The excitement of my stay hit me before my plane hit the tarmac; I was about to land in Madrid! Not sure if I was more excited about the city, or the country (this was to be my first time in Spain!), but to me it didn’t matter, the adrenaline coursing through my body had captivated my attention.
From the fruit markets of summer, to the football games of winter, to the beautiful gardens of Spring or the beauty of the Palace in autumn, I knew my excitement over Madrid was as real and valid as my love for the city would soon be. Whether you’re thinking of booking a trip to Madrid, or trying to convince your friend to tag along with you, may this post be the sign from above that its time for you to dive headfirst into the wonders of Spain!
Oh. My. God. Okay, so, let’s break this one down. The Market of San Miguel is one of my favourite things to do in Madrid – it’s basically an indoor market filled with heaps of little stalls, all selling different tapas, wines and sweets, starting at €1 each! I gorged myself on wood-fire pizza, fresh juice and delicious fruit. My mouth is watering at just the memory! Located in the heart of Madrid, put this one at the top of your Spanish list!
I’ve visited my fair share of castles and palaces over my time, but this is totally one of my standouts. Still used when ye ol Royals are in town (they permanently reside in a rural country-house), the castle is actually the largest in Europe! (Purposely, as a way of Spain upshowing the Brits and the French!) It is also one of the most impressive, with incredible interior detail and an amazing view overlooking the forest below. You can’t go to Europe without doing a palace tour at some stage, so why not start with Europe’s largest. As they say, go hard or go home!
Real Jardin Botanico de Madrid
If, like me, you’re a sucker for being outdoors and enjoying beautiful scenery, you’ll love this one. The gardens are expensive and beautifully curated, with a private path bench to be found around every turn. For this one, Wonderstruck Fawn’s recommends visiting in the summer, when the flowers are all in full bloom.
Palacio de Cristal
This is basically a greenhouse, on steroids, without the plants… So not so much like a greenhouse at all actually. Hm.
Located in the heart of the Real Jardin botanico de Madrid, this beautiful glass house is one of the more scenic spots in Madrid. Overlooking a large pond, Palacio de Cristal is an iconic spot to sit for a while in the warm summers air of Madrid.
// Footnote: During my stay in Madrid, Palacio de Cristal was filled with an art installation of BONES hanging from the roof. Bones of varying sizes of species were suspended everywhere throughout the venue, and I don’t know about you, but I believe the true owners of these bones (the animals they belonged to!) deserve to have these bones buried with them, and not displayed as art pieces. Do you agree? Leave a comment if you do!! //
I am not religious, but I don’t think you have to be to enjoy this one! Almudena Cathedral, one of the most beautiful in Spain, is an incredible piece of art right next door to the Royal Palace of Madrid. The beauty of the classic European architecture, coupled with the beautiful glass stained ceiling and varied internal displays, create an impressive space. Despite religious preferences, this cathedral is sure to take your breath away!
The food! Oh man, the food.
Spain is famous for its incredible cuisine, so you didn’t think I’d leave this one off the list, did you?! Some of my favourites of my stay were an incredible Paella (as seen in top photo!) from a small laneway restaurant, in the heart of Madrid, and an absolute vegan FEAST at Yerbabuena Restaurant (full review just went live, click HERE).
As one of the busiest places in Madrid, Plaza Major is brimming with locals, excited to share the local culture with you! On the day I went, there were Spanish dancers in traditional wear simply dancing in the sun, it was beautiful! The large square is surrounded by various market stalls and quiet lanes, so be sure to take a wander and check out the unique streets surrounding this one.
Football, or Soccer, depending on where your from, is the league of Europe, so to speak, and as Madrid is home to one of the most famous, and best, teams of Europe, it would be a crime not to stop in on Ronaldo and his mates at least once! Tricky to organise with your itinerary, though worth it if you do, hooking yourself up with a football match at one stage is absolutely imperative! There is literally no better way to immerse yourself in the local culture then attending a match. So what are you waiting for!
Atocha Railway station
When I posted this photo on my instagram, I was flooded with emails asking where I took it. The answer – Atocha station! It’s not everywhere in the world you’ll find an entire rainforest inside a train station. Like seriously?! Incredible stuff.
My only grumble with this one is that they houses turtles inside one of the ponds in the rainforest. Turtles belong in nature kids, not in a train station. Poor things!
See some dancing/opera!
Spanish opera and dancing is so integral to their culture my tour guides couldn’t stop talking about it! Depending on your vibes, you’ll want to book yourself a ticket to either the opera, or a night of Spanish dancing. Or, if you’re feeling cheeky, porque no los dos!
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But now to you; what are you most excited to do in Madrid?!