High 5: Top five things to do in Madrid
The vibrant city of Madrid is often overlooked in favour of Spain’s second largest city, Barcelona, which tourists flock to in search of intriguing architecture, bustling markets and wild nightlife. However, if you’re looking to immerse yourself in authentic Spanish culture you should look no further than the country’s capital, which offers all of this and more in each of its distinct neighbourhoods. The area of La Latina is full of traditional Spanish charm, while those looking for a more modern experience should make their way to Malasaña, which is full of on-trend eateries and offers the best shopping experience in the city. Check out our top five things to do in Madrid below and you’ll understand what the locals mean when they say ‘de Madrid al cielo’, or ‘from Madrid to heaven’.
There is certainly no shortage of green space in Madrid and this park, located close to the city centre, offers a beautiful setting for a morning stroll or afternoon picnic. The well-tended gardens are gleaming with beauty, from the stunning rose garden to the various statues and sculptures dotted throughout, it’s possible to spend hours simply admiring the scenery. The most exciting feature that this park has to offer is its lake, on which visitors can hire a small boat to row around at their leisure, while looking out for terrapins which can be seen at the water’s edge.
It can get very hot in Madrid and the inclination can be to lock yourself up inside a restaurant and bask in the air conditioning. Venture a little higher however, and find a rooftop bar to whittle away the afternoon with a jug of sangria, some tapas and incredible views of the city. El Viajero is a great spot located in the traditional district of La Latina. Offering a different experience across each of its three floors, from fine dining to late-night dancing, the views from the rooftop bar are hard to beat and certainly best appreciated with an ice-cold cerveza in hand.
Founded in 1894, this is the oldest spot for churros (delicious pastry snacks) in the entire city. Though it can get busy, it’s worth the wait for the delectable chocolate con churros, which are served by traditionally-dressed waiters into the early hours of the morning. See if you can notice any familiar faces in the photographs that are proudly placed on the walls, documenting famous visitors to the restaurant over the years. This is the perfect place to appreciate the hustle and bustle of every day life in Madrid, so be sure to take in the gorgeous interior and savour every bite.
This observation tower, located within the university district of Madrid, offers unbeatable views of the entire city. Not for the faint-hearted, visitors board the glass lift which scales 92 meters from the ground to the observation deck. From this height you can see all of Madrid’s most important buildings and cultural landmarks, each explained on information panels along with some interesting facts and images, surrounded by the breath-taking Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range.
Natural swimming pools
There are plenty of swimming pools in Madrid to dive into during the sizzling summer months, but those looking for a little adventure and natural beauty should consider taking a journey out of the city into the town of Cercedilla, in search of one of the region’s natural swimming pools. Surrounded by mountains, the Piscinas Naturales de Cercedilla are fed by a nearby river and the cool temperature is exactly what you’ll need after taking the hike from the town’s train station. While the journey might be a little arduous for some, it will be worth the effort when you are relaxing in the shade with your toes dipped in the water, marvelling at the gorgeous mountain scenery.
By: George Curtis
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