Spain’s capital is a spectacular metropolis boasting a rich and diverse culture. There are so many things to see and do in Madrid that tourists are often left feeling overwhelmed. The city’s world-famous contribution to arts and literature over the years means there are more museums and galleries than its possible to visit in a short weekend break, and its mix of age-old traditions and modern ways of thinking make it a fascinating place to visit if you ever travel Spain. Here, I have compiled a quick breakdown of the five best ways to begin to experience the culture of Madrid. Bear in mind, however, that these only act as a starting point; there is so much more out there for you to discover, but I’ll leave you to explore that for yourselves!
1. The Golden Triangle
Madrid, of course, is world-renowned for its arts and is famous for hosting masterpieces from huge names in the art world, including Salvador Dali, Goya, and Picasso. The three museums, all within close walking distance, each offer something different. Visit the Reina Sofia to see Picasso’s Guernica, head to the Prado for a look at some old masters, as well as the disturbing paintings of Goya, or make your way to the Thyssen, which boasts big names from a broad range of artistic movements throughout the twentieth century.
For a break from the city, visit Spain’s old capital, Toledo. You’ll instantly feel like you have stepped back in time in this picturesque hilltop town. Wander through the narrow, cobbled streets which are lined with quaint local shops offering a variety of handmade trinkets, or indulge your sweet tooth with the city’s speciality, marzipan.
It goes without saying that you can’t visit Spain (or Madrid) without tasting some tapas. Many bars will serve you a range of delicious treats with every drink you order. Alternatively, head to Cava Baja, a street located in the district of La Latina, for some of the finest dishes in the whole of the city. Dining out is a long and social process for Spaniards, so take a leaf out of their book and eat until your heart’s content!
4. Siesta in the Park
Siesta is a huge part of a Spaniards day, lasting for around three hours in the hot afternoon sun. Most shops will close as families head home to relax and doze in the cool. Head to one of Madrid’s numerous parks at this time of day and relax in the shade.
5. Learn Spanish in Madrid
There are many schools dotted throughout the city that are devoted to teaching Spanish. This is a great way to learn more about the culture and history of Madrid, as well as make some new friends. In addition, the people of Madrid will be more than happy to help you practice!