Gourmet and Art Weekend in Madrid
Madrid is the hidden gem of Spain. Some visit Barcelona again and again and totally miss this lovely capital of Spain. Madrid is a true gourmet capital, it is the home of stunning art at the Prado museum, it has a lovely city park, impressive squares and lovely quartiers to stroll in. Adding to that it is a lot cheaper than most European capitals and larger cities like Barcelona and San Sebastian. All in all it is the perfect city for a weekend trip.
Madrid has been the capital of Spain since 1606 after the royal family moved from nearby Toledo to Madrid. Before that Madrid was a small farmers´ village. Madrid was chosen to be the capital thanks to its´ geographical location halfway west/east and north/south in Spain. Today Madrid is the home of 6,5 million people.
Madrid is 665 metres above sea level and thereby the second highest located capital in Europe after Andorra la Vella. North of Madrid you find Sierra de Guadarrama where you can go skiing in the Winter.
"All the hot spots of Madrid
are within walking distance..."
All the hot spots of Madrid are within walking distance and it is quite easy to find the way following the avenues and locating oneself by the Parque de Retiro and large squares.
The center of Madrid is Puerta del Sol, a large lively square surrounded by lots of shops, restaurants and cafés. The major street of Madrid is Gran Via that stretches through the center of the city.
Close to Puerta del Sol is Madrid´s Plaza Mayor and Mercado de San Miguel. The mercado is lovely and you will find all the tapas you can imagine.
Close to the mercado you find the Latino quartiers, a charming part of Madrid with stonecobbled narrow streets.
Palacio Real de Madrid houses the Royal family and it is well worth it to go inside and be impressed by the decorations and paintings.
Close to the Royal Palace you find the amazing El Templo de Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple once dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid. You find it in Parque del Oeste. Perfect for a visit to see the sunset.
Parque de Retiro in the city center is a really nice park to walk through. Its´ rose garden and Palacio de cristal are impressive. There is a small lake in the middle of the park and if you are lucky you can sit down listening to live guitar playing.
Close to the Park de Retiro you find the jewel of Madrid if you are interested in art. El Museo del Prado.
You can easily spend a week in Museo del Prado discovering the paintings and sculptures. This place is gigantic with paintings of all major painters of Spain and they are many. If you are here for a weekend and want to spend a few hours a tip is to carefully choose what you want to see and go straight there. That is a lot better than running through the museum to see everything. I promise!
"You can easily spend a week in
Museo del Prado..."
Some "must seens" are Guernica by Picasso, Las Meninas by Velásquez, The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest by El Greco and Goya´s paintings The Family of Carlos IV, The naked and clothed Mayas and The third of May 1808.
Museo Reina de Sofia is the other famous museum in Madrid with focus on modern art.
Salamanca is Madrid´s high-end quartier with luxuary shops and lots of great restaurants. It is situated just north of Parque el Retiro. Do some window shopping along Calle de Serrano and turn right into one of the crossing streets discovering some nice restaurants and small shops.
Just outside Madrid is a former slaughter market - El Matadero - which now houses an art centre and a large food-market. Check the schedule before going there since you have to go there by metro.
Weather in Madrid
Madrid has an inland Mediterranean climate and is cold during Winter and hot during Summer. Best time to visit is April-May and September-October with temperatures around 18-25 degrees Celcius. Summer is warm, often above 30 degrees and with no ocean nearby that feels really hot
in a city.
"Best time to visit is April-May
Where to stay in Madrid?
There are lots and lots of hotels in Madrid. We really liked the Salamanca quartiers since it is calm, close to the city center and the Parque de Retiro. We stayed at a small lovely hotel called VP Jardin de Recoletos with large rooms and a small garden.
The hotel is 200 metres from the metro station Recoletos with direct trains to the airport and only 5 minutes from Parque de Retiro. The breakfast is great and of course there is freshly squeezed orange juice every morning.
Where to eat in Madrid?
This is a really nice part to write about! Madrid hosts a lot of great restaurants. In the Salamanca quartiers you can probably go anywhere and have a great dinner. We tried Restaurante Étimo which was superb (pre-booking necessary) and La Maruca which was great.
For lunch Mercado de San Miguel is the perfect place close to all the sightseeing spots and the city center.
In the Latino quartiers you will find a lovely restaurant with a cosy atmosphere in a cellar called Bodega de los Secretos. Also close to Parque del Retiro you find a lovely modern vegan restaurant called Lével Veggie Bistro.
How to get to Madrid?
Madrid is 2-4 hours from most capitals of Europe. The airport Madrid-Barajas is only 20 kilometres from the city center.
From the airport you have a 30 minutes trip by train or bus. From Terminal 4 there are direct trains to the station Recoletos. Taxi is some 20 minutes and costs 35-40 Euos.
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