Spend a weekend soaking up the sights and sunshine in the Spanish capital city
Less than a three-hour flight from the UK takes you to the laid-back streets of the Spanish capital. With sights, sun and plenty of sangria, it’s the perfect place where you can while away a weekend.
What to do?
Madrid is home to some of the world’s most famous works of art. Picasso’s Guernica, housed in the Reina Sofia Museum, is impressive, even to the untrained eye. And the Prado Museum is renowned for its classical and religious masterpieces. You could spend days here and still only scratch the surface.
When you manage to drag yourself away from the museums, you can stroll around El Retiro Park – row on the lake, wander around the Glass Palace and visit the Rose Garden, which features over 4,000 blooming roses in different colours.
Sundays in Madrid are best spent with the locals at the El Rastro flea market. From traditional Spanish fans to edgy sunglasses and cool linen dresses, the market has stall after stall of bargain buys.
And for something a little different, go to the Temple of Debod to watch the sunset. The ancient Egyptian temple was dismantled and reassembled in Madrid in 1972. It’s an even more spectacular sight when the sun goes down.
People from Madrid are often referred to as “gatos”, meaning “cats”, because of their love of late nights – and they’re spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a watering hole. Salmon Guru is a trendy cocktail bar, decked out with neon lights and patterned furniture. Every drink on the menu is a Salmon Guru original, served in outlandish ways – think edible flowers and a glass shaped like an octopus.
Or, you can head to the rooftop of Círculo de Bellas Artes. For just four euros, you can sip cocktails while taking in the best views of the city. And, if you fancy something more low-key head to El Tigre – a bustling Spanish bar, where every drink comes with a free plate of tapas.
From Madrid’s traditional calamari sandwich (better than it sounds!) to plates of patatas bravas, and plenty of Iberian ham, there’s so much to sample in Madrid.
Head to Cava Baja – a lively street, where you can find some of the most traditional tapas bars in the city. Esteban is popular with the locals, as well as Casa Lucio, so much so that reservations need to be made at least two weeks in advance.
Madrid is also home to some bustling food markets. The Mercado de San Miguel was opened in 1916, and was the first iron market in Madrid. Be sure to head to one of the stalls and order banderillas – a type of tapas, usually made up of anchovies and pickles, served on a cocktail stick.
Or, if you want something a little closer to home, the Somos restaurant at the Hotel Barceló de Torre de Madrid is not to be missed. The grilled octopus or tasty chicken satay are highlights from the menu.
Where to stay?
For laid-back luxury, there’s no better place to lay your head than the Hotel Barceló Torre de Madrid – situated in the first eight floors of what was once Spain’s tallest building. The interiors are Instagram-worthy with shades of green and millennial pink, and the beds are huge. The wellness centre on the eighth floor features a sky-lit swimming pool, gym and small spa.
The buffet breakfast does not disappoint. From Spanish omelettes to pastries, they’ll give you all the energy you need for a day of exploring – and, luckily, you’ve found the perfect spot. The hotel is at the end of the Gran Vía, which is one of the busiest shopping streets in Madrid – within 15 minutes, you can reach the Royal Palace or the bustling Plaza Mayor. And, if you’re stuck for something to do, the hotel staff can offer local recommendations.
Need to know
· Ryanair flights to Madrid go from Stansted Airport and prices start from as little as £26 return. Ryanair.com
· Barceló Torre de Madrid rooms start from £135 per night based on two people sharing a standard room. Book online at Barcelo.com/en-gb/barcelo-hotels/hotels/spain/madrid/barcelo-torre-de-madrid
· The best time to visit Madrid is from April to May, or in October, when temperatures still reach a pleasant 22°C – perfect weather for sightseeing.