For many Madrid may seem too far for a vacation but for those who know it know that it is always worth the trip.
Why go now?
Beat the winter blues with the warm atmosphere that is everywhere in Madrid, especially in the buzzing cafeterias and loud tapas-bars full of people after work. There’s a natural joy here that is almost contagious. You can feel it while eating out, clubbing or simply having a morning hot chocolate and churros.
I’m a Madrid-virgin… What should I do?
This lively city is one Europe’s artistic capitals. Enjoy the masterpieces at magnificent museums with an Art Walk (Paseo del Arte), an easy route along the Paseo del Prado. Within this art triangle you can visiting the 200-year-old Prado with Spanish giants like Velazquez and Goya, alongside other European masters Fra Angélico, Tintoretto, Bosch, Rubens. Until April there’s also the chance to see the Dutch Painters?exhibition. The Thyssen Bornemisza Museum is just a short stroll away. This covers the 13th century to the late 20th century, from Renaissance to Pop Art. Next stop on the triangle is the Reina Sofía Museum and Art Centre with 20th century works Including Picasso’s Guernica.
I’ve already been… What’s new?
Madrid’s historic avenue Gran Via is celebrating its centenary in 2010. It is full of historic buildings and different architectural styles reflecting the splendor of the city in the early 20th century. Don’t miss Plaza Mayor, a beautiful preserved square from the Habsburg period, closed to traffic and filled with cafés and restaurants. Also check out the Royal Palace — a museum and site for official receptions hosted by the Royal Family. The interior is filled with paintings from Caravaggio, Velázquez and Goya.
Where’s the best shopping?
Department store El Corte Inglés is very popular but the La Chueca area offers alternative clothes, design and shoes, especially Fuencarral e Hortaleza streets.
For antiques or second hand goods, El Rastro, the open air flea market, is the place.
Traditional shops close between 2 p.m. at 6:30 p.m.
What’s the nightlife like?
The atmosphere in Madrid is different from other European cities and the party starts late at night. So after dinner (usually around 9 p.m.) try cocktails at bars like La Bodeguita del Medio (labodeguitadelmedio.es), or a glass of wine at Vinoteca Barbechera or a beer at the Cerveceria Alemana. For clubbing try Kapital (grupo-kapital.com) and Pachá (pacha-madrid.com) are very popular so is Palacio Gaviria (palaciogaviria.com).