Madrid

Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: August 2022

Madrid is the capital of Spain. It is one of the greenest and sunniest cities in all of Europe. It is also known for its modern architecture, thriving art scene, tasty tapas, trendy neighbourhoods and bustling nightlife.

Day 1: The Prado

After spending the past ten days in Italy, it was time for us to head to Spain. We flew from Venice to Madrid and landed in the mid-afternoon. Today was actually a holiday in Europe for the Assumption of Mary, and most shops and restaurants were closed. Thank goodness we packed some snacks.

But the nice thing about it being a holiday was that the Prado Museum was free to visit from 5-7pm. We headed over 15 minutes prior to 5pm to wait in line. The Prado contains the most comprehensive collection of Spanish paintings in the world and boasts of having one of the finest collections of European art from the 12th to 20th century. Once we had our free tickets in hand, we got down to business as we only had two hours to race through the museum, which displays about 1,300 pieces of art, including paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures. Unfortunately the Prado does not allow photography.

Once the museum closed, we meandered around in search of a restaurant that was open. Options were limited because it was a holiday and also because dinner in Spain is usually around 9pm. And just when we were about to give up and return to our hotel to eat more snacks, we found a restaurant that was just opening up that had a decent menu with decent prices. It would do.

Day 2: The Rest of Madrid

We booked tickets in advance to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid for when it opened. From our hotel, it was about a 30 minute walk. We planned to make a few detours at a couple of points of interest along the way, starting with the Puerta del Sol, one of the most popular squares in Madrid. Except the square was under construction when we visited, so we didn’t really see much. After grabbing some breakfast, we walked to Plaza Mayor, another major square that was once the centre of Old Madrid.

We made our way towards the Royal Palace of Madrid, the official residence of the Spanish royal family. Nowadays it serves as a museum and is typically only used for state events. Since we had booked our tickets in advance, we got to skip to the front of the queue. Even though there were a lot of people in the courtyard, entrance times were staggered to prevent overcrowding.

Starting at the Grand Staircase, our visit involved a self-guided tour through some of the various rooms and apartments in the palace. There were signs (in Spanish and English) to explain the significance and purpose of each room. Many of the rooms were adorned with matching fabric wallpaper, drapes and furniture, each with a different colour palette. It was all very opulent and fancy.

Afterwards we went to the Almudena Cathedral, located across from the Royal Palace. While entrance into the cathedral is free, we paid extra to visit the small museum and to climb to the top of the dome. The museum was rather uneventful and contained a few religious relics, but the climb up to the dome provided a nice view of the ceiling from inside the cathedral. It also provided access to the rooftop terrace. There were three viewing platforms that provided sweeping views of the surrounding area.

Once we made it back to the main floor, we checked out the cathedral to admire the beautifully coloured ceiling and stained glass windows.

We then walked to the Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple that was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid. It was donated by the Egyptian government in thanks to all the support Spain provided to help save the Abu Simbel temples during the construction of the Aswan Dam. While you can go inside the temple, the line was long and wasn’t moving very quickly. Instead we walked around to admire the exterior.

We meandered back to our hotel, stopping to pick up some food for lunch. We headed back out later in the afternoon to visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, an art museum that contains an extensive collection of European paintings from the Middle Ages to the late 20th century, as well as some American art. There was also a special temporary exhibit on Alex Katz.

At this point we were getting hungry, so we went out for dinner. And this time we did some research in advance to find a restaurant that was open at our typical dinner time. Naturally we ate too much, so afterwards we went for a stroll through El Retiro Park, one of the largest parks located in the heart of Madrid. The park contains more than 15,000 trees, plenty of walking paths and various points of interest, including monuments, fountains, gardens, an artificial pond, and the Crystal Palace (a glass pavilion).

The sun was starting to set, so we walked back to our accommodations. The next morning we planned to take the train to Barcelona.

L

56 thoughts on “Madrid

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. We could have easily spent half the day wandering around the Prado. I still can’t get over just how massive the museum is. The Royal Palace was one of our highlights from our time in Madrid too. All the rooms looked so elegant and nicely put together.

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  1. Fat Geisha says:

    Great photos as always! I didn’t know about the museum and viewing platform in Almudena Cathedral otherwise I would have checked it. Glad you got some cool shots from there. Ceiling and stained glass windows are very nice indeed.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. The entrance to the museum and dome is located on a different side from the main entrance into the church, which probably explains why it wasn’t very busy. It was well worth the extra money to get a close-up of the dome and to access the roof to see the views of Madrid.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rose says:

    You are right, the Royal Palace décor is very opulent and fancy. The Almudena Cathedral ceiling close-up is gorgeous. Were you able to go into the Crystal Palace, its photo looks like it might be quite a large pavilion? The sunset photo is vibrant and serene.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Royal Palace was one of the highlights from our trip to Madrid. Photography was only permitted in the first few rooms, which is too bad as the royal chambers were stunning. You could actually go inside the Crystal Palace at El Retiro Park. We didn’t feel like waiting in line though and instead wanted to make the most of the remaining daylight.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. elvira797mx says:

    Wow! Wow! Wow! I love Madrid! Is such a wonderful city! Love your photos, amazing!!
    Bravo! Great post! Thank’s for share, Linda. Happy for you, it is a special place.
    Have a lovely weekend!
    Keep well.
    Elvira

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I couldn’t agree more about how Madrid is such a wonderful city to explore. We had a fabulous time. I just wished we could have stayed for longer. Hope you enjoyed your weekend as well. Take care. Linda

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  4. Ab says:

    Wow, what a beautiful trip you had in Madrid. The Royal Place looks lovely as did the cathedral with the stone architecture and the opulent interiors.

    It strikes me as interesting that museums were open on a holiday but most restaurants were closed. Almost seems like the opposite to here in Canada, so it says quite a bit about the culture and values there.

    Can’t wait to see your Barcelona recap!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was interesting to see the contrast between the architecture in Spain, especially in a modern city like Madrid, compared to Italy. The nice thing about being in a big city is that even though there are a lot of people around, it didn’t feel crammed or crowded. I’ll never get used to eating so late at night though.

      Hope you had a wonderful weekend and are all ready for Halloween today!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ab says:

        Thanks Linda. We’re all set for Halloween. Have a great one too!

        And yes, I can’t imagine eating at a time when I normally am winding down for sleep!

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Hopefully you had a successful Halloween haul despite the crummy weather. We didn’t get too many trick-or-treaters so I’m now stuck with all this extra chocolate and candy. And I have zero self control when it comes to sweets and treats!

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    • John says:

      I have seen traffic crashes on a TV program on The Weather Channel around Toronto and Sarnia. Crashes and wrecks on the 401 and the 402. The Lake-Effect snow makes things worse. Places I have been, being from Michigan.

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  5. BACK ROADS AND OTHER STORIES says:

    Spain is one of the places we didn’t make it to on our epic European trip in the late 70s. It was just transitioning to a democracy if you can believe it! If I ever make it to Europe again, it’s on the top of my list. Your pictures are amazing and the descriptions are very informative!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words. Out of all the places we visited during our trip to Europe, if we had a bit more time, we would have loved to stay longer in Madrid. There are also a lot of great options for day trips. Hopefully you’re able to visit someday. You should also do a recap series of your legendary European trip in the late 70s!!

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  6. kagould17 says:

    You really travelled around Linda. The views from the cathedral dome are stunning. We have never been to Spain. Thanks for sharing your visit to Madrid. The European dinner hour is much too late for us old folks. Have a great weekend. Allan

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I must say, it’s pretty convenient and fast to travel around Europe, either by plane or train. Even though we were in Spain for nearly a week, we never did get used to eating dinner so late. We would often do research in advance to to find a restaurant that was open “early” for dinner. We were never much for the night life, so I didn’t feel like we were missing out on anything. Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Happy November. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

      • kagould17 says:

        We had the same problem in the South of France and learned to look for restaurants offering what they called service non-stop. Guess we just were not continental enough. Happy November indeed. The weather has flipped a switch so here comes winter.

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  7. wetanddustyroads says:

    Oh yes, the Spaniards don’t believe in early dinners 😅. When we visited Plaza Mayor, we enjoyed a beer there … later we had a beer at one of the side streets outside the plaza (and was surprised that it was almost half the price of a beer inside the plaza)! And thanks for showing the inside of the Royal Palace (for us, the queue was just too long and it was too hot)! You have so many beautiful photos of El Retiro Park – wish we had the energy to explore this more … but after walking 729km on the Camino Frances, we were not so keen to walk anymore 😁.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We’re early risers, so the whole eating dinner later in the evening, didn’t really work for us. Thankfully we were able to find a few places that were open at our usual dinner time. Typically we were the only ones there. I don’t blame you for not wanting to wait in line in the sweltering sun for the Royal Palace. We were able to book our tickets in advance and could skip the long queue. Our accommodations were located across from El Retiro Park, which was very convenient. I don’t imagine going for a walk would be high up there on your list of things to do when hiking the Camino Frances!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Linda K says:

    What a pretty city! Loved looking at your photos and reading about what Madrid has to offer. We were there for only a day in March a few years ago after visiting Andalucia and after two weeks of beautiful weather our one day in Madrid there was a freak snowstorm!! We had wanted to visit the park but ended diving into shops and under awnings to try and stay dry. It was actually hilarious. People were coming out from businesses to stand and stare at the snow. Coming from here we thought that was too funny 🙂

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s crazy that you visited Madrid during a snowstorm in March. What are the odds?! I don’t blame you for skipping El Retiro Park considering the weather! I’m guessing it doesn’t snow there often based on people’s reactions from the weather!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. ourcrossings says:

    I love Madrid, it really is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain with a wide range of cultural and historical treasures. As Valters best friend lives in Madrid, over the last decade or so we’ve visited over dozen times and always found something interesting to see and do. Not to mention the fact that we always had a local on hand to show us around. Your beautiful photos make me want to go back once more, Linda 🙂 Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Despite being a large city, Madrid seems like it was very well designed. The modern architecture looks stunning and I love how green spaces have been incorporated in and around the city. That’s awesome that you’ve been able to visit Madrid so many times over the years, especially when you have an insider connection! We wish we could have stayed for longer. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Take care. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

  10. leightontravels says:

    You certainly managed to pick off some Madrid highlights during your limited time. I never made it into The Royal Palace, so thanks for the peek. It is every bit as opulent as I’d imagined it to be.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Out of all the places we visited during our trip to Europe this summer, if we had one or two extra days, we would have spent them in Madrid. The city has a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing, but it was also nice to just wander around. The Royal Palace was definitely a highlight. I’m so glad we booked our tickets in advance and were able to skip the line!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. thehungrytravellers.blog says:

    From my various visits to Madrid, I have many great memories. The Goya collection in the Prada was the most disturbing art collection I’ve ever seen – I still talk about it years later. What in Gods name was going on in Goya’s head?! And yes, Plaza Mayor is stupid expensive, you only have to go ten minutes to get great tapas at proper prices…

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We only had two hours to race through as much of the Prado as we could, but we managed to spend a bit of time looking at Goya’s collection. Agreed, it was a bit gruesome and creepy, especially the one of Saturn devouring his son. It’s wild how pricey some of the restaurants are near the major tourist attractions. We spent a bit of time researching where to eat, largely because we didn’t want to wait until 9p.m to have dinner, but also to suss out pricing and reviews.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Darlene says:

    So glad you visited the Prado and El Retiro park. My two favourite places in Madrid. I was able to take pictures (without a flash of course when I visited The Prado a few years ago. An amazing collection.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We were only in Madrid for a short time, so it’s good to know that we hit the highlights. I never really understood why some museums allow photography and others don’t. Perhaps it was for the best that I couldn’t take pictures in the Prado since we had less than two hours to try to see the entire collection!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Little Miss Traveller says:

    I’ve visited Madrid a couple of times but not been in many of the museums. How clever to time your visit to the Prado when it offered free entry! I like Madrid very much and would be happy to return anytime. Hope you are enjoying a relaxing weekend.M.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always nice to try to take advantage of free or reduced entry at a museum. The only downside is having to wait in line and dealing with the crowds. The lines at least were moving quickly, which was great since we didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy the extensive collection of art at the Prado. And agreed, I wouldn’t mind returning to Madrid either! Hope you had a wonderful weekend too. Take care. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Lookoom says:

    Madrid is a great city and there is so much to see. You have selected some beautiful places. I visited again this year and I keep the sunny pictures to warm up the coming winter period.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Madrid really exceeded my expectations. I wish I had planned for us to spend a few more days there as it also seems like there are a lot of great day-trip options. Next time. And yes, now that the weather is getting cooler here in Ontario, it’s been nice to reminisce about the hot sunny days we had in Spain.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Bama says:

    I had no idea Madrid is one of the greenest cities in Europe! My best friend told me how much he loved the Spanish capital, and your post makes want to go there even more. However, the really late dinner time would probably be very challenging — at least for the first few days — as I’m not used to eating that late. But it’s nice to know you can actually find places that open early.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Madrid has done an exceptional job of incorporating green spaces in and around the city. Going for a stroll through El Retiro Park close to sunset was definitely one of my highlights. I don’t think I could ever get used to eating dinner later in the evening either. We’re early risers and typically like to go to bed by the time the dinner and nightlife scene starts. We definitely had to do our research on where to eat in advance as many places don’t open (or reopen) until much later in the evening.

      Liked by 1 person

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