Madrid is not so popular to visit in contrast to Barcelona. Being the capital of Spain, it has a lot of things to offer. We were in Madrid for 4 days. You can also do all this in a shorter period if you plan it right but we decided to do everything at ease.
Visit Plaza de Espana
In the center of this square is a monument to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright. Next to the square are two of the tallest buildings in Madrid. On a sunny day, people watching is a lot of fun here.
Walk around Parque del Oeste and the rose garden
Here you have the Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian Temple. It was a gift from Egypt to Spain as a gratitude for their help in saving the Abu Simbel temples when the Aswan Dam was built. We didn’t enter the temple but you can visit the temple for free. I love just walking around a park, relaxing, and taking some pictures.
In the Park, there is also a very nice rose garden, perfect for wandering around and take some beautiful pictures.
Take a free walking tour
There are a number of possibilities to go on a free walking tour through the city. We went on a tour with Feel The City Tours. Our tour guide gave us a lot of information about the city and its history and stopped at the most important places. It was a 2.5-3 hour walk around the city with fantastic stories and little anecdotes. This is a good way to learn more about the city and explore the most important features of the city. We had a very nice guide who not only showed us the most important places in Madrid but also talked a lot about the history and some nice stories and legends.
Visit the Almudena Cathedral
This cathedral is rather new, as it was completed and consecrated in 1993. The interior is modern with chapels and statues of contemporary artists.
I love churches and I love to visit them because they have a certain feeling and history. I missed the history a little bit here and the specific style you see in most of the churches. But it still is a beautiful church to visit.
The Cathedral can be visited with a small donation from 10 am to 7.30 pm (except during mass).
Visit the Royal Palace
Although called the Royal Palace, it is not the official residence of the Royal family but a place where state ceremonies, official banquets, and other state functions take place. It is a huge palace with over 3000 rooms. The rooms are all magnificently decorated, with many of them having a specific color or theme. In one of the rooms, a few Stradivarius violins are displayed while in the throne room the painting on the ceiling is telling the story of the discovering of America.
Inside the Palace, you also find the Royal Armory. This armory is considered one of the best in the world. I don’t think I have ever seen so many fully armored decoration. It is a spectacular collection, especially the armor of the horses,
The palace is open to the public daily from 10 am to 6 pm (winter) or 8 pm (summer). Tickets are 10 euro per person. It is prohibited to take pictures inside the Royal Palace and the armory.
Take the hop-on-hop-off bus
One of the best ways to see a city is by taking a hop-on-hop-off bus. For 2 days it is 25 euro and there are two routes: one route going past all the main attractions in the city and one passing some attractions that are a little bit outside of the city center like the soccer stadium of Real Madrid.
While on the bus, you get more information about the city and certain buildings and monuments.
We did both tours, and although it was a bit chilly upstairs, it still gives you the best views. The only downside was the waiting time to get a bus because there were too many people for the number of busses.
Visit the Botanical Gardens
The Royal Botanical Gardens are next to the Prado Museum. It is divided into three major outdoor sections and two greenhouses and includes about 30000 plants and flowers and 1500 trees.
Go early on a beautiful day as it is very popular. Admission fee is 4 euro and it opens at 10 am.
Although we were there in fall, still a lot of flowers were open. And then you still have the greenhouse with a lot of exotic flowers. We all love photography, so this was heaven 🙂 and I think it will be even more beautiful in spring and summer.
Visit the Mercado de San Miguel
If you love food, you have to visit this market. Here you can buy but more importantly eat some delicious food. A wide variety of merchants sell meat, cheese, tapas, croquettes, sweets, wine, sangria, and so much more. Going around lunch time will be very busy but that only contributes to the experience of being in Madrid. And don’t eat a big breakfast then !!
More information about the food market, you can find in this blog post.
Enjoy de street artists
I love big cities because there are a lot of street artists. Human statues, musicians, dancers; they were everywhere. We were there for Halloween and this is celebrated heavily here, with shops open late, a lot of people dressed up and walking in the streets. I loved it.
Some things we didn´t do but are also very nice:
Visit the Prado Museum
Wander around Retiro Park
There are also a lot of secret highlights in this beautiful city.
Tips on how to enjoy Madrid without spending too much money.