Hidden gardens, ancient buildings, tucked away cafés, gorgeous markets, excellent food, flamboyant locals. These are a few of the things that make Madrid, a favourite Mediterranean destination. Exactly a year ago, in January 2016, I visited Madrid as I was always curious to see what made it a beautiful city and an increasingly popular tourist destination.
Everything I heard about it was so true, as Madrid is a living city as well as a visiting one. The city functions as a place where all of Spain’s incredibly rich, diverse regional cultures converge. The Spanish capital’s main strengths include its relentless, buzzing sense of urban energy and the fact that almost all year-round it is bathed in bright sunlight.
Even though it is known for its arts, cuisine and nightlife, Madrid isn’t really about seeing things so much as soaking up the incredible atmosphere. Madrid is truly beautiful and it was a great opportunity for me to take photographs, relax and enjoy being in a city so alive.
If you are wondering if Madrid is worth a visit, the answer is definitely ‘Yes’. Below are some suggestions of places I would recommend:
The metro in Madrid is known to be one of the safest, cleanest and most modern metros in the world. It is also one of the easiest to use as you can cover up to 294 kilometres via 301 stations. It is the most economical means of transport and this is why it accommodates over 3 million people on a daily basis.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is one of the largest palaces is Europe. Technically it is the official residence of the Spanish Royal family, however, they choose to live in a smaller and more modest palace in the outskirts of town.
If you want to see Madrid from a bird’s eye view, take the cable car (Teleférico de Madrid), Madrid’s most unique tourist attraction. Personally, I think it is a great idea for someone who wants to see as much of Madrid possible, as within an 11-minute journey of 2.5 kilometres it gave me the chance to capture the dreamiest photographs of Madrid.
The journey starts on the Paseo del Pintor Rosales street, near the Argüelles Metro station, and takes you over the River Manzanares and into the Casa de Campo park. You’ll be seeing attractions such as the Plaza de España and the Egyptian temple of Debod from a completely different perspective, as well as taking photos from several other angles.
This is an Egyptian temple located in Madrid, dates back to the 2nd century BC, when it was transported to Madrid’s Cuartel de la Montaña Park. The temple was donated to Spain by the Egyptian government to save it from floods following the construction of the great Aswan Dam.
There’s probably no dish more emblematic of Madrid than the bocadillo de calamares, the simple wedding of crusty baguette and squid fried in olive oil that, when done right, is extremely satisfying. Grab a standing spot at one of the bars at the edges of the grand, arcaded Plaza Mayor to enjoy a classic, under-three-euro (or about $3.60) version of the sandwich, washed down with a caña, or small beer. Plaza Mayor square is Madrid’s main square. It is located right in the centre of the city, just a few minutes’ walk from the Puerta del Sol.
Puerta de Sol means ‘gate of the sun’, his is Madrid’s most famous and most central square and busiest spot. Originally it was the site of one of the city’s gates, which faced the east and was adorned with an image of the sun, hence the square’s name. Here you can do shopping and enjoy the street performers.
The Buen Retiro Park (Park of the Pleasant Retreat) is the first biggest park of Madrid city. It has 1.4 km2 (350 acres) at the edge of the city centre. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park. It’s a magnificent park, filled with beautiful sculpture and monuments, galleries, a peaceful lake and host to a variety of events.