Whether it’s admiring the stunning architecture, marveling at artistic masterpieces, or devouring culinary delights, everything about Madrid will leave visitors captivated. The urban metropolis is the ideal location for travelers dreaming of a stress-free vacation. With a simple metro system, rental bikes located across the city, and taxis available at every corner, it’s easy to navigate through Madrid. The itinerary below will guide visitors through some of the most popular attractions of the city.
1. Palacio Real de Madrid
The grand Palacio Real, recognized for its ornate style, is located in central Madrid and surrounded by a handful of other popular tourist destinations. The chances of seeing a member of the royal family while strolling through the palace is slim since it isn’t their permanent residence. The Royal Palace, featuring an abundance of precious artwork, remarkable tapestries, and dazzling crystal chandeliers, is used primarily for ceremonial purposes and tourism. Some of the most impressive rooms within the palace grounds include the Royal Armory that houses a wide range of pieces that date back to the 15th century and the Royal Pharmacy that showcases handcrafted cabinets used to store herbal medicine and ceramic containers. As one of six royal palaces throughout Spain, Palacio Real is the biggest palace throughout Europe and contains 2,800 rooms.
Photo courtesy | Serzhile
2. Plaza Mayor
Only a short 10-minute walk from Palacio Real de Madrid, the open space of Plaza Mayor is filled with the rich history, lively culture, and classic architecture that define Madrid. In the past, the square has been the site of markets, bullfights, and soccer games. The Casa de la Pandería, established around 1590, once served as the only bakery in town serving even the poorest of Spaniards. Today, the building contains the main tourist center of Madrid and showcases the murals of Carlos Franco that represent mythical figures connected to the history of the city. The warm colors of the buildings’ façade provide the perfect backdrop for tourists dining at any of the restaurants within the square, where they can taste authentic tapas or try the famous calamari sandwich of Madrid. This major tourist attraction continues to amaze thousands of tourists each year with its charming atmosphere and friendly nature.
Photo courtesy | Sebastian Dubiel
3. Puerta de Sol
Just a few blocks and only a five-minute walk from Plaza Mayor is another well-known square in the Spanish capital. Puerta de Sol is one of the busiest plazas in the city and houses its “kilometer zero” plaque in the middle of the square that marks the starting point of Spain’s national roads. Also within Puerta de Sol is the famous clock tower where swarms of people gather at midnight on New Year’s Eve to partake in the traditional “Twelve Grapes” ceremony. According to the tradition, eating the grapes as the bell chimes means that the year ahead will be full of prosperity. While there are a handful of statues scattered throughout the square, the most notable one is of “El Oso Y El Madroño,” translating to mean the bear and the strawberry tree, which is the official symbol of the city. As an essential part of Madrid, Puerta de Sol features a number of restaurants and shops and leads directly to other energetic streets.
Photo courtesy | Santi Díaz
4. Temple of Debod
Although a half an hour train ride could transport you from Puerta de Sol to your next destination, it will be much quicker to catch a taxi or ride a bike to the Temple of Debod. The ancient Egyptian temple in downtown Madrid, dedicated to the gods Amon and Isis, is always a surprise to tourists. The origins behind the Temple of Debod trace back to as early as the 2nd century, but it has existed in Parque del Oeste since 1968. As the construction of the Aswan Dam threatened the structure in 1960, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization thought it best to relocate it to preserve its historical legacy. It took eight years to ship the temple block by block. It is considered to be a symbol of gratitude toward the group of Spanish archaeologists who helped preserve other Egyptian temples. The Temple of Debod in Madrid is a one of a kind in all of Spain and is only one of four Egyptian structures located outside of Egypt.
Photo courtesy | Ramón Durán
5. Gran Vía
The 15-minute walk from the Temple of Debod will guide you through the exciting streets of Madrid to your final destination of the day. Ranked as one of the best nightlife scenes in the city, Gran Vía is Madrid’s version of Broadway. The street that never sleeps is filled with upscale boutiques and surrounded by a number of hotels and movie theaters. Showcasing the art deco architectural style of the early 20th century, Gran Vía features some incredible buildings, including the popular business building, the Edificio Metrópolis. With plenty of options for dining, spending an evening on the bustling street of Gran Vía is the ideal way to end the day.
Photo courtesy | Fernando García