We’ve pulled together some unique activities and places in Madrid, ones most travelers don’t have a chance to experience. Next time you’re in town with a few free hours to spare, check out our list and go home with your best stories ever.
* Say “¡Olé!” at The Bullfighting Museum
The Museo Taurino is housed in the beautiful Plaza de Toros Monumental de Las Ventas, Madrid’s famous bullring. You’ll see a collection of equipment, photos, memorabilia, and of course, many trajes de luces, or “suits of light” — the lavishly sequined, tight-fitting costumes worn by every matador. Make sure to check out the suit worn by Manolete, who was gored to death at a young age.
* Escape to Barrio Retiro
Barrio Retiro is situated in the first settled area of Madrid, punctuated by splendid architecture, surrounding the beautiful Parque del Buen Retiro. This residential district is full of a diverse population of madrileños, and a great place to stroll and imagine Madrid as it was long before cars and tourists took over. Make sure to roam through the Parque and check out the Palacio de Cristal, or Crystal Palace.
* Wander El Rastro
If you’re lucky enough to be in Madrid on a Sunday or a public holiday, you can get lost in El Rastro, Europe’s largest flea market. It’s been in existence for nearly 500 years, and these days it branches through a maze of streets near Plaza de Cascorro, chock full of bargain clothing, antiques, vintage flamenco records, knock-off designer items, household goods and electronics. But there are gems awaiting you here, and it’s one of the best people-watching experiences anywhere in the world.
* Look up at CaixaForum
This exciting building houses contemporary art and photography exhibits, but it’s a work of art itself. Designed around an existing, abandoned industrial building and topped by rusted steel panels, CaixaForum seems to hover above the ground. Be sure to check out the lush, green, four-story hanging garden
* Go Back in Time at Casa Alberto
If you’re hungry after your rambles through Madrid, have a seat at Casa Alberto and enjoy the atmosphere and the food in this famed taberna. Casa Alberto opened in 1827, and serves up vermouth on tap and classic, delicious tapas in large portions. You can while away an entire afternoon or evening here, munching on simple, fresh jamón, Manchego cheese and croquetas, washed down with copas y copas of red wine.
Photo attribution: guillenperez