If you’re backpacking in Europe, you might find yourself in Madrid, the capital of Spain. There are lots of things to see and do in this marvelous city, even on a backpacker’s budget. Also the largest city in this country, Madrid, Spain is filled with parks and cafés. So, you can enjoy your breaks from visiting marketplaces or museums filled with priceless treasures.
When you’re traveling in the capital of Spain, backpackers will want to be aware of budget options, such as staying in hostels. You’ll find plenty of things to do in Spain within the confines of the city. There are so many possibilities that you’ll probably be planning another trip to try and see them all.
One of the best ways to orient yourself when you’re traveling to Madrid for the first time is to take a free tour, and one of the most popular is MADride. This tour takes you around the city to see all of the most popular sites in three hours. Your hostel can often arrange this tour or tell you where to meet. The tour departs daily at 11 am.
MADride also provides tours around the city that you can pay a reasonable fee for, such as the Guided Tapas and Flamenco Crawl. In it you’ll learn about the flamenco dance and eat a variety of tapas, a popular type of dish for the population of Spain. Other tours include a Pub Crawl.
The Royal Palace
A must-see attraction, the Royal Palace of Madrid, is conveniently located in the middle of everything you might want to visit. The Royal Palace is the official residence of the royal family. The cost of going inside is nominal. You can sometimes find even cheaper rates such as for European residents at certain hours of the day.
While you’re in the Royal Palace if you can afford to get an audio guide, pick one up. It’s a great way to learn more about this impressive piece of architecture. Once you’re done visiting the Royal Palace, you can be on your way to other nearby structures. Structures such as the Cathedral and the Plaza Mayor, which are other popular places to visit in the city of Madrid, the capital of Spain.
The Plaza Mayor
When you leave the Royal Palace, walk a short distance to the Plaza Mayor. This central square has plenty to offer visiting tourists, from phenomenal architecture to cafés to sit idly by and people-watch.
While you are in the Plaza Mayor, visit a café and get a glass of wine to unwind after a hectic day of sightseeing or before you enjoy the popular nightlife of Madrid. You can order a plate of tapas and snap a few photos with your camera.
The Puerta del Sol
Another central square to visit when you’re in Madrid is the Puerta del Sol. Located in the heart of Madrid, it’s not too far from the Plaza Mayor. It’s an incredibly busy square with plenty of things to see and do. You can visit the restaurants or shops, many of which cater to both tourists and locals. Take in the architecture before you come back at night and take in the nightlife. There are numerous bars and clubs around the square for you to enjoy.
Enjoy The Dining Opportunities
While you’re backpacking in Madrid, it’s the perfect time to visit the backbone of the Spanish economy—its restaurants. You’ll find many cafés and restaurants that serve a fine glass of wine for you to enjoy on your backpacking trip. It’s almost required that you sit down and enjoy tapas, or small bites, while you’re in the city of Madrid.
While you’re in the capital of Spain, there are some impressive dining locations that you should consider. One is the Sobrino de Botin, which is considered the oldest restaurant in the world.
This dining facility has been serving up dishes for more than 250 years and is renowned for its old-world atmosphere. They even still cook in their original wood-fired oven.
Visit A Spanish Market
A visit to a local market is an excellent way to really experience Madrid, Spain. In addition to the gastronomic delights, you can find an impressive array of articles such as clothing to purchase and take home. Plan on spending at least an hour or two wandering through one of these.
One of the markets closest to the center of Madrid and near where you’ll probably be is the Mercado Anton Martin. Located in the Lavapies neighborhood, this market is two floors of vendors selling their wares. You can find eateries featuring a selection of Spanish delicacies, such as Jamon, Spanish olives, and local cheeses. Make sure you bring your appetite!
The Mercado de Motores
One Spanish market that sets itself apart from the others is the Mercado de Motores. This fun Madrid marketplace is not open every day of the week, so you’ll want to plan ahead if it’s something that you don’t want to miss. It’s a vintage market, with lots of food stalls and handmade items for you to purchase.
These stalls are placed side by side around the exhibits of the historic railway museum in Madrid. Stalls are set up alongside trains and other exhibits, allowing you to peruse stalls while learning about locomotives. At different times of the year, there are also musical and cinematic events that you can catch while you’re visiting the capital of Spain.
The Prado Museum
The Prado Museum is a must-do for art lovers and really anyone coming to visit Spain. Locals and visitors to Spain travel to Madrid to visit this impressive collection of artwork. There are thousands of pieces of artwork displayed across 100 rooms. It’s too big to see everything in one visit, which is just one more reason to plan a return visit to Madrid.
The Prado Museum is well-known for its collection of masterpiece artworks from the Golden Age of Spain. You’ll see works by Goya, as well as Italian sculptures and paintings from around the world. Take the chance to view Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath. The museum offers a suggested route that will take you by some of the major pieces. Make sure you plan your visit ahead of time, however, so that you can see the pieces that most interest you.
The Temple Of Debod
One of the unique things to do in Spain is to visit an Egyptian temple. This interesting structure is (literally) straight from Egypt. The temple was originally constructed more than 2000 years ago, 15 kilometers from Aswan. The temple faced destruction as it was in the area where the Aswan High Dam was going to be, which would be a tragedy to such an important piece of history. The Egyptian government offered it to the government of Spain as a thank-you for the Spanish helping to preserve the Abu Simbel temples. Now the temple rests in the Montana Park in Madrid, and you can visit it without having to worry about getting a visa or traveling to yet another country (although that might be on your bucket list for another trip).
La Casa Encendida
A fun way to spend the day in Madrid is to do what the locals do. After all, that’s recommended in most places you could visit. La Casa Encendida is a center with four floors that provides a variety of entertainment and educational offerings.
One day, you could meet with famous European designers. In another day, you could catch a concert. There are plenty of workshop offerings throughout the week, as well. Some of these activities require that you pay a fee, while others are free for you to enjoy.
When you visit La Casa Encendida, you can enjoy the terrace roof, which has a dining area. You can enjoy a glass of wine or a beer and a plate of tapas. Sit back and people-watch while you reflect on the educational seminar that you just attended. It’s important to look at the calendar of events in advance so you make sure to catch an event that really captures your attention.
The National Archaeological Museum
This museum is a discounted attraction when you visit the city of Madrid, only costing a few Euros and allowing you to enter and exit multiple times throughout the day. This museum features four floors dedicated to different time periods in human history. It goes from Prehistoric to modern times.
You’ll find audiovisual pods that provide background information on the exhibits, and you can enjoy learning about artifacts such as fossils dug up in Spain. The National Archaeological Museum is conveniently located near the art museums of Madrid and the Retiro Park.
There are a number of different things you can enjoy when you visit the capital of Spain, Madrid. As a backpacker, your budget is important, but in Spain, your budget can take you a long way. Enjoy learning about art history before sitting down with a glass of wine to munch on a plate of tapas. The choices are endless when you’re in Madrid, so book your flight and reserve your bed in a hostel and get ready for an adventure.