Madrid is the capital of Spain and a city of over 3 million people. Situated close to the geographic center of Spain, Madrid’s main attractions include three internationally acclaimed art galleries, a royal palace, grand public squares, and many museums filled with treasures of Spain’s history. The city is surrounded by it’s own small province, the Comunidad de Madrid. One of Spain’s most famous monuments, the palace of El Escorial, is also located in the Comunidad.
Stretching from the charming Plaza de la Villa to the busy Puerta del Sol, the compact heart of Old Madrid is easily navigated on foot. Old Madrid is full of history and interesting sights. Trials of the Inquisition and executions were once held in the Plaza Mayor. This porticoed square is Madrid’s finest piece of architecture from the Habsburg period.
Sampling tapas and cocktails are an intrinsic part of Madrid culture. Restaurants rarely open earlier than 8pm, and are typically open into the early morning hours. One of the best ways to sample tapas in a unique lively environment is to sit at one of the stalls in the Mercado de San Miguel, which is half-market, half bar & restuarant.
For lodging in Madrid, our top pick is Hostal Madrid. This apartment/hotel is an excellent place to stay if you are visiting Madrid for a few days or for longer periods. Situated in “Old Madrid”, one of two main historic districts in the central city, the location is excellent. Walking distance to some of Madrid’s most important attractions in the Old Town, one can easily reach the Palacio Real and the Plaza Mayor, within about 10 or 15 minutes. Hostal Madrid is closest to the Puerta del Sol, one of the city’s liveliest areas with shops and cafes.