The big picture
It’s rare to find a city that’s as alive and as dynamic as Madrid is. The Spanish city’s sheer energy translates into its people, who are extremely friendly and welcome you with open arms. Madrid really is a beautiful place, with wonderful, tree-lined streets and Spanish Baroque architecture – perfect for Instagrammers. This, combined with the perfectly manicured parks that dot the country’s capital city, and the many places playing home to all sorts of art, means Madrid has it all.
Some of the top places to visit are the Royal Palace, which is Madrid’s largest – and arguably the most beautiful – building, and home to the Spanish Royal family. Certain sections of the palace are open to the public, and it’s here that you’ll come across exquisite furniture and tapestries, and famous artworks.
The city’s museums feature artworks by renowned painters such as Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso. If you love art, then you need to check out the “Golden Triangle of Art” – three art museums that are located on the Paseo del Prado, in the centre of Madrid. These consist of the Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums. If you are pressed for time, make sure you check out the Prado – it’s free and a must for any diehard art lover.
The city truly comes to life at night, so don’t hole yourself up in your hotel room when the sun goes down – step outside and join the crowds who will be dancing the night away.
If you’re staying in Madrid for more than a few days, then head to Toledo and Segovia for a couple of day trips – both are about an hour’s drive out from the city centre. Toledo, an ancient city on the hills of Castilla-La Mancha, is full of Arabic and Jewish-influenced monuments. In Segovia, there is a medieval Roman aqueduct with more than 160 arches. The aqueduct is so important that it makes up a part of the city’s coat of arms. Also, make sure you visit the alcazars, or castles, in both cities. They are incredibly grand. Walt Disney apparently took inspiration from the alcazar in Segovia when he designed Cinderella’s castle.
How to get there
There are no direct flights from Hong Kong to Barajas Airport in Madrid, but it’s easy to get there. The trip will take you around 16 hours from start to finish. When it comes to navigating the city, the Madrid Metro is your best friend. Every station has a map of the system, and it’s super simple to understand. Coaches can be booked for day trips, and you can do that online or at any bus station.
Top photo spot
Looking to up your Instagram game? Head to the Plaza Mayor, which is perfect for snapping a selfie, especially at sunset. This magnificent arcade is smack bang in the heart of Madrid, boasts one of the city’s most attractive open spaces, and has amazing eateries nearby. If you’re looking for a more iconic shot, hit up the Metropolis Building in Gran Via. Both places are within walking distance of each other.
Oh, you are hungry? Look no further than Mercado de San Miguel – the Market of San Miguel. Here, the Spanish artisans offer an almost infinite variety of local delicacies – from gourmet tapas, to paella, croquetas and cured meats. Be sure to pop into The Chocolateria San Gines, too – it’s a cafe that has been dishing out chocolate con churros since 1894. It comes with a glass of Spanish-style hot chocolate, which is more molten chocolate than it is an actual drink, and is considered the holy grail of churros in Madrid.
Edited by Ginny Wong