Exploring Spain: Tips for your trip to Madrid

Planning to see more of Spain during your stay in Valencia? Make the Spanish capital Madrid the destination for your next weekend trip.

Madrid is the largest city in Spain and so it is full of life. There is something for everybody: museums, galleries, and historic landmarks for art-lovers and a vibrant nightlife for those who like to party, restaurants, shops, and entertainment of every type for those who enjoy big city life. Madrid is also popular among international students, and so although the city is generally more expensive than Valencia you should be able to find student-budget friendly options, too.

To get to Madrid from Valencia your fastest choice is the AVE high speed train: you will reach your destination in less than two hours! There are also bus connections between the two cities, although the travel time will be longer, nearly four hours. If you choose the high speed train, it is possible to travel in the morning and then return back to Valencia in the evening, but if you want to explore Madrid longer and to see more, there are affordable hostels in the city for your overnight stay.

Wondering what to do in the capital once you are there? Here are our tips for your visit.

Visit the Prado Museum

Entrance to the Prado Museum.

If you are an art lover, a visit to the Prado Museum is a must. The museum has the most comprehensive collection of Spanish paintings in the world and also features other collections — over 8000 paintings in total, not to mention other art pieces — so be prepared to spend some time admiring the works of such artists as El Greco, Goya, and Velázquez. Also, as it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, we recommend buying your tickets online beforehand to avoid waiting in the line.

Go for a walk in the Buen Retiro Park

Madrid has many beautiful parks and El Retiro is perhaps the most popular of them all. Located near the Prado Museum, it is also one of the largest parks in the city. Come for a stroll to see its gardens, hire and row a boat, take a step inside the Crystal Palace and other exhibition halls of the park, or wander around admiring the greenery and the sculptures along its paths.

Explore the Museum Cerralbo

Visit the impressive Museum Cerralbo to witness 19th century opulence.

Take a look at the life of a wealthy 19th century Spanish aristocrat: the Museum Cerralbo contains the private collection of the late Marquis of Cerralbo, ranging from paintings to sculptures, ceramics, glass, tapestries, furniture, weapons, armour, and more — all donated to the Spanish State by the Marquis upon his death in 1922 to avoid the redistribution of his precious collection.

Walk along the Gran Vía

Part of the Gran Vía and the Metropolis Building as seen from the rooftop terrace of Círculo de Bellas Artes.

The most important shopping street in the city, Gran Vía is lined with impressive buildings, restaurants, entertainment, and of course stores. Join the crowds of people and walk the street all the way from Alcalá street to Plaza España, admire landmarks such as the Metropolis building, stop for a bite, or come out for drinks and tapas in the night-time.

See the Royal Palace

Entrance to the Royal Palace.

The Royal Palace is the official residence of the Spanish royal family, although only state ceremonies are held there and the family really lives elsewhere: the palace is open for visitors to explore. If you cannot get enough of history, art, and lavish riches of the times past, a visit to the Royal Palace should be in your itinerary.

Spot street signs in the historic centre

During your stroll around the city you should direct your attention to the street signs: not only because otherwise you might get lost, but also for the street signs themselves! You see, in the older parts of Madrid you can spot some really interesting signs, each referring to the origins of its respective street’s name. Turn spotting these beautiful and unique tile signs into a game: how many different signs can you spot during your trip?

Madrid has many things to explore, and a weekend might feel too short to see everything the city has to offer. Plan your itinerary beforehand, but leave room for surprises: you might get so captivated by art in one of the museums that you won’t see the time pass, maybe the party goes on longer than expected, or you might find a small boutique full of treasures to bring home as souvenirs during one of your walks in the historic centre. Whatever it is, Madrid is always easy to return to!

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