MADRID – Madrid, famed for its 24-hour hustle and bustle, is a city dedicated to leisure and offers a host of rich and varied activities, from sports and gastronomy to arts and performances, making it one of most attractive tourist destinations in Europe.
Theater, dance, music, opera and zarzuela (a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre) are all well-established features of the Spanish capital, which boasts around 100 theaters providing a stage for internationally-appraised performances as well as amateur dramatics.
The Teatro Real, La Zarzuela, Reina Victoria, Nuevo Alcala and the legendary Maravillas, as well as the most notable stages in Gran Via, which usually feature musicals, are responsible for making Madrid the epicenter of the Spanish theater world.
Gastronomy is also a strong point in the capital, with thousands of establishments where one can enjoy hundreds of international, avant-garde, fusion, Mediterranean, vegetarian and “slow food” recipes.
Pubs such as La Ardosa, where time appears to have stopped in the early 20th century, or more “cool” joints such as those of the Larrumba group – Marieta, Perrachica, Peyote San – provide a rich culinary diversity ranging from the traditional pintxo bars to Michelin star establishments.
If there is a major attraction in the capital, it is the Santiago Bernabeu, the epicenter of one of the most iconic Spanish brands abroad: Real Madrid, whose soccer team raises passions in any part of the planet.
Other attractions, mainly for foreign tourists, include flamenco “tablaos” dispersed throughout the city, such La Quimera, Torres Bermejas, Las Tablas and Cardamomo showcasing the Spanish folk art form. Also, one cannot miss the renowned Corral de la Moreria, which in its 60 years of history has witnessed the biggest names in Flamenco perform on its stage.
Madrid is also a city for shopping enthusiasts where they can indulge themselves practically every day of the year, well aware that the biggest fashion brands have outlets mainly in the Central Almond in the city, where the “Golden Mile” stands out in Salamanca district.
Beyond clothes and accessories, there are alluring markets such as El Rastro, Las Ranas and Mercado de Motores, which may take one back to the traditional shops of yesteryears and where one can find unbelievable items.
Madrid’s cultural agenda would not be complete without the three most precious jewels of world art: the El Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, whose walls are home to more than 36,000 works, including those by the biggest names in art such as Zurbaran, Velazquez, Goya, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Miro and Dali.
To feel the day-to-day pulse of the city, one would recommend walking through its most popular districts such as Las Letras, Latina, Malasaña and Chueca, and getting lost in the ambiance created by small businesses, bars and markets that encapsulate daily life in the capital.
Watching the evening unfold in the terraces or plazas is an essential component of the leisure options presented by the city.
When it comes to going on walks, it is almost obligatory to mention the El Retiro and the Casa de Campo parks, which make up the lungs of the city and allows one to leave behind the hustle and bustle of urban life by taking boat rides, lying on the grass or enjoying a picnic.
Little ones can also find places for their entertainment, such as the Madrid Rio with open air, free spaces for children’s games, besides the amusement parks present in the city.
From north to south and east to west, Madrid, in all its corners, offers a reason and strong arguments to indulge in leisure activities.