb credit.
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Freelancer, blogger and a world citizen.