True to its reputation, Madrid knows how to throw a party. But more than that, the city possesses a lively vitality. From the raucous students who celebrate like it was still the 1980s to the quiet dignity of the city's matrons wrapped in their fur coats, the Spanish capital bubbles with a contagious, muted charm and is a study in contrasts.
With sophisticated tree-lined boulevards, world-class museums, and myriad cultural events, Madrid has earned its status as a European capital not to be missed. But even so, Madrid can still manage to conjure up a more provincial past in its squares, alleys, and popular traditions almost every neighborhood seems to have.
In this city each barrio delivers a different reward. Chueca is Madrid's mecca of trendy shops and party people. Lavapiés serves as the city's multicultural meeting point. Malasaña rumbles with a young rebellious streak. La Latina is the place for the tapas connoisseur while Salamanca is for the posh set. The Barrio de las Letras has a penchant for cool jazz and drinks.
Madrid's hot summer nights are improved by ubiquitous sidewalk cafes and bars, cold winter nights by the constant social calendar, and lazy Sundays by glasses of vermouth enjoyed amongst friends.