Madrid Tips

¡Hola Obscuranos! In a couple of days I’m heading to Madrid for a short trip and I thought I’d consult community in case anyone has any recommendations… :slightly_smiling_face:

My main aim is to make a life-affirming pilgrimage to the Museo del Prado and see as many AO sites as I can in my time there. What I’m looking for is any other advice or tips - practical things, food, things that aren’t on AO that are worth seeking out, etc.

Any thoughts would be gratefully appreciated and thanks in advance! :grinning:

3 Likes

Hola !

Sure , I have plenty of recomendations.

Madrid City

These are already in the Atlas but I really reccomend visiting the Museo Arqueológico Nacional to see some of the Celtiberian artifacts that they have there , many of which are amazingly atmospheric.

You might want to check out the other Art museums too like the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia which is just across the street which I would say is a really good complement to the Prado in terms of also checking out Spain’s extensive modern artistic movements. If after seeing the Pradoyou want to see an even more extensive and fantastic collection of Goya’s works then definitely check out Museo Lazaro Galdiano.

Also , I highly reccomend the Botanical garden as its literally 5 minutes away from the prado and it really is a very singular and beautiful place , you will definitely love it. Then there is the Buen Retiro park with its cool sculptures and beautiful walkways and of course the indoor jungle garden in Atocha station.

Outside of Madrid

I dont know if you like visiting National parks and hiking but I reccomend visiting either Peñalara or La Pedriza National parks both of which are located in the Sierra de Guadarrama and can be reached using trains and public transport like buses. Here you will see lots of wildlife (Ibex , deer, wild boar , vultures , eagles etc. ) and get some fantastic views of the landscapes of Spain which are breathtakingly beautiful.

Another place you might want to check out is the Palace of El Escorial which was once the residence of the Kings and Queens of Spain and the sort of administrative centre of the vast Spanish empire which at that time encompassed most of the Americas both North and South , the Caribbean and many parts of Africa and South East Asia. Here you can see the tombs of Spain’s rulers and the ornate monastic library.

Then there are the cities within reach of Madrid and chief among these in my opinion would be Segovia and Toledo. Segovia has the incredible Alcazar castle which has mindblowingly gorgeous architecture and Toledo is steeped in the old history of Spain as it actually used to be the Capital of the country.

Food

In Madrid city check out the churros at chocalateria San Gines and sample the many different bocados you can buy literally everywhere in the streets outside of la reina sofia , there are all different kinds and they are ridiculously cheap.

4 Likes

If you want to see a lot of sites across the city, there are tourist “hop on/hop off” buses that go to almost all of the major stops and are quite affordable for an all-day pass. Most of them give you headphones to connect to an audio tour. When we were there (5 years ago now), museums were free on Sunday, even El Prado. If you get to the Plaza Mayor, there was almost always something going on: street performers, musicians, etc. If you long for some greenery, El Retiro is a former royal park, with an artificial lake, and lots of people outside enjoying themselves. As a general traveler warning, if a woman tries to hand you a sprig of rosemary or a flower, do NOT take it. She will grab your hands and read your palms, whether you want it or not, and then demand payment and won’t let go. Saw this in Madrid, Sevilla, and Barcelona. I had been warned ahead of time so didn’t get “nabbed”.

3 Likes

Hola @JamazingClayton! Spain is the best! Now, to business. As always, @Monsieur_Mictlan has offered up some great recommendations. On the art front, I prefer the Thyssen Bornemisza myself. It’s sort of caddy corner from El Prado. You should certainly stop by Prado (it’s an anniversary year and when I went by this summer for the first time in years, the lines were quite long) and Reina Sofia if you can. Shoot for the morning. Reina Sofia has a free admission night, but I’m sure it’s insanely busy then.

At night, go down Calle de Santa Isabel (it’s the street in front of the entrance of Reina Sofia with the square), until you hit Mercado de Antón Martín. It’s a market, but you’ll find lots of tapas and eateries and cool bars. It seems to be the new things where fish markets turn into eateries after hours.

Two places in the database that are totally worth visiting:


The accompanying educational video is about 5 minutes long, but the cool part is going down to the station and waiting for a train to go by.

The Royal Palace. If you love old things, you’ve got to take a tour. Inside the palace is this incredibly cool Stradavarius set from the top of the 18th century. You can’t take photos beyond a certain point in the palace, so be prepared to photograph everything with your mind.

Some of the neighborhoods I think are worth exploring include La Latina, Cuatro Caminos, Malasaña and Chamberí. Food wise, oh man. There’s so much to take in. The great thing about Spain is that it’s really hard to find a bad restaurant. Definitely make time for churros like Monsieur said at San Gines. Try to grab a cafe con leche and pastry at La Malloquina in Sol.

I definitely echo checking out El Escorial, Segovia and Toledo. Toledo has a lot of cool artisans and Goya’s tomb. Speaking of tombs, my last rec if you can get to it, is Valley of the Fallen or Valle del Los Caídos. As our page states, “Despite the possibly troublesome origins of the Valley of the Fallen, it still manages to retain a monumental sense of awe even if it is a fascist masterwork.” Could not agree more.

Have fun exploring Madrid!

4 Likes

Thank you @Monsieur_Mictlan, @JoJo and @alexaharrison for the tips! :smiley: Much appreciated and it all helps and gives me further inspiration!

I’m only in the city for a few days so don’t see myself venturing further outside. I’ll save those ideas for the future though. Thanks again for all these thoughts! :slightly_smiling_face:

4 Likes

Hola, Real Basílica de Sanfranscico is SO beautiful inside!!
It is close to the Royal Palace so you should not miss this…you wont regret it!
Enjoy Madrid!
Kind regards Merete from Denmark

3 Likes

¡Hola a todos! Just to say, having freshly returned from Madrid, that I had a great time and that the AO entries and tips from the community were excellent! :grinning: I appreciate the advice!

August isn’t the best time to visit Madrid, it appears. (A lot of restaurants are closed for their summer holiday.) Nonetheless, I got high on art and museums and managed to do a lot in only a few days (which is quite astouding considering the amount of time I spent in the Thyssen Bornemisza and the Prado!). Thanks again to everyone here for the insight and I can’t wait to return! (Maybe as part of a long pan-Iberian odyssey…)

5 Likes

Thanks for sharing how your trip went and letting us know about the summer holiday! Glad you had a good time anyway.

2 Likes

Clayton , did you see Goya’s famous “black paintings” ? and Brueghels “triumph of death”

2 Likes

Absolutely! :heart_eyes: :star_struck:

Honestly, going to Museo del Prado was the top reason for my trip to Madrid. I spent a lot of time with those paintings and with Hieronymus Bosch. Life-affirming moments for me, personally… :smiley:

2 Likes

Awesome ! Glad to hear you had a good time over there :slightly_smiling_face:

So I take it that Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly delights” was the highlight of your Prado trip right ?

I love that painting , first time I saw it in the flesh it really blew my mind.

1 Like

Probably, yes! And I came away from the Prado with two big books full of Prado masterpieces and Bosch so I know that I can turn to something mind-blowing at any moment I see fit… :smile:

2 Likes

Thanks @Monsieur_Mictlan I may use these excellent recommendations myself :sweat_smile::laughing:

1 Like

I’m so happy you had a great time! Thanks for letting us know how it went :slight_smile:

2 Likes

I also want to visit Madrid. Thanks for the tips! Very useful!

1 Like