A magical blend of ancient and modern, Madrid is believed to be one of Europe's most beautiful cities. It owes its exotic feel to the multitude of historical and cultural monuments hidden away in the vast areas of greenery scattered around the city. The view of Madrid at night, illuminated by thousands of lights, is a truly unforgettable experience.
If you're in Madrid with your children, you might want to take a ride on the Teleférico, the city's cable car running along Paseo del Pintor Rosales to Casa de Campo Park. There, you can visit the Madrid Zoo with its large aquarium, dolphinarium and impressive collection of wild and domestic animals.
This area is also home to a theme park with a number of special attractions for children of all ages, as well as a myriad of tapas bars, cafés and restaurants. Another interesting location for a family afternoon is Madrid's Wax Museum, featuring wax figures of famous Spanish people as well as a virtual reality simulator, a roller coaster and a multi-vision historical show.
For those who enjoy taking walks in a picturesque setting, Madrid has more than 40 carefully maintained parks, with small ponds and perfectly green lawns stretching as far as the eye can see. The city’s main park, El Retiro, boasts the astonishing Crystal Palace, located beside a large boating lake inhabited by ducks and black swans. It regularly plays host to exhibitions of Modern art.
The Royal Botanical Garden is another favourite refuge for the locals. Situated next door to the Prado Museum, it’s a maze of exotic palm-lined paths, terraces and neatly arranged stretches of grass. The garden holds representatives of plant species from five continents. You can admire Chinese peonies, soapbark trees from Chile, irises from South Africa, rhododendrons from Korea and Japan, exotic fruit trees, herbs and vegetables as well as a wide variety of wild roses. Needless to say, the best time to visit is spring and summer, when all of the plants and flower explode in a colourful pandemonium of scent.
A traditionally popular form of entertainment in Madrid is bullfighting, drawing tourists and locals alike. The city's Plaza de Las Ventas is the second-largest bullfighting ring in the world. Since 1931, it has hosted the controversial spectacles that are widely recognised as a symbol of Spanish culture.
Every year, the Spanish capital is the stage for one of Europe’s most fascinating cultural events. The Flamenco Festival attracts visitors and flamenco artists from all over the world. Powerful performances by first-class dancers and guitar players will take your breath away. A particularly good time to visit Madrid is the end of December, when the Christmas Market at Plaza Mayor presents an unforgettable spectacle of lights. All visitors are welcome to join the New Year’s street fiesta. The tradition is that with each strike of the clock at 12, everyone should eat a grape and think of a wish that they want to come true in the forthcoming year.
Those who like to keep fit will enjoy the city’s large number of conventional establishments offering all kinds of group and individual sport activities. Numerous gyms, fitness clubs, golf courses and tennis courts provide a wide selection of options. One beloved Spanish sport is horseback riding. Reputable riding academies await all amateurs willing to acquire this skill, while professionals can join one of the series of international competitions and jumping contests organised on an annual basis.
Other renowned sports events in Spain’s capital include Madrid’s Marathon, attracting crowds of participants and spectators from the remotest corners of the world. The first 50 runners to cross the finish line receive awards. Centro Nacional de Golf organises an open golf tournament usually featuring many European star players. In the autumn, Madrid hosts the prestigious Mutua Madrileña Masters tennis tournament.
Among football fans, the Spanish capital is known primarily as the hometown of two famous teams, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. Though the locals divide into two groups supporting either one of the other of the teams, every visiting football fan shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see both legendary stadiums.
Wherever you're headed, you can be sure that you'll the time of your life! After a long day filled with excitement, get a restful night at your comfy Madrid hotel and dream about what the next day will bring you.