Spain?s capital is the vibrant heart of one of Europe?s most fun-loving locales. Madrid?located at the center of Spain?warrants more than a quick stopover en route to the Costa del Sol, Ibiza or the Rioja wine region. While abroad in Europe last spring, I spent a weekend with friends reveling in the city?s captivating offerings. From world-class art to innovative cuisine, Madrid dazzles?and I?m yearning to return for more. Here are my highlights to help you disfruta de tus vacaciones.
First off, I suggest a leisurely stroll through Parque del Buen Retiro, a lush, sprawling park teeming with stately sculptures and gardens. Stop by the Palacio de Cristal, a gorgeous glass-walled gallery with rotating exhibits?I was mesmerized by this beautifully lit space.
Wander toward Plaza Mayor for fresh Spanish delicacies?heavenly caf? con leche and salmon bocadillos still make my mouth water?at Beaux-Arts market Mercado San Miguel (Plaza San Miguel, 1). Hip pedestrian street Fuencarral is lined with Madrid?s choicest boutiques?drop in the Kling flagship (Calle Fuencarral, 45) for authentic Spanish fashion from young independent designers. Isol?e (Calle Infantas, 19) offers a memorable shopping experience with music, clothing, home goods, and delicious sushi onsite. Like Madrid itself, Spanish style is richly vibrant which inspired me to purchase a brilliant peacock-printed silk top that still echoes of my escapades.
After dark, the packed tapas bars on cobblestone street Cava Baja in La Latina district buzz with activity. It?s hard to go wrong, but Casa Lucio (Cava Baja, 35) and nearby Almendro 13 (Calle Almendro, 13) serve authentic Madrile?o dishes that draw crowds of locals and visitors alike. I?ve tried to recreate Casa Lucio?s crisply sweet sangria, but it?s just never quite the same?I chalk it up to the city?s nighttime magic.
Dancing until the wee hours is a Madrile?o?s favorite pastime. For an unforgettable evening out, head to my favorite chic discoteca Gabana 1800 (Calle Velazquez, 6), where my friends and I brushed up against the Real Madrid soccer team on the dance floor. My tip: Madrid is a night owl?s city, so be sure to book your departure a bit later the next day.