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A holiday in Madrid lifts the spirit and warms the heart. It's a city that sweeps you up in its passion for everything from high art and politics to food and drink – and the blue skies throughout the year certainly help, too.
Historically, royal Madrileños – Madrid locals – have loved fine art, so much so that they have dedicated centuries to building exquisite galleries to display their collections. The result is the Golden Triangle of Art, with the Museo Nacional del Prado now one of the world’s most important art museums. You could spend days in these galleries, taking in works by Spanish greats, including Goya, Velázquez and Picasso. But that’s just the beginning. Hunt out the smaller museums for even more European classics.
Madrid is great for food, too. Large markets host gourmet food stalls alongside wine kiosks and tapas bars, while high-end restaurants run by award-winning chefs serve up innovative dishes all across the city. Eat meals from Mexico, Japan or Peru, or stick to local specialities, such as cocido madrileño (a simple stew of meat and chickpeas).
When you’ve eaten your fill, hit the shops. Madrid is renowned for its independent vintage shops, designer outlets and trendy fashion stores. The Gran Via is a good start for high-street favourites, followed by on-trend district Malasaña and high-end Salamanca. On Sunday, get up early to experience El Rastro flea market and bargain hunt for second-hand clothes, records and knick-knacks.
After all that shopping, seek out a refreshing cocktail or two. Madrid’s lively nightlife is some of the best in Spain, with bars and nightclubs on every corner. Come summer, open-air events and fiestas add to the year-round live music that flows from venues across the city – and going to at least one traditional flamenco dance show is a must.
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