As the capital and largest city of Spain, Madrid has everything one could wish for within its borders. It is located almost exactly at the geographic center of the Iberian peninsula and due to its high altitude and mountains surrounding it – the climate and atmosphere are unique and very pleasant at any time of the year.
Madrid is a cosmopolitan city whose rich culture and history heritage is combined with most modern infrastructure and everyday life.
Madrid has been the capital of Spain continuously since 1606. Many are the reasons for this – its great geographic position in the middle of the Iberian peninsula, high altitude, many monuments and dry climate.
مجريط (Majrīṭ) is the first documented reference to the city, which is derived from the name of a fortress built on the Manzanares River (passing through Madrid) and means ‘Place of Abundant Waters’ in Arabic.
Today Madrid is an integral metropolitan area of the European Union (third in vastness only after London and Berlin) and a home to ancient landmarks as well as modern boutiques, greenery and contemporary city spirit.
In Madrid one is able to find everything one’s heart desires; here is our top recommendations:
- Madrid is the city in Europe with the highest number of trees and green surface per inhabitant thus making wandering around parks a must. The Buen Retiro Park (literally “Park of the Pleasant Retreat”) is the largest one in Madrid. Located on the edge of the city centre, it is a haven for tranquillity amid the hustle and bustle. Features of the park involve abundance of plants and colors, art galleries, sculptures and monuments, and a beautiful artificial lake in its centre.
2. Teatro Real is Spain’s leading opera house and considered the country’s top institution for music and performing arts field. Many visitors enjoy first-class frequent performances, guided tours and the spectacular design of the landmark built in 19th century.
3. Sobrino de Botín is the world’s oldest operating restaurant that has made it even to the Guinness Book of Records. The place is famous for offering simple dishes executed to perfection. It was founded in 1725 and though the name changed once its door always remained opened.
4. Santiago Bernabéu, the football stadium of Real Madrid, doesn’t only offer tickets for football games. Did you know that it is in fact Madrid’s third most visited museum? A tour there can show you around the team’s dressing room, interactive exhibits, of course a store full of everything Real Madrid-themed and many more interesting fun things to do on a perhaps scorching summer day. The cost of tickets is on average 20-30 Euros; children under 14 take advantage of discounts.
5. CaixaForum Madrid is a cultural center located in the famous boulevard Paseo del Prado. Before one even enters in, one’s eyes are mesmerized by a ‘living wall’, or in other words the vertical garden which is always well taken care of, and surely get visitors in the right mood for splendid exhibitions. At the cost of less than 5 Euros to contemplate art, this place definitely makes it to our list.
6. Opened not far ago, the public library Municipal Eugenio Trías catches attention. Located amid the park El Retiro, it is a modern-looking building that is daily an isolated island of quietness to students and others who need peace to work on ideas, dive into novels or write assignments. The library has free wi-fi, computers, cubicle areas and of top a thick book, magazine and newspaper collection. Many come in early to ensure their productiveness and get out some time for a well-deserved stroll in the park.
7. A bit east from the city centre is a place you probably didn’t think of visiting. The plant nursery Silvosa HNOS is what seems like loved by all.. The moment you step in the nature sanctuary kind professionals will lead you through the great variety of all kinds of plants and help choose best. Prices are reasonable and nature-lovers leave feeling exuberant and with hands holding trees, herbs and flowers. It is advised to arrive there by car.
8. Madrid is unarguably a wondrous city but where can you enjoy not just a piece but rather all of it? Círculo de Bellas Artes is the answer. This cultural building was designed by Spanish architect Antonio Palacios and offers an emblematic rooftop view of the Spanish capital.
9. An Egyptian temple in Madrid? Of course. Temple of Debod is actually very close to the Royal Palace, just not that popular with tourists. Egypt has given it as a sign of gratitude back in 1968 for the help provided by Spain in saving the Abu Simbel temples. The entry along the walkway is free of charge although the inside of the Egyptian monument is currently closed for the public.
10. Basílica Pontificia de San Miguel is a small Roman Catholic church in central Madrid. The beautiful baroque architecture is a lovely sight especially for foreigners. On the inside, the chapel’s ceiling is ‘to die for’ (visitors put it into words this way). The Basilica was completed back in 1745 and though rather small, is an integral part of the capital’s charm and heritage.
11. Antigua Imprenta de Juan de la Cuesta is a well-known printing house among Spaniards where the first edition of Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605) came to life. Today there are guided tours that show people the antique printing on which important works of Spain’s Golden Age were printed and thus reserved for generations to come.
12. Monument to Jacinto Ruiz y Mendoza or Estatua del Teniente Jacinto Ruiz is located in the middle of a small square where one can have a cup of coffee of tea and enjoy the atmosphere. The sculpture is made of marble and bronze and commemorates a hero from the Madrid uprising 1808 against the French troops.
13. Mercado de Antón Martín is one of Madrid’s best markets. Vibrant colors, mouth-watering smells and sights can be found in abundance here. The produce is needless to say the freshest. Meat, fish, fruits, vegetables – inspired cooks easily get all their ingredients on daily basis from here.
14. Pool Bahia is an indoor swimming pool in Madrid where kids and grown-ups take swimming lessons from qualified staff and have a ton of fun. A recommendation for people visiting the capital yet yearning for an alternative to Spain’s astonishing seaside.
15. A great location for your stay in Madrid is the area around The Reina Sofia museum. This is a museum for 20th-century art where you can ponder over the works of artists like Picasso, Salvador Dali, Miró and José Solana. Entrance is free for teenagers under 18 and the price ticket for grown-ups is just 6 Euros (also, the museum is free for all during certain hours on weekends). At a walking distance are many other monumental gems in the heart of the capital.
Scroll up to TOP 15 – THE FABER DOZEN where we enlisted 15 recommended places for you to visit. Don’t think it is enough? Here are some more ways to adventure around the heart of the Iberian Peninsula.
Hammam Al Ándalus Madrid are one-of-a-kind Arab baths. The atmosphere inside takes to ancient Arabic fantasy and causes one to pause, breathe and relax. Moreover, its location in the city centre near Plaza Mayor makes it a very convenient stop after a long and exhaustive tour. There are three baths with different temperatures, a relax room, a steam room and the perfect experience would be topped with a massage. Every visitor who leaves these Arab baths already plans his next visit.
The Palacio de Cristal (“Glass Palace”) is a conservatory located in Madrid‘s largest Buen Retiro Park. It used to be a greenhouse, but now holds art exhibitions. In front of it steps lead down to the park’s lake. It’s a mesmerizing sight of the all-glass palace reflecting the water as well as beams of sunshine. Taken out of a fairy tale!
A stone slab amid Puerta del Sol marks the country’s geographical center. It’s a Zero Kilometer point, meaning the starting point from which distances are measured within the country. The stone slab is situated on the ground in from of the clock tower of the Post Office. Fun fact, during replacement with a newer stone slab in 2002, the plaque was mistakenly turned around 180 degrees and stayed this way for another 7 years until it was finally placed the way it should be.
The Lucky Frog statue is situated in front of Casino Gran Madrid. Years ago gambling was forbidden in Spain and to honor the return of casinos The Grand Casino of Madrid gave the bronze frog as a gift to the city. It is a fun and artsy sight made easily accessible by bus or metro.
Located at the end of Felipe II Avenue is Salvador Dali’s Square. Little do people know that the symbolic monument depicting abstract masculine figure is the only urban monument designed by the great surrealist artist. The bronze statue stuns the eyes with its uniqueness.
Hungry? We can help you with food and drink recommendations for Madrid. Choose from family dining, tapas, bakeries and cafes, fast food, or international and ethnic cuisines. If you are looking for drinks, check out our recommended watering holes in food & spirits.
Does it count as true Spain experience if one doesn’t stuff his face with Churros con Chocolate (for breakfast!!)? Absolutely not. Here is the place for you. Chocolatería San Ginés is perhaps the most famous place where locals and tourists queue to get churros and chocolate. Although is it indeed a popular spot prices remain very reasonable.
Huevos rotos or literally ‘broken eggs’ is another breakfast idea for people with no sweet tooth. This dish consists of fried potatoes in olive oil, tossed with a pinch of sea salt and topped with pan-fried egg with liquid yolk. It’s common as a vegetarian dish or some places serve it with some kind of meat.
Rosca Madrileña is what seems like not a well-known dish yet very typical for Madrid. Rosca translates from Spanish to donut, explaining the mainly meat dish in the form of one. It is not easy to find probably due to it taking a bit more to prepare.
A typical drink for locals in Madrid would be Tinto de verano (‘summer red wine’) It is a refreshing mix of red wine and lemon Fanta resulting in sweet and frizzy deliciousness.
As interesting as it sounds, the capital of Spain is home to the world’s second largest fish market. Yet the distance from the seaside has resulted in Madrid’s cuisine being mainly centered around pork. With over 8000 restaurants listed on Tripadvisor, Madrid has all to offer to every traveller.
A best friend for the on-the-budget backpackers are with no doubt hostels. There are many such around Madrid. Here are some which have been rated great on Hostelworld and are located at the most convenient places near the city centre and the cost per night is around 20 Euros or even less.
Room007 Ventura Hostel can be found downtown. Hundreds of people write reviews on their great experience and the friendly staff and cleanliness seem to outstand.
D´hostel Madrid is a colorfully decorated vintage haven for travellers. Its free breakfast and spacious lounging area attracts young people from all across the globe.
Hostel One Madrid has been given a 9.6 out of 10 in the world of hostels. The chain offers not only a bed for a tired tourist but also free family dinners, daily activities, nights out and get-togethers and day trips. It is located a mile from the city centre but the walk is not tiresome.
For those wanting a fancier place to stay in, consider Hotel Maydrit. The 4-star hotel is located in the busy commercial area in the northeast of Madrid. Well-connected to the heart of Madrid via road and Metro. It also offers a free shuttle to the airport and has a swimming pool opened in the summer.
Relais & Chateaux Hotel Orfila is a small 19th century palace that has been turned into an emblematic hotel. It is a modern work of art combining the majestic style of the past and the luxuries of today’s world. The buffet breakfast is a reason to wake up on time for it, all the excellent amenities another reasons to book again.
Why spend all you cash only in restaurants when you can have a colourful experience at for example Mercado de Antón Martín, one of Madrid’s biggest and most vibrant indoor markets. And also save some cash to spend on souvenirs to bring back home. You can find countless of souvenir places in the city centre, especially in the Royal Palace area. Yet we have another more authentic idea.
If you want to have a cool shopping experience consider going to El Rastro de Madrid, the most popular flea market in the capital, held every Sunday along Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores.Who knows, Spaniards may even be in the mood for bargaining. Come back home with traditional gifts like wine skins or antiques and share the stories of your flea market experience.
Xanadu Commercial and Leisure Center is believed to be Madrid’s largest shopping centre. In it more than 250 stores offer everything from food to household goods and clothing. If indoor malls is not your thing, how about a shopping street?
Fuencarral is a lively shopping street area which seems to have flourished in the past few years. It is preferred by many because it provides a variety of mainstream as well as fancy brands and restaurants.
On the top of your list should with no doubt be a place which has earned itself a ’Certificate of Excellence’. Escapeway Entertainment Madrid is one of the best fun activities you and your family or travel buddy can dive yourself into. The rooms of mystery are designed with intricate details and the series of challenges are sure to make you brainstorm, hustle and find your way out. On the average visitors spend 2 hours in this place.
A show at Teatro Circo Price is a must-see for all ages, especially for families with children. Back in 2007 Madrid put its name on the list with cities that have resident circuses which made the the capital even more charming. The experience will have you at the edge of your seat holding your breath while spectacular magicians, acrobats and a bunch of other talented people perform in from of your eyes. The building also holds concerts, conferences, etc.
A very touristy thing to do while in Madrid is to hop on a Hop-on Hop-off bus and let the tour entertain you while also learning much about the city. There are 2 routes you can choose from (why not even hop on both?) and ride around all the Madrid’s famous landmarks. You can catch a bus at any stop, they came every 15 minutes morning to evening. A good piece of information is also that the buses are adapted for passengers with reduced mobility.
Long queues sure do not make people happy and due to this fact many of us are not willing to enter world’s best museums. You can stop this tendency right about now because tickets that involve skipping the tedious lines are being sold around all the globe. Madrid is not an exception and with one such purchased ticket for (for example) Prado Museum you can enjoy an incredible guided tour in Spanish or English. The price of the tickets are a bit higher, but worth the investment.
First Friday Downtown Gadsden
The biggest event in Gadsden Alabama, held on the first Friday of every month, 18:00-21:00. Hundreds of classic cars come out and line the streets. Live music, street food, shopping. Join the fun!
Gadsden Alabama Events Calendar
Annual Events listed by month.
Downtown Gadsden Chili Cook-Off First Saturday in February, held at noon. +1 (256) 547-8696.
Alabama Chocolate Festival Chocolate taste-off, live music, carnival rides, food, contests, and prizes. Rainbow Plaza, Rainbow City, +1 (256) 413-1201.
Altoona Day Town festival. Arts and crafts, kids fun, live music, food. Altoona, +1 (256) 549-0351.