A Weekend Trip to Madrid, Spain
by Izabel Trizlova
Saturday, October 6, 2018
Spain is a very popular tourist destination for people from all over the world. The country is 505,990 square kilometers large, making it the largest country in southern Europe. The population amounts to approximately 47 million, with a bit over 3 million living in the capital- Madrid.
Madrid is the largest city and often known as the heart of Spain. After living here for four years, I have come to realize that exploring this city will require as much time as possible or a minimum of 3-4 days.
Getting to The City and Transportation
Starting from the basics- getting to Madrid, the easiest way to reach this city is by plane. Of course if you already live in Spain or perhaps a nearby country you could drive, but various low- cost airlines fly to Madrid. Once you land, you can take the metro or cercanias to get to the city. Usually prices start from 8 Euros. There are also buses that you can take into the city. Another option is taking a cab, which is 30 Euros (fixed) to anywhere in the city zone.
Metro, trains and night buses take you everywhere
Once in Madrid, you don’t really have to worry about where your hotel or airbnb is located, due to the fact that Madrid has a great transportation system. You can take the metro/ renfe or cercanias (different types of trains) to any place in the city or even outside (suburbs). There are day and night buses, cabs, Uber, bikes you can rent and other transportation options. The most popular areas in this city include Gran Via, Plaza de España, Malasaña/ Tribunal, Atocha/ Retiro, Plaza Cibeles, Opera and Moncloa/ Argüelles.
Must See Sights
If you are going to be in Madrid for a weekend only, then it is best if you see the major sights first- Plaza España and Gran Via, the Royal Palace, Retiro park and Templo de Debod.
Plaza España and Puerta del Sol
Plaza España is located in the center. This is basically a beautiful square with water fountains and plenty of benches and grass area where you can relax and see the famous statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. From there if you continue upwards you will be on walking on Gran Via which is the main road that takes you to through the center of the city. I recommend walking this street as it is full of bars, restaurants, shops and cafes. If you keep going straight you will pass metro stations such as Santo Domingo, Callao, Gran Via and reach Banco de España. Pretty much any street you turn on there will lead you to the main square. When you’re in Sol, you’ll see the famous bear statue- a symbol of Madrid. There’s a legend that states if you touch the bear, you are bound to return to Madrid.
(Gran Via, Madrid, Spain)
The Royal Palace and Plaza Mayor
If you’re already in Sol you can walk to Opera, which is where the Royal palace is . If you decide to take calle Mayor then you can also see Plaza de Mayor on the way and grab a bite or two. Once you reach Opera you will see signs for Teatro Real, because it’s just behind the actual Opera. You have to pay to get inside the Royal Palace and there is usually a pretty long line, however if you just want a nice view, you can go in the Catedral de la Almudena, which is right next to it and has a large balcony with e great view.
(Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain)
(The Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain)
Retiro is the most famous park in Madrid. It is huge, free and has everything inside. To get there you can either walk from Banco de España down calle de Alcalá (through puerta de Alcalá) or get off at the Retiro metro station or even Atocha.. Inside you can find rowing boats to rent, the Crystal palace, a small botanical garden, various fountains, many cafes and stands where you can buy food and other knick- knacks.
(Crystal Palace, Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain)
Templo de Debod
Templo de Debod is another site that is pretty cool to see. It’s basically an Egyptian temple located in the middle of a park (Parque del Oeste). The park and temple are located right before Plaza España, so one stop before or just 10-15 minutes walking. The park is situated a bit higher, on a hill so there is a good view of the city and you can also see the Royal Palace from there.
(Templo de Debod, Madrid, Spain)
Prado Museum and Reina Sofia
If you’re very much interested in art, I recommend visiting Museo del Prado and Reina Sofia. If you’re into classical art, visit Prado and if you like more modern/ contemporary art, something like Dali for example, go to Reina Sofia. Prado is free for students and free after 5pm or 6pm for everyone else too (but check their website beforehand) otherwise the general ticket is 15 Euros. Reina Sofia is free after 7pm and the general entry is 10 Euros.
(Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain)
Going Out and Night Life
Lateral and Ten con Ten
Finally, if you want to go out in Madrid to eat, there are plenty of restaurants. Of course, those in the center are just a bit more expensive. If you are looking for something classy, I recommend going to restaurant Ten con Ten. Be prepared to spend 100 Euros or more and make sure to have a reservation beforehand. I also recommend Lateral- they have delicious mojitos and great atmosphere. Otherwise, pretty much every street that you are on will have various restaurants that serve good food and for less money.
Malasaña- the perfect neighborhood for going out
Malasaña is a neighborhood known for its bars. I recommend grabbing a drink at Ojala (a beach themed bar). Every bar serves snacks with your drink (the so called tapas), so don’t order anything if you don’t want to eat more than a few olives or chips. If you’re looking to go out clubbing, you have many options. One of the most famous and touristy clubs is Kapital. It has 7 floors and each floor plays a different type of music. The entrance is around 20 Euros, but there are discount codes that you can get from promoters. Other popular clubs include Joy Eslava, Goya, Teatro Barcelo, Opium, Mondo and Pacha. If you have time you might consider going to Fabrik- famous for its wild parties, but located a bit outside of the city
Madrid is the heart of Spain and it certainly stole my heart.
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October 30, 2018
Very interesting and useful!