Welcome to Madrid
What would you say if I told you that you don't need to go very far from the capital of Spain to see a different side of this autonomous community of Spain? Because the ideal place to enjoy of a rural break from the frenzy of daily life is closer than you think, and we can guarantee that you will be surprised by the natural richness and beautiful views that are just a drive away from the capital and which are ideal if you want to do rural tourism in Madrid.
In this region, we have some of the most beautiful and iconic natural reserves of Spain, such as the one in Peñalara, or the natural reserve that comprised the Valle de Lozoya and the Sierra de Guadarrama.
On the other hand, and far from the urban epicentre, this region is filled with places full of history and architecture, such as San Lorenzo del Escorial in the north, or the palace of Aranjuez to the south.
The amount of history and art that lives in these monuments has lead to the creation of a web of castles, museums and palaces which are mapped out easily for them to be discovered by visitors.
We are also describing part of the cultural heritage of this region when we talk about the local gastronomy. You will find in the menu of any traditional kitchen of this region, culture and tradition manifested in dishes such as the 'cocido madrileño' or the 'callos a la madrileña', without forgetting about having some Aranjuez strawberries, or melon from Villaconejos for dessert.
Don't waste another second and get yourself a break from life in the capital, without having to travel for hours and hours.
What to see in Madrid?
Madrid is, without question, one of the most visited provinces in Spain. Either because of its air of cosmopolitanism, its tradition, or because of the huge variety of things to visit, the truth is that many tourists choose this as the destination for their holidays.
This is the capital of Spain and, as such, you will find here places that will surely surprise you, with the magic and the legends that you will find both in the city and in the smallest villages away from it, which will allow you to discover a little of its history.
The local gastronomy here is another aspect to take into account, as its one of the main attractions for tourists, due to the tons of bars per m2 that you will find here. In Madrid you will never have a problem finding a place to go for a drink.
Besides, the great cultural and entertainment scene, day or night, will never disappoint you. This is truly, a city that never sleeps, and where you will never get bored.
What curiosities are there?
Here in the capital you will find many other visitors like you, who have come to see one of the most crowded corners of Spain: the Gran Vía, where you can enjoy of a multicultural atmosphere, some of the most iconic buildings of the city and, over all, the beautiful chaos in it.
Also, you will find in the outskirts of the city a great number of small towns and villages that paint a striking contrast with the modern air of the capital, and that can offer you a little bit more of peace and quiet.
The weather here will present you with hot summers, and mildly cold winters and, in the surroundings you will observe many natural reserves and mountains for rural lovers.
Madrid has up to 179 very different municipalities for you to choose amongst them, and a very wide tourist offer to enjoy of your stay in this province.
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Where can you sleep?
If you're planning to travel to Madrid, the first thing you need to take into account are the dates you will be staying, and that you will need to find accommodation in advance. Staying in the capital will be an almost impossible quest if you don't do it in advance, and backed up with a very wide offer of quality tourist accommodation, with options such as hotels and hostels to choose from.
But what we really recommend is to stay in the outskirts of the cit, which are close enough to be able to spend the day in the capital and, at the same time, enjoy of the other more calm and comfortable side of Madrid.
We recommend doing tourism in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, and its monastery that you mustn't forget to visit; a true landmark of Madrid's identy. Another must is Alcalá de Henares, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, and with its characteristic stone-paved streets, and landmark monuments.
Aranjuez and its Palacio Real, the main square and the air of tradition of Chinchón, or the castle and the Pedriza in Manzanares del Real, are some of the options for a perfect trip around the province.
If you would like to know about some other charming destinations, we have a few options for you.
What to do in the area?
If you would like to enjoy exploring the province some more, and discovering each of its hidden spots, we have some ideas for you to do in the city, where you can't miss checking out Gran Vía, one of the busiest spots in Madrid, or Puerta de Alcalá.
For the more romantic ones, we recommend seeing the sun set in Templo de Debod, or enjoy of a boat ride rowing in the waters of El Retiro when its warmer, are great options for a perfect day plan.
Other places where to discover are the three UNESCO world heritage sites that you can find in the province: the Monasterio and Real Sitio de San Lorenzo, in El Escorial; the Universidad de Alcalá, and the Paisaje Cultural de Aranjuez.
Patones de Arriba is one of the villages in the province where you can still find some examples of a traditional black slate architecture known as the Arquitectura Negra, and together with the impressive greenery that surrounds it, make this a visit that we recommend doing, even though it cannot be accessed by car.
Amongst the natural spaces in the province, the mountains in Sierra de Guadarrama, and the Hayedo de Montejo are excellent choices to enjoy being close to nature, just like La Pedriza.
You will see there's always something new to discover here.
What typical foods are recommended?
Who hasn't heard of Madrid's gastronomy? You won't be able to resist the flavours that this region can offer.
Traditionally, the gastronomical tradition in Madrid has always been associated with very filling and caloric recipes, and with vegetable produce. And if there's something that the local people of Madrid are experts at doing, that is adapting the recipes and dishes from the rest of Spain and preparing them Madrid-style: 'a la madrileña'.
One of the most popular dishes of the local gastronomy in Madrid is the 'cocido madrileño', a chunky stew elaborated with local products such as vegetables and beans, and meat such as 'chorizo' and 'morcilla'.
Another classic here in Madrid are the 'calamares a la romana' (batter fried quis , very often served in bars and tabernas, which are then also used to prepare the so famous 'bocadillo de calamares', a whole institution here in the capital of Madrid.
And, of course, we cannot forget to mention 'tortilla de patatas' a classic that is neve missing in every kitchen here in Madrid. Another local delicacy here are pickled and preserved foods, which are a perfect option for a midday evening aperitif, together with a 'caña', or a glass of wine.
Where are the festivities?
You will find a calendar full of dates and special occasions to discover and celebrate the culture here, where the streets are filled with life, gastronomy and tradition.
The regional festivity of the autonomous community is celebrated the 2nd of May, commemorating the uprising of Spain that to the Peninsula Wars of independence from the French dominance in 1808.
The Feria de San Isidro is one of the most popular ones, which has traditionally taken place in the Plaza de las Ventas, where bullfighting events are held. This is one of the occasions most widely celebrated amongst bullfighting lovers. Also, in this special date, the San Isidro meadows become crowded with people dressed in the traditional chulapa and chulapo costumes, dancing the traditional chotis, and eating 'rosquillas de vino' and churros.
If we move away from the capital, you can also find many singular festivities are also celebrated in Alcalá de Henares. Amongst the most important ones are Easter week, which has always been widely celebrated. And another special celebration here is the Octubre Cervantino, considered of Regional Tourist Interest, with many celebrations being held during the month of October, honouring the literary figure of Miguel de Cervantes.