With flights costing around £89 from regional airports and British Airways offering great deals on three nights B& B breaks from £355 per person, Madrid has become one of the top European holiday destinations for canny travellers. There are many attractions in Madrid including, for sports fans, the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, home to Real Madrid football club, art galleries such as the Mueso del Prado which holds one of the finest collections of pre-20th century art in the world and the beautiful gardens of the Royal Palace. The four best things I have listed cater for every-ones taste.
Speaking of taste, check out Botin, the oldest working restaurant in the world, as listed in the Guinness Book of Records. Situated in Old Madrid, close to Plaza Mayor, the restaurant was built in and founded by Frenchman Jean Botín in 1725 and has been in the González family for four generations. The restaurant has been visited by famous people from all over the world; writers, royalty, politicians and Hollywood stars, including Ernest Hemingway and Goya is rumoured to have worked there. Try their signature dish of roast suckling pig and drink sangria.
For chocolate lovers head out to Chocolateria San Gines at the Pasadizo de San Gines, just west of Puerto del Sol. Established for over 100 years, this cafe serves up thick delicious
mugs of chocolate with churros (fried sweet dough sticks) which are freshly cooked to order, ready for dunking. The cafe also provide coffee and pastries. Busy times are early mornings, after a night out and late afternoons.
Culture seekers may wish to visit the Plaza de Cibeles which is home to the magnificent City Hall of Madrid and the famous fountains. There are many beautiful squares in Madrid but Cibeles hold some of the most amazing buildings including the Palacio de Comunicaciones or Communications Palace. Almost cathedral-like with its white stone and impressive architecture, this building was built-in 1909 by Antonio Palacios as the headquarters of the postal service. The stunning fountain that rests in the centre is an important symbol for Madrid; it depicts the Roman goddess of nature, Ceres or Cybele and was built-in the reign of Charles III.
When the football team Real Madrid win a game their fans congregate around the fountain to celebrate.
Lastly, a trip to Madrid would not be the same without a visit to a traditional flamenco show. El Callejon is a tiny club situated in the heart of Madrid in the Plaza de Santa Ana, with pictures on the walls depicting famous flamenco dancers. During the day enjoy typical tapas and sangrias but at night the club comes alive with the sound of cante jondo (flamenco music) and dancers take to the floor to provide a wild show. A warm welcome awaits from the locals so if you love authentic Spanish flamenco dancing, this is the pace to visit.