Tapas and Tipple: Madrid short break
Madrid is a bustling city with plenty of places to party as well as relax and soak up some culture. It gets pretty toasty in summer so you’re best to visit in autumn or spring when it’s a bit cooler. Flights are pretty cheap and only a few hours away from the UK. There are plenty of places to stay whatever you’re looking for, so check out the best accommodation deals with a quick online search and we’ll do the rest…
See the sights
Step into a world of royalty in Palacio Real de Madrid. It’s the official residence of the Spanish Royal family, although they live in the ‘burbs and only use it for state ceremonies. It holds a casual 3,418 rooms. Yep, we nearly choked on our cuppa tea too. Inside, you can swan around and pretend you’re in a Disney film as the rooms are so ornately decorated and well-preserved despite it being several hundred years old. It’s 10 euros to get in, which is quite frankly a bargain to feel like a princess for the day. Frozen fancy dress is optional.
Experience some serenity in Parque de el Retiro (quite literally Park of the Pleasant). This magnificent park boasts a wealth of delights, including a rose garden and a big lake where you can hire rowing boats. There’s also a nice cafe nearby to grab a beer and watch others do the rowing – you’re on holiday after all. Don’t miss Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace – how good is our Spanish?), it’s essentially a giant greenhouse, but the most stunning one we’ve ever seen.
For the arty folk visit the Museo del Prado (€12 entry), an enormous art museum featuring some of the finest European art such as The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch and the Black Paintings by Francisco Goya. Yep, we knew exactly what they were too. Ahem.
For a view of the city go to Templo de Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple donated to Spain as a thank you. (And here’s us thinking flowers and chocolates is generous.) It’s nicely situated on a hill in Parque del Oeste, so time it right and catch the sunset.
Tapas and a tipple
The two go hand-in-hand in Spanish culture so embrace it! For some daytime al fresco dining try Plaza de Santa Ana and Plaza Mayor, two squares offering plenty of tapas restaurants to people-watch and accidentally quaff sangria like it’s Ribena.
At night seek out anywhere in La Latina, an area drowning in tapas bars that have an authentic local feel. Check out Casa Lucas and Posada del dragon for some very tasty, fresh food.
For a more cool/hipster scene check out Justicia area (closest subway is Tribunal). This area is buzzing on a weekend and for a damn good reason. If you fancy a cocktail try La Paca cafe bar for a decent mojito and comfy sofas that are perfect to gossip in. Throw yourself in the uber cool vibe by visiting Mercado San Anton and Mercado San il Defonso. Are they markets, are they bars?! With cheap chorizo, croquettes and wine on offer late at night WHO THE HELL CARES. We’re there with bells on.
Talk the talk
A little lingo can get you a long way with the locals, and any Enrique Iglesias lookalikes for that matter. Here’s a few very handy phrases…
Dos cervesa por favor – two beers please
¿La cuenta por favor? – the bill please
¿Qué tal? – what’s up? … to be answered with ¡Bien, gracias! – good thanks!
¿Donde esta el bano? – where is the bathroom?
Papas fritas con queso – cheesy chips (Because just in case you stumble across a kebab shop at 4am we’ve got your back.)
That’s our top tips for a Madrid short break. Going there soon? Share your pics with us @tweetjanes