5 Things You Can’t Miss: Madrid

by Anthony Losanno
Retiro Park

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Madrid is Spain’s capital and most populous city. It is the political, economic, and cultural center of the country. While it might not have the beaches of Barcelona or the foodie allure of San Sebastián, it’s a great place to spend a few days.

Here are five things you can’t miss on your visit.

Royal Palace of Madrid5. Royal Palace of Madrid

The official residence of the Spanish royal family is huge. It’s the world’s largest by floor space at over 1.45 million square feet. It would be next to impossible to see every room (there are 3,418) but only a fraction is open to tour, and they are all impressive. Think tons of marble and everything imaginable gilded, tiled, or wallpapered.

Can’t Miss: the changing of the guard on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Address: C. de Bailén, s/n, 28071 Madrid, Spain

Iberico Ham4. San Miguel Market

I’m a sucker for food halls and markets worldwide. They offer some of the best bites as well as a window into the everyday tastes of the locals. This covered market was built in 1916, underwent renovations in the 2000s, and reopened in 2009. Over 30 vendors offer tapas, Iberico ham, snacks, baked goods, as well as wine, beer, and cocktails.

Can’t Miss: grab a snack and a glass of wine to hold you over for a late Spanish dinner.

Address: Pl. de San Miguel, s/n, 28005 Madrid, Spain

The Temptations of Saint Anthony the Abbott3. The Prado Museum

The Spanish national art museum houses one of the best collections of European art. The museum opened in 1819 and offers visitors access to works by Francisco Goya, El Greco, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, and more. The museum has over 20,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures but 1,300 are displayed at any given time.

Can’t Miss: the insane old woman in The Temptations of Saint Anthony the Abbott. I noticed her on my first visit to the Prado and make sure to stop by each time I return.

Address: C. de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23, 28014 Madrid, Spain

Churros and Chocolate at Chocalateria San Gines2. Chocolatería San Ginés

Next, it’s time for a snack. What is better than fried dough? How about churros that come with a cup of melted chocolate for dipping? Chocolatería San Ginés was founded in 1894 and is open 24 hours a day. At any time of day, a mix of locals and tourists can be found snacking on these irresistible treats. I’d recommend getting them to go or heading to the café at an off time to snag one of its coveted tables.

Can’t Miss: Two words – melted chocolate.

Address: Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5, 28013 Madrid, Spain

Retiro Park1. Retiro Park

Finally, my top pick! This park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century. Its expansive grounds measure over 350 acres and it has everything from gardens to statues to galleries and even an artificial lake with paddleboat rentals and concessions. In 2021, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which ensures that it will remain a great place for a stroll.

Can’t Miss: the dozens of peacocks that inhabit the small gardens that are well hidden in the park.

Address: Plaza de la Independencia, 7, 28001 Madrid, Spain

Come for the art and stay for the churros. These are my can’t miss picks for Madrid.

Westin Palace Madrid DomeBonus Hotel Pick: The Westin Palace Madrid is my go-to hotel when I am in the city. Commissioned by King Alfonso XIII in 1912, the hotel is located directly across from the Spanish Parliament. It’s a quick walk to Retiro Park and The Prado Musuem as well as many shops and restaurants. The beautiful domed, La Rotonda is the hotel’s main restaurant and where an expansive breakfast buffet is served every morning (complimentary for Bonvoy Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador guests).

Address: C. Fernández y González, 4, 41001 Sevilla, Spain

Check out my full review of the hotel here.

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