5 Things to do in... Madrid

Long-standing readers will know I have family in Madrid, so have already written two City Hopping posts in Madrid, going into detail of the things we got up to and saw on those trips. I thought this time, I’d pin point five things you must do/see when you’re next in the city!
(1) Walk around Retiro Park
Covering a massive 350 acres, you could easily spend hours exploring Retiro Park. Pack a picnic or visit one of the many cafes or restaurants. If you’re feeling energetic, hire a boat and sail the lake; want to relax, discover art exhibitions in the ‘Crystal Palace’; uncover your inner-Attenborough, go in search of ducks, terrapins and other wildlife in the artificial pond; or roam statue walk (Paseo de las Estatuas) and simply find solace on the lawns.

Opening Times
April – September: 6am-12am
October – March: 6am-10pm

Prices
Free (fee applies for boat hire)
(2) Tour Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
Football fans, whatever your team, will love this interactive tour – which took us almost two-and-a-half hours! Grab an audio guide and learn more about the history, players and glory; or simply walk round and peruse the memorabilia and trophies on display. Get close to the pitch; sit in the dugout and press areas; get up close and personal in the changing rooms; and even have your photo taken with your favourite player! This was my third visit and it’s changed so much – there’s a fabulous coach simulator!

Opening Times
Various – visit website for more information

Prices
Adults: 25
Children (up to 14 years old): 18
Audio guide: 5
(3) Take in the views at the Terraza Cibeles
This beautiful rooftop bar is on the sixth floor of the Palacio de Cibeles (now, the city hall). The building is free to tour and houses exhibitions, as well as a lounge and two restaurants. On the eighth floor, there’s an observation platform, which is also worth a visit. However, the bar is a must, if you’re into the finer things. Relax with a decent drink and soak up the views of the city and skyline – from Paseo del Prada to Plaza de Cibeles, with its iconic fountain. Enjoy some complimentary snacks, or buy some tapas and people watch, or simply watch the world go by. I should mention there’s no age restriction for the majority of the building, but the Terraza Cibeles is strictly 12+.

Opening Times
1-4pm and 8pm-12am

Prices
4.50 (this gives you a voucher to redeem the money back from your drink, should it cost more than the original price)
(4) Soak up the atmosphere of Plaza Mayor
Madrid’s most famous square is popular with locals and tourists, alike and is dominated by the bronze statue of King Philips III (have you heard about the horse?!). There are plenty of bars and eateries around the square, but expect to pay slightly more than you would elsewhere, due to the location. We enjoyed a lovely ice cream at heladeria Bico de Xeado (which let you try before you buy... I sampled four flavours before settling on arroz con leche con canela y dulce de leche... so good!). Beware of the street artists and people dressed up desperate to have their photo taken with you – you will be charged!
(5) Hit the shops on Gran Via
No matter your budget or whether you’re high street or high end, Gran Via is the street for all your shopping needs. Department store, El Corte Ingles is a must – with seven (?) floors of everything your heart desires. Two floors below ground, the Nespresso store offers a free coffee with every purchase and houses all the capsules, including limited edition and gift packs. I’m not a fan, but I’m told the Primark store is insane... it’s certainly big and you cannot miss it! There are all the stores you get over here: H&M, Zara, Stradivarius and all the sport brands... but there are also plenty of Sephora stores too (the flagship is at Sol!).

There are so many other things I could mention – obviously Sol, especially at Christmas; taking in a flamenco show or concert; eating your body weight in churros or bocadillo de calamares. What else would you recommend to do or see in Madrid?

Love, Lucy xx 

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