Spain’s capital city, Madrid, has long been voted one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. It’s easy to understand why with the gorgeous climate, phenomenal food and years of Spanish history and culture on every corner. With so many things to do in Madrid, I have found that it’s the kind of place that I just keep coming back to. Each time something new entices me and adds to my list of must-do’s when I’m in the city.
Madrid has a booming economy, a vibrant nightlife and is full of wonderful places to stay. Of course you can throw lots of cash at fancy hotels but I prefer Wimdu, where gregarious Madrid locals hire out their private accommodations. I just feel more at home in the city that way. There are plenty of great mid-range hotels and hostels too so whatever takes your fancy rest assured that you’re never far away from a tapas bar and that’s a big priority for me!
Road Trip to Toledo
First off, let’s break from the mould and start with getting out of the center city and venturing to Toledo, a road trip that just has to be taken when you’re in Madrid. Only half an hour by train or an hour driving, Toledo is a must see for a glance at what used to be Spain’s capital city.
Steeped in religious influence and boasting some beautiful architecture, Toledo is picturesque and poignant. Three major religions, Christianity at its Cathedral, the Jewish Sinagoga del Tránsito and the Islamic Mezquita de Cristo de la Lu all reside here and understanding the history of these co-existing faiths is fascinating.
It’s a beautiful space to walk through, especially the view from the mountaintop. This World Heritage Site is absolutely worth the day trip.
Plaza Del Toro
Or in other words….the Bullring. Whether you agree with this sport or not the Bullring is something that still draws crowds of locals and tourists. Personally it’s not something I have much taste for, but seeing the impressive stadium and the passion of those involved is memorable.
Madrid is known to be the home of bullfighting in the country, so if there’s anywhere you should experience it, it’s in Madrid.
I can still remember seeing my first flamenco dance as a little girl. I was so enthralled that I immediately insisted that my Mum buy me a flamenco dress so I could twirl around just like the beautiful dancers I was so enamored with. She did the next best thing and bought me a flamenco doll with a skirt so massive I could barely fit her into my kiddie suitcase for our journey home.
Flamenco is a dramatic and also tragic form of physical expression. Originating from the emotions of Spanish gypsies and depicting their stories through a dance that is played out so beautifully to the Spanish guitar. Mesmerising in it’s passion, no trip to Madrid is complete without falling in love for the music and this entrancing dance.
Being a writer, I’m naturally drawn to establishments that I know were favored haunts of writers I admire. Who better than the rowdy Hemingway who downed a tipple or ten at Museo Chicote. He’s not the only one either, none other than the timeless beauty Sophia Loren, Hollywood glamour with the likes of Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly - all have stepped through these doors since it’s opening. The bar is a slice of Spain in the 1930′s and it’s easy to be swept away in fine wines, tapas and friends well into the early hours of the morning.
Teleferico Cable Car
There couldn’t be a better way to see the city. Madrid’s cable car is a photographers dream and it’s also conveniently close to Madrid’s Theme Park and Zoo. You can make a full day of activites in this area so don’t miss it. The view over the Plaza de España is superb.
So as you can see there are so many things to do in Madrid, some quirky, some typical tourist hot spots. As long as you experience late night love, laughter, music, dancing and delectable food – you’ll know you’re in Spain’s capital city.