Madrid, the Spanish capital, appears to have very little of the true essence of Spain: strong indeed the various European influences, both in terms of architectural and lifestyle. It’s an sophisticated and clean city, it’s elegant and composure are faboulus. It’s a city with soft lines and shapes, many shops/hotel entrances are on the corner of the structures, always rounded, and never sharp.
Don’t miss The market of San Miguel, an icon of the city: it is a market where inside you will find the most disparate stands selling everything: tapas, bocadillos, fresh fish, wines, cocktails, sashimi, Japanese food and whatever. 😊 Prepare yourself for the huge crowd, to conquer the best tapas you will have to push a little, but in the end it will worth it. 😃
After lunch, take a walk, lose yourself in the characteristic streets, the colors, flowers and signs. Even if Madrid looks like a massive city, you can go round very well on foot, you will enjoy more of its every beautiful view.
Do not miss the Prado Museum, with works by Velazquez, Goya, Rubens, Caravaggio and Raffaello. Noteworthy is the opera “Las Meninas” by Velazquez, which I expected to be more contained while in reality it measures about 3m x 3m. Having graduated from the art institute, I have a real passion for museums and everything that concerns art and all forms of creativity, so I suggest you also go to Reina Sofia Museum where you can find modern works and the brilliants Picasso, Miró and Dalì, counted as among the best painters of the past. It is worth the purchase of the ticket (I recommend you buying the skip-the-line ticket for both museums, it costs almost the same as the normal ticket and saves you a lot of time that you would otherwise spend in the queue) even to admire the masterpiece “Guernica”, a Picasso work in black and white that extends over an entire wall. If you can, go to the museum at the opening /closing times, so as not to make you disturb by the large number of people who stopped to look at it.
An enchanting place is the famous Parque del Buen Retiro, where inside you will find cured gardens, fountains, a rose garden with over 4000 roses (only in the period of May/June), an artificial lake, a grove, as well as the palace of Velazquez and the crystal palace, with its imposing and modern structure.
On fine days it is a must to tour the entire park, to be able to appreciate its most characteristic corners. If you want, rent a rowing boat to take a tour of the lake in complete relax.
Do not miss Plaza Major, with all its arcades that “fence” the entire square, and Puerta del Sol with the famous bear monument with the strawberry tree and the well-known kilometer 0, in front of the Post Office building, at the beginning of Calle Mayor . More, you will see the huge neon sign by Tio Pepe, also in Puerta del Sol, the tourist symbol of the latter from the 1950s.
Other must-see attractions are the majestic Royal Palace and really well-kept Sabatini Gardens, Almudena Cathedral, and Puerta de Alcalà.
Enjoy the colorful and lively neighborhoods of the capital, from La Latina, to Malasaña, to the Chueca district and many others.
If you want to taste a great variety of pinchos (same thing of Venetian cichéti), go to Txapela, in Gran Via, it is located next to the hotel where I was staying (Vincci Via 66). You can choose from 50 different mixed hot and cold pinchos. I tasted six of them and all deserved to being tasted. Noteworthy is a “cannelloncino” with roast chicken inside and covered with truffle béchamel, also the pinchos with fried codfish, wakame seaweed and sesame. Prices in the standard, from € 2.00 to about € 2.70 for portion.
Reguarding breakfast, The Mallorquina is a real institution in Madrid, an excellent pastry shop in Puerta del sol, with a wide selection of pastries.
If you are in a hurry and you want an easy lunch without spending too much, Madrid is full of shops of the VIPS chain (there will be about twenty of them). Order a Vips Sandwich with a garnish of your choice, or hamburgers with chips, you can choose the ingredients yourself to form your favorite, otherwise they also have pasta dishes and salads.
In short, I absolutely recommend a weekend in Madrid, a city that will amaze you with its attention to detail and the liveability that sets it apart.