Everyone who comes to Madrid is amazed by the beauty and light of this magical city. We mustn’t forget that part of this charm resides in the massive tourism, cultural, culinary and leisure appeal that the Spanish capital offers to visitors, even encouraging some visitors to stay in Madrid forever.
We want to take you with us to the mandatory places in Madrid that you must visit so as not to miss anything and to enjoy all that this city has to offer to the fullest.
Places of interest
The Retiro Park. This park is well-known to all of us even if we haven’t visited it, but we can be sure that knowing of it and experiencing it for real are very different. The first time you go in, its tranquillity and aesthetic harmony ensnare you. A meeting place for passers-by, cyclists and roller-skaters, you can also find people having a picnic, reading a book or taking a boat tour at the Estanque del Buen Retiro, right in front of the enormous monument dedicated to King of Spain Alfonso XII.
The musicians that put on little concerts and shows create a fitting atmosphere for whatever you wish to do in the Retiro that will delight your senses.
This park, not only a place for walking and leisure, is also a museum. There’s nothing like taking a stroll through the popular Paseo de la Estatuas with its radiant and beautiful Baroque sculptures, or visiting the Crystal Palace, an outstanding work constructed for the Philippines Exposition of 1887 which was celebrated in Madrid.
Royal Palace of Madrid. This building is so colossal that you will lose your sense of space the first time you visit. Another monumental place of interest that Madrid has to offer, the Palace of the Royal House is not used as a place of residence, rather only for official state ceremonies and events. Just making out the palace’s exterior is enough to be amazed to see such beauty in one place. At the back there is a vast garden, flanked by a rural area that separates the city of Madrid from the distance. There’s nothing like visiting the Royal Palace on a sunny day and letting yourself be captivated by the panoramic view and distant Madrid with total clarity and purity, one of the best postcard images of the city.
Plaza de Cibeles. Located between the Paseo del Prado and Calle Alcalá, on a site in which all of its elements blend together with such perfection and harmony that make the Plaza de Cibeles a place of immense architectural beauty. In the centre of the Plaza de Cibeles one of the most well-known monuments in Madrid is located, the Cibeles Fountain. This fountain is represented by the Roman goddess Cybele, mounted on a carriage pulled by two lions. This fountain is not only a place to visit; it’s also used for Real Madrid Football Club and the Spanish national team’s victories in football and basketball.
Around the Cibeles Fountain, the Cybele Palace, the Bank of Spain, the Palace of Buenavista and the Palace of Linares are located. Together with the fountain, they make the Plaza de Cibeles a perfect place for a photo opportunity.
Metropolis Building. Near to the Plaza de Cibeles, on the corner of Gran Vía and the Paseo de Alcalá you will find this building. Its distinct French architecture amazes all who see it.
The Almudena Cathedral. We should make a special mention of Madrid’s cathedral. This neoclassical building does not go unnoticed amongst the multitude of interesting places in the city of Madrid. A visit up the stairs to the dome, which offers views of the city as well as a museum with all kinds of works on the inside, is essential.
The Temple of Debod. We can’t forget this other popular attraction in Madrid, which takes all of its visitors back in time to Ancient Egypt. It was a gift given to Spain from Egypt for her help in saving the Nubia temples.
Typical Madrid cuisine was being developed during the reign of Philip II in the second half of the sixteenth century and over the course of history has been influenced by the cuisine of neighbouring regions. The best characteristic of Madrid’s cooking is reflected in Plaza Mayor. The smell of some of the typical dishes of the city frying in vegetable oil, like Spanish omelette, churros, bocadillos de calamares or patatas bravas can be sensed from all corners of the square. Madrid’s cuisine is like a chameleon, diverse and always changing. This owes to another characteristic, the influence throughout history from many emigrants coming from different parts of Spain who passed through Madrid. Below, we will recommend some restaurants and bars that, in our view, will not disappoint.
Cervecería Restaurante Plaza Mayor. There’s nothing like a good beer with a bocadillo de calamares under the midday sun in this symbolic and important square while watching daily life in the city.
Restaurante El Ingenio de Cervantes. A restaurant that offers typical cuisine in an authentic environment inspired by Cervantes, famous novelist and Spain’s Shakespeare. Here you can enjoy delicious dishes like eggs scrambled with mushrooms and Burgos black pudding or Mousse de Cabrales with cider. At CBLingua we have a special attachment to this restaurant, as one of its decorative elements is a library with the magnum opus of Spanish literature, Don Quijote de La Mancha, translated into more than twenty languages.
Otto Madrid. For the most die-hard foodies, we recommend this cosmopolitan restaurant located on the Paseo de la Castellana, close to Vía Zurbano, where you can try oxtail lasagne or couscous.
Museo del Prado (Prado Museum). The first thing to mention when talking about culture in Madrid is inevitably this museum. Whether you’re interested in art or not, you can’t leave the city without visiting the Museo del Prado. The largest museum in Spain, it houses the work of some of the great Spanish artists, Murillo, Velázquez and Goya to name a few, as well as the work of European artists like Van Dyck and Tintoretto. Together with the Thyssen Museum and the Museo Nacional Reina Sofía, the Museo del Prado makes up Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art, all definitely worth a visit.
Museo Reina Sofía. There’s much more to this museum than discovering the art of great contemporary painters like Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. It’s also about discovering early 20th century Spanish history as you gaze at works like El Guernica. Tickets are fairly cheap and as it’s not quite as big as the Museo del Prado, you’ll be able to see everything in two hours.
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. The third museum in Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art. You’ll be amazed at the works of Cole and Tintoretto. Equally spectacular for the visitor is the museum’s location in the Neo-Classicist style Villahermosa Palace.
All visitors to or residents of Madrid enjoy a wide range of diverse shows. A visit to the city would not be complete without seeing a play or a musical at the iconic Lope de Vega Theatre, located on Madrid’s Gran Vía, or the famous Cofidís Theatre on Calle Alcalá. You can also visit the Callao Cinema, where you can enjoy some of the biggest box-office releases. For those who like to laugh, Madrid has several comedy clubs dedicated to the art of stand up, like La Chocita del Loro.
Madrid is a great city for getting away from the routine of daily life with an intense day of shopping. Areas like Gran Vía, Calle Hortaleza, Goya or Fuencarral are a shopper’s paradise.
Madrid is also a hub for sporting events. Watching a basketball game at the Barclaycard Center is a unique and highly recommended event. Madrid is also home to Spanish First Division football clubs. You will find the Santiago Bernabéu, home of Real Madrid, and the Vicente Calderón, home of cross-town rivals Atlético.
CBLingua, who know Madrid first hand, invite you to visit this great city!