Witness the matadors in action
Bullfighting is quintessentially Spanish, and no trip to the city would be complete without seeing the matadors and bulls do battle. Madrid houses the largest Plaza de Toros (bullring) in the country – La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas del Espíritu Santo, or more simply, Las Ventas, which was established in 1929, and has a seating capacity of close to 25,000. Bullfights are held every day during San Isidro – the bullfighting festival which lasts from May to June annually. Outside San Isidro, the bullfighting season lasts from March to October, and fights are held every Sunday, and public holiday.
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Watch a flamenco performance
Flamenco is a genre of music, song and dance which is typically Spanish, and Madrid offers some of the best Flamenco performances in the world, with true artists coming out in full force to display their talents. A visit to a flamenco restaurant can be a great way to spend a night, and usually involves a meal, followed by an evening of song and dance – however, be prepared to stay well past midnight. Corral de la Moreria “tablao” (restaurant with a stage) is widely recognised as the best flamenco restaurant in Madrid.
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Buy an authentic Spanish guitar
World-renowned for their exquisite designs, as well as the passionate melodies they produce, a traditional Spanish guitar can be a great souvenir from your trip to Madrid. Guitarrería F Manzanero can be a great place to visit if you are musically-inclined, and the master guitar-maker’s shop has several old and rare string instruments on display. Garrido Bailén is another good shop where you can purchase an authentic Spanish guitar.
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Take a Tapas Walking Tour
Spanish tapas generally consist of small, bite-sized morsels of food served with drinks at a bar, and visitors can experience this tradition in full by taking a Tapas Walking Tour. This is a great way to explore the Tapas culture, and acquaint yourself with the historic city brimming over with tapas bars and undiscovered restaurants. The tour, which takes you to four traditional bars and restaurants in Old Madrid, is generally conducted for small groups (no more than 6 people per group), costs 35 GBP (pounds sterling) per person, and is conducted by a native English-speaking professional guide.
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Go shoe shopping
Footwear from Madrid is highly-prized in the fashion world, and what better place to indulge your shoe addiction than at the source? Visit the Augusto Figueroa street if you are looking for outlets that sell factory samples. However, if you are looking for something more refined, shoppers may visit Salamanca, for top-quality leather products from the Loewe brand, or Farrutx and Camper.
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Take a walk in the park
In addition to quaint crowded streets and the more metropolitan areas, Madrid also offers picturesque wide-open spaces for tourists to take a leisurely stroll. You can experience nature in all her beauty at the Parque del Oeste in Argüelles, which is among the most exceptionally beautiful spots in the city, and boasts a rose garden which comes out in full bloom during May and June, when the park also hosts an international rose contest. Other parks include El Parque de Retiro (which features various monuments, sculptures, and a boating lake) and el Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace), which houses exotic plants at the Casón del Buen Retiro.
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Watch Real Madrid in action
Watch one of the best football teams in the world – Real Madrid – as they battle it out at their home venue, the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Tickets to Real Madrid games can be excruciatingly difficult to obtain, particularly if it is for a high-profile match against a team like F. C. Barcelona. Featuring football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid games are huge events in themselves, and the opportunity to witness the team in action is bound to be a major highlight of any trip to Madrid.
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Take a cable car ride
To view the city from a new perspective, try out the Teléferico Madrid cable car, which offers a panoramic bird’s eye view of the city. The cable car takes you above the city’s main attractions, including the parks and the Manzanares River. The ride is a great way to enjoy the city from up high, and make a mental note of the sites you plan to visit later. The 2.5km ride begins at the Paseo Rosales and ends at the Casa de Campo Park, and has a duration of a little over ten minutes.
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Dine at the oldest restaurant in the world
One of Madrid’s prime culinary attractions, El Sobrino de Botín is recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant in the world, dating back to 1725, and has had a number of celebrated guests, most recently famed American author Ernest Hemingway, who dubbed it one of his favourites. The old diner offers traditional Mediterranean cuisine, and specialties include cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig), and cordero asado (roast lamb). The average price for a three-course meal here is 40 euros.
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Indulge your sweet tooth
Madrid has plenty to offer if you’re on the lookout for a sweet snack. Try Montecados – delectable melt-in-your-mouth cookies made of aniseed, almonds, and generous amounts of fat – made by the baking nuns at the Convento de las Carboneras, where you may purchase these sweet treats through a grille (since this is a closed order). The cakes at Antigua Pastilería del Pozo (a quaint old pastelería opened in 1830) are also sublime.
Another dessert you cannot leave Madrid without trying are chocolate con churros – a specialty at the Chocolatería de San Ginés restaurant (a traditional bar established in 1894). These are long, sticks of fried dough, served with a cup of hot, thick, melted chocolate for your dipping pleasure.
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