Spain's hot summers make it the perfect place for tourists looking a relaxing break in the sun, but the country's capital city is buzzing with so many amazing attractions you won't want to laze about! Whether you're exploring the museums along the beautiful art walk or gazing at architectural marvels, the memories from these spectacular Madrid attractions will stay with you for a lifetime.
1. Paseo del Arte
Known in English as 'Art Walk', this area of Madrid is nothing short of paradise for art lovers. Along a stretch of just over one kilometre, explore a range of institutions including the Prado - one of the world's finest art galleries, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia, as well as numerous other places that boast art and beauty like nowhere else in the world.
2. Royal Palace
The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, but as the family no longer live there, it is only used for state ceremonies and official banquets. The interior decoration is breath-taking, with rich materials such as Spanish marble, stucco, mahogany doors and windows, as well as fascinating art by leading artists. The decoration of the palace has been changing over time according to modern artistic styles. It is considered by many to be one of the finest palaces in Europe and is definitely worth a visit!
3. Puerto del Sol
Located in the very heart of Madrid, the Puerta del Sol is one of the city's best known and busiest squares. It is the centre of several historical streets, such as Calle Mayor, Calle Arenal, Calle Alcalá and Calle Preciados, and it is also home to several of the city's famous landmarks, one of which being the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the twelve grapes and the beginning of a new year.
4. Plaza Mayor
Built during Philip III's reign (1598-1621), the Plaza Major is situated in Hapsburg Madrid, and is considered as one of the capital's most charming districts. It is surrounded by three-story residential buildings with 237 balconies facing the plaza. Built in 1590, the Casa de la Panaderia (Bakery House) hosts several municipal and cultural functions and dominates the Plaza.
5. Puerta de Alcalá
Located in Independence Square, the Puerta de Alcalá is a gate built in 1778 by architect Francesco Sabatini after King Carlos III commissioned the work in order to commemorate his arrival at the capital in 1778. Its name originates from the old path from Madrid to the nearby town of Alcalá de Henares. The gate soon became one of Madrid's symbols and it is one of the most well-known national monuments.
6. Cibeles Fountain
Standing in one of Madrid's most emblematic squares, the Cibeles Fountain is a true marvel in marble. Depicting the emponymous Roman goddess of Earth, agriculture and fertility, the statue is surrounded by some of the city's most important buildings - the Buenavista Palace (the Army's General Headquarters), the Linares Palace (Casa de América), the Palace of Communications (currently the Mayor of Madrid's Office) and the Bank of Spain.
7. Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
With more visitors than the Prado Museum, the legendary Bernabéu Stadium is the city's biggest attraction. It's true that nothing beats witnessing one of Spain's most iconic teams play on home turf but if you happen to miss a match, a tour of the grounds is the next best thing. You'll be led through the changing rooms, the Presidential balcony, the bench area with its heated seats and the superb trophy room of one of the most successful teams in the world.
8. Las Ventas Bullring
Madrid's huge bullring is one of the most beautiful in the country. But even if you would rather give the actual spectacle a wide berth, the circular arena still makes for a culturally interesting visit. Built in 1929 and completed in 1931, Las Ventas features beautiful brickwork, forged iron and hand-painted ceramic tiles. Wander amongst the blood-stained objects of the bullfighting museum or take a quiet moment at one of the ring's chapels, these walls hold an astounding amount of history.
9. El Retiro Park
A true haven in the heart of the Spanish capital, the Retiro Park stretches out its life-giving greenery for 125 hectares. Take a walk through its leafy environs and you'll come across works of art and sculptures buried amongst flowers, gardens and water features. Small boats float along the ponds, concerts are organised in the open spaces and at the centre of it all sits the Cristal Palace, built in the 19th century as an enormous greenhouse.
10. The Rastro
On both Sundays and public holidays, the streets of the city centre light up with the stalls and vendors of the Rasto - Madrid's largest market. Covering a good chunk of La Latina district, the market sells everything from local Spanish craft work and jewellery to old records and vintage clothing. When you're done shopping, there are plenty of great bars around the Ribera de Curtidores from which to watch passersby with a beer and a tapa.