I enjoyed my second visit to Madrid. It is a very grand city with wide boulevards and squares, gorgeous palaces, churches and stately architecture. It is a great city for walking, experiencing history, eating and seeing great art.
One tip is to buy the Madrid Tourist Card which includes all of the top museums in the cost. I bought mine when I purchased my Eurorail Pass. You can also buy a Metro pass for the number of days you are there to help ease the confusion each time you travel! The Metro is easy to ride, just make sure you find the line and go towards the direction of the end of that line. Don’t get confused if you see a different line’s stops posted inside the train, as it appears they move the cars around the different lines. Just listen to the audio announcements.
What to do in Madrid:
Real Monasterio de la Encarnacion: While waiting for my lunch reservation I stopped by this royal monastery founded in 1622 at Pl. de la Encarnacion 1. I joined a group tour to see the valuable collection of 17th and 18th century paintings. It is worth a visit, if you are in the area.
Parque de Retiro: This is a wonderful park east of the Prado. It is a good place to clear the mind before tackling yet another museum! I was lucky to see some great fall colors on a sunny day! Plus there are two historic buildings that serve as temporary art installation spaces.
Plaza Mayor: This grand arcaded pedestrian square in the center of Madrid is a great place to sit in a café and people watch.
Calle Las Huertas: From near the Plaza Mayor, take this pedestrian street all the way to the Prado. There are attractive shops and restaurants along the way. I liked it so much that I might consider staying in this area next time.
Royal Palace or Palacio Real of Madrid: This is a must for any trip to Madrid. King Philip V had this palace built in 1734. You can walk up the main staircase and walk through the Throne Room, the Gasparini Hall and the other rooms of the palace. It is ornately decorated with art and furniture. You can really see how much power the Kings of Spain had at one point in the world.
Catedral de la Almudena: Located next to the palace, make sure to stop in to see the wonderful altar paintings and the large Madonna and Child.
Salamanca District: I enjoyed staying this time in the Salamanca District just north of Parque Retiro. It is an upscale shopping and residential area.