Discover Madrid’s winter

By Sergio González | 16:24

Despite Barcelona’s popularity among millennials, Madrid is actually the most visited city in Spain, and if you make it during winter there are some special treats waiting for you.

The capital of Spain and also the largest city in the country, the official name of Madrid is “The village of Madrid”. You’d hardly call a 3, 2 million-people city “a village” but the truth is, the name really fits the easy-going character of the locals. 

Madrid may be a huge city but one of the first things to hit you the moment you arrive, is that the locals will think of you as an old amigo or lifetime friend who’s coming to visit. You will quickly find that most people are friendly and down-to-earth and are always willing to chat it up with tourists or give them some helpful directions.

This unique local feature is called being “castizo” and you will find that the locals don’t give a dime about how touristy you behave and are generally very accepting of visitors. This is not Paris: if you wear socks with sandals and a cheesy t-shirt nobody will roll their eyes.

With all this coziness in mind, put on your comfiest shoes because a true winter experience in Madrid must involve all kinds of castizo experiences: meeting up in the Puerta del Sol, having a glass of wine and tapas in La Latina neighborhood or going for a walk in Retiro Park (fun fact: in Retiro you can see the only statue of the Fallen Angel in the whole world).

Madrid was the place of several emperors during Spanish height of power and if you are into castles, palaces, and arts, this is where Spaniards keep most of them. You can follow several tours across Madrid visiting every monument that the ruling dynasty had built, like the Madrid of the Habsburgs and the Madrid of the Bourbons.

The Royal Palace of Madrid is often considered the largest palace of Europe -it has 3418 rooms while, e.g., Buckingham Palace only has 775- and it houses works from Velázquez, Caravaggio or Bernini and the most exclusive musical instruments ever, the Palatine Stradivarius; the world’s only complete string quintet made by the Italian master. The Porcelain Room and the Throne Room are also a must visit.

For all of you who don’t like it mainstream, skip El Prado and follow Hemingway’s footsteps in Madrid during Spanish Civil War. For Whom the Bells Toll and The Fifth Column are the sources you need to visit the same bars and restaurants that Hemingway wrote about. To experience a traditional castizo writer’s cafe you should hit Café Gijón, where many works of 20th Spanish literature were conceived.

Spain has its own kind of opera known as zarzuela, but all kind of lyric performances take place in Madrid every season. Expectations are high this winter: the world premiere of an operatic adaptation of the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain is on display in Teatro Real.

 

While there’s enough to see, do and taste in Madrid for the entire winter, we do encourage you to take a day-long trip outside of town to enjoy Sierra de Madrid, as it’s known here. Beautiful, picturesque villages with tons of monumental sights, trendy ski resorts and stunning hiking tracks.

Palacio de Aranjuez and Palacio de la Granja, both gorgeous palaces which are overshadowed by even more astounding gardens. Live an Alice-in Wonderland-like experience wandering among the roses and the ever-rumoring fountains. These royal gardens get extra points for not being flooded with tourists and letting you feel truly a king for a day.

We boast many hotels in Madrid and the surrounding cities like Aranjuez, and as you are used to, they are all up-scale accommodations with free wi-fi, spa and fitness facilities and full of all the castizo good-vibes that will make your stay unforgettable. Take your time to find the right NH Hotel for you in Madrid, because the options are virtually endless: you can choose to stay in a completely eco-friendly, modern hotel, such as NH Eurobuilding or enjoy a unique experience at NH Palacio de Tepa, awarded by Tripadvisor with the Certificate of Excellence 2013.

Photo credit: Turismo Madrid

Photo credit: Sebastian Dubiel

 

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