While there is so much to see and do in Spain’s dynamic capital city of Madrid, lets get focused on just a few suggestions for spending a relaxing, sunny weekend in this city of 3.3 million people (6.5 mil. metro Madrid.)
We highly recommend a Walking Tour of Madrid, as this is a great way to check off the most important sights of the city and get a feel for the different neighborhoods.
Parque del Buen Retiro
Madrid, with one of the best urban park systems in Europe, takes great pride in its largest park, Parque del Buen Retiro, which spans 350 acres of green space in very close proximity to the city center. The park is an easy walk from the Puerta del Sol along the Calle de Alcalá, towards the Puerta de Alcalá (the entrance to the park will be on the right.) And, walking along the Alcalá, one can see many of the city’s landmark buildings, like the Puerta de Alcalá, as well as Edificio Metrópolis, Plaza de Cibeles, Instituto Cervantes, and Banco de España.
Visitors could easily spend an entire day, or two, exploring this splendid park. And while your time is limited, you must head to Retiro on your sunny weekend where you will join scores of madrileños strolling along the wide boulevards. Here vendors set up stations along the park’s pathways and sell everything from snack foods to jewelry to pirated DVDS. As you walk through the park you will also encounter musicians, magicians, fortune tellers, and entertaining puppet shows. The park also hosts several cafes, which sell wine, beer, tapas, and other food items.
The park’s pond, Estanque del Retiro, is also a popular destination. Rent a rowboat for 4.65€ for forty-five minutes. Bring along a bottle of wine and float along the pond while sipping a glass of Rioja. Located adjacent to the pond is a monument to King Alfonso XII, which features curved steps and a semicircular colonnade. It is a favorite spot for sunbathers.
The park’s buildings are well worth close exploration. The Palacio de Velázquez, one of the few remaining structures from nineteenth century international expositions held in the park, was constructed in 1884 as a building to celebrate mining, ceramics, metallurgy, glass making, and mineral water industries. It is now used for exhibits organized by the Museo Reina Sofia. The Palacio de Cristal was built in 1887 for the Philippine Islands Exhibition and was used to display flora indigenous to the islands. It now serves as a space for art exhibits and installations. The Casa de Vacas has also been converted to an art gallery. Also worth exploring are the Rosaleda rose garden and the Paseo de las Estatuas.
Temple de Debod
A fourth century BCE Egyptian temple situated in one of the city’s parks, the Temple de Debod is unlike anything else in Madrid. It was presented to Spain by Egypt for the former’s role in saving Abu Simbel from floodwaters, as part of an archaeological rescue plan sponsored by UNESCO in the 1960s. The temple was dismantled in the Nile Valley in Egypt between 1969 and 1970, then shipped to Valencia where it was placed on a train to Madrid. It was then reconstructed and opened to the public in 1971. Entry to the temple museum is free. Explore the rooms of the temple, view hieroglyphics, and learn more about the history of the temple and its reconstruction in Madrid.
Located at Paseo del Pintor Rosales 2 and accessible by Metro stop Plaza de España, lines 3 and 10, the museum is open Tuesday to Friday, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM; 6:00 – 8:00 PM; and Saturday to Sunday 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM.
Sunday mornings at Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor, a historic square in the city center, is a well known tourist destination, along with the Puerta del Sol. What many visitors to Madrid do not know about is the collectors’ market held Sunday mornings at Plaza Mayor. Vendors set up tables and booths along the squares corridors and sell collectibles like rare coins, antiques stamps, postcards, and bottle caps. Vintage jewelry, sports memorabilia, pins, and bullfighting posters are other treasures that can be found by wandering the plaza on Sundays between the hours of 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
Written by Morgen Young for EuropeUpClose.com