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¡Bienvenido a Madrid!
A regal city that exudes European charm from its baroque architecture and its impressive colonial history, Madrid is a worldwide local’s playground where a plethora of sights awaits those who explore it. A vibrant capital of a colorful country--this is the royal city of Madrid, Spain.
Even from the air as you descend into the Madrid airport, it’s easy to see that the city was once the capital of an empire that spanned across the globe. And yet Madrid is often overshadowed by other capitals in the continent when it comes to tourism. The city is perfectly explored on foot, as most of its notable attractions are within walking distance of each other. Soak up the welcoming atmosphere along with the sunny Madrid weather as you embrace its traditional flair.
Start at the City’s Center
Puerta del Sol is Madrid’s largest square, and where all of Spain’s roads lead. As Spain’s geographical central point, it is also a center for the city’s laid back yet busy streets. This is a place where locals and tourists rub shoulders, watch street performers, and take relaxing evening strolls under the dusky sky.
Continue walking through the Calle Mayor where you can find the elegant Plaza Mayor, a cozy square with charming little cafes and traditional Spanish restaurants. The setting is best enjoyed with a large glass of sangria as you people-watch, appreciating Madrid’s locals living their daily routines.
Worldwide Local Tip: Visit Madrid during New Year’s Eve to experience the famous 12 Grapes Tradition at Puerta del Sol. There is a massive party held on the square with fireworks, and locals perform the tradition of eating a grape for every gong of the clock of the Real Casa de Correos.
Where and What to Eat
For an eclectic selection of Madrid’s tasty fare, head to the San Miguel Market where you are greeted with rows of stalls portioning up local and international cuisine. Built in 1916, a mixture of glass and iron form the building, creating an early 20th-century rustic vibe. Madrid loves to eat, and there is no better place to dine and snack. Take a sip of local wine as you nibble on the savory Jamon Iberico, while also feeding off the buzzing atmosphere.
Worldwide Local Tip: Aside from tapas, order a Cocido Madrileño for a taste of quintessential Madrid. A hearty traditional meal in the city consists of chickpeas, a variety of cut meats, and seasonal vegetables cooked in a stew.
Nature in Madrid
El Retiro Park offers a green getaway from the busy streets of the city. At around 125 hectares (308 acres), its considerable size consists of picturesque greenery, with pretty paths and water features. A park showcasing gardens filled with 167 species of flora, El Retiro Park is a leafy oasis in the heart of the city. Nestled deep within the lush greenery of the park are the Palacio de Cristal and Palacio de Velázquez, both serving as exhibition buildings. Gaze at its brilliant architecture from the inside and out.
Worldwide Local Tip: Paddle around the ducks in tiny rowboats at the gorgeous lake in the center of the park. Tickets start at 6 Euros during weekdays and 8 Euros during the weekend. It is a great way to spend a lazy summer day while getting marvelous views of the park and the King Alfonso XIII monument.
Architecture and History
Visit the Spanish Royal Family’s official residence at the majestic Palacio Real de Madrid (not to be confused with Real Madrid, the soccer team). The ornate structure has over 3000 rooms, all lavishly decorated with artistic frescoes and luxurious ornaments, which will humble even the most decadent of Madrid hotels. Walk through its extravagant hallways, as it lets you experience the celebration of centuries of Spanish exuberance. Next to the palace is the Madrid Cathedral, also known as Catedral de la Almudena. It is commonplace for the Royal Family to officiate ceremonies, such as the marriage of the King of Spain and other coronations. Scale the cathedral steps, and find yourself gazing at Madrid’s panoramic skyline.
Worldwide Local Tip: Join a free walking tour of the city, where a local guide takes you through the streets with unique insights and interesting stories. From basic overviews of the city, food and drink tours, or in-depth walk-throughs of each area, a tour from one of the city’s residents is a great way to set yourself up to have an authentic time in Madrid. Don’t forget to tip your guide well if you enjoy the tour!
Enjoy Madrid as a Worldwide Local!
Become one with the city as you explore its narrow streets and wander its grand avenues. As a worldwide local in Madrid, you are will always be greeted with warm welcomes as you truly embark on the ultimate Spanish experience.