Madrid for Mingling and Drinking Hot Chocolate

If you are thinking of taking a city break in Spain then Barcelona is probably the first place to spring to mind. After all, the Catalan city is one of the finest destinations in the entire known universe.

However, Spain is a big and diverse country, so there are many other options for you to check out. Personally, I’ve been meaning to take a trip to Seville for ages and from what I’ve seen I will love the place. However, one city I can’t afford not to mention is the capital, Madrid. For years it seemed to be relatively little known as a travel destination but it is going through something of a golden period now.

I first went to Madrid on a work trip and was only given a brief and very tantalising taste of the city in between astonishingly dull meetings about stuff I can’t even remember now. After that, I managed to go back a year or so later and it quickly got into my list of favourite places on the planet.

What to Do and See

índiceThere are lot of things worth seeing in Madrid, even if it doesn’t have many truly world class attractions. For a start, the iconic Puerta del Sol is something I’d seen a lot on Spanish TV and was keen to see in real life. This is where the country’s top New Year celebrations take place and in some ways it is the heart of Madrid. There is a lot of culture here too, with a number of museums and art galleries. Personally, I tend to give the fine arts rather a short shrift and prefer to wander about markets or interesting neighbourhoods. Madrid is a fascinating city in which to do this, as it has a strong multicultural feel to it. It is also home to some brilliant street markets called mercadillos or rastrillos. These are interesting places to mingle with the locals and see some frankly weird stuff for sale. Madrid is also famous for the amount of green space it has, with the Buen Retiro Park being somewhere you could easily get lost for hours.

What to Eat

I love Spanish food and Madrid is a great place to sample it. As far as I could tell, the classic local dishes here are hearty stews such as the cocida madrileña. However, more interesting is the fact that you can try typical food from all over Spain here. Glorious seafood, tortilla de patatas and tapas are all found easily in the capital. As for me, I enjoyed nothing more than a cup of indecently thick hot chocolate and some hot churros. This is apparently the only way to end a long night out in this city’s famously wild nightlife scene, although I have to confess that I had mine in the afternoon while reading a book.

Where to Stay

As you would expect form a major capital city, there are hotels here for every budget. Near the top end of the scale you will find the likes of the brilliantly named Only You hotel. It is a 4 star effort and is well located in one of the best central locations of Madrid. Many people visit here on budget breaks, so it good news that there are also so many cheap places to stay in the city. For example, the 2 star Asturias Hotel is only a couple of hundred of metres away from that famous Puerta del Sol I mentioned earlier. If location and good value are more important to you than a luxurious hotel then you will probably end up sleeping somewhere like this.

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