10 things to enjoy Madrid
Madrid, capital of Spain, is both the highest capital of Europe (rises 650 meters above sea level), as well as the sunniest, although the climate is still continental: “nueves meses de invierno y tres de infiern”, nine months of winter and three of hell, say the inhabitants of Madrid. It is also one of the most vibrant capitals in Europe, and if you have not gone yet you should really add it in your bucket list, although many will tell you that they prefer Barcelona. In any case, here are 10 things to do in Madrid to enjoy this wonderful city, both day and night.
Puerta de Europa
If you spend only a few days in a capital, even if we like to be alternative and off the beaten track, the tourist bus is a good idea because it allows you to go around and see the main attractions, without necessarily spending hours between bus and metro. In Madrid, one of the official tourist bus routes is directed to the business buildings, along the Paseo de Recoletos towards and beyond the Bernabéu stadium. If you like architecture, you’re still in the right city. Take a look at the Picasso Tower (designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the same architect of the World Trade Center), the Telefònica building, the Edificio Metropolis on the Gran Vía and the Puerta de Europa or Kio Towers in Plaza de Castilla.
The fact that the 3 main museums are geographically close to each other, is not always a gread advantage because seeing them all in one day is not impossible but really hard, unless you want to walk the corridors on a scooter. If you spend only a few days in the capital, consider if you are ready for the richness of these collections. At the Prado you will enjoy the great names of art, including those of the Italian Renaissance, but also Flemish, Germans and Spaniards. At Reina Sofia you will find above all the Spanish Art of ‘900, including Dali and Picasso. At the Thyssen-Bornemisza you will find a collection of great value, more easily visited than the Prado. So, choose the best one for your needs!
Have fun in Malasaña and Chueca
Whatever age you have and any type of holiday you expect, you cannot stay in the hotel during the evening although you could be tired after a day among museums, shopping and so on. Nightlife is in fact an amazing part of the Madrid experience, and in any case you have to know that you won’t dine before 9pm. A district that is not entirely touristy, even if central, is Malasaña. Here you will find bars, clubs and restaurants for all tastes, even stores open until late. The term movida, was invented here. Chueca, not far away, is the LGBT district. If you think you can’t resist till 9pm to have dinner, you can indulge yourself with tapas at the Mercado san Anton: three floors of building with gastronomic products for delicious tasting experience…it is like half covered market and half an informal restaurant; a bit trendy, a bit authentic.
Cìrculo de Bellas Artes
Maybe not everyone knows that one of the best panoramic views of Madrid can be enjoyed from the terrace of the Cìrculo de Bellas Artes, in the building that houses the academy. To go to the seventh floor you have to pay a ticket for few euros, but it’s worth it, look at the picture above!
Atocha is one of the busiest stations in the whole of Spain, and inside it houses a real botanical garden where more than 200 turtles live. It is certainly worth a walk, which is totally off the beaten track.
Mujer del Espejo
In Madrid there are 3 sculptures donated to the city by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero, known for his shapely female figures. You cannot find them on tourist guides but looking for them will not be complicated, because they are all in transit points. The one called El Rapto de Europa is located at Terminal 1 of Barajas Airport. Then in the Paseo de la Castellana there’s La Mano; and finally, in the Plaza de Colòn, there is the Mujer del Espejo.
Parque El Capricho and El Retiro
The El Retiro park is most famous and it is located in central position, but if you have some time you could also move from the center to the El Capricho park. The first, the El Retiro, is located near the main museums and inside you find, among other things: the only statue in the world dedicated to Lucifer, a building entirely in glass, born as a greenhouse for an exhibition on Philippines, at the end of the 1800s, and free exhibitions at the Palacio Velasquez. El Capricho is located far from central Madrid (exactly in the Barajas airport area), and is certainly less known, but no less impressive to visit, thanks to its botanical and architectural project. Inside it is hidden a bunker (open to public) that served as headquarters during the Civil War.
In Madrid football is a philosophy of life. If it is also for you, you can visit the Real Madrid stadium, even with a guided tour.
Teléferico is located in Casa de Campo, the largest public park in the Spanish capital: in fact it measures five times Central Park in New York. On sunny days, it will offer you an unforgettable view of Madrid.
You are right, this could be a tourist experience, but I personally recommend it anyway. The churros are fried desserts of choux dough that you have to dip in hot chocolate. After having tasted them, you will understand why in Spain they have lunch after 2.00pm. They are delicious but they are really fat. However, the Chocolaterìa San Ginés, located near the Church of San Ginés, not far from Plaza Mayor, severs this tasting delicacies since 1894. This is history!
Where to Stay
The new luxury hotel in Madrid is at the same time one of the oldest in the city, in fact the Gran Hotel Inglés was inaugurated the first time in December 1886 and at the time was the only one in the Spanish Capital to have an lift, a steam heating and a bathroom on each floor. Returning to the present day, travelers are pampered by the most modern comforts but by the same atmosphere rich of luxury that you breathe within this property steeped in history.
The Gran Hotel Inglés is located in the Barrio de las Letras, one of the picturesque area of Madrid and was reopened in 2018 after a total renovation by the Rockwell Group architectural firm. The latter has preserved the splendid façade of the 19th century, but has completely revised and redesigned the interiors in order to reflect a more contemporary atmosphere.There are only 48 rooms and suites, all decorated with wooden floors, leather panels and Art Deco decor such as bronze and glass furniture. The color palette is mostly neutral, although there are touches of rich colors including silver, ocher and teal that evoke the landscapes of Castile.
The restaurant of Gran Hotel Inglés is the Lobo 8, that combines a welcoming atmosphere with that of a private club. The menu of the chef Willy Moya is focused to Spanish classics but totally revisited in a more contemporary point of view, but all with the use of fresh and seasonal ingredients. LobByto bar is the ideal place to have a beer accompanied by tapas, or for an afternoon coffee or an evening cocktail. There’s a small fitness center at disposal to each guest to keep fit during a stay at Gran Hotel Inglés. In addition, for the well-being of its guests, the Gran Hotel Inglés houses the Egoïste Spa. The latter has two treatment rooms and a small pool always available to all the guest on request.