With its sunshine, culture and natural beauty, it’s no wonder Spain is a popular tourist destination. The capital city of Madrid is a great starting spot for a Spanish trip. When planning your itinerary for Spain, these five attractions need to be on your must-see list.
Royal Palace of Madrid
Image via Flickr by Jeremy A.A. Knight
The largest royal palace in western Europe, Madrid’s Royal Palace, is a stunning example of Baroque and Classical architecture. The inside of the palace is perhaps even more breathtaking than the exterior, with original pieces by Goya, Velazquez, and Caravaggio, as well as rare Stradivarius instruments and weapons used by Charles V. Palace guests can join a guided tour or wander through the halls at their leisure. Save time by purchasing tickets online beforehand.
Market of San Miguel
From any neighborhood in Madrid, you likely aren’t far from the centrally located Mercado de San Miguel, a beautiful and functional market that was established in 1916. Come hungry and stroll the vendors for fresh oysters, pastries, caviar, and more. The market is the perfect place to get the full Spanish culinary experience, ranging from sit-down tapas bars to street food and spices. The market also sells a variety of souvenirs made by local artisans and vendors.
No trip to Spain is complete without a visit to one of the most renowned art museums in the world. The Prado focuses on pieces by Renaissance and Baroque artists, including work by Rembrandt, Rubens, El Greco, Titian, and many more. The Prado is known particularly for its large collection of Spanish paintings and sculptures, including a collection of paintings by Goya. With more than 7,000 works of art in the museum, it is nearly impossible to see everything in one visit.
You don’t have to be a Real Madrid fan to appreciate the enormity of the team’s stadium. Fútbol is huge in Spain, and one of the best ways to truly experience it is to watch a game or tour the 85,000-seat stadium. During a game, you’ll witness some of the most passionate fans in the world. During a tour, you’ll be able to see panoramic views of the stadium and visit behind-the-scenes places and the trophy collection of the team with the most European Cups in history.
Just next to the city center is Madrid’s stunning Parque del Buen Retiro. It started as a monastery in the 1500s and is now where locals and tourists go to relax. The 350-acre park has everything from gardens and ponds to fountains and playgrounds. For a relaxing afternoon, take a stroll down the Statue Walk, which is lined with statues depicting Spanish kings throughout history. The park also regularly hosts events, including open-air plays and puppet shows for children.
History and culture are around every corner in Spain. There is much to see, but make sure not to miss any of these top attractions. The unique combination of culture, nature, and food will create a Spanish trip never to be forgotten.