What feels like a lifetime ago I went on a couple of mini-breaks with people other than my husband and children. Back in September 2019, I spent a few days in Madrid with some of the best women I have in my life. I didn’t write about it back then because I wasn’t blogging much, and then of course came the following two years full of nothingness. But I’ve got photos and memories and they need somewhere to go.
We managed to cover a fair bit of ground during our time in Madrid, and this was because of two things. Firstly, we had only three days which gave the trip a slight sense of urgency. Secondly, we had our secret weapon – A Planner. Kelly is my cousin and the best (and sometimes a bit scary) planner of things. She’s brilliant at it, which is good because I am absolutely terrible and if I was in charge we’d just wander around, with no real purpose, eating street food and getting lost.
We stayed in an apartment quite a way out of the city but the metro system in Madrid means you don’t have far to walk, wherever you’re going. We stayed at Alojamiento Santa Rosa but there are lots of apartments available across the web.
Puerta del Sol
One of the main squares in Madrid is the Puerta del Sol. Dating as far back as the 15th century, Sol has come a long way in its time. These days you will find the large public square surrounded on all sides by restaurants, bars, and shops with street performers of all kinds providing entertainment. Don’t forget your change for these hard working artists! Still a meeting place for assemblies, demonstrations and more, Puerta del Sol is one of the busiest places in Madrid.
El Retiro Park
This 118 hectacre park right in the centre of Madrid was well worth the visit. Originally the gardens of the palace, there is much to see and do here. There is a beautiful lake where you can take a rowing boat and journey amongst the turtles! More street musicians add to the atmosphere and you can grab some food at the cafe in the park too. There are endless photo opportunities in the park too – some magnificent structures, from statues to fountains and monuments to busts… to an actual glass palace! The Palacio de Cristal is simply magnificent and we were lucky enough to find it empty on the day we visited so we could really soak up the magnitude of what once was used simply as a greenhouse.
After an absolutely jam-packed day in the city, we decided to have a quiet evening in the apartment… not!
You can’t really go to Madrid and not see some flamenco, right? We went to see a passionate, enthralling and high energy show at Cardamomo Flamenco in the city. The setting is intimate, the decor is plush, the music is rousing, the welcome is warm and the dancing is phenomenal. I absolutely recommend this place to anyone visiting Madrid.
The City at Night
Madrid is no less beautiful when the sun goes down. This is the time when the streets really come to life with music and dance. The narrow streets are lined with magnificent buildings, and each restaurant offers outdoor seating for diners to enjoy the warm breeze as they dine. Whether you want to splash out on something a little bit extra, or are looking for today’s Menu del Dia, you’ll find something to satisfy your taste (and your wallet).
Madrid is amazing for shopping, and no street in the city is better for it than Gran Via. We spent our last day ambling down this super busy pedestrian highway, spending what we hadn’t already enjoyed over the previous two days. We found a large sort of department type store called El Corte Ingles and bought nothing, but headed up to the top floor where there was a fantastic food market called Gourmet Experience, which had outdoor seating with the loveliest city views. This food hall offered delicious treats from all over the world and it was so difficult to narrow it down.
If you’ve been to Madrid, I’d love to know what your trip looked like – did you plan ahead or take it slow?
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I would love to visit Spain one day and Madrid looks like an amazing city! It looks like you had a great time there and I would especially love to go to El Retiro Park!