I spent most of my time in two areas of Madrid: Old Madrid and Bourbon Madrid. And the really cool thing was, from where I was based (Puerta del Sol), everything was in easy walking distance.
I really prefer walking as much as I can when I’m exploring a new city. Firstly, it’s free! Secondly, you’re more likely to see cool & unexpected things. And thirdly, it helps level out all the eating you’re doing. It’s a win all round. 🙂
So… In Old Madrid, some of the key sights I went to check out were:
- Plaza Mayor – a square dating back to the 17th century which today is lined with cafes & shops. If you visit it during the day, you might think it’s a little boring (I kinda did), but it really comes to life at night. So I’d definitely recommend it for a dinner or drinks.
- Palacio Real, Madrid’s Royal Palace (10 euro entry fee). If palaces are your thing, you’ll be blown away buy some of the rooms inside. My favourites were the dining room, the throne room and the porcelain room (which has walls & ceilings made totally out of fine porcelain). The only bummer is that you can’t take pictures inside…
- In the same area – you can also check out the Plaza de Oriente, a pretty little garden square across the road from the palace, as well as the Teatro Real, Madrid’s major opera house, something to look into if you’re a keen theatre/opera fan.
Then when I walked over to Bourbon Madrid, I decided to check out:
- Museo del Prado (14 euro entry fee). It’s a huge art museum, one which can take you the entire day to get through. I was a bit short on time, so I really loved their “what to see” suggestions if you only have 1, 2 or 3 hours to spend in the museum. (Btw – also no photos allowed inside)
- Then the place you probably should be spending most of your time, just to relax, get lots of fresh air, and maybe have a glass of wine under the trees, is the incredibly beautiful Parque del Retiro. The park grounds are huge, but things not to miss would be the lake area, where you can rent a little rowboat if you’re feeling a bit romantic (or energetic), as well as the glass house, which is just incredible to see up close.
If you’re lucky, you can even catch some really talented musicians, doing their thing
(the little girl in this clip is just too cute – she was really lovin’ it. She whips out some dance moves about 55 seconds in):
Now on the shopping front, you’ll find good stuff on Gran Via, including the fanciest H&M I’ve ever seen. It’s also just a really interesting & beautiful street to see.
But I also did a lot of great shopping in the nearby area on Calle de Fuencarral (it splits off from Gran Via), as well as the streets heading back down to Puerta del Sol – Calle Montera, Calle Carmen & Calle Preciados.
Madrid’s definitely a great place if you love to shop and have some cash to burn. The city felt a little more fashion focused than I’d say Barcelona was. Barcelona had a more relaxed feel about how the people dressed. But maybe that’s just cause I was seeing mostly tourists, so I could be wrong on that one…
But there you have it folks. That was my final wrap up of my time in Madrid. Next up we head down south to the city of Seville.
PS. Madrid also has a bullfighting ring, which is still in use. However, I didn’t go check it out because I knew I would have another opportunity to see one in Seville.