History, art and the best nightlife in Europe! Here’s why Madrid is THE destination for a getaway to remember
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When we travel, we embrace a new lifestyle – so it makes sense to pick a destination that offers one of the best lifestyles in the world; Madrid.
Here, the rich culture, history and nightlife scene make every day one to remember.
Feel a zest for life in this unique Spanish region, with its welcoming locals, vibrant streets and enriching array of experiences just waiting to be discovered.
One moment you’ll be captivated by art galleries or travelling back in time at UNESCO World Heritage sites, the next you’ll be dancing into the night at world-beating bars and clubs.
And this capital of culture is heating up – the last few years have seen a sparkling slew of luxury hotels open in the region, from the Rosewood Villa Magna to The Madrid Edition. And more big names are on track to follow suit – for instance, Bulgari’s first Spanish hotel is due to open in one of the region’s grand palaces.
The rich culture, history and nightlife scene in the Region of Madrid make every day one to remember (@Corral de la Morería_Comunidad de Madrid)
Better still, Madrid is just one short flight from the UK, with plenty of routes to choose from every day, making getting there a breeze.
Seasoned travellers know that to make the most of the area, a weekend break won’t cut it. So stay longer and soak up all that makes Madrid so mesmerising…
A WONDERLAND OF WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Dotted across the region you’ll discover not just one, but five spectacular UNESCO World Heritage sites, all of which are less than 100km from the beating heart of Madrid’s city centre.
Adventure through the beech trees of the Hayedo de Montejo, an ancient forest north of Madrid, declared a UNESCO site in 2017. It’s known as a ‘living laboratory’, offering shelter to roe deer, wild boars and nearly 100 species of butterfly. And a visit in autumn means seeing this stunning landscape blanketed in beautiful shades of russet and gold.
Or take an easy day trip to San Lorenzo de El Escorial, an historic town nestled in the rugged Guadarrama mountains. It’s home to the UNESCO-listed Monastery of El Escorial, a grand feat of Renaissance architecture that was once nicknamed the eighth wonder of the world. Wander through the manicured Frailes Gardens before stopping for a horchata – a sweet, milky Spanish drink – in San Lorenzo de El Escorial’s colourful old town.
Feel like royalty at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, a 16th-century jewel that has long served as a spring residence for the Spanish royal family (@Getty Images/iStockphoto_COMUNIDAD DE MADRID)
A few kilometres from Madrid city centre, you’ll find the rich-in-history city of Alcalá de Henares , once known as ‘Complutum’ to the ancient Romans (@Belen Imaz_COMUNIDAD DE MADRID_
South of Madrid, on the banks of the River Tagus, you’ll find the picturesque town of Aranjuez. Feast on Baroque architecture as you navigate the old quarter, declared a Historic Artistic Monument.
And you’ll feel like royalty at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, a 16th-century jewel that has long served as a spring residence for the Spanish royal family. See the boats the King used to sail on the River Tagus at the Royal Barges Museum and roam the Versailles-inspired gardens.
A few kilometres from Madrid city centre, you’ll also find the rich-in-history city of Alcalá de Henares, once known as ‘Complutum’ to the ancient Romans.
Catch one of the ever-changing art exhibitions at the glittering Crystal Palace in the Retiro Park, one of the spaces of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Landscape of Light (Getty Images/iStockphoto_COMUNIDAD DE MADRID)
Above is Puerta de Alcala, a monument that lies outside the 18th-century Retiro Park (Getty Images/iStockphoto_COMUNIDAD DE MADRID)
The city has borne several famous names – it’s the birthplace of both Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes and Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII. Swoon over the ornate tiling and plasterwork at the 19th-century Palacio Laredo, dive into the past at the Regional Archaeological Museum, and immerse yourself in modern art at the Open Air Sculpture Museum.
Literature lovers should head to the Cervantes Birthplace Museum, housed in the childhood home of Miguel de Cervantes. Decorated in the style of the 16th and 17th centuries, the museum will transport you back to the Spanish Golden Age, giving you insight into the life and times of the writer and enriching your knowledge of his work. The museum’s workshops and plays offer even more creative immersion.
As you tour around the region’s towns, you’ll find a landscape dotted with well-preserved castles and historic sites, as well as sleepy villages ideal for enjoying a slower pace of life.
Back in the city and more treasures lie in the heart of Madrid. Jointly UNESCO-listed, the Paseo del Prado boulevard and adjoining Retiro Park are described as a ‘landscape of light’.
The tree-fringed Paseo del Prado is studded with world-famous museums and plazas, while the verdant oasis of Retiro Park, created in the 17th century as part of the Buen Retiro Palace, is a prime spot for picnicking. Take a moment to smell the flowers in the Rosaleda rose garden, take a rowboat for a spin on the lake and catch one of the everchanging art exhibitions in the glittering Crystal Palace.
From day to night, Madrid is a place that never fails to entertain. Feel like a true madrileño as you step inside Santiago Bernabéu stadium, Real Madrid CF’s stomping ground. Learn about the football legends who have played here on a guided tour, gaining access to exclusive areas that only the football elite usually get to see.
And when evening falls, the options are endless. Flamenco, the impassioned art form recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, comes to life in the region’s legendary tablaos, which have hosted countless stars of this cultural genre over the past century.
Often dubbed the ‘world’s best flamenco tablao’, one legendary destination is Corral de la Morería. You can choose from 400 varieties of sherry to sip on as you watch the show, and as a bonus, the venue plates up Michelin-starred tasting menus by chef David García.
Flamenco comes to life in Madrid’s legendary tablaos. Above is Corral de la Morería, often dubbed the ‘world’s best flamenco tablao’ (@ELEQUIPO_COMUNIDAD DE MADRID)
Or check out Torres Bermejas, where the decor is inspired by the Crimson Towers at the Alhambra and the flamenco guitar strums deep into the night. You can even take a flamenco workshop and learn the art form for yourself.
And the night doesn’t end there. Madrid has one of the world’s hottest nightlife scenes, with many clubs open until dawn – in keeping with the region’s late-night lifestyle.
Cool new festivals, events and club nights are constantly popping up, whether you’re seeking electronic DJ sets, authentic Spanish music or a gastronomy-infused night on the town.
Cool new festivals, events and club nights are constantly popping up across the region (@Alberto Escudero Peiro_COMUNIDAD DE MADRID)
Drop into a concert or comedy show at the Teatro Magno, a century-old building embellished with gold and red velvet. Watch a live jazz performance at Sala Galileo Galilei, a temple to music with Hellenic-style decor or pull up to local favourite Intruso Bar for a jam session.
There’s something for everyone in Teatro Eslava. A meeting place for the wild Movida Madrileña punk movement in the 1980s, today, it offers art shows, dancing and gourmet experiences all under one roof.
Who needs to sleep when there’s so much to experience?
A CAPITAL OF CULTURE
With its royal heritage and contribution to the arts and literature, Madrid is a mecca for culture vultures. Start your creative odyssey in the Golden Triangle of Art along the Paseo del Prado.
It begins with the Museo del Prado, one of the world’s most impressive art museums. Discover spellbinding works by the Spanish masters in its hallowed halls, from Goya’s haunting Black Paintings to striking works by Velázquez.
Next stop? It’s the Reina Sofia, home to the chilling Guernica painting, which depicts the devastation of Spain’s Civil War. And take a break with a stop-off for coffee in the scarlet-coloured Edificio Nuevo, a contemporary extension of the historic museum.
Pictured is the Museo del Prado, which is renowned as one of the world’s most impressive art museums (@Belen Imaz_COMUNIDAD DE MADRID)
Discover spellbinding works by the Spanish masters in the Museo del Prado’s hallowed halls, from Goya’s haunting Black Paintings to grand works by Velázquez (@Belen Imaz_COMUNIDAD DE MADRID)
Completing the Golden Triangle is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Originally housing the private collection of Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, this colossus of the art world today welcomes visitors from all over the globe. You’ll be captivated by the works of Spanish masters Zurbarán and Murillo and contemporary 20th-century art by the likes of Picasso and Salvador Dalí.
Take one of the museum’s special ‘thematic tours’, which guide you through paintings that focus on fashion, wine culture and more.
Newly opened this year is the Royal Collections Gallery in Madrid’s Royal Palace complex, an enchanting museum that showcases Spain’s state-owned royal collection of artwork (@Javier Sanchez Martinez__COMUNIDAD DE MADRID)
Newly opened this year is the Royal Collections Gallery in Madrid’s Royal Palace complex, an enchanting museum that showcases Spain’s state-owned royal collection of artwork. Its exhibits reveal the artistic persuasions of key figures of the Spanish monarchy, from the rulers of the Middle Ages to present day.
Next, head to Buitrago del Lozoya, a charming town on the Lozoya River that’s home to the Picasso Museum-Eugenio Arias Collection. Here you’ll discover a wonderful collection of work – from ceramics to drawings – that Picasso dedicated to his close friend and barber Eugenio Arias.
If contemporary art is more your style, head to the CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo Museum in Móstoles, where fresh new exhibitions celebrate Spain’s modern creative scene.
It’s easy to see why the Region of Madrid is the ultimate destination for a getaway to remember.
Click HERE to plan your unforgettable break now.
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