If you're looking to live life to the fullest, the capital of Spain is the place to go. Madrid is a sophisticated city, which attracts thousands of tourists year-round, offering entertainment and leisurely pursuits for people with many different interests and tastes.
Here are ten ideas to get you started:
1. Stroll around in the Retiro Park. Whether you are looking to go for a stroll, a jog or a romantic row, there are plenty of outdoor activities you can pursue in this park. There are also frequent art exhibitions (both indoor and outdoor) as well as countless activities for children and families.
2. Go see a flamenco show. Listening to traditional Spanish music and watching gitanos (gypsies) dance to it is a tourist staple. In Madrid, there are numerous flamenco venues to choose from, some more touristy than others. Head to the Tablao Las Carboneras for a small-scale venue that offers dinner, drinks and flamenco shows.
3. Eat chocolate con churros. The classic in terms of Spanish breakfast. Churros are pieces of fried dough, and chocolate is, well, chocolate. At the Chocolatería San Ginés, you can get this treat at any time of the day.
4. Take a tour of the Bernabeu soccer stadium. Soccer fans will find delight in this stadium. During the tour, you can learn about the history of the building as well as the Real Madrid team. All their trophies are on view here. You can also fill up on energy at the Puerta 57 bar and restaurant. Last but not least, if you are in town when a game is going on, you can witness the Spanish fans (and players) first-hand.
5. Admire Spanish masterpieces at the Prado museum. If you are interested in art, the Prado is a must-do. Here, you can revel in front of Velazquez, Goya and many others.
6. Take a day trip to Toledo. Just a 34-minute train ride away, the small city of Toledo is well worth a visit. Rich in history, it still retains its traces of three religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
7. Fill up on energy with a cocido madrileño. Especially if you are visiting in the winter, this typical stew will keep you warm. It includes chickpeas, onions, potatoes and meat.
8. Go for tapas in La Latina. Tapas can be had all over town, but the La Latina neighborhood is a great place to hop from bar to bar. Especially if you are coming on a weekend, be prepared to stand and wait; the popular places tend to fill up fast.
9. Party until the sun comes up. Madrid, and Spain in general, is famous for its nightlife. In the capital, you can choose from bars and clubs with all kinds of music, from traditional guitar songs to jazz festivals to contemporary music discos.
10. Witness a bullfight. Barcelona has abolished bullfights, but in Madrid, you can still attend one. The ideal month to go is during the San Isidro fair in May. Should you just want to take a tour of the Las Ventas arena that is possible, too.