No trip to Spain is complete without paying a visit to its capital city: Madrid. The inaugural bastion of Spanish cultural identity, Madrid is filled with desirable attractions and dynamic events which delight travelers visiting at any time of year. Whether you are still fantasizing about your dream European vacation, wondering what the best time to visit Spain might be, or your tour of Madrid is well underway and you're searching for fresh ideas, Auto Europe is prepared to help.
We invite you to peruse our list of the top things to see and do in Madrid, Spain - famous landmarks and local hot-spots which are sure to delight.
Widely considered to be the heart of Madrid, Puerta del Sol (Plaza of the Sun), is the most popular destination for those eager to experience Madrid's culture at its finest. Puerta del Sol is a major tourist hot-spot ripe for exploration. Street vendors, food carts, and tour guides set up shop throughout the square, coming together to form a palpable symphony of frenetic energy and curiosity-driven wonderment.
Centered in the plaza sits an epic statue of King Charles III, a marvelous display of artisan craftsmanship which is dedicated to the late Charles III of Spain - one of the most progressive European monarchs in history. Charles III dedicated his rule to advocating for the modernization of schools, sciences, and trade. Bordering the Plaza of the Sun are a number of Madrid's worldly attractions await. From the presidential offices, to the Bear and Madroño Tree Statue, starting your day of exploration at Madrid's Puerta del Sol will provide ample inspiration for a full day of activities.
Spain is famous for its long-standing maritime history, most notably the sea faring exploits of Christopher Columbus during his attempted exploration of the then-unknown world. Despite Madrid's central landlocked locale, this city is the home of the Spanish Naval Museum - a museum dedicated to the proliferation of Spain's rich sailing history. Through a vast collection of artifacts and documents dating back to pre-colonial times, visitors can learn about the history of Spain. The museum also houses the Juan De La Cosa map, regarded as the oldest known map to show the American continent.
Bordered by tranquil bubbling fountains and tree-lined pedestrian walkways, the Museo del Prado is home to Madrid's best kept collection of classical artwork. Visitors will be treated to a vast number of iconic works by artists from all over the world. Some of the more famous pieces on display at the Museo del Prado include The Garden of Earthly Delight by Bosch, Las Meninas by Velázquez, and David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio, among others.
Are you touring Madrid with an austere travel budget? The Museo del Prado is open to the public, free of charge, from 6pm ? 8pm Monday through Saturday, and from 5pm ? 7pm on Sundays. Put it on your list!
The Gran Via, translated in English as "Broadway," is one of Madrid's busiest boulevards. Known for its active nightlife scene, dining establishments and retail offerings it easily makes our list as one of the top things to do in Madrid. The Gran Via runs between two of Madrid's famous plazas, Plaza de España, and Plaza de Cibeles, with a host of inspiring attractions spanning the length of the boulevard, from shopping malls to cinemas.
Traveling abroad with the kids? A day spent at the Zoo Aquarium Madrid may be the perfect way to relax, and take a break from the hustle and bustle of all the site-seeing you've been doing. The Zoo Aquarium Madrid is home to a myriad of exotic and local animals, ranging from pandas and lemurs to dolphins and rare birds. Visitors can walk the zoo, exploring the exhibits at their own pace, or engage in a variety of shows put on by the trainers, learning the many fascinating details of the animal kingdom. If you have kidsthe Zoo Aquarium in one of the most exciting things to do in Madrid.
El Retiro is Madrid's largest, most prominent, city park and we think it's a perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon or enjoy a picnic of local fare. On most days, visitors to the park will be serenaded by the trance-inducing rhythms of drum circles, the catchy melodies of live bands, or the whistling songs of local birds.
Centered within El Retiro Park is a large lake where row-boat rentals are available throughout the day. The park is also the location of multiple monuments dedicated to the victims of the terrorist bombings that took place in Madrid on March 11, 2004. One of these monuments, made completely of glass, called "Crystal Palace," reflects light to form a fantastic prismatic aura surrounding the structure.
Located on a crested bluff overlooking the river valley below, the Palicio Real is one of the largest royal palaces in all of Europe, and draws huge crowds to its idyllic locale. Arguably the most emblematic and stunning building in all of Madrid, the Palacio Real is the official home of the King of Spain, and houses a variety of beautiful artifacts, treasures, and ancient weapons. Guided tours through its storied halls are available daily, providing tourists with unique insights into the significant historical implications of the iconic architecture and medieval armory collection, among other things. History buffs will relish the chance to tour the Palacio Real - it easily makes our list of the top things to do in Madrid, Spain.
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