Hometown Series: Madrid, Spain

Guest Post:

Madrid City Guide (by Helene Choo)

Living in Madrid can certainly be said to feel very different from what you would expect. Even though it’s a very Spanish city, it doesn’t have a beach, so you can’t spend your days sipping sangrias by the sea.Nevertheless, Madrid offers many lovely things that make up for the lack of seaside, such as beautiful parks, culture, architecture, food, and much more.

Here are my favourite things to do (and therefore must-dos if you’re visiting) in Madrid:

1. Plaza del Sol and Plaza Mayor

Plaza del Sol and Plaza Mayor are the two main squares in the city centre that you absolutely have to see. Sol (for short) is a very instagrammable spot. It is home to “kilometre zero”, the very centre of the radial network of roads in Spain. Take a photo of the plaque on the ground, and be sure to include your foot in it, so that you can claim that you’ve stood on the most central point of Spain (kind of)! In addition, Sol has a statue of a bear with a strawberry tree, the symbol of Madrid.

Plaza Mayor is Madrid’s main square and dates back to around 1600. This square has witnessed a large amount of history, including many executions performed during the Spanish Inquisition. Nowadays, you won’t find any executions being carried out here anymore, but it’s a good spot to grab a coffee.

Other notable squares include Plaza de España, where you can admire a large monument to Cervantes, and Plaza de Santa Ana, where you can relax with a drink and some food.

2. Templo de Debod

A short walk away from Plaza de España, you can find the originally Egyptian Debod Temple. It’s wonderfully lit in the evening, and located in Parque del Oeste, a nice park where many people meet, especially in the summer, for a stroll and to relax. When it’s warm outside, many buskers will come here and play. You’ll also be able to get a beautiful panoramic view, including the Royal Palace, from this area, so it’s a good place for a romantic evening walk.

3. Royal Palace and Museums

The impressive Royal Palace is a must-see, at least from the outside. If you’re interested in the royal history of Spain, you can go inside too, but I would recommend booking tickets online in advance, because there is often a massive queue to get in. The tickets cost around 15 euros each. The Royal Gardens are very beautiful and well-maintained, so you can walk around there if you enjoy gardens.

If you like art, I highly recommend the Museo Nacional Del Prado (or just Prado) and the Museo Reina Sofia. The Prado is the national gallery, displaying many notable works by famous international and Spanish artists e.g. Goya. The Museo Reina Sofia is a modern art museum and has a few works by Picasso on display, as well as many other famous pieces of art. Again, my pro tip is to book these tickets online in advance so you don’t end up waiting in line for ages.

4. Retiro Park

The Retiro park is a famous park in Madrid. It is very well maintained and contains beautiful attractions like a lake, a rose garden, a glass house (called The Crystal Palace), an art gallery, and various sculptures and fountains. Retiro is the perfect place for a relaxed afternoon.

5. Shopping and Food

There are many places to shop in Madrid. Gran Vía, the city’s main street, has all the well-known brands. It can get very crowded during the weekends and holidays, though. If you visit the El Corte Inglés (shopping centre) in Callao, you’ll find “Gourmet Experience” on the top floor with great views of Gran Vía and most of Madrid centre, as well as restaurants and a deli shop for edible souvenirs.

Calle Serrano is the best place to shop high-end, luxury brands, as well as the more mainstream ones. This street also has a El Corte Inglés with a Gourmet Experience floor, as well as an amazing frozen yoghurt place.

Do as the locals do and eat churros con chocolate at Chocolatería San Ginés, the oldest churro cafe in Madrid.

If you like Spanish food, try La Fragua de Vulcano near Sol. They serve authentic tapas from a very central location at reasonable prices.

Madrid has a lot to offer in terms of food, catering to all tastes and all budgets. To find out more, check out this guide to the 18 awesome places for food in Madrid, and part 2 with a few more great spots for eating.

I hope you enjoyed this short guide with all the things you have to do in Madrid!

Author Biography:

I’m Helene, the creator of the HC Lifestyle Blog, where I share the life experiences I enjoy the most. My posts are about travel, food, fitness, and many other things. I love dancing and seeing as much of the World as I can. You can follow me at any of the social media sites below.

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  1. Ooh I love Madrid and I’ve only been once around 4/5 years ago. We came across an amazing food market called Mercado San Miguel (may be spelt wrong, sorry). I also loved the tapas and eating later at night. We stayed in a amazing hotel with a balcony that had views over the city. I remember the palace was pretty impressive too. I’d love to go back and see more.

    1. It looks like a beautiful place, my guest blogger really made me want to go! Sounds like you had a wonderful experience there as well. Thank you for sharing your experience with me!

  2. People always seem to correlate hispanic places with beaches. While beaches are great (I’m a beach girl myself) there is so much more than just beaches that spain has to offer. This is a great compilation of just a few places to see other than a beach when visiting Spain.

    1. My guest blogger just outlined some of the places she loves about her hometown. Many people are definitely drawn to the beach. But thank you for the great feedback, I really appreciate it. Any places you recommend going when in Spain?

      1. I have sadly never been to Spain but it is one place that my heart has always longed to travel too.

        1. I have never been here either, but I do agree about wanting to travel there. It truly looks beautiful and amazing.

          1. From all the photos and stories I’ve heard from friends who have been it really is a beautiful place.

          2. Same here! Now I really want to go. I have a friend who wants to take a cruise from there.

          3. That would be amazing, would the cruise stop at other places throughout or just ports of Spain’s ?

          4. The cruise would actually stop in other places, not just Spain. Looked like a wonderful cruise to go on. I think it went to Italy Greece and somewhere else I believe.

          5. Wow, that would be some journey to take.

  3. I’ve never been to spain but its certainly on my list to do, I think your hometown looks simply beautiful! All these pictures are gorgeous and it sounds like it has some amazing sights for us tourists. Also thatg Chocolatería picture is perfection!!

    1. My guest blogger did a wonderful job outlining her hometown. Definitely made me want to go, I do agree that the Chocolatería picture is perfect! I hope you get to go one year!

  4. I’ve been dying to visit Madrid, well Spain in general, so this post is very helpful! I would love to visit a few of the sites you mentioned.

    1. I think it looks like an amazing city to visit! My guest blogger did an amazing job outlining her city and making me want to go there! Thank for the great feedback, I’m so glad you found it helpful!

  5. Love the Instagram spots like Sol and Plaza Mayor. They are truly amazing. Could not check out the Retiro park though.

    1. Thank you, they definitely look special. I hope to go see them one day.

  6. Ahhh this made me feel so nostalgic! My husband and I were in Madrid last May and we really enjoyed all of the places you listed!! The week we were there it rained SO MUCH though which our friends who live outside of Madrid that we stayed with said it was like an abnormally rainy and cold week. It was funny though because we had just been in London for a week before that and it barely rained and was beautiful in the 60’s/70s.

    1. That’s so neat! I have never been there before but my guest blogger made me really want to go. Sounds like you have traveled to some really amazing places. Thank you for sharing your travel stories!

  7. I have a friend who was born here. He goes back every year with his family! I would love to see this place someday! <3

    1. That is so neat, it’s always neat to know people from other places. I would love to see this place as well, my guest blogger made it sound so beautiful!

  8. Wow, that royal palace is going on my travel bucket list! Thank you for the ideas on what to do if I ever visit Madrid.

    1. I definitely put it on my list too, it looks amazing! I am so glad my guest blogger wrote this for me, as it looks like a place I need to visit. You are welcome, glad you enjoyed it.

  9. I have always wanted to visit Spain. Hopefully I can go one day and if i do i will make sure to try out some of the things you mentioned here. I love going to museums so i think that would be the first thing i would do.

    1. I want to go to Spain one day now that my guest blogger did such a wonderful job. I hope you make it out as well. I love museums too!

  10. Nice guide, those are places one cant afford to miss in Madrid. Royal Palace and Museums is going to be the first place i will visit when ever i visit Madrid. thanks for the guide.

    1. Thank you! My guest blogger did a wonderful job outlining her hometown. I would love to go there one day. It looks so pretty.

  11. I would love to go to Madrid looks like a fabulous place. Would love to explore the art and the culture.

    1. My guest blogger made me definitely want to go to Madrid so bad. The art and culture look so pretty and fun. Thank you for your great feedback.

  12. Spain sounds divine! I really want to go! Your places to eat in Spain sound so delish as well.

    1. I thought the exact same thing! My guest blogger did a wonderful job making Spain look truly amazing. I would love to go there. Thank you so much for the wonderful feedback.

  13. Madrid looks beautiful pictures and I remember reading somewhere that it is one of the most livable cities in the world. You have done an amazing job by highlighting the best tourist places in the city.

    1. I feel I have seen that as well. The city from the pictures looks stunning. I would love to go here one day. My guest blogger did a wonderful job outlining the highlights of the place and making me want to go there.

  14. I got really curious about Spain after reading this, because it comes from someone who is born there… I wonder if the security there is ok… like, is there a recommended curfew etc~

    1. I am curious to know that as well. I’ve heard from various travelers that they felt safe in Spain, so I guess it does have good security but unsure about curfew. I would love to go there and check it out.

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