Image by Madrid-based illustrator Ana Galvañ

The Insider Guide

Marcaje your way through streets filled with Bourbon heritage in the home of flamenco. Hear chants of "¡Hala Madrid!” and “Atléti!” from fans of two of Europe’s footballing titans, taste Cocido Madrileño street food from Mercado de San Miguel, or opt for more refined culture in the Spanish capital.

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Sigue el ritmo! The Main Attractions

In the centre of Madrid is what’s widely considered to be one of the world’s best art museums – the Museo del Prado. Works by renowned artists Franciso Goya, Hieronymus Bosch and El Greco, as well as the 1696 painting Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, can all be found here. A stroll through the elegant Paseo del Prado boulevard brings you to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, another widely acclaimed museum dedicated to Spanish art – including works by two of the greatest 20th-century artists: Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. Completing the Golden Triangle of Art is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. They’re only a short walk from each other if you’re looking for a full-on day of gallery viewing. But if it all gets too intense, the majestic Parque del Buen Retiro is also nearby for a stroll and some respite. Amble 15 minutes west to the Plaza Mayor, an architectural landmark that was the starting point of King Phillip II’s modernisation of Madrid in the 16th century. Next to it is one of the busiest parts of the city, the Puerta del Sol public square, where it is tradition to eat 12 grapes at the start of new year. Continue to the “street that never sleeps”, the Gran Vía, to experience Madrid nightlife, cuisine and shopping to the max. If it’s more history you’re after, head west from the centre to witness the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace of Madrid. Just south of the official residence of the Spanish royal family is the Basílica de San Francisco El Grande, a neoclassical Roman Catholic church open for tours. Carry on south and grab a bargain at the El Rastro flea market, which is held every Sunday.

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Neighborhoods in Madrid