With one last tour on my summer agenda Spain was a bucketlist location I had not yet covered. Madrid was covered in an arid but beautiful landscape, and filled with harsh vegetation that reminded me of home. Spain gave the initial impression of being laid back and relaxed compared to the energy and bustle of other European capitals. I had my first taste of Spain with a beautiful Paella before spending most of an hour searching for my hostel and managing the significant language barrier….
Full day one in Spain was a chance to explore! With Flick and her mate Georgie we walked the streets and stumbled upon some gems that absolutely amazed us. Walking down a street to what we thought would end with a market, we met our first amazing stop.
Just when we thought we were doing well we walked out the back and were greeted to the magnificence of the biggest palace in Europe. The royal palace of Madrid overlooked an expansive area to the north of Madrid and the outside can only partially be described in picture. A walk inside meant a ban on photography, so I will do my best to give an overview. The main foyer begins a little bit bare but a short walk up the stairs leads you into a room covered in decorative marble statues, frescos and tapestry. Further on, you walk through each room including where each King and Queen held their dinners, had their bedroom and other functions. To give an example just the King’s dressing room is about the size of a small house and decorated with fine arts in every corner. Each room has a different colour scheme.
How to see the palace
Booking: There are no pre-booking services for the palace unless you are going with a large tour group, so it is best to arrive early or later to get a short line! It’s never an incredibly long line unless you are on a weekend or peak season.
Opening Hours: 10:00 till 20:00
Guides and Tours: You can get a guided tour for an interpersonal experience, however and audio guide is available for €4 and alongside the place cards with information in each room you gather plenty of information about the building and its history.
Santa Maria Cathedral
The glorious Saint Maria Cathedral. This is a more recently finished building with a postmodern feel to it. The church is cavernous and comparatively bare of decoration compared to other churches. Up high the stained glass windows are much brighter and artistic than the expected storytelling on the average church in the area. It doesn’t take a long time
How to see the Cathedral
Booking: Walk up and walk in! No booking or tickets required although there is the opportunity to donate.
Opening Hours: 09:00 till 20:30
Guides and tours: You don’t need a tour, a leaflet will give you plenty to divulge yourself in.
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
The home of the famous Real Madrid football team, a stadium tour is a true experience of the team. It has up close meetings with cabinets of trophies, a walk around the top of the stadium looking down, a chance to touch the pitch and the all-important press room. Although if you can get to a game I would strongly suggest it!
Booking and Cost: http://www.realmadrid.com/en/tickets/bernabeu-tour 19 Euros
Opening Hours: Non match days, Monday to Saturday: from 10.00 to 19.00 Sundays and public holidays: from 10.30 to 18.30.
Guides and Tours: Self-guided tour
A free, easy relaxing part of the history of Spain. Located at the western end of Gran Via, the cities theatre district, this park is a nice way to take a few moments to relax. In the centre stands a massive monument to the Spanish Shakespeare, Cervantes. The stone depicts the famous story of Don Quixote.
Booking and Cost: Free!
Opening Hours: All day
Guides and Tours: Self-guided tour
Watch a Football Match
La Liga is famous for high quality football and brilliant stadium atmosphere. I was lucky to buy tickets at the door for Athletico Madrid vs Las Palmas. You don’t need super expensive tickets but it’s always an amazing atmosphere
Booking and Cost: Tickets will cost anything from 20-500 Euro depending on the game
Opening Hours: Look up fixtures online at http://www.skysports.com/football/competitions/la-liga/fixtures
Guides and Tours: Join in with the home team supporters!
Valley of the Fallen
Take a bus out to a large cathedral built into a mountain. The huge esplanade has an expansive view over endless bushland, and atop the peak stands a gigantic granite crucifix visible from 20 miles away. It was built by the controversial dictator Franco, as a monument to all who fell in the civil war.
Booking and Cost: No boking needed unless you want a tour, take the 664 bus to get there.
Opening Hours: October-March: From 10:00 am to 17:00 pm.
April-September: From 10:00 am to 18:00 pm.
Those are my experiences of Madrid! Let me know what you think below in the comments and add any other spots you recommend! Madrid was an awesome place, full of life and I hope to go back someday! Stay tuned for more from Spain…
As Grandma’s friend Laurie always says…
“Love all around”