12 min read
After our Head of Operations Sam spending 48 hours in Bratislava and bringing you some amazing travel recommendations, it’s the turn of our founder Greg to share his best travel tips following his trip to Spain’s beautiful capital of Madrid.
The largest city in the country and located right at its centre, Madrid is the heart and soul of Spain. It attracts an astonishing average of 10 million visitors every year making it one of the most popular cities in Europe. With everything Madrid has to offer, it’s not hard to see why this destination is so appealing.
There is so much to love about Madrid, from its electric nightlife to its delicious food, impressive art collections and laid-back vibe. I’m warning you now, it is going to be hard to say goodbye to this fantastic city! In fact, Spaniards are so fond of it that the remark “de Madrid al cielo” has become a popular phrase.
It translates to “from Madrid to heaven” and essentially means that once you’ve visited Madrid the only superior place you have left to see is heaven. The Spanish may be biased towards their own capital city, but even so, I’m not sure I’d offer that compliment to London!
The city’s balance of high culture and relaxed fun makes it the perfect place for a weekend away from the stresses of normal life. On top of that, it is one of Europe’s cheapest capital cities so there are no causes for worry once you land. I’ve even taken care of the itinerary for you! All you need to do is catch your flight! Read on to see all the exciting things you can get up to with 48 hours in Madrid!
After a 2 and a half hour flight from London Heathrow, I land at Madrid Barajas Airport (the main airport in Madrid). I want to make the most of my time in the city so I jump in a taxi and head straight to the 4* Hotel Francisco I to drop off my bag.
Located in Madrid city center nearby landmarks such as Plaza Mayor, Royal Theatre, Sobrino de Botin and Royal Palace, 4* Hotel Francisco I is perfect for travellers that love to explore the city. A design that reflects the beauty and architecture of the city, this is due to be a great stay.
The rooms have a splendid decor, with a touch of classy and comfort as well as modern, designed to make all travellers feel at home. With an average rating of 4.5/5, I am sure Hotel Francisco I will be an amazing experience for the BRB travellers.
Kick off your holiday by launching into the exciting hubbub of Spanish life at the Mercado de San Miguel. This indoor market is not only home to tonnes of food stalls selling amazing fresh produce and local delicacies, but it is also beautiful to behold and is the only market left in Madrid with its original iron structure still intact.
Photo Credit: @mercadosanmiguel
Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere as you meander around the stalls and pick up some nibbles for a picnic lunch later. Next up is the Crystal Palace of Arganzuela – and yes, it is magnificent as it sounds! The building is a huge 7,100 metre squared greenhouse made almost entirely of glass and it houses a whopping 9000 species of tropical and aquatic plants.
Photo Credit: @nicolekulej
A perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the market, the palace is tranquil and enchanting and looks absolutely splendid as it sparkles in the glorious morning sun.
Finish your morning at the monument to Alfonso XII in the heavenly Retiro Park. Words can’t do justice to this incredible monument which stands overlooking the park lake. The central bronze statue commemorating King Alfonso XII is striking as it rises 20m up in the air. It is framed by a semicircle of columns embellished with intricate sculptures of Spanish coats of arms and scenes from everyday life.
Photo Credit: @my.memory.museum
This spot is well worth a visit and definitely at least a couple of pics. Stroll around the park and make the most of this gorgeous setting to find a spot to break into the snacks you picked up earlier and enjoy a relaxed picnic lunch.
It might be hard to tear yourself away from the snacking and sunbathing, but we have things to do and places to see! First up is the majestic Cybele Palace. Just a short walk away, Cybele Palace, formerly known as The Communications Cathedral, was once Spain’s central post office and is now home to the mayor.
Photo Credit: @michalveselsky
The stunning building is one of Madrid’s most iconic landmarks and will take your breath away. From here, move on the Museo Nacional del Prado.
Photo Credit: @epril___
One of the world’s largest and most renowned art museums, the Museo del Prado boasts a collection of over 20,000 works including pieces by Titian, Rubens, Goya and Rembrandt to name a few. Whether you are an art aficionado or not, this museum is guaranteed to impress.
After all that exercising off your intellectual faculties, reward yourself with a drink at the trendy rooftop terrace bar Círculo de Bellas Artes. Offering spellbinding, panoramic views of the city below, this is one of the best spots in Madrid to watch the sun set from.
Photo Credit: @coolmadridok
As the night draws in, head to Cava Baja for a spot to eat. Famously known as Madrid’s ‘tapas street’ this charming and lively thoroughfare is home to some of the best traditional tapas joints and is ideal for indulging in some great local flavours.
Photo Credit: @cristiigual
For the full experience, go on a tapas bar crawl and try the house specialty in a selection of places.
Madrid is renowned for its nightlife which exploded following the demise of the Franco regime in 1970s and remains a huge part of the culture today. In fact, it is rumoured that Madrid has more bars per person than anywhere else on earth and Ernest Hemingway famously said of the city “nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night.”
So, when I tell you to get ready to party the night away, I really mean it! I recommend hitting up Café Central which holds jazz and blues concerts every night at 10pm.
Photo Credit: @cafecentralmadrid
For a fantastic vibe and experimental cocktails try out Salmón Gurú.
Photo Credit: @salmonguru
For those of you with real stamina, Teatro Kapital is a huge and wildly popular club that has been built in a former theatre and sprawls over seven galleried floors with a different vibe on each level, but be warned, it doesn’t really start picking up until after 1am!
Photo Credit: @teatrokapitaloficial
As with everything in Madrid, the best approach is to relax and go where the night takes you.
If you can stomach it, soak up some of last night’s alcohol with a traditional Spanish breakfast of churros and hot chocolate at the amazing Chocolatería San Ginés.
Photo Credit: @chocosangines
You might not be in the routine of having such a sweet breakfast, but it’s almost a crime not to try churros when in Spain, plus you’re on holiday so it’s guilt free!
After that meal, you will have the energy needed to walk around the huge and mesmerising Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. The second of Madrid’s unbelievable art galleries, this museum primarily focuses on 20th century works.
Photo Credit: @dilmasofiaa
Within the collection here you can see masterpieces such as Pablo Picasso’s famous ‘Guernica’ painting which depicts the horrors of the Spanish civil war. The museum is also exalted for its immense Dalí collection. You will not regret dedicating some time to this veritable treasure chest of outstanding works of art.
From the museum, take the short walk up to the Puerta del Sol where you can rest your feet and grab a coffee or ice cream – or both! This is Madrid’s most famous and central square and originally was the site of one of the gates to the city.
Photo Credit: @meninasmadridgallery
Now, it is a fabulous spot for admiring some beautiful architecture and interesting statues. Make sure to get a close look at the iconic statue of El Oso y El Madroño, which means the bear and the strawberry tree.
Photo Credit: @calvin_oky
Next move on to the Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s other main square. The red bricks and foundations here, date back to when Philip II's court moved to Madrid at the end of the 15th century.
Photo Credit: @gabri_can86
If you’re feeling peckish, this is a great opportunity to try one of Madrid’s signature calamari sandwiches. Eat and enjoy on the move as you make your way to the Catedral de la Almudena. This ornately decorated cathedral is one of the largest in Europe and took over a century to build.
Photo Credit: @museoalmudena
Once you’ve ogled the cathedral head to the neighbouring Palacio Real de Madrid.
Photo Credit: @barccello
The royal palace, as you might expect, exudes opulence! With over 3,418 rooms and covering 135,000 square metres, this is the largest palace in western Europe, and it is absolutely breath-taking.
The sightseeing continues as you stroll through the wooded Plaza de España where you can spy an amazing monument full of symbolism celebrating the country’s literary hero, author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes.
Photo Credit: @onmyjollys
Finish your walk at the Templo de Debod, a perfect destination to watch the sun set. This fascinating Egyptian temple was given as a token of thanks to the Spanish archaeologists who helped save it from the rising waters of Lake Nasser in southern Egypt.
Photo Credit: @alexgarcia27_
The temple is an extraordinary sight and the views from the surrounding gardens are some of Madrid’s prettiest. Enjoy an al fresco drink here before heading to the Mercado de San Ildefonso for a simple but delicious and hearty meal.
Photo Credit: @msanildefonso
What better way to wrap up your holiday in Madrid than in true Spanish style with a flamenco show and a glass of Sangria! Though the vibrant and passionate dance style originated in Andalusia, Madrid is where flamenco dancers flock to make a name for themselves.
Photo Credit: @olesyababurina
You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to flamenco tablaos so if you’re feeling overwhelmed you can’t go wrong with Cardamomo. A favourite since it opened in 1994, and recently recognized by the New York Times as the best tablao in Madrid, you can expect some high-quality live music and simply superb dancing.
Photo Credit: @alxledesma
Stretch out your evening here to make the most of every minute you have in the wonderful city of Madrid.
If like me you love taking short weekend breaks across Europe and spending 48 hours in cities like Barcelona, Prague, Porto, Split, Bologna, Stockholm or Venice, but if like me you hate wasting hours trawling travel sites to plan and research your next weekend break, only to be hit by increased flight prices just before booking, then BeRightBack is for you!
The team at BeRightBack believes that the mission of a travel company should be to save you both time and money.
With BeRightBack, you get three trips a year to three surprise European destinations, all for the monthly cost of £49.99, which includes your return flights and your hotel.
With BeRightBack, creating a trip takes 60 seconds. Simply tell us how you like to travel when you create your account, and our concierge service does everything else for you. You won't have to lift a finger.
Best of all, you always pay the same price for your trips, no matter when you go away and we help you spread the cost of your travel, thanks to our monthly subscription.
I hope you enjoyed my 48 hours city guide to Madrid and do not hesitate to use our website chat or to email us if you have any questions!
Greg (Founder of Berightback)
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