Madrid has stood in the center of the Iberian Peninsula as the capital of Spain since 1562. Its southern and elevated location allows for warm, dry summers and cool winters, making for excellent traveling weather all year round.
As a tourist destination, Madrid is underrated with its general composition of major avenues and boulevards lined with trendy and cosmopolitan buildings. In contrast, the old areas twist and wind with quaint streets and relaxed cafes, creating a less-known, but no less pleasurable vacation.
One cannot help but notice the green blotch on a map of Madrid. Parque Del Retiro is more than a nature walk. In fact, many visitors return several times during their stay for the ever-changing offerings of street performers, boating, skating, and puppet shows.
The city offers many interesting museums, with the world-famous Prado National Museum leading the way with massive collections of Goya and Velázquez.
The historical quarters teem with interesting sights and structures. Columns, arches, churches, fountains, even an Egyptian Temple await discovery.
Long lunches will be a necessity, as the tremendous number of sights can quickly wear out even the hardiest traveler. Fortunately, to relax is to be Spanish. People sleep in late. Shops open and close on their own accord. Hundreds of restaurants, cafes and bars line these streets, which are ironically void of drunks. Lunch is more than a meal; it often becomes an all-day activity.
Madrid by day is a cultural city. But the fun doesn't end with the sunset. It is nearly impossible to describe Madrid's unending list of evening activities. But since Madrid is generally open to 4AM, visitors will have plenty of time to explore the various bars, open-air cafes, smoky jazz dens, and sweaty nightclubs.
Most travelers arrive in Madrid with plans to stay for a day or two before striking out for other parts of Spain. Many, however, stay longer once they realize the infinite possibilities Madrid offers for food, drink, and fun.