So a just over a week ago now Charlie and I headed off to Madrid for a three night stay. You can read my previous post about where to stay in Madrid here! We don't live too far from Stansted so in under an hour we arrived at the airport and had a typical pre-trip breakfast before heading to our gate. Annoyingly the flight was full so they made us check in our hand luggage which always bugs me as it means having to wait the other side but anyway we were off!

We landed at around noon, and by time we got to the hotel is nearing around 1.30pm. We were both STARVING at this point as we hadn't eaten since around 6am so we dumped our stuff in the hotel and headed out to explore. We took a few wrong turns and ended up going on a bit of a de-tour but we finally made our way to the Plaza Mayor for a bite to eat. It's a really nice plaza where you can watch the world go by BUT it is overpriced because of the privileged view. The food was average and I really struggled being vegetarian throughout the trip as many restaurants would suggest a fish dish to me, ummm no still an animal.
 
madrid city break 2 madrid city break 3 madrid city break 4 We actually stumbled across the palacio real by accident on our first afternoon. We were just getting our bearings and having a wander, the gardens are gorgeous and I'll share a few images further on in the post! madrid city break 5 I would say Madrid was different to other city's that I've been to in that I didn't fall in love with it straight away like Rome. It took me a little while to warm up to it but once we had truly explored I really began to love it! madrid city break 6 madrid city break 7 madrid city break 9 bernabeu stadium On our second day, we headed to the Bernbeau stadium which Charlie was excited to go to, me? Not so much. I'm not that into football but seems as I drag Charlie along on these city breaks I happily obliged. We caught the Metro which was super cheap and saved a load of Euros had we of got a taxi. There is a metro station literally just outside the stadium so it was really easy. I won't bore you with anymore pics of the stadium but we did have an amazing churro lunch when we got back into the city centre as you can see above - DELICIOUS.   madrid city break 8madrid market 1 madrid market 2 After our churros and a wander around the streets we headed to the indoor food market just off of the Calle de Mayor. This is a foodie HEAVEN. Tonnes of different stalls all with different specialities, as a veggie I stuck to the fresh fruit stalls and the pastries but there was also seafood and tonnes of other goodies. It was packed every time we visited and it's open quite late as they also serve alcohol and lots of people tend to flock there in the evening. madrid city break 12 madrid city break 10 madrid city break 11 madrid city break 13 On our third day we grabbed our city maps and went on a trail ticking off all the major sightseeing spots. We started back at the palace, and had a wander around the gardens and then into the most stunning cathedral. The sun was really shining and it was a beautiful morning. We then decided to head across the city to try and find the El Retiro park, a 19th Century Park complete with a boating lake, rose gardens, peacocks everywhere, statues and fountains galore. madrid city break 14 Looking casual but actually very lost and OFF the map. madrid city break 15 After a minor (understatement) detour we eventually found the park! It was worth the track and it really is a stunning area. We couldn't believe how huge it was, there were people everywhere enjoying the space and quite a few rollerblading lessons happening. We stumbled across a part of the park which was full of peacocks swanning around in a beautiful garden. It was like something from a Disney film!

TOP TIPS:
  • Go to a Flamenco show! It's a fun way to spend a couple of hours in the evening, we went to Essential Flamenco which was held a super intimate underground cellar. It was about 25 euros a ticket but it also included a glass of sangria. 
  • Head down the backstreets for food. We found most of the restaurants in the plaza's and main strips to be pretty poor, with much better choice down the windy streets and off the beaten track. 
  • If you stay at the Praktik Hotel be sure to head to floor 9, there is an amazing rooftop terrace with views over the city. 
  • Yes there is a Sephora, I'm not that into it but everyone else seems to be. It's on the Plaza de Sol which is one of the main hubs of Madrid. It also has a Topshop but I didn't go in!
  • The Hard Rock Cafe might not be authentically Spanish but we did head there for cocktails and nachos one evening, the staff are all so happy and friendly. From 5-8pm is Happy Hour where cocktails are half price and I had too many.
  • For shopping the Gran Via is kind of like the Oxford Street of Madrid, home to Zara, H&M, Bershka and Mango.