City Visit: Three Days in Madrid, Spain

We spent three well earned days exploring the heart of Madrid, Spain. We discovered a European city that is well worth some time to explore. With it’s varied neighbourhoods, terrific plazas and squares, and enough museums to keep the most ardent historians occupied, Madrid has something for everyone. Once you add in terrific “tapas” and wine, this place should be on every European traveller’s list of cities to visit.

This post is one chapter in our Around the World in Star Alliance First Class via China, Thailand and Spain. This trip was booked using Air Canada Aeroplan miles. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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City Visit: Three Days in Madrid, Spain

Madrid. It is likely Europe’s liveliest capital. We had a great few days in Madrid and took in some lovely sights. The city a regal, but beautiful setting with several fascinating areas worth exploring. 

Madrid was a stark contrast to Bangkok – the complete opposite in fact. There weren’t any persons passed out under the BTS Skytrain or children swimming in dirty rivers. Instead, it was beauty at its best as spring fell upon this lovely city. 

We started off walking from the hotel walking up past the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. It’s home to some of the most famous art in Spain, including several Picasso’s and other works of art from the twentieth century up to the 1980’s. It’s very close to the AC Carleton Madrid Atocha, where we stayed on this visit.

Visiting Plaza Mayor, Madrid:

We wandered on foot over to Plaza Mayor, Madrid. It was designed in 1619 and bullfights were often seen here with upwards of 50,000 spectators.

It seemed like a great place to stop for a cappuccino with our time change from Bangkok time. As a result, we touched down here for it was a good place for a little people watching.

European Coffee

Despite all the news about 24% unemployment in Spain, everyone was out shopping and eating!! The restaurants were packed as if it was Friday night every night. Packed with locals with dark olive skin speaking Spanish. Few tourists were out in the barrios that we walked through after dark. There were always interesting tapas bars on our walks through Madrid.

Visiting the Plaza de Oriente:

We eventually made our way over to the Plaza de Oriente, which is a square in the historic centre of Madrid.

 It is rectangular in shape and monumental in character and was designed in 1844 by Narciso Pascual y Colomer. The square was propagated by King Joseph I, who ordered the demolition of the medieval houses on the site. It is located between some important landmarks in Madrid: To the west is the Royal Palace, the Royal Theatre to the east, and to the north is the Royal Monastery of the Incarnation.

Stopping in at the Plaza de Puerta Del Sol:

From the Plaza Oriente, we headed down towards the Plaza de Puerta Del Sol. It was a crowded unofficial centre of Madrid that was a cross between people gathering, a convenient subway station “Sol” amid several bus exchange routes.

The architecture in this city is particularly amazing and in remarkable condition for a European City.

Calling in on Parque del Buen Retiro:

During our stay, we also took in a visit to the Parque del Buen Retiro. Similar to Central Park in New York City, the Parque del Buen Retiro combines monuments, elegant park spaces and leisure activities.

After starting off overlooking the gardens, we found ourselves at the Monumento de Alphonso XIII. It was complete with paddle boats and a giant ornamental sculpture which set the stage for entertaining paddling.

Parque del Buen Retiro
Monumento de Alphonso XIII
Time for a Travelling “I was there” Portrait
Monumento de Alphonso XIII

Madrid by Night:

Although a spectacular city by day, Madrid is just as beautiful at night. There are many wonderfully lit buildings late at night.

One of the more specular ones are the Westin Palace Madrid, where had an excellent stay on a later trip.

Westin Madrid by Night
Plaza Santa Ana


There are plenty of sights in Madrid to keep you busy. In addition to several world class museums, there are ample wine bars not to mention the terrific architecture that is prevalent throughout the city.

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