Things To Do While In Madrid, Spain.
One of my most memorable trips with my parents was our trip to Spain and Portugal. For me to give both these countries its fair share I will just be telling you about Spain. Actually I will be telling you about the wonderful city of Madrid; I have been to Madrid a couple of times and discover something new each time. The first time when I traveled with my parents I was 13 years old so my experiences were different than when I went years later. For example being thirteen and having a little glass of wine with dinner; this is customary. Anytime you travel one must enjoy the culture. While in Spain, do what the Spaniard's do. I have always been told to try the food at least once, if I don't like it then I don't get it the next time. To be safe many times I would eat chicken. When we were in Spain I ate a lot of chicken. So every time we would be arriving at our new destination my Dad would roll down his car window and yell out "look out chickens Michele is in town". The food, people, and the sites of Spain are fabulous.
History of Madrid.
Before I travel anywhere I read up on what there is to do and the history. Spain is full of history and so is its capital Madrid. Part of the reason it is the capital is that it sits in the center of Spain. It is the government seat and home to the Spanish monarch. The various cultural influences in Spain are vast and varied. The Romans have been here, along with Arabs, Visigoths and a few Germanic tribes. The origin of the name Madrid is much discussed but many believe it has its origins from the Roman occupation. Today modern Madrid blends with the old in a way that makes it charming and exotic.
Guide Books and Maps.
Things to do in Madrid.
To truly experience Madrid one must do as they do. Walk the busy streets or use the metro to get around the city. Site at a sidewalk cafe during the day and enjoy some gazpacho. Wander the streets of trendy areas like La Latina and Lavapies. Madrid has a great nightlife and there is something for everyone. How about going to a bullfight? Or how about catching a soccer match? Sign up for a Tapas tour; which are the Spanish version of appetizers or finger food. Enjoy an evening out for a nice dinner of Paella and watch flamenco dancing. Don't forget to enjoy some good Spanish wine with you meal. Take a stroll through one of many beautiful parks Madrid has to offer; a great place to read or people watch. There is much to do in Madrid and the people of Madrid are very happy to share with you their wonderful city.
The Prado Museum
The Museo del Prado is one of my favorite art museums. I still to this day remember the first time I saw the painting by Goya "Saturn Devouring His Children". It left an unforgettable impression on me. For me this is one of the finest collections of paintings worldwide.
The building used to house this wonderful art museum was built in 1785 and was designed by famed architect Juan de Villanueva. The current collection is about 22,000 of paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures.
The Prado is closed on January 1, May 1 and December 25.
Things to see in Madrid.
Other than the Prado Museum, here is a list of things to do while in Madrid.
- Royal Botanical Gardens of Madrid: this adjoins the Prado Museum. When wandering the paths and enjoying the serenity it is hard to believe that you are in the heart of a bustling city.
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum: if you have time and like art this this museum has a very nice collection.
- Walls of Madrid: remains of early fortification by the Moors and Christian dating as far back as the 9th century.
- Royal Palace: very impressive with its classic Italian Baroque style architecture and the beautiful gardens.
- La Cibeles Fountain: this is one of many fountains in Madrid and is considered a city landmark.
- Anton Martin Market: a change of pace for you while in Madrid. The market with its colorful stalls with food from all over Spain is a must for getting off the beaten path.
- El Escorial: this is outside of Madrid and one can do this on a day trip. This is a monastery and a must see while in Spain.
- Valley of the Fallen: this can be done with your trip to El Escorial. I found this church very fascinating; it is carved out of rock, and was built for the fallen during the Spanish Civil War in 1940.
- Toledo: one can plan a day tour to Toledo or better yet stay for the evening. This is a majestic destination that sits on a hilltop, and one destination that should not be missed.
- Avila: one of my favorites. I have walked all over the city walls in this beautiful city. This can be done in a day.
- Segovia: is another day trip you can do. Built by the Romans, and has a Roman aqueduct worth seeing.
Final Thoughts On Traveling to Spain
There is so much to see and do in Madrid that I could keep on writing. My advice for the first time traveler is do your research. Make a list of the "must see" for your travel destination. Do research on-line and buy yourself a good guide book to take along on your travels. Having an idea of what you want to see and do will cut down on the stress. Cutting down on the stress during your travels will allow you more time to enjoy your vacation.
Happy travels. Ciao!