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Electric & Eccentric

Spain's capital is a vibrant place, the hub of the country's government and commerce, and an exciting city bubbling over with creativity. Madrid may not have the effortless elegance of European capitals like Paris or Rome, but it has a raw energy that is infectious. Explore the old streets of the centre, relax in the plazas, soak up the culture in excellent art museums and experience the city's legendary nightlife.

History

  • Madrid was little more than a muddy, mediocre village when King Felipe II declared it Spain’s capital in 1561.
  • By the early 20th century Madrid finally began to look like a proper capital.
  • Madrid’s official symbol of the bear on its hind legs eating berries from the madroño tree is a metaphor for Madrid’s growth!


1. Palacio Real / Royal Palace

Madrid’s Royal Palace is said to be one of the most spectacular in the world. There are many beautiful rooms to explore with massive chandeliers, ceiling frescoes, sculptures and incredible paintings. A ticket inside includes entry to the Royal Armory which houses a large collection of medieval armour and weapons as well as the Royal Pharmacy where you can see the distillery and hundreds of drawers where the Royal Physicians kept their medicines and ingredients.

2. Parque de Buen Retiro

The city park, Parque de Buen Retiro, is a gorgeous public park that is definitely worth checking out whilst in town. The large gardens have many sections and sights worth seeing like the Crystal Palace, a beautiful glass domed building that houses exhibitions from the Reina Sophia Museum. Another sight is theFallen Angel monument that sits atop a spire in the middle of the roundabout (said to be the only sculpture of the devil). The cute lake where you can hire rowboats is a nice way to spend the afternoon.

3. Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol or the “Gate of the Sun” is the most famous square in the city and is where the spiritual heart of the Madrid lies with many avenues radiating out from there. It is also where the kilometer “0” mark is from where all other distances in Spain are measured. Puerta del Sol is always a busy area with the locals and tourists traveling around watching street performers and visiting the many shops and department stores found there.

4. Reina Sophia Museum of Art

The Reina Sophia Museum of Art has some of the greatest modern art on collection. A lot of the artwork that is found here is by well-known Spanish artists with a focus on cubism. Artists featured include Picasso, Salvador Dali, Velasco, Goya and El Greco. The one piece of artwork that most come to see is Picasso’s Guernica.

5. Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor originally was used for public executions, trials, parades and bullfights, but nowadays is a busy square with lots of street performers, restaurants and shops. Check out the Torro del Oro bar for a drink. The bar has bull head mounted on the wall and some very confronting pictures of not so lucky matadors and their bulls. Or on the northern side of the plaza is the Ham museum / Museo de Jamon that is worth a visit.

Eats

1. Mercado de San Miguel

A definite must when in Madrid is a visit to the Mercado de San Miguel for the freshest food and drinks available. The markets are fully enclosed with many stalls and surrounded by great restaurants and tapas joints. A great place for a snack, or to create a picnic. Try some of the local favourites such as the calamari sandwich from the Calamares booth or enjoy a wide variety of cheeses and decadent pastries whilst socialising with the locals drinking vino, cerveza or sangria.

2. Museo de Jamon

The Museo de Jamon is a chain restaurant in town that specializes in ham with great prices for lunch and dinner. When you walk in you’ll find legs of ham hanging all over the room in a great bistro type setup. Different things to try are the paella, croissants, meat rolls, and bread and cheese platters.

3. El Tigre

El Tigre bar is your true Spanish affair with massive plates of tapas food, half of which is all over the floor (this proves it’s a good place in Spain) and animal heads on the walls. The venue is always busy as it has the cheapest tapas in town!

4. Cervecerria El Diaro

Cervecerria El Diaro is a buzzing restaurant set for tourists and locals to mix and socialize freely in this Spanish set atmosphere while listening to traditional music. Here you can try some delicious tapas and paella along with some cheap jugs of sangria.

5. La Fragua de Vulcano

La Fragua de Vulcano is a great bar with a fun vibe and flamenco music. Some delicacies you can try are the tender falling off the bone oxtail, tasty seafood paella, or different types of tapas.

Drinks

1. El Chapandaz

A funky bar in the city, Chapandaz is one of a kind with its interestingly designed rooms. Inside you’ll find the bar looks like a cave with stalactites dropping down from the ceiling and rocks projecting through the roof and walls. The awesome thing about this bar is the special cocktail called ‘Panthers Milk’. Once brewed, the cocktail comes flowing out of a stalactite into your glass.

2. Pacha

Pacha is a funky nightclub that has been operating for 30 years. The venue is as popular today as it was back then with its gorgeous people dancing to chart topping music.

3. Kapital

Kapital is a popular club, also known as the ‘Godzilla’ to locals as it is a huge venue and usually the people head off into the night afterwards still partying. The club covers 7 levels of a building with 11 bars inside and different rooms to suit everyone to have fun such as a karaoke room, an R&B room, commercial house, a Spanish pop room, a cinema, roof top cocktails bar and the best; a Golden Oldies room.

4. New Garamond

New Garamond is one of the largest clubs in Europe and is known as the local club for Spanish dancing, partying and drinking. There are VIP rooms playing Spanish house music and have a glamorous cocktail menu. This is where Spain and Madrid's beautiful come to party. Make sure to dress to impress to get inside.

5. Sala El Sol

Sala El Soul is an alternative club playing music such as hip hop, electro funk and also the main stream bands such as Snow Patrol, The Strokes and The Shins.



Click the coloured pins to find out how to get here

Recommendations

brian

This place is crazy busy but the guides do a great job of helping you plan your stay!"

James, UK