Those taking un viaje to España, listen up: the capital city is not one to skip. Yeah, yeah, I know you have other places to be but trust me on this one, you will not regret a night or two in Madrid. Actually, it's more likely you'll be wishing you stayed longer! Madrid is a perfect blend of bustling metropolis with cool, vibrant culture that gives Spain its flair. If you fly Spain's national carrier, Iberia, it's an easy, direct flight and then you'll have an opportunity to relax on the Renfe Ave (aka the high-speed train)* to get to your next destination. While there are muchos activities to keep you ocupado for days in this ciudad, here's a list of 5 things you can do if you're only there a short time but want to experience some of the local culture:
- Soak in the grand surroundings in Plaza Mayor. This expansive space is a busy and often touristy area but no better way to get the taste of a city by visiting its most central square. Not to mention it also helps you get your bearings.
- Hang with the locals at an authentic tapas bar. There's nothing more typical of Spain than its small plates culture. Bodega de la Ardosa is a popular traditional spot packed full of locals and visitors alike all socializing, imbibing and filling their bellies. (Calle de Colón, 13)
- Indulge in some churros con chocolate. Centrally-located Chocolatería San Ginés has been serving these delights forever and it's always a solid choice to end your evening. (Pasadizo San Ginés, 5)
- Skip the sangria and opt for some local craft beer instead. Spain actually drinks a lot more beer than you'd expect and chill places like Fábrica Maravillas are doing a great job with their craft brews. (Calle de Valverde, 29)
- Take a siesta in Parque del Retiro. What's the point of a vacay in Spain without embracing the midday rest? With dinner not starting until 9p or even later, you're gonna need it and this beautiful park is a wonderful place to relax.
Need a place to rest your head? Do it in style at the perfectly-located, beautiful Principal Hotel. Rooms are elegant and comfy and best of all you are welcomed with a glass of cava to enjoy on the rooftop terrace that looks down on the bustling Gran Vía. (Calle Marqués de Valdeiglesias, 1)
*NOTE (from experience, unfortunately): Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to go through security at the train station and get to your platform which closes its doors 5min prior to departure. You'll also want some time to watch the turtles frolic in the indoor tropical sanctuary. You're welcome. Adiós!