Madrid is the heart of Spain, not just in location but in culture, tradition and identity. The most Spanish of Spain's cities it is often said. But this is not some stuffy capital of politics and finance. Visit Madrid and you'll discover a dizzyingly vibrant and cosmopolitan city with an insatiable lust for arts, music, and nightlife.
A passionate, energetic city that bursts to life after dark and revels in daring architecture, city breaks to Madrid are enjoyed by groups, couples and families alike, as well shoppers, foodies and clubbers!
The 'Golden Triangle' is one of the most celebrated art districts in Europe and a must for any holiday in Madrid. Here you'll find the Prado Museum, which houses a world-class collection of European paintings; the Reina Sofia, dedicated to 20th century Spanish artists including Picasso, Dali and Miró; and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, which contains a large collection of masterworks by names as illustrious as Caravaggio, Rubens and Rembrandt.
Madrid boasts two famous football teams. Real Madrid, the most successful team in European football history, and Atletico Madrid who are traditionally the third largest team in the nation, after Real and the Catalan kings of Barcelona FC. Catching a match is highly recommended for lovers of the beautiful game, while stadium tours are also offered.
The flamboyant architectural brilliance of the Royal Palace makes it one of Madrid's top attractions, while no visit to the Spanish capital is complete with soaking up the atmosphere of the cobbled 15th century Plaza Mayor (Main Square).
Those in need of serious retail therapy on their Madrid city break should hit the shops in the department stores of Gran Via. While, the streets of the Salamanca district provide a wealth of fashionable boutiques. For a more unusual and authentic shopping experience, visit the 'El Rastro' flea market near La Latina metro station.
Gastronomes will enjoy the pavement cafés and eateries of Paseo de la Castellana. If you want to sample traditional local cuisine head to Plaza Santa Ana for tapas. When you need to rest your legs and mind after all that eating, drinking and shopping, do as the locals do and have a siesta at Retiro Park.
The nightlife in Madrid is one of the best in Europe - sophisticated yet unpretentious and very lively. Things don't get started 'til late and the locals usually won't hit the clubs until the early hours, so again do as they do! The district of Malasa'a has the highest concentration of chic and trendy clubs and a youthful vibe. Chueca has a thriving gay scene and Calle Huertas is the place to go for traditional Spanish music bars and jazz clubs.