A Visit To Madrid

Thankyou to Marta for her lovely guest post on the blog today. Marta works in Social Media fora living and for fun. Citizen Marta is her project of travel and lifestyle blog.
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First time travelling to Madrid? Don't panic. Here you have a guide to first-time travellers to Madrid, starting with the basics and covering all the places only locals know.

Arriving in Madrid and moving around

Most of you would be arriving at Madrid Adolfo Suarez Barajas. From there, you can take the underground, Metro, to practically everywhere in town, buses (not the best choice, if you don't want to be stuck in traffic) or train, called Cercanias (terminal 4, but a free bus connects all terminals), which connects you with Madrid and surroundings. Madrid is also well connected by train, coach and road, may you want to make it part of a longer trip through Spain.

Once there, Metro is your best option to move around. Buses may be a little bit more complicated, especially if you don't speak Spanish. You can rent a bicycle or even a car for minutes! My best option, though, is walking as much as possible. Madrid has beautiful hidden corners you can only discover by foot.

Things to do in Madrid: Sightseeing and more!
Unlike most cities in Spain, Madrid's cathedral isn't especially beautiful. The building next to it, the Royal Palace, is stunning, though. The Royal family doesn't live there, so it's open to visits. The whole area, with gardens and views of the Opera house, the Teatro Real, is a must-see. From there, you should walk to Puerta del Sol, the place to meet up with friends, and Plaza Mayor, one of the most picturesque places in Madrid. While you're there, you can eat tapas in Museo del Jamon, the nearby taverns (Las Caricias del Querer is one of my favs) and visit San Miguel market. Everything looks and tastes amazing there!

Time to relax! Save an afternoon to relax in El Retiro, an oasis right in the centre of Madrid. You can rent a boat in the lake or find a hidden gem, the Palacio de Crista, an Insta-worthy building made of glass. Not far from Retiro, you have the area of Serrano, the golden mile of Madrid, with all the luxury shops. For more affordable shopping (Zara, Mango, Pimky, Pull & Bear, Beshka, etc.), you should go Gran Via. You have pretty much everything there! After a day of shopping, relax with the best views of the city in the top terrace of Bellas Artes, down Gran Via.

Here a little gem: for the best sunset, head towards Plaza EspaƱa and walk 5 mins to the Ancient Egyptian temple of Debod, set in a park. The sky reflects on the water, while you see the mountains at the end. The most romantic spot in Madrid!

If you fancy something cultural...

You have plenty of choices. My favourites are El Prado (the national picture house: Goya, Velazquez...) and the Reina Sofia museum of modern and contemporary art (home of Picasso's Guernika, which is nothing but impressive). You have more theatres that you can visit. Only in Gran Via, you have a dozen of them, with plays and musicals every day.

If you're a fan of football...

You need to pay a visit to Real Madrid stadium, Santiago Bernabeu.

Party and nightlife

Like any other big city, you have plenty of cafes, bars, pubs and clubs. For some of the most-popular discos, you may have to book in advance or pay a fee (unless you go in early!). Chueca is an amazing place for partying in small clubs. Chueca is the gay neighbourhood in Madrid. A great place to start your night. It's too much fun to miss it! Santa Ana and Huertas are other hot spots at night, with music bars and pubs.