Madrid Weekend City Break Attractions Sightseeing

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Sipping a café con leche surrounded by the handsome Renaissance buildings of Plaza Mayor, it’s difficult to understand why Madrid so often plays second fiddle to Barcelona. Madrid has enough museums and galleries to turn most European capitals green with envy, arguably the best nightlife on the mainland and numerous green spaces to enjoy the Castilian sunshine.

Madrid has a rich cultural heritage and no city break is complete without a visit to the Museo del Prado. The works hanging inside provide a definitive history of European painting from the 15th to the 19th centuries, with notable contributions from home grown talent including Goya and Velasquez. If your tastes are more contemporary the Reina Sofia and Thyssen Bornemisza museums should satisfy any cultural cravings, the centrepiece of which is Picasso’s Guernica; an elegiac tribute to those who suffered in the Spanish civil war. Official tourist site for Madrid. (See top right button for English)

Madrid is home to the world’s largest bullring; the mighty 25,000 seater Plaza de Toros Monumental de las Ventas. Personal politics aside, if you manage to get tickets for the San Isidro festival, you’ll get a unique insight into the Spanish psyche. The spectacle of a corrida (bullfight) certainly inspired Earnest Hemmingway, who having penned Death in the Afternoon’, then went on to proclaim “I was not born in Spain, but that wasn’t my fault”.

Madrid is well known for the warmth of its people, and at no time is it more evident than at sunset when capital’s tapas bars begin to wake up. Madrilenos will happily visit four or five tapas bars in one night, working their way through a selection of local delicacies washed down with a few glasses of vino tinto (red wine). ‘Nightlife’ is something of a relative term in Madrid as nothing gets going until the small hours, whereupon the disco bars then don’t stop buzzing until dawn. Madrid’s boasts some of Spain’s best (and most outrageous) nightspots and after a few hours on the tiles you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d slipped into a Pedro Almodovar film.

Madrid is synonymous with shopping and entire weekends can easily disappear gazing through the well polished windows of chic boutiques. However, for something different it’s difficult to beat the El Rastro flea market on Sunday mornings. In fact, Madrid has so much to offer that the only problem you’re likely to have is working out how to cram everything in.