La Vida EspañOla!
Experience the culture of Madrid during the off-season!
Unlike many major European cities, Madrid has a dry climate, meaning mild but chilly winters, which makes it the perfect city to explore when you just can't wait until spring. Here's our guide to Madrid during the winter months.
What to do
Spain's capital city is the perfect blend of modern and classic. From restaurants that date back to the early 18th century to architecture that looks like it's straight out of The Jetsons, Madrid has something for every kind of traveler. Fans of the arts can get their fix on the Paseo del Prado, also known as the Paseo del Arte, where they'll find the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofía Museum. If you prefer performance art, take advantage of one of the most famous opera houses in the world, Teatro Real. Insider tip: See if luck is on your side by waiting for tickets an hour before showtime for the chance to purchase discount tickets at a fraction of the original price!
Although often overshadowed by its posh sisters Paris and London, fashionistas can rejoice because "moda" ("fashion" in Spanish) is alive and well in stylish Madrid. Hit the Salamanca district and Calle Serrano for high-fashion boutiques and the luxury names we know and love, like Chanel, Carolina Herrera and Miu Miu. If unique, budget-friendly finds are more your style, head to the La Latina neighborhood on Sunday for the weekly El Rastro market. One of the oldest markets in Europe, this world-renowned flea market is where travelers can hunt down everything from oil paintings and leather jackets to sun clocks and vintage jewelry.
Where to eat
How do we even begin to tell you where to eat in Madrid? Spaniards take their traditional food very seriously, so typical Spanish dishes like jamón ibérico, tortilla Española and paella can be found almost anywhere in Madrid. Of course, no trip to Spain would be complete without rounds upon rounds of tapas, so make your way to Cava Baja, an historic street in La Latina that's full of tapas bars. One of our favorites is Almendra 13, a no-frills yet classically Spanish bar with great food, great wine and great prices. For a formal dining experience, how about trying the oldest restaurant in the world? Having never closed since 1725, Restaurante Botín is certified by Guiness Book of World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world and is mentioned in books by Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene.
Wrap up dinner with Madrid's favorite dessert — hot chocolate "con churros." Although any chocolatería will do, you may want to stand in the line that snakes down the street at Chocolateria San Ginés. Trust us, it's worth it!
Where to stay
Visiting a city during its shoulder season has one major perk — lower hotel prices. This winter, treat yourself like royalty and splurge on a stay at the legendary Hotel Ritz. Built in 1910 as Madrid's first five-star property, Hotel Ritz has played host to uber-famous celebrities and dignitaries over the years, including Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela, Leonardo DiCaprio and Beyonce... just to name a few. Located in the heart of Madrid, Hotel Ritz is steps from The Prado and Reina Sofía museums, as well as walking distance from Madrid's largest park, Retiro. Each of the 137 elegant rooms and 30 suites are styled differently, so you're sure to have a unique experience. If a January trip to Madrid is in the plans, don't miss the Hotel Ritz' Epiphany Eve Dinner and Dance, celebrating the eve of one of Spain's biggest holidays.
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