The sound of my early morning alarm makes me growl, but the thought of sipping vinos and tasting my way around for the most sumptuous tapas. Obviously this Madrid city travel is a perfect plan for a foodie city escapes and has definitely put a smile on my face.
Catching the early train during peak time, and with the blurry eye while dragging my luggage. Joining the commotion of the rat race while searching for a seat, there’s a smug plastered on my face as my holiday mood has just switched on!
The plane swiftly, touched down, after collecting my luggage. And soon enough I was navigating towards the train station going to the Madrid City centre. I Promptly purchased my transport card from the machine, which allows me to use any local transport.
After a speedy checking–in to my hotel, and a quick glance to the city map I’m ready for my usual wandering. Come and join me, let’s explore the city of Madrid!
History Geek and Museum visits:
Where’s the best place to get acquainted with the capital city history than a visit to the museums. Let’s start at the Madrid History Museum ( Museo de historia de Madrid ) is located near the Tribunal Metro Station.
The beautiful Baroque style building itself is worth visiting. The artefacts exhibit was organised accordingly to historical periods and its political impacts in the city. The museum is free entry, opens on Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm.
“It was initially opened in 1929 as the Museo Municipal, and was renamed in 2007 as the Museo de Historia de Madrid. The permanent collection displays from 1561 when Madrid became the capital city of Spain to the beginning of the 20th century.”
Whether you are on a budget but desperate to visit The Royal Palace ( Palacio Real de Madrid ) don’t fret! There’s a slot time between 4pm to 6pm to visit the palace for free. If you don’t mind joining the long queue you’ll be saving your money!
The grand staircase is adorned with two lions proclaiming power and dominance. Look up and admire the impressive ceiling with intricate frescoes design by Corrado Gianquinto. Which depicts Religion Protected by Spain. Further more the wall ornament draping with delicate tapestry and the gleaming chandelier suspended in the air completes the opulent feel of the palace.
“Did you know: The Royal Palace is the official home for the King of Spain, but only used for state ceremonies.”
Another famous museum should not be miss is the Reina Sofia Arts Museum ( Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia ) there’s a time assigned for free admission on Monday to Saturday at 7pm to 9pm ( closed on Tuesday ) and during Sundays and Public Holidays from 1:30pm to 7pm.
The queue to the free admission is obviously long. But wandering around the museum and admiring the work of art of popular artist like Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Salvador Dali is well worth it. The museum consists of the extensive art work display of the twentieth century icon artist.
The museum was officially inaugurated on September 1992 and was named after Queen Sofia. The famous art display in the museum is the Guernica by Pablo Picasso inspired by the Spanish Civil War during the bombing of the Basque city of Guernica.
The next museum is the Prado Museum ( Museo del Prado) it has the world finest art collection dating back from 12th century to early 20th century and it is the main Spanish National Art Museum.
Prado museum is free to visit to the permanent collections during Monday to Saturday from 6 pm to 8 pm and on Sundays and holidays from 5 pm to 7 pm.
Prado Museum was founded in 1819, the highlight of the art collections masterpiece from numerous artist such as Claude Monet, Francisco Goya, Caravaggio and Peter Paul Rubens.
Free things to do in Madrid City:
In case you are looking for free things to do around the city, you are on for a treat! Aside from the free museum I have mentioned, why not join the Free Walking Tour! The walking tour meeting point is at the Plaza Mayor everyday at 11 am and 1pm.
The walking tour is best to venture most of the important place in the city, as well as to take a chance for a photography stroll.
A visit in an indoor tropical garden in Atocha station. The Jardines Tropicales de Atocha is situated in Madrid Puerta de Atocha station. While waiting for your train ride, I highly suggest to quickly check out the indoor garden with beautiful tropical plant species from Asia, Australia and America.
Head to Puerta del Sol if you are looking for some entertainment. Come evening time this place gets so loud, different performers gets busy showing their tricks to the local spectators and tourist alike.
Walk around the Parque de Oeste and visit the Temple of Debod, it’s the best place to visit just before the sunset. The original Shrine was erected in Egypt dedicated to the goddess Isis, it was then dismantled then rebuilt and donated to Madrid Spain.
Tasting the Local Cuisine:
A visit to any Spanish cities isn’t complete without trying all the different delicious Tapas! Madrid has been known to offer a fabulous and good food scene for years. Some of the bars when buying a drink it comes with small plates of assorted tapas, some bars offer live music too.
If bars are not your sort of scene, then head towards the liveliest culinary spot in the city at the Food Markets are evidently scattered everywhere. It’s the best place to sample the best Jamon, tortilla and tapas.
“Tapa is considered an appetizer or small snack portion in Spanish cuisine, it maybe serve cold or hot.”
If ever you had enough with tapas, and want to venture deeper to the local cuisine. When in Spain, try and eat what the Spaniards eat! Pork is very big part of Spanish cuisine.
Dates back from the Spanish Inquisition, the Spanish King has passed a decree in 1492. The Jews and Muslims has to leave the country and those who stayed they need to convert to Catholicism. As an evidence they practice hanging pork legs, and sausages on display to proved that they have converted their religion.
Let’s try the Oldest restaurant in Madrid. Sobrino de Botin was opened since 1725. Famous for this roast suckling pig and serve other traditional cuisine. While I was on a Walking Tour we have passed by at this establishment and were highly recommended with their good food.
I didn’t waste anytime on that evening I went to the restaurant even without any booking. To my surprise they have accommodated me, and I was seated immediately to my table, even though the restaurant was so busy. ( But I highly suggest if you are dining in a group you need to book it in advance to avoid disappointment).
It was recommended by a friend to order the roast suckling pig ( conchillo asado ) it’s the restaurant signature dish, so as soon as I was sat down I ordered the set menu with pig suckling. And pig suckling didn’t disappoint at all, the crunchy skin and nice, moist and tender meat came with few pieces of boiled potatoes.
Sobrino de Botin is the oldest restaurant in Madrid recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, it’s door was opened since 1725. It was initially called Casa Botin when it was inherited by his nephew it was renamed to Sobrini de Botin.
OK Seafood lovers anyone? Come with me and let’s check out Riveira do Mino restaurant. The restaurant was so busy and I took the chance of just turn up for an early dinner. When I arrived they asked me if I have booking but I said no, they suggested for me to wait by the bar.
While waiting for a table I have ordered a beer, I was so luck after 10 minutes I was seated to my table. There’s nothing special with the deco, it felt like you are in a big party the place was crowded and busy. Obviously when the waiter came to take my order, I ordered seafood platter for one which was highly recommended by a friend of a friend.
And you can’t imagine the look on my face, when I saw my order it’s like a light bulb suddenly lit up! The portion was so massive, a heaped platter of prawns, crab, goose barnacles and crayfish, it came with basket of freshly bake bread. And in no time, I was busy cracking the shells and indulging away to one my best seafood dining experience so far! ( I suggest to avoid disappointment make reservations in advance. )
Day trips from Madrid:
Right if you want to explore beyond the Spanish Capital City of Madrid. Come and follow me, I did manage to squeeze a day trip to Toledo City. ( When travelling by train I advice to buy your return ticket its cheaper than buying single ticket at a time ).
Arriving to the Toledo train station and a quick navigation towards the Old Town was easy. Before approaching the Old Town you need to crossed the Alcantara Bridge ( a beautiful roman stone arch bridge spanning the Tagus river ), then follow the cobbled stone steps or the footpath and continue your ascent up the hill.
Good to know: The ancient City of Toledo is dramatically situated in a hill overlooking a gorge and the River Tagus ( Rio Tajo ). In 1986 it was named in UNESCO list. The Alcantara bridge ( comes from the Arab name al-Qantarat ) was built by a roman architect named Cayo Julio Lacer during 106 BC.
When arriving at the airport and intended to use public transport while in the city. I highly suggest to buy a transport card which is cheaper and you can use the card for 10 rides at any public transport local train, metro and bus.
Whenever dining out with groups its better to have a table reservation, those popular restaurants gets so busy, so to avoid disappointments book your table in advance.
If you are watching your budget but still want to visit different museums, remember they have specific time alotted for free admission to the public.
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