Wondering what to do in Madrid on your weekend away? You’re going to be spoilt for choices.
The first stop, of course, should be churros and chocolate. Churros and chocolate are an institution in Spain, and with Madrid being the capital you know you’re going to enjoy the best churros you can get. These delectable fried doughs, covered in sugar or cinnamon and dipped in rich, warm chocolate sauce, are the ideal delicacy to be enjoyed on a crisp autumn day in the city. Find an outdoor seat in a plaza café, grab your churros and chocolate, maybe a coffee or two as well, and watch the city of Madrid go by.
With the climate at its most charming in autumn – with its crisp, fresh air and even the chance of snow – a weekend getaway in Madrid is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors without being overwhelmed by the heat or jam-packed tourist season. With this in mind, your travel itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Madrid’s markets and parks.
The obvious choice is El Retiro park, but it’s an obvious choice for a reason, because it’s one of the best parks in Europe. Over an enormous 125 hectares of space, featuring over 15,000 trees, the space is packed full of fascinating monuments and sculptures, lakes and fountains. Idyllic in the morning, a place to relax in the afternoon, and perfect for an evening stroll, El Retiro is an essential Madrid landmark. And a close second on that list is El Capricho park, although many will argue it’s Madrid’s best. Designed in a Spanish romantic style, it’s charming, peaceful and beautiful to boot.
As for markets, El Rastro open-air flea market is an absolute must. Make sure to get there early (it’s open 9am-3pm) as not only can you end up spending hours amongst its stalls, but you’ll get the best deals too. With over 700 stalls, it’s the perfect place to find a memento to treasure, and to get a glimpse of both a trendy go-to spot and the Madrid-of-old. As a plus, the neighbourhood is bursting with food and spots, making it a social hangout and day trip rather than simply a place to visit.
The final stop on this whirlwind tour of Madrid unquestionably has to be El Prado. When anyone lists the world’s greatest galleries and museums, El Prado is always one of the first. This autumn, there’s a special exhibition collecting together donations made by generous friends of the museum, with Goya being the most extensively represented artist. And have you really been to Madrid if you’ve not seen a Goya at El Prado? I don’t think so. All this, and we’ve still not covered the best bit – if you’re not wanting to indulge in a guided tour or the special exhibitions, El Prado is free to enter from 6-8pm Monday to Saturday and 5-7pm on Sundays and holidays. Art is for everyone.