Discover one of Spain's liveliest cities… Come to Madrid! As well as being the country’s capital, its lifestyle will delight you, with the streets usually full of people sitting and chatting over delicious tapas at pavement cafés.
Take your camera - you’ll want it in districts like the Barrio de los Austrias, Barrio de Las Letras, and the 'Art Walk', or while you get away from the hectic pace in the beautiful Retiro Park. And Madrid is a city that never sleeps - in the evening you can take in a musical on the Gran Vía and then go on to any of the hundreds of clubs and discos, where the party often carries on until dawn.
Madrid is also a fantastic place to shop. You’ll find everything, from centuries-old shops in the historic centre to avant-garde art galleries and the luxury brands of Spanish and international designers.
If you’re travelling with children, be sure to make time for theme parks like the Parque de Atracciones, Parque Warner, Zoo Aquarium, and Faunia, or fun activities like a cable car ride on the Teleférico or a visit to the Wax Museum.
Plaza Mayor: in the historic heart of the city, a huge square with a uniquely Spanish style of architecture. You can have a snack at the many pavement cafés, rest a little before you go on with your visit, indulge in people-watching, or buy a souvenir. An interesting fact: the square has been the setting for bullfights and for coronations. Additionally, you’ll find plenty of bars and taverns in the neighbouring streets where you can try Madrid’s famous bocadillo de calamares, (squid sandwich).
Puerta del Sol: the square that most symbolises life in Madrid. It marks kilometre zero, the point all Spain's road distances are measured from, as it was once the starting point for all roads to the provinces. Be sure to get a photo with the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree.
Royal Palace: see how the Kings and Queens of Spain lived until quite recently. This may be the royal palace with the largest and best preserved collection in Europe, with its original furniture, decoration and other treasures in over 3,000 rooms.
Three unmissable art galleries: even if you’re not an art fan, the Prado is one of the most important museums in the world and well worth a visit. If you prefer modern and contemporary art, you should visit the Reina Sofía. And of course, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, one of the world’s most famous private collections.
El Retiro Park: one of the largest and nicest city parks in Europe. A place to relax and enjoy the beauty. At the weekends it’s a great place to go with kids and enjoy musicians, mimes, puppet theatres, or boating on its central lake.
Gran Vía and its musicals: one of the grand city avenues of Europe. Full of shops and restaurants. Strolling along the Gran Vía, you will also discover the many musical theatre productions on offer every season. The programme will help you find adapted versions of international classics, and shows you can only see in Spain.
Real Madri�d: visit their legendary stadium, the Santiago Bernabéu (you can see the trophy room and the changing rooms), and then go to the fountain of Cibeles, where the fans celebrate their victories, next to Madrid City Hall.
Nightlife: Madrid’s nightlife is world-famous, with venues and areas to suit every taste. You can begin quietly in bars with live music, in areas like the Barrio de Las Letras neighbourhood. If you’re looking for an exclusive atmosphere, your best bet is the elegant Salamanca district. If you prefer more alternative sounds, try the Malasaña neighbourhood. And some of the most fashionable clubs are in the city centre, around the Gran Vía and Plaza del Sol.
Puerto de Navacerrada: you can enjoy winter snows at just a stone throw from Madrid. This mountain pass is just 60 kilometres from the city and has a ski resort. The skiing season usually starts at the end of December and continues through January and February.
Shopping districts: for leading designers, go to the Salamanca district and its Golden Mile, and if you want something more alternative, try areas like Fuencarral, or the famous Sunday market, El Rastro, for traditional goodies.
El Corte Inglés: if you’re looking for a department store in the capital that has everything, try the famous El Corte Inglés, with several stores in different parts of the city. One of its largest stores is located on the Paseo de la Castellana, near the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, with a wide range of international luxury brands in fashion, accessories, jewellery, watches and cosmetics.
Las Rozas Village: more than 100 outlet stores selling luxury brands line the pedestrianised streets of this shopping village, just 25 kilometres from Madrid. It also offers free parking, play areas, restaurants, a tourist information centre, and personal stylist services.
Faunia: a nature-based theme park, a fun way to learn about the ecosystems at the poles or the jungle, and to see shows with birds of prey, or seals and sea lions. It’s seven kilometres from the city centre.
New gourmet spaces: enjoy Spanish cuisine and tapas in gourmet markets like San Miguel, San Ildefonso and Barceló. Traditional dishes with a cool twist. In the Serrano Gourmet Experience you can also savour the cuisine of three Michelin-starred chefs, David Muñoz, Roberto Ruiz, and Jordi Roca; and in Platea Madrid, you can enjoy music and a show while you eat.
Traditional snacks: a bocadillo de calamares on the Plaza Mayor and the battered cod in Casa Labra (next to Puerta del Sol) are two very traditional Madrid snacks. Any time is a good time to try them.
Halal cuisine: if you’re looking for fine Halal food, you’ll find it in places like the M29 restaurant in the Hotel Miguel Ángel, or the various branches of Asador de Aranda in the capital.
Madrid’s mosque is thought to be the largest in Europe: the Omar Mosque and cultural centre, also known as the M-30 Mosque. It is at 7 Calle Salvador de Madariaga, in the San Pascual district.