Do you want world-class museums, centuries' old palaces and monuments, colorful bullfights, and grand boulevards? If so, then Madrid is definitely your city. To help maximize your time, we've put together a list of the best of the big attractions you should not miss.
Monumental and picturesque, Madrid's central square - the medieval Plaza Mayor - has beautiful architecture, stone arches, iron streetlamps, cobblestone pavement, and a number of restaurants with café tables and white umbrellas that ring the square. Once a site of public markets and public executions, festive events still occasionally take place there, but make sure you stroll through the square - it's an essential Madrid experience.
Arguably the finest art museum in the world, the vast Prado Museum is one of Madrid's major draws. It houses the best collection of Spanish art on the planet as well as one of the best European collections. If you do nothing else, seek out the paintings The Garden of Earthly Delights and Las Meninas.
If you're at all curious about bullfighting, Las Ventas is the place to go, as Madrid's historic brick and tile bullring is the most prestigious venue in the country. The bullfights are bloody affairs, of course, but they're a spectacular show and a unique slice of Spanish culture you won't find anywhere else.
Madrid's 18th century Royal Palace is grandeur personified - room after room on the circuit open to the public is sumptuously decorated and filled with luxurious, historic objects. Be sure to examine the masterpieces on many of the ceilings. The palace is no longer in use as a royal residence, but the gala dining room is still used for state dinners.
Calle Ruiz de Alarcón, 23
Paseo del Prado
Calle Alcalá 237
Calle de Bailén
Plaza de Oriente
Calle Mayor & Plaza Puerta del Sol
Paseo del Prado, 8
Palacio de Villahermosa
Plaza de la Independencia, s/n
Calle de Alfonso XII
Plaza Santa Isabel, 52