Top 5 things not to miss while visiting Madrid

1. Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles is considered to be the most famous plaza in Madrid. Located along the central Calle de Alcalá (which leads into Sol) and adjacent to Paseo del Prado (the street that houses The Prado and the Thyssen museums), the plaza and its stunning architecture is a big draw for tourists

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To the east of central Madrid, Parque del Buen Retiro (Retiro Park) can be translated as “The Retreat,” and that’s what it is — a sprawling swath of lush greenery filled with formal gardens, lakes, cafes, playgrounds and more. This 300-acre park previously housed Felipe IV’s palace and gardens, and didn’t become open to the public until the mid-18th century shortly after most of royal buildings burned down from a fire.

2. Parque del Retiro

To the east of central Madrid, Parque del Buen Retiro (Retiro Park) can be translated as “The Retreat,” and that’s what it is — a sprawling swath of lush greenery filled with formal gardens, lakes, cafes, playgrounds and more. This 300-acre park previously housed Felipe IV’s palace and gardens, and didn’t become open to the public until the mid-18th century shortly after most of royal buildings burned down from a fire.

Today, you can still delight in the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace), which holds regular art exhibitions, rent a paddle boat on the Estanque (lake), or take a stroll in the Rosaleda (Rose Garden), which has more than 4,000 roses. There is also the open-air puppet theater for those traveling with little ones, which puts on a show every Saturday and Sunday.

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3. Royal Palace of Madrid

This royal palace housed the kings of Spain from the mid-1700s to 1900s. Although the royal family does not currently live in the palace, it is still considered their official residence. It is the largest royal palace in Western Europe with a total of 3,000 rooms, only some of which are open to the public, including the popular armory room and royal pharmacy.

The majority of visitors were wowed by the luxuriousness and the grandeur of the palace, but many also complained about the long lines to get in. If you want to beat the crowds, make sure to get there early. Admission is €10 EUR for adults, and hours vary depending on the season

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4. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, named for the family from which the collection was bought, is housed in the intimate Villahermosa Palace. The museum has more than 1,000 works of art, ranging widely in style, from German Expressionism to Russian Constructivism and 19th-century American art. Artists featured include Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall, Vincent van Gogh and more

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5. Museo Nacional del Prado

Of Madrid’s three famous museums, the elegant Museo Nacional del Prado is the most celebrated. Opened in 1819 with the help of Isabella of Braganza (King Ferdinand VII’s wife), the museum contains 8,600 paintings and more than 700 sculptures, featuring Spanish, Italian and Flemish styles of art. Among the most famous works featured include Velazquez’s “Las Meninas,” Goya’s “The Third of May 1808,” El Greco’s “Adoration of the Shepherds.”

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