Madrid is a thriving city of art, fashion, food, and fun.
There is something to appreciate around every corner. As great as this is, it can easily become overwhelming to decide how to spend your time.
There’s no need to go to every single museum or park in the city, and good luck trying to eat at all the top restaurants in one visit. Trust me, there are plenty.
But, there are a few things you definitely can’t miss while on vacation in Madrid.
I Make it a Point to Hit These Three Stops Every Time I Go:
1. Eat and Drink at el Mercado de San Miguel
El Mercado de San Miguel is the pinnacle of European markets.
Surrounded by all-glass walls, you can enjoy all the sights of the city center in the comfort of a controlled environment. Take off your heavy coat or escape from the summer sun as you stroll through stands of all kinds of eats.
The Mercado is home to classic tapas, fresh fish, tender meats, wine selections and charcuterie boards, and more.
There are coffee and dessert stands to top everything off, too.
Be sure to walk around the whole market as you decide what to eat, and try to snag some seats while you’re at it!
El Mercado is perfect for a quick bite or a full meal, depending on how much time (and cash) you have. Either way, this is definitely one of the most memorable places you can dine in while on vacation in Madrid.
Located in the central district, you can get here easily on foot or with the help of public transportation.
2. Catch the Sunset from el Templo de Debod
Just to the west is the Arguelles district.
This is a relatively quiet neighborhood in the city, bordering the Palace of Madrid and Sabatini Gardens. These are popular attractions for good reason.
But, something even better is a little further up the road – El Templo de Debod.
This monument dates back to the 2nd century BC. It was a gift to the Spanish from the Egyptians in the 20th century, transported and rebuilt brick by brick. The Spanish even kept the temple’s original design, building from east to west.
Today, it is an ancient wonder in the heart of a modern city. The temple looks a bit misplaced to some, but many locals and visitors alike appreciate its presence.
One thing no one can deny, though, is the epic sunsets you can see from here (picture above facing AWAY from sunset).
The temple rests high on a hill overlooking the western horizon. From its garden, you can sit back and watch the sun slowly creep away, painting colors I can’t even describe.
3. Take a Stroll through el Parque del Retiro
There’s no question el Templo de Debod is a gem of Madrid’s western area, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t head east.
There, you will find el Parque del Retiro.
This massive natural escape offers something for everyone who needs a break from the city. It has many classical and modern gardens, running trails, lush green fields, and even a lake.
Some locals frequent el Parque as a workout or date spot. Others go to sell their art or perform a street show, like this classic Flamenco dancer and her musician.
Whatever your reason for exploring this outdoor oasis, you won’t be disappointed.
Make the Most of Your Vacation in Madrid
At the end of the day, it’s really hard to have a bad time in Madrid.
In fact, the city made the cut on National Geographic’s best trips of 2017!