Anytime anyone asked where I was going for my trip, I said Spain. I didn’t mean to leave Portugal out, and I was excited about going there, but everyone is more familiar with Spain and it just seemed easier. Also, everyone I had talked to that said they had been to Europe, said that Spain was their favorite. I found out immediately why that is and I couldn’t agree more!
Let’s begin with Spain’s capital and the heart of the Iberian peninsula: Madrid!
We took a short 1 hour plane ride from Lisbon to Madrid. There is a one hour time change, but that didn’t seem to effect us much.
Before our trip, we were cautiously checking the weather because Spain was having some pretty crazy high summer temperatures. However, because of living in Texas, I wasn’t worried. Up to that point we had been having three-digit weather for like the past two weeks!
With that said, Spain is warmer than Portugal. Madrid is right in the middle of Spain and sits on an undulating plateau of sand and clay known as the Meseta which keeps it pretty warm and dry. So pack accordingly! I think I spent a majority of my time in shorts and chanclas! Even the evenings are pretty warm.
What To See
Since Madrid is the capital of Spain, there is A LOT to see! So much that I didn’t get to see everything I wanted. However, it just gives me an excuse to go back!
>Monuments & Buildings
This was one of our favorite tour guides! Not only was he knowledgeable about his city, he was also very passionate and very funny! This tour walk half bus tour and half walking. I really enjoyed the non-walking parts. 🙂
>Palacio Real de Madrid
We spent a good amount of time at this palace, it’s where our tour for that day ended. This palace is actually still used by the king and queen of Spain whenever they need to host guest. They open it up to the people a few times a year! It’s absolutely gorgeous and now I want one!
Where To Eat
This place came highly recommended to me by a friend, so I HAD to try it! Let me just tell you that I was NOT disappointed. This place is very casual, most people stand because there isn’t enough stools and it’s a fast moving pace.
See that drink? That’s a Tinto de Verano (best drink ever!) and it only cost us 5€. There was six of us and we each got a drink. Then they brought out about five different tapas (one for each of every type) for FREE! Yup, all this food (plus more not pictured) for six people – about 30€.
What To Do
Literally SO MUCH to do in Madrid! There is something for everyone! Parks, museums, shopping malls, sports arenas, you name it!
>Parque del Buen Retiro
This park used to be exclusively for royalty, but they later opened it up to the people of Spain. Inside, you will find gardens, fountains and monuments, buildings, a lake and many vendors. It is located in the center of Madrid and a must see!
What is more Spanish than watching a flamenco show? This was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip! The intensity and passion in these dancers was so captivating I could not look away or dare blink in fear of missing something!
Of course I could not go to Madrid and not do some shopping! This whole area is lined with stores! We went into Bershka, Pull & Bear, Desigual, Zara! And just around the corner from this photo, on Gran Via, you’ll find these stores AGAIN but even bigger! Unfortunately we did not get to do shop till we dropped but we did pick up some cute things to hold us off until Barcelona!
If I haven’t said this already, let me just say it now: Europeans party hard! We are having dinner at 9PM and going out at 12AM and not stopping till 6AM. Or at least they are. Ehe.
We went out one night to a street festival and tried to blend in with the locals. That was fun! They have music, food, and drinks spanning through different neighborhoods and everyone comes out!
On another night, we went out to a pub and danced to a little bit of everything! However, we could only last till about 3AM and A LOT of expressos were needed the next day!
Madrid is currently undergoing a lot of construction. Their goal is to make the streets smaller so that less cars can fit and thus encouraging residents and visitors to walk or use public transportation. We only used the Metro once because you can literally walk anywhere! We did A LOT of walking in Madrid!
>What I Didn’t Get To See
Madrid is home to three major museums that have some amazing artwork
- Museo Nacional Del Prado has art by Velazquez, Goya and El Greco and masterpieces from the 12th- to 19th-century.
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is Spain’s national museum of 20th-century art with works by Gris, Dali, Picasso and Miro.
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum housing collection of 13th-20th-century European masterpieces, from Renaissance to Pop Art.
>Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
The soccer stadium for the famous Real Madrid team. It was completed in 1947 and host regular matches plus tours of the stadium and trophy room.
>Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas
Yes, bullfighting is still legal in Spain. But ONLY in Madrid. This bullfighting arena was built in the 1920s in neo-Mudéjar style & used for bullfights, concerts & events.
When asked what my favorite city of the trip was, it’s really hard to pick between Madrid and Barcelona. Our group was actually divided between these two cities.
Being able to speak Spanish, really made me feel comfortable and at home in Madrid. I hope to return one day soon and check out all that I missed and go back to the places that left me with so many memories!
I know this post was extensive. I tried to cover as much as I could! But I still know I didn’t cover everything and in as much detail as I would have liked! I honestly could write a book with information for y’all! With that said, please reach out to me if you have any questions or need any information on anything!
What did you think of Madrid? Have you ever been? Any suggestions you’d like to add?
PS. Thank you to my fellow travelers for letting me use their pictures!