12 Things you Shouldn`t Miss in Madrid

(Last Updated On: September 6, 2017)

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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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12 Things you should not miss in Madrid





Author: Elena

Freelancer, blogger and a world citizen.


  1. Avatar

    Star Harford

    September 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    It looks like Madrid has a lot of lovely places to visit. Its handy to know about the prado museum opening hours, thanks!

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    September 5, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    It looks like you had an incredible time, Your photo’s are simply gorgeous! I’ve always wanted to go to Madrid so this is a very hepful post. I’d love to see the bear in Puerta del Sol!

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    Natalie Dickinson

    September 5, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    I’ve been to Madrid too and I loved it. We went for my boyfriends birthday with friends and had such a fun time. Like you we also loved Mercado de San Miguel and went about 8 times altogether! I also loved how late they eat dinner in Madrid too. Well done ongoing solo too, I’d love to have the courage to do that sometime.

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    Kimberly Love

    September 5, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    What a gorgeous blog and those pictures are too die for. I would love to go to Madrid and you have certainly inspired that! It really looked like a wonderful adventure.
    Kimberly Love, Author
    Author of upcoming book You Taste Like Whiskey and Sunshine, http://www.instagram.com/kimmiloveauthor, http://www.twitter.com/kimmiloveauthor, http://www.facebook.com/kimmilovetheauthor

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    September 5, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Well done on going solo sometimes thats the only way to get out as thers can be boring or cancel which hinders you. Sounds such an amazing place to visit and yet not too far. Looks like you had amazing time

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    Nancy L.

    September 5, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    What a beautiful city! The architecture is stunning and I love all of your photos! It makes me feel as if I were there! Thanks for sharing the interesting facts that probably many people do not know when they visit Madrid. The mysterious odor that turned out to be dead birds in the statue’s mouth, is very interesting, and I liked your tip that you can see inside the palace for only $2! Awesome!

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    Neha kulshrestha

    September 5, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Madrid seems to be a great place with beautiful architecture. The crystal park looks so beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing it. I am not travelling to Madrid soon, but would be helpful to others who plan to go.

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    September 5, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    What a beautiful city! I would love to visit one day. My first stop: Chocolateria San Gines of course 🙂

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    Alicia Trautwein

    September 5, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    Such a beautiful city! So much amazing architecture and beautiful colors. I would love to go there one day, but I don’t know if I would be happy with finding Elmo and Cookie Monster Street performers, lol!

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    five little doves

    September 5, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    Wow what an amazing place to visit! Madrid is on my list of places to visit, I love all European cities but we haven’t been here yet!

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    Ana Vukosavljevic

    September 5, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    This was an amazing guide! I saved it. I would love to visit Madrid soo much.
    I loved all of your photos 🙂

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    September 5, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    Spain is literally the tippy top of my list of places to go. Using this list as a starting point for sure!

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    Stephanie Jeannot

    September 6, 2017 at 2:19 am

    Madrid sounds like a dreamy place. Are you serious about the bird in the horses mouth? OMG! I would love to visit Madrid.

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    Kristen from The Road to Domestication

    September 6, 2017 at 3:37 am

    Excellent ideas!!! Madrid is on my travel list – I love your suggestions, too!

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    September 6, 2017 at 4:29 am

    Amazing tips on Madrid’s tourist places. You revived my memories of Madrid when I was reading your post and looking your pictures. Madrid is an amazing place to go for.

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    September 6, 2017 at 6:26 am

    This should be my next trip for sure! I really enjoyed this post! thank you for sharing it with us

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    Ashleigh-Jayne O'Connell

    September 6, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Madrid has been on muy travel list for so long, you’ve got some great recommendations here too. Love the interesting facts!

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    September 6, 2017 at 11:12 am

    I have only been to Madrid for about 24 hours, in between two flights. I did, however, go out and did a city tour, which took me to Plaza Mayor, the Mercado and the royal palace. I did enjoy it and I hope to come back one day to see the other sights as well.

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    Saidah Washington

    September 6, 2017 at 11:44 am

    It feels so good to travel doesn’t it? Madrid is such a beautiful city. I’ve never been there but from your pictures I could see myself visiting one day.

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    September 6, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    I live in Spain and have been to Madrid several times. However I still have not seen all of these places. I’m going to bookmark this page for the next time I find myself in Madrid.

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    Karyn Locke

    September 6, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Even if I visited Madrid exclusively to check out its architecture, it would be a successful visit. What a beautiful city!

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    Emma Raphael

    September 6, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    What a great in depth post. I love Madrid, it’s been far too long since I last visited. Great photos too btw! 🙂

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    Sue Tanya McHorgh

    September 6, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    It looks like you had an incredible time. Madrid looks like a wonderful place. I hope i can visit one day.

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    September 6, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Madrid looks beautiful! I hope to visit one day, your pics are amazing!

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    September 6, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    I haven’t been to Madrid but I hope to visit it soon, maybe this year. I will definitely save your list for then, would love to spend the afternoon at the Templo de Debod among other things.

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    September 6, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    Such beautiful photos! I went to Spain (just Barcelona) for the first time two years ago and have been aching to go back. Would definitely check out Madrid when I do! Thank you so much for sharing xx

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    Nik G.

    September 6, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Spain is definitely on my bucket list! Barcelona & Ibiza are first, but I definitely want to see big city Madrid as well. Such beautiful architecture!

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    Super Busy Mum

    September 6, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    I have never been to Madrid, but it’s amazing to see that it has so many things to offer as a holiday destination.

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    Olivia Thristan

    September 6, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    You’ve taken some fabulous pictures here! I love the Kio towers they look so cool!

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    September 6, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    Parque del Retiro was one of my favourite places in Madrid for sure! Seeing Picasso’s Guernica in person was also pretty incredible

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    September 6, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Madrid is a fantastic city – I have missed a couple of these though so will have to check them out when I next visit

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    Emily Erson

    September 6, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    So much to see and so much to do! Where do I start? Your article certainly pointed me in a direction!

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    September 6, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Such a beautiful city. I’ve never been to Madrid but your post makes me want to go

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    September 6, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    I have Madrid on my bucketlist and I am yet to decide whether I should visit Lisbon or Madrid first. Madrid is certainly winning and love that most attractions and within walking distance of each other

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    September 6, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    These are beautiful photos! I’ve always wanted to visit Madrid (ever since high school, at least.) I definitely want to check some of these things off my list.

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    September 6, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Some great tips for what to do when visiting Madrid! I love how varied the different spots in the city are, definitely on the wishlist.

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    Heather Johnson

    September 6, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Templo de Debod looks and sounds amazing. That birds were getting trapped in the horse is kind of funny but also a little gross!

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    September 6, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    I have been to Barcelona and Granada and I am so in love with Spain. We are considering visiting Madrid so I will bookmark this for a future reference.

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    Afroza Khan

    September 6, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Oh wow Madrid is gorgeous! You all look like you had so much fun. I need to get a group together and go there soon.

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    De-Leatra Bolton

    September 7, 2017 at 1:38 am

    I always thought Madrid would be a fun place to travel but now I must check it out. It looks absolutely beautiful and the architecture, culture, and food in person must have been a phenomenal experience. Thank you for sharing it with us your photos were amazing!

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    Amy Dong

    September 7, 2017 at 2:17 am

    I SO want to go!! I love the palace and the marketplace. Actually all the places you mentioned look stunning. Such great captures. Looks like a blast of a vacation you had!

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    Christie Brown

    September 7, 2017 at 3:26 am

    Madrid is supposed to be beautiful! My co-worker actually got back from a trip to Madrid recently and his photos made me want to go myself so badly! It looks like you had a wonderful time. Your photos are gorgeous, too! 🙂

    Christie’s Take on Life. xx

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    September 7, 2017 at 4:16 am

    This looks like such a beautiful place to visit, with lots of different attractions to visit also.

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    September 7, 2017 at 8:25 am

    I’ve been to a lot of these places but some I haven’t! I really want to go back to Madrid and visit some of your recommendations again.

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    Jovana Markovic

    September 7, 2017 at 9:41 am

    I’ve never been to Spain, but I would really love to see it. You made some amazing pictures there, really captured the beauty of the city 🙂 Thank you for sharing these gorgeous places to visit in Madrid <3

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    Calleigh Keibler - TheForkBite

    September 7, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I had the opportunity to spend two months in Madrid and let me tell you this – it’s a fantastic city. I love the vibrant way of life, the culture while enjoying the tasty tapas. I visited most of these spots, like sprawling museums, traditional restaurants, lots of places you turn uncovers a spot that draws in tourists and locals alike.

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    September 7, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    I remember going to the Plaza Mayor and eating the most incredible Paella when I was much younger. I’d love to go back to Madrid one day to visit, I think I’d appreciate it more now that I’m older.

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    Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    September 7, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    What an adventure! I can’t wait to go to Madrid one day. I’ll remember these spots.

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    September 7, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    Looks like there are some good places to see. I havent been to Madrid

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    Ali Rost

    September 8, 2017 at 12:42 am

    We have friends who visited Madrid last year and haven’t stopped talking about it! If my husband and I are ever lucky enough to go, I know we’d love to visit the Prado Museum (for him) and eat my weight in local food (for her) x

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    Jennifer L

    September 8, 2017 at 1:10 am

    Madrid is definitely one of my favorite cities to travel. There’s always so much to discover that it all feels brand new. I adore the Prado… its incredible the works of art there. And plaza major is amazing for dinner.

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    Annemarie LeBlanc

    September 8, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Thank you for sharing your photos. I wish I could cross Madrid off my bucket list soon! I just love the warm ambiance, the beautiful old buildings and the cobblestone roads. Madrid and Barcelona are on the top of my list of travel destinations.

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    Candy Rachelle

    September 8, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    I’ve visited all of these places while in Madrid last year. What really impressed me with Madrid was the architecture. I love how they mixed the old with the new!

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    sonali jain

    September 8, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    I’ve never been to Madrid before but it sounds like and awesome city to travel around. Would love to do that soon 🙂

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    September 8, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Ive never been but it looks like an amazing place with so much to do! x

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    September 8, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    I have never been to Madrid but it looks like a beautiful place and somewhere I would love to see. Loved all of your photos 🙂

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    September 8, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Madrid looks like such a beautiful place to visit. My mum and dad visited Spain last year and they loved it. It definitely made me consider going myself one day 🙂

    Louise x

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    September 9, 2017 at 12:45 am

    Wow, these photos are stunning! I honestly had never considered Madrid as somewhere to visit but now it’s definitely on my bucket list. I’m really attracted to architecture and there is no shortage of stunning examples in these photos!

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    David Elliott

    September 9, 2017 at 3:14 am

    I would really love to go to Madrid in the near future. It just looks so beautiful there. The park looks amazing and definitely a sight to behold. That’s cool that they have so many acres of space for it.

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    September 9, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Wow! Madrid is a very beautiful city to visit.

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    Claire Santiago

    September 9, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Madrid is such a beautiful place. What I admire the most are the architectural structures, they are amazingly constructed.

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    September 9, 2017 at 11:17 am

    Wow Madrid looks amazing, I have never been before, and I could imagine my partner loving it and checking out the football bit 🙂 x

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    Nicole Flint

    September 9, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    What an adventure! A Madrid is so beautiful and I have always wanted to visit.

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    September 9, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Spain is such a beautiful city and I heard so much about it. Looks like you had an amazing time!

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    Aireona- Nightborn Travel

    September 9, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Madrid looks like such an amazing place! It is hard to know where to start! But I love all of your suggestions.

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    September 9, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    I love Spain! Although I’m ashamed to say I lived in Barcelona for 3 years and only went to Madrid once for a weekend! I seriously need to go back and explore more, I hadn’t even heard of that Egyptian temple!

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    September 9, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    wow, those pictures are gorgeous! I have always wanted to go to Spain 🙂

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    Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women

    September 9, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Everything I have heard and seen about Madrid to this point has been indicating that it is a lovely city to visit. Reading this post as well as looking through the photos you included, there is little doubt this is unquestionably a beautiful city that I would love to visit one day. This is a fabulous list to follow when I eventually get there, thank you.

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    September 10, 2017 at 5:24 am

    Beautiful images! I can’t wait to add these places to my bucket list! So many fun ideas!

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    Steph Dorworth

    September 10, 2017 at 5:31 am

    We were just in Madrid in May! We loved the Retiro Park a lot…so relaxing and beautiful there! Great tips!

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    tina grant

    September 10, 2017 at 5:44 am

    Beautiful pictures. I love the story of the horse’s mouth. It makes sense that the birds would want to nest there. Safe and hidden. I am now inspired to visit Madrid. thank you!

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    Emily Terrell

    September 10, 2017 at 6:18 am

    Ever since my dad went to Spain on a business trip, I’ve wanted to go. Seeing this has only reinvigorated my desire to do so! I never knew they had transported an Egyptian temple there. That is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing this 🙂

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    September 10, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Love these lists! Did about seven of them But oddly enough I somehow remember the Mercado San Miguel the most. Its probably because of the concoction of colours and smells that waft through the whole market! great experience.

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    September 10, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Madrid is so beautiful and there are so many things you can do and see. I want to visit Madrid, maybe next summer. Great presentation Elena and gorgeous photos!
    Helene // Beautiful Is My Attire

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    September 10, 2017 at 9:43 am

    What a great list!! it seems you had an awesome time in Madrid 🙂

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    September 10, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Oh I definitely would like to visit Madrid. The horse thing was kind of funny, kind of gross, lol

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    September 10, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    What a great round up of must see places! I also love that you added interesting facts! It’s always fun to learn new things even if you’re not able to get there quite yet.

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    September 10, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Madrid looks like a beautiful place to visit. I doubt I will ever make it there, as it’s obviously super far away but when I hear friends going, I will have to share this list with them. Gorgeous place this is!

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    Blair villanueva

    September 10, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Madrid is indeed one of the beautiful place. Thanks for sharing these landmarks. Saves me to where I should visit in Madrid 🙂

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    September 10, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    I would love to visit Madrid. The pictures look wonderful and amazing. So much to see and do I would definitely have to spend a week here to enjoy the sights, culture and food!!

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    September 10, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Would LOVE to get to Madrid one day, especially reading about all of these wonderful attractions. Thanks so much for sharing – looks like you had such a lovely holiday.

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    September 10, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    I have always wanted to visit Madrid and I am going to have to make sure to put it on my bucket list. I love your pictures and think you so much for the tips.

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    Michael @ Super Millennial

    September 10, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Wow this looks like so much fun. Some amazing photos — great job documenting it all 🙂

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    steve walters

    September 10, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    I’ve never had any interest in going to Madrid. But, after reading your blog and looking at all of these amazing photos, I have to say, you’ve changed my mind. This place looks incredible. I really would like to see Palacio De Cibeles. It looks stunning.

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    Megan Jerrard

    September 11, 2017 at 1:49 am

    I love that Madrid is a walkable city – I haven’t been yet though usually try to walk between attractions as it saves money and also gives you a local perspective as you enjoy exploring the streets. Plaza Mayor sounds like a great starting point – OMG on the odor which was coming from the horse sculpture!! Sad / funny!

    Templo de Debod looks really interesting – I had no idea there was an authentic Egyptian temple here! And Palacio De Cibeles looks stuning. Madrid seems to have some really beautiful architecture – I would love to visit. Thanks for the list and the interesting facts – was cool having fascinating tid bits thrown in!

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    September 11, 2017 at 5:27 am

    Great post, with amazing pics! Looks like an awesome trip, and I love love love seeing it through your eyes!

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    September 11, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Looks like an amazing trip; great photos. I had no idea that the cookie monster was an international traveler:)

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    September 11, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Oh no! The bird-skeleton-in-the-horse-statue freaks me out! That’s kind of crazy. But I’d definitely put the Royal Palace at the top of my list. It looks like such an elegant building and the history there must be incredible.

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    September 11, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    Omg, so many awesome sites to see in Madrid!!! Madrid is definitely on my travel bucket list! Hopefully I make it there one day!

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    David Meldrum

    September 12, 2017 at 8:13 am

    This is an amazing article and full of great tips for fellow travellers. There is soo much advice as well as interesting facts about most places to visit. The most interesting fact for me was the fact about the birds skeleton being found in the horse’s mouth.

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    Kevin Wagar

    September 12, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Madrid is one of my wifes favorite cities. I would love to get there one day to check it out myself. The views from the KIO Towers must be dizzying!

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    Hayley Warren

    September 12, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I would love to visit Madrid one day, it looks so beautiful!

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    Logan @ Money Done Right

    September 12, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Beautiful! We honeymooned in Costa del Sol and never made it up to Madrid, but it’s certainly on our bucket list!

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    Heather Johnson

    September 13, 2017 at 12:59 am

    My family and I would most like to visit Parque del Retiro. We love exploring parks when we travel.

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    Elizabeth O

    September 13, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    It is a beautiful city and your beautiful pictures and detailed review captured it well. Travel is such a gift.

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    Anastasia Golovko

    September 13, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Thanks you for the guide! I’ve seen the Bear statue before and also thought it was supposed to be huge. Also, the strawberry tree itself is intriguing with it’s delicious-looking fruit. Too bad they don’t grow where I am.

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    September 14, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Madrid is perfect for those who love to walk around a lot. It’s a beautiful city where you can explore and visit many things! And I love how you captured Madrid with your photos. They are so beautiful!

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    September 15, 2017 at 1:26 am

    Sadly, Madrid and all of Spain is still a dream for me. I really hope to visit soon and fix these damn (forgive me) visa issues. Your photos were stunning by the way, making me hungry for a Spain adventure.

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    Archana Singh

    September 15, 2017 at 1:59 am

    I had never been to Madrid but this seems like a perfect guide for a first-time traveler like me. And like you, I too would like to start from Plaza Mayor. Heard so much about that place.

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    September 23, 2017 at 11:30 am

    I don’t travel a ton, but want to! Love all these pics, thank you for sharing!

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    March 10, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    I love your post! It was great for preparing our trip to madrid 🙂

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