The vibrant capital of Spain, Madrid, is only a couple of hours from the UK by air and has become one of the top weekend break destinations. Madrid is a beautiful city which is packed with history and things to see and do, and often when you’re only there for the weekend the main problem is prioritising what you want to see first.
If you are into your art and culture, the Prado museum in Madrid should be right there at the top of the list. Do some reading up on the museum before you go as the sheer size of the place means you haven’t a hope of seeing absolutely everything. Most visitors prioritise the world class Old Master paintings from the likes of Goya, El Greco and Velasquez. Get there early as at weekends and during public holidays the museum gets crowded very quickly.
If you need a break in the peace and quiet after a hectic morning sightseeing, head over to the Retiro Park. The park is an oasis of calm in the centre of the city, with lakes, leafy avenues to wander along and interesting monuments for photo opportunities. If you’re in the park in late spring or early summer don’t miss the beautiful rose garden, and you can also hire a small rowing boat to use on the lake. Those of a lazier disposition may find the horse-drawn carriage rides more to their liking.
A quick metro ride will take you out to Madrid’s northern suburbs and the Bernabeu Stadium, home to the world famous Real Madrid football club. The stadium tour will let you see the dressing rooms, dugout and sit in the best seats in the house before taking in the small museum and the impressive trophy room. There is also, of course, a massive gift shop where you can buy everything and anything with Real Madrid on it.
The Spanish culture of going from bar to bar having a drink and something to eat in each is something which has to be experienced, and the best area for tapas bars is around the Plaza Mayor. Just wander from place to place, following your nose, following the locals or listening out for the sounds of a Spanish Music, which reminds me of a special place back home. Spaniards don’t go out until late though, so don’t expect bars to start having a busy atmosphere until at least 11pm.
Spain’s Royal Palace in the city centre is only used for ceremonial occasions, and at other times it is open to the public to visit. The size of the building is impressive by itself, and even though visitors only get to see a fraction of the total building, the opulence and grand rooms cannot fail to impress. Visitors are free to walk through the building by themselves, but you will get far more out of the visit by tagging along with a guided tour in English and finding out more about the history of the building and the Spanish nation.
Article By Morag Peers