5 Cool Things To Do In Madrid
As the capital of one of the most beloved countries in the world by tourists, Madrid naturally attracts a lot of attention. It’s a city many people hope to at least pass through while touring Europe, and while it has its drawbacks (such as a pickpocket issues we’ve mentioned before), it’s ultimately a very fun place to explore and spend time.
These are our recommendations for sights and activities to prioritize if you get the chance.
1. Boat In The Park
Every great city needs a great park, and Madrid has a few. But if you only have time for one, Retiro Park is the place to go. Originally built outside the city as a royal retreat of sorts, the park now resides well within the expanded boundaries of Madrid, and has become a favorite outdoor hub for locals and tourists alike. It’s nice simply to wander through, but renting a rowboat on the artificial lake within the park is a particularly beautiful experience. In addition to simply being out on the water on a nice day, you’ll see some of the park’s main monuments (such as a statue of King Alfonso XII and a “crystal palace?) as you row.
2. Watch Professional Football
There aren’t many European sporting experiences that top a football match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. It’s used primarily as the home venue for Real Madrid, which just won the Champions League for the third straight season. However, it’s also used occasionally as the stadium for the Spanish national team, which will be attempting to prove this summer that it’s the class of the world. It’s said that there’s considerable reason for optimism for the Spanish at this year’s World Cup (after a disappointing 2014), and while they won’t be playing any matches in Madrid, the event should only highlight the quality of football you can sometimes find at this stadium.
3. Eat Tapas
Most popular countries and cities are known for a certain dish or style of cuisine. But Spanish tapas are flat-out legendary. While tapas in Spain frequently means eating a good amount of fresh seafood, the term really just refers to gradual, shared meals of small dishes. It’s a lovely way to eat, and as you might imagine there aren’t many places that do it better than Madrid.
4. Tour The Plazas
Madrid’s public plazas are often mentioned among its best attractions, and the most enjoyable areas to tour as a visitor. The Plaza Mayor is the most famous of the bunch, and is essentially a gigantic open square surrounded by good (but expensive) restaurants and old buildings. However, touring the plazas also means taking a look at Puerta del Sol, Plaza Santa Ana, the ancient Plaza de la Paja, and the small but picturesque Plaza San Andres in the shadow of a gorgeous little old church.
5. See The Royal Palace
It’s actually shocking how little attention Madrid’s Royal Palace gets. It’s the city’s biggest building and possibly its most beautiful, and is truly one of the more striking constructions in all of Western Europe; in fact, it is is the biggest palace in Western Europe. While the building has only been in place as is for a few hundred years, its site has been occupied since the 10th century, when the Moors controlled present day Spain. This is essentially just a sightseeing stop, but the building itself is almost on a tier with the likes of Versailles. It’s well worth stopping by.