Once a provincial city on the Iberian plain, Madrid has transformed into an exciting destination that deserves a place on every sophisticated traveler’s itinerary. The city teems with a certain enthusiasm that pervades all aspects of the culture. You see it in the fervor that explodes around any Real Madrid match; on the plazas in the trendy Malasaña neighborhood, where fashionable youths strut their stuff; outside the old school tapas bars on warm evenings, when elderly residents gather to debate politics over rounds of drinks.

Cheat Sheet

  • Sleep…in the stylish Villa Magna, Madrid’s best hotel
  • Experience…Spain’s passion for soccer at a Real Madrid match
  • Eat…lunch on the celebrity-studded terrace at the Ritz Madrid
  • Sample…classic tapas at La Trucha
  • Sip…a cocktail on the happening penthouse bar at ME Madrid
  • Stroll…through the leafy Parque del Retiro
  • Visit…the Museo Sorolla and discover the works of Joaquín Sorolla
  • Contemplate…Picasso’s masterwork Guernica at the Reina Sofia
  • Shop…for effortlessly hip attire at Pez
  • Sample…top quality jamón iberico and other delicacies at Mercado de San Miguel
  • Know…the Indagare guides who can get you behind-the-scenes access in sports stadiums and to private collections

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The Principal Madrid

Lay of the Land

“To go to bed at night in Madrid marks you as a little queer. For a long time your friends will be a little uncomfortable about it. Nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night. Appointments with a friend are habitually made for after midnight at the café.”
~Ernest Hemingway

Puerta del Sol, the modest Madrid plaza from which roads in Spain radiate outward like rays of the sun, serves to orient you to more interesting locations in the nation’s capital. Although the streets circling Puerta del Sol are teeming with hotels, the majority of recommended hotels lie beyond this touristy area. Sol, together with the surrounding neighborhoods of La Latina, Las Letras and Asturias, comprise the historic city center. Asturias, to the west of Sol, is best known as the home to kings and the location of the Royal Palace. La Latina folds out to the south, just behind  the regal Plaza Mayor, and includes a maze of tiny streets and traditional tapas bars and restaurants such as La Trucha and Casa Lucio. To the east, heading towards the Paseo del Prado, is Las Letras, where the ME Melia, the Hotel Urban and the family-friendly Westin Palace are located, as well as the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia.

Cross the leafy Paseo del Prado to the museum of the same name to explore the Retiro neighborhood, an upscale area with magnificent historic architecture, the Hotel Ritz and the handsome Retiro Park, perfect for strolling or picnics. As the Paseo del Prado heads north, it becomes Paseo de la Castellana, itself bordered by the posh shopping and dining mecca of Salamanca to the east and tony, residential Chamberí to the west, where you’ll find the AC Santo Mauro hotel. South of Chamberí you’ll hit the trendy Chueca and Malasaña neighborhoods before finding yourself back at Puerta del Sol.

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Beyond… Madrid

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