Our top sights, highlights, and exclusive tips
There’s no bedtime in Madrid. Most nights go from tapas to dancing to sunrise in the blink of an eye—but that doesn’t mean you should sleep in. So how do you get the best of both worlds? One word: siesta. Grab some shuteye between exploring the city’s historic center and starting your twilight fiesta. Our Travel Experts recommend a chocolate churro at Puerta del Sol to start your day of sightseeing. Make sure to take a stroll through Retiro Park and visit the reconstructed Egyptian temple, Templo de Debod. Then let the night lead you to a breezy terraza in Salamanca.
1. Puerta del Sol
2. Plaza Mayor
3. Museo Nacional del Prado
4. Royal Palace of Madrid
When you visit Madrid, be sure to take a turn around this historic square. As Puerta del Sol is “kilometer zero” for Spain’s radial road network, you have your choice of exits. Take Calle de Preciados to find some swanky boutiques or Calle Mayor to grab a churro drizzled in chocolate at Chocolatería de San Ginés, doors open since 1894.
The center of old Madrid, Plaza Mayor is a great place to bocadillo de jamón at a sidewalk cafe and do some people watching during your Madrid vacation. Enter through one of 10 archways, and be sure to get an up-close view of the murals on the front of Casa de la Panadería on the north side of the square. You may recognize some of your favorite characters from Greek mythology: Proserpine, Bacchus, and Cupid.
While on your Madrid trip, pay a visit to the world’s most extensive collections of Goya, Greco, and Velázquez in the world, not to mention seminal works from Bosch, Rubens, and Titian. Two hours in the museum earns you a sangria at the museum cafe and a stroll through the adjacent Retiro Park.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest in Europe with 2,800 rooms, each one more ornate than the last. Walk the grand staircase made of San Agustin Marble and pay a visit to the Royal Armory to see pieces dating back to the 13th century. The pomp continues outside in the Sabatini Gardens. Stroll through the elaborately trimmed hedges and check out the 44 statues of Spanish monarchs stationed throughout.
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