Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Madrid

Fri May 24, 2013 8:47am EDT
 
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MADRID (Reuters) - Despite its world-class museums, good climate and arguably Europe's best nightlife, Spain's capital, located right in the center of the country, is often overlooked in favor of its beachside sister, Barcelona.

But the fact Madrid is a better-kept secret from the EasyJet crowds is something to celebrate as the city has steered clear of tourist tat and the British pubs of the sun-soaked coasts to hold onto its unique charms that once delighted Ernest Hemingway and friends.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a weekend trip to the city.

FRIDAY

Transfers from the airport are easy in Madrid by taxi or metro. It's a good idea to stay around the Prado for access to all the sites and you'll find a range of hotels from the `1most expensive (the Ritz, the Palace) to budget hotels like the NH.

7 p.m. - Start with a drink in Plaza de Santa Ana, close to Sol (kilometer 0, the dead center of Spain) and a stone's throw from the Prado museum. If you want to be with the beautiful people, grab a spot on the terrace of the Melia hotel for a sunset drink. Alternatively, any of the many bars dotted around the square offer good people-watching opportunities.

9 p.m. - Dinner is at nine at the earliest in Spain and you can choose from one of the many good tapas bars in the square (Tartufo, Cerveceria Alemana or 100 Montaditos for budget snacks, which cost just one euro each on a Wednesday). For a more authentic slice of Madrid, walk down Calle Huertas, making sure to read the quotes from famous Spanish authors engraved on the street. Maceiras (Calle Huertas, 66) offers good food from the northern region of Galicia and the octopus and croquettes are highly recommended.

11 p.m. - If you're feeling tired, take a walk back to the hotel soaking up the party atmosphere around Huertas. If you want to explore Madrid by night, when the city really comes to life, bar hop down Huertas before heading to the multi-storey Kapital (Calle Atocha, 125) for a variety of music and people (the covered terrace on the top floor is a good place to chat).

SATURDAY   Continued...

 
A tourist looks at sights as he rides a Madrid sightseeing bus in central Madrid January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Susana Vera