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Posts in ‘Things to do in Madrid’

5 Must-Have Madrid Experiences

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Madrid is one of the prettiest cities in Europe. It has a wonderful mix of the modern and the historic with many classic buildings rubbing shoulders with the finest examples of modern architecture. The Manzanares River runs through its centre making it even more attractive.

Right from Roman times the city has been a colourful, vibrant and happening place. Performances of classical and rock music concerts, cultural festivals, artistic and fashion events are held quite frequently here. Sports, especially football, is given a lot of importance in Madrid. There is never a dull moment in this city and with so much on offer it can be difficult to decide on what to see and do.

Our pick of Madrid’s foremost activities and attractions should help you out.

Flamenco Dancing

flamenco twitter

This iconic Spanish art form should be on their postage stamps or currency notes. The body-swirling, foot-tapping, high-tempo, pulse-raising baile (dance) is dramatically enhanced by the music and rhythmic palmas (clapping). Once experienced, a flamenco show is never forgotten.

Madrid has hundreds of flamenco dance academies and many of them put on regular shows. Flamenco can be seen and heard in theatres, tablaos, taverns and bars so finding a performance is not a problem. A few places such as Corral de la Moreria, Cardamomo and Las Carboneras are deservedly famous for the quality of their performances. At one of these premier tablaos you can sit down to a plate of tapas, a glass of wine and soak in the flamenco atmosphere.

The Gardens of Madrid

Madrid has more than 33 million square metres dedicated to 40 parks and gardens. The amazing amount of acreage makes it Europe’s ‘greenest’ city. When the day grows warm, these oases provide a wonderful sanctuary from the sun. However, Madrid’s gardens contain some remarkable sculptures and statues making them open air museums and art galleries. Some also house aquariums and a planetarium.

While locals have their favourites, the larger and better known parks are El Retiro (with its own lake) and the Palace of Velasquez; Casa de Campo (Europe’s largest park), which encompasses the Madrid Zoo and an amusement park and the Campo del Moro and the Sabatini Gardens. The last mentioned are actually the Royal Gardens opened to the public in 1978. The beauty and diversity of Madrid’s gardens ensure that you come away with a hugely satisfying experience.

The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

Bernabeu stadium

This enormous stadium (the second largest in Spain) is a temple to the beautiful game – football! Just as significantly it is home to the legendary Real Madrid Football Club. As one of the most famous and sought after football venues, the Bernabéu has seen many a thrilling competition finals including that of the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

Besides the magnificence of the stadium itself, there is a museum and gallery filled with portraits of past (and present) football greats, club trophies and a wide collection of memorabilia that recall glorious occasions from the club’s history.

The Prado Museum

Prado Museum Blog

The Museo del Prado is definitely one of Madrid’s finest attractions and one of the world’s greatest art galleries. The museum has a stunning collection of artworks for its visitors to enjoy. The museum is a magnificent 18th-century Neo-Classical building and houses some 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings.

This enormous collection includes masterpieces by Velasquez, Titian, Picasso, El Greco, Raphael, Rubens, Bosch, Dürer and Botticelli. The standout compilation, though, is by Goya. It is his works that make up a large part of the museum’s collection. The most famous (and controversial) Goya painting, The Naked Maja, hangs on the museum’s walls. This along with Velasquez’s Las Meninas is among the most popular works in the place.

Fiestas

Madrileños don’t need much of an excuse to get into party mode. And when they do, they dress up bright and fancy and give of their best. Some of the big festivities happen during celebrations for Dos de Mayo, San Antonio de la Florida and La Paloma. The largest and most frenetic festival is that of San Isidro (Madrid’s patron saint). Extravagant floats, bands, colourful costumes, street dancing and a series of bullfights are organised during the fiesta San Isidro.

Guaranteed great fun and excitement during all these celebrations!

Venga a Madrid!

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Top Holiday Destination: Spain

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The website 101holidays.co.uk revealed the  the top 10 of holiday destinations in Britain. Over the next couple of days, we will tell you about the wonderful things you can experience in each of these holiday-destinations. We’ll start at the top and work our way down.

Holiday destination 1: Spain

Madrid
flamenco-dancer-by-flydimeThe capital city Madrid is ideal for a city break.  Book a bike tour in Madrid and explore the city by bike in small groups with a local tour-guide.
If you are a culture-vulture and in Madrid for a couple of days, it might be worth investing in a Madrid card.  Valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours, it will grand  you one-time entrance to more than 50 museums, unlimited use of a tour bus, free entry to a number guided tours and  attractions like Zoo- Aquarium  and Faunia Theme Park. Museums to visit in Madrid include Prado National Museum, Reina Sofia N Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Spend one night in Madrid enjoying the Spanish twist on dinner and dance:  attend a night of Flamenco dancing at the Florida Park.

monteserratBarcelona
The rugged mountains of Montserrat have inspired stories:  Parsifal is supposed to have found the Holy Grail here and St Peter himself left a statue of the Virgin here. Discover Montserrat by taking an afternoon tour from Barcelona and visit the shrine of the Black Virgin – patron Saint of Catalonia.

antoni-gaudi_barcelona_8160_4Many of the extraordinary buildings in Barcelona were built by Antoni Gaudi, a visionary Modernist architect. Seven of  his buildings have been listed as World Heritage sites. Take a Gaudi tour to discover more about Passeif de Gracia, the Park Guell, Casa Museu Gaudi and Sagrada Familia church. The tour only runs form April to Oct.

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tapas-by-the-foodie-gift-hunterSeville
Tapas (small plates of appetizers) are integrated in the culture of Seville – going on a tapas crawl is how many a night is spend. Seville has hundreds of places to eat tapas: make it easier for yourself by going on a real tapas tour. Your local guide  will introduce you to the best tapas places around.

Photography enthusiasts will enjoy the Seville photography tour. Discover the picturesque side to Seville and take pictures of the architecture and markets with the help of your guide a local photographer.

scooter-ride_mallorca_8043_2Mallorca
The only way to explore Mallorca is by scooter. Drive around, fully insured, in small groups and see Palma Bay, the historic centre of the city and discover the fishing culture by Paseo Maritimo. There are enough refreshments stops along the way – but you do need an international driving license to join!

aguamar-water-park_ibiza_3616_3Ibiza
A perfect alternative way to spend the day on Ibiza: visit Aquamar Water Park. One of the islands top attractions the waterpark has plenty of pools and slides to keep everyone entertained for the day. There is a cafeteria and bars for refreshments or go to the picnic areas if you like to bring your own lunch..
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beluga-whale-by-mike-johnstoneValencia
In Valencia is the City of Arts and Sciences: a complex devoted to scientific and cultural dissemination in Europe. The complex itself is worthy of a visit with its many exhibitions and activities and one of the buildings not to miss is the Oceanographic park. An underwater city, where you walk through several habitats of the world, teaches you about biodiversity and the ocean’s eco system. You can see aquatics animals, mammals, birds and fish and even enjoy a dolphin show.

el-diablo-by-sylviane-mossLanzarote
We finish with a dinner offer you can’t refuse: a volcano bbq in Timanfaya National Park. It is the largest volcanic region in the whole of the Canary islands. A guide will lead you via the Lunar route to the famous El Diablo restaurant in Lanzarote.
Take in the gorgeous views while the food is grilled on volcanic heat. The evening is completed by music from local musicians.
A perfect night out in Spain.

Photocredit: Flickr Flamenco dancer -Flydime/ Montesserat- Catedrales e Iglesias/ Tapas- The Foodie Gift Hunter/ Beluga- Mike Johnstone/ BBQ- Sylviane Moss

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Visit Sevilla for Real Madrid clash

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Football fans visiting the Algarve in April will be able to set off on a Seville tour to see how the top local Primera Liga side get on against the league’s reigning champions.

Sevilla will play Real Madrid at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on April 26th in what could prove to be a highly significant game as the 2008-09 La Liga season approaches its conclusion.

After 24 matches, Madrid are second in the table on 53 points, while Sevilla are nine points behind in third place.

The reigning champions could still be in the chase for the title at the end of April so will be eager to pick up every available point, while Sevilla will want to secure one of the prized top-four Champions League places.

Sevilla’s other home games over the coming months will see them take on Valladolid on March 22nd, Getafe on April 12th and Deportivo la Coruna on May 24th.

During their Seville tours, holidaymakers can also take in local sights such as the city cathedral and the Torre del Oro watchtower.

Why not book the Seville Tour in advance?ADNFCR-1652-ID-19045119-ADNFCR

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Celebrate San Isidro in Madrid

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May is one of the best months to visit Madrid; Labour Day is on May 1st, Dos de Mayo – which celebrates the insurrection which led to the Spanish War of Independence – is on the 2nd and then festivities take place to celebrate St Isidro, one the city’s patron saints.

During this time, crazy parties, feasting and general merrymaking can be expected in the Spanish capital for around ten days.

Fiesta de San Isidro is one of those events which are impossible to avoid – every street will be filled with music and every local ready to have a good time.

Individual localities in the city will have their own parties, while Madrid’s squares will showcase music from traditional Spanish flamenco to more modern tastes.

San Isidro, or Isidore in English, was born in Madrid in the 11th century and is also the Catholic patron saint of farmers.

Part of his tradition includes the story that King Phillip III of Spain was cured of an illness when he touched the saint’s relics.

Why not book the Flamenco & Spanish Dance at "Florida Park" before you travel?
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See the Real Madrid against Liverpool

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Madrid is known as one of the world’s football capitals and it is home to arguably the planet’s biggest football team – Real Madrid, who will be playing Liverpool on February 25th.

This huge Champions League match between two legends of the European game is set to attract worldwide interest and even those without any knowledge of football can still enjoy themselves.

Taking place at Real’s Bernabeu Stadium, the match is an opportunity to see the Madrid locals at their most passionate – and loudest.

Thrills and spills are generally assured when Liverpool play in this competition, meaning there should be some edge-of-the-seat action for fans of both teams, as well as neutrals.

Real and Liverpool have been crowned European champions 14 times between them, with nine and five titles respectively, meaning Liverpool will look on this as a chance to close the gap in the legends stakes.

The match kicks off at 19:45 GMT.

Why not book tickets to visit Avila & Segovia – Full Day in advance?
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See what’s next in art at ARCO in Madrid

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The best emerging talent in the art world from Spain and beyond will be on show at the Madrid International Contemporary Art Fair, or ARCO as it is known to those in the industry.

Running from February 11th to 16th, this huge event draws art lovers from across the globe to the Parque Ferial Juan Carlos 1.

For the second year in a row a subsection of the fair, labelled ARCO40, will focus on emerging markets, with 55 galleries featuring works by no more than three artists made during the last three years.

Spanish galleries will make up 19 of these emerging offerings, including ADN Galeria from Barcelona, which features the work of Concha Perez, and Eugenio Merino.

Germany will also be heavily represented at ARCO40, with five galleries from the capital Berlin, including Alexandra Saheb.

Reflecting a truly international affair, other galleries will come from as far afield as Ireland, Mexico and China.

Ticket prices for the exhibition vary between €32 (£30) to €66, with concessions from €21 (£20) to €50.

Why not book the Escorial & Valle De Los Caidos (AM) tour in advance?
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Support Andy Murray in Madrid

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Tennis fans and anyone who just likes to see a Brit win something should make sure they are in Spain for the Madrid Masters this May.

Andy Murray won the event last year and will be defending his title and, given his run of form so far this year, he could be in attendance as a Grand Slam champion.

The Scot is currently playing in the Australian Open and will be one of the favourites when Wimbledon comes round.

Madrid is part of the ATP Masters Series, which is the most important level of tournament in tennis stars’ calendars, aside from the big four.

Because of its significance, this will also be a chance to see the other big names in the tennis world, from Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the men’s game to the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova in the women’s.

The tournament runs from May 8th to 17th in the Madrid Arena.

Why not book tickets for Toledo – AM/PM in advance?
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Get in vogue at the Madrid International Fashion Fair

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This February, fashion fanatics will be found at the Madrid International Fashion Fair (SIMM).

Taking place at the Feria de Madrid, this biannual event takes in all that’s great about the art of clothes, as Spain’s biggest fashion exhibition showcases everything from underwear to city chic.

In terms of numbers, there will be 500 exhibitors and in excess of 1,000 collections, from Spain and abroad.

The models will be strutting their stuff in the Feria de Madrid from February 12th to 14th with tickets costing €30 (£27), but there will be a certain Gallic air to the proceedings.

At each fair a country is invited as a guest and this year France has received the honour, following in the footsteps of Portugal from February 2008 and Brazil last July.

Didier Parakian, president of the French Women’s Pret a Porter Federation and a veteran of SIMM, said it was a "great honour" to be chosen to contribute to the Guest Country programme, especially given the importance of the Spanish market to the French fashion industry.

Why not book the Madrid Vision tour in advance?
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