Honest opinion on Madrid

Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 07:42 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Honest opinion on Madrid

Hello. I'll be in Madrid in mid September and I'm not hearing a lot of possitive feedback about the city. Can you tell me about the 'good' experiences you've had and ideas on what to do?
Thanks! Vicki
keystonev is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 08:03 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,711
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Check out the fodors suggested 3 day itinerary. Ir pretty much covers the highlights. Madrid is a nice city, very compact and easy to get around on foot or by public transportation. IN 3.5 days we saw the the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen museums, Retiro Park, the Palace, walked through several different nieghborhood and plazas, and took a day trip to Toledo.
MFNYC is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 08:06 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 530
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I enjoyed the palace, the Prado, the Retiro, the Plaza Mayor and trying Spanish cuisine. Day trips to Valle de los Caidos or Toledo can be interesting.
flsd is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 08:09 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,037
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Madrid is a fine city. Smaller than many capitol cities. Easy to navigate. Wonderful buildings. Nice avenues. Good restaurants. Lovely squares. What's not to like.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 08:11 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 526
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I really enjoyed the day trips from Madrid to Segovia and Toledo. As for Madrid itself, a nice city but definitely more modern than the other two I mentioned. No need to waste time at the El Rastro flea market--it's similar to those I've seen elsewhere in the US and Europe and just didn't impress me. I did like my visit to the Palacio Real--if you arrive at opening time, you have the place to yourself (we even encountered a fantastic guard inside who spoke perfect English and knew all about US basketball, even telling jokes and using appropriate slang/jargon--that was a treat!). We also visited the Reina Sofia and Prado museums just to see the highlights; again, not hugely impressed (but I know I'm in the minority! My favorite museum anywhere in the world is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the d'Orsay and Marmottan in Paris). I wish we had spent some time in Retiro Park--I think that would have added to our enjoyment of Madrid. Plenty of sidewalk cafes for eating or just having drinks. Excellent transportation system, too--no problem using the trains or buses (didn't try the metro).
fluffnfold is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 08:12 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,314
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I love going to Madrid, I stay mainly at the Barrio de Salamanca, beautiful streets and avenues, very good for shopping, many and of every kind of restaurant, and with the best private art galleries. The Prado and Thyssen are very near along the Castellana/ Recoletos /paseo del Prado axis, with buses constantly passing. I do not go to the Reina Sofia at all, and I dont like Plaza Mayor and Madrid antiguo. Occasionally I go to Princesa street.
josele is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 10:32 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Madrid is much more modern than most european capitols (lots of 1920/30's highrises - kind of like Chicago). It is also very hot in the summer and there is a very active nightlife that tends to end (loudly) about 5 am.

IMHO there is enough to fill 2 days plus a day trip to Toledo - but it is dfinitely my least favorite european city.

(Caveat: when you live in New York modern neighborhoods, great shopping and restaurants and tons of galleries to tour are not something you want to go thousands of miles for.)
nytraveler is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2006, 10:38 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Madrid is on its way to becoming a destination city much like Paris has been for the last 150 years, and like Paris, if you know where and when to go you'll always find something interesting going on. With its restaurants being influenced by Basque, Navarran, Galician and Catalán fare, there are now more great places to sample some of Spain's great cuisine. Itís too bad that most people's experience and expectations of the city are so limited. It will never be Paris, but being Madrid should be enough.
Robert2533 is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2006, 11:29 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sorry, but I do NOT think "New York" when I am in Madrid...I wish New York LOOKED that great!

I agree with those who enjoyed the wide boulevards, the various leafy streets, the world-class museums (there are few, if ANY museums in the US which can match the Prado for works on view IMO), the Royal Palace, etc.

It will probably still be hot in Madrid in September but it is much drier than in other parts of Spain (e.g., Barcelona).

I enjoy the overall ambience of the city, too.

Frankly, I think you'll have a very positive experience as long as you don;t go there expecting it to be something it isn't.
Dukey is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2006, 01:17 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,635
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"Honest opinion on Madrid??"
Madrileños have a saying: De Madrid al Cielo (from Madrid to Heaven). Maybe the lack of positive feedback is because people who have spent more than a few days in Madrid fall in love with the City and don't want to share their feelings with just anyone ...

Do a little research before you go: try to lay out a few walking tours (Palacio Réal - Oriente - Opera - C/Mayór and Plaza Mayór up to the Puerta del Sol, for example).

Is this the kind of feedback you want, or are you looking for nightlife??
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2006, 01:47 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 198
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Madrid is also great as a break from much more expensive places. You can get a good meal for a lot less than in the other big cities in Europe such as London, Paris, Munich, or Rome. Try some paella and some local wine. The Prado is very impressive and Retiro Park is a very relaxing place to stay cool on a hot day.

Baldworth
baldworth is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2006, 03:16 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,790
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Even though I am not in LOVE with Madrid, I have really enjoyed my visits. I think that - aside from world-class museums and stunning little museums - it is more about lifestyle/ambiance than architecture. Madrid is not 'quaint', it has a strong personality.

The food is amazing and nightlife is vibrant. People are elegant.

If you find yourself not falling in love while there you can always hop on a bus or train and head for Segovia, Avila, Toledo, or (my favorite but a bit of a stretch for a daytrip) Cuenca.
marigross is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2006, 03:24 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you need any help on restaurants, hotel locations, shopping tips, etc, please let me know...
carlota is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2006, 03:31 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,420
Likes: 0
Received 11 Likes on 4 Posts
I liked Madrid much more than I expected to in my brief stopover last month. It was very hot during the day but the evenings were extremely pleasant, and the definition of evening there stretches way beyond my usual time frame.

The Plaza Santa Ana has a terrific atmosphere with outdoor cafes, street vendors, musicians, dancers... Near there is the Cafe Central, a jazz club with live music every night from 10 to midnight that looked like fun although we didn't go inside, opting instead for dinner at a nearby restaurant. Around the corner from that, we went to the midnight show at a flamenco club, Casa Patas, which was great fun.

We enjoyed exhibits at the Prado and Reina Sofia museums.

We got many ideas for Madrid from Maribel's wonderful online guide.

www.maribelsguides.com
Nikki is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2006, 03:46 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,626
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Although Madrid isn't my favourite European city (that would be either Barcelona or Copenhagen), I have enjoyed my short visits there (5 business trips, one week language course, 2 days during our honeymoon).

It has a great nightlife, in terms of cafés, tapas bars, restaurants and clubs. You can fit in a whole extra day's worth of travel experience into Madrid, because the city keeps going all night. This can work well for you if you're a little jet-lagged from your trip from North America since your body will think its 6-9 hours earlier than it is in Madrid. That means you'll be able to keep up with the Madrilenos - a tour of tapas bars at 8 pm, dinner at 10:30 and dancing from 1 am until dawn. I once remember leaving my hotel at 6 am on a weekday to catch an early flight home, and seeing a lot of people on the street (not just club kids; businesspeople, too) heading home from a night out.

If you have already adjusted to European time when you get to Madrid, resist any temptation you might feel to have an early (by Spanish standards) dinner and then call it an early night. Take a nap in the late afternoon/early evening, and don't plan on eating dinner before 10 pm. (Even 10 pm is early in some restaurants.) Otherwise, you could end up sitting in the restaurant alone - or only in the company of other tourists. If you're hungry, there is always another tapas bar to keep you fuelled until dinner time.

Madrid is also worth the visit just for its art museums. Everyone should see Picasso's Guernica - and the associated exhibition that shows you how Picasso developed the painting - at least once. And the Goyas are also fascinating.
Kate_W is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2006, 04:18 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you all for your imput!!
keystonev is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2006, 04:23 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,850
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
OMG! Do not eat paella in Madrid! Unless there is some amazing Paella restaurant that is owned and operated by Valencians (and you better go with the address and phone number) you are going to get a big skillet of nasty.

I recently fell in love with Madrid after about 8 years of dislike. Why? It is beautiful and quite dignified. There is a lot to do and there is a lot to see, but you can also just "waste" time walking around and not feel at all like you are missing something. It is one of those places that offers you whatever you want, so go knowing what you want (relaxation, museums, theatre, shopping, etc) and get it.
laclaire is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2006, 06:40 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
a drink or coffee at dusk/night behind the opera at a cafe overlooking the gardens of the royal palace is worth every moment of a stopover just for that.

i enjoy the museo de las descalzas near pl. santa ana, a real gem, the museum triangle and pehaps a show of somesort.

the toursit bus does a great on and off tour which can be used for your general transportation around the city.

the fundacion march might have a recital or interesting exhibit while you are there. and the national library is always some place i try to stop at as many of the free exhibits there have been fabulous.

lincasanova is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2006, 09:40 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,527
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It took me a few trips to Madrid for some reason to get it, but on my trip last June I really loved it! Great comments here; want to also emphasize to get into Madrid "time" ASAP for maximum enjoyment.

The energy of the city and the people, the vibrant nightlife, the interesting diversity of food now available (agree with skipping the paella in Madrid, however!), gorgeous lit-up fountains, the variety of amazing art in galleries & museums (including the interesting and blessedly quiet archeological museum), the Retiro, and some very fun shopping, both cheap and chic...you can really enjoy this city if you take it on its own terms and don't expect it to be/look like other more picturesque places in Spain.
annabelle2 is offline  
Old Aug 25th, 2006, 10:10 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Dukey -

The Prado is fine for what it is - but it comes nowhere near the Met (which is in the class of the Louvre or Hermitage) nor MoMA. Never mind the dozens of other museums NYC has and the literally hundreds of galleries.

I'm not saying Madrid is an awful place. but I go to europe for what is different than the US - old, historic, reflecting a different culture, different ethnicities etc.

I adore spain. I love Andalusia and enjoy Barcelona. And have also enjoyed some more off the tourist track places like Merida and Ubeda and San Sebastian.

It's just that for me - Madrid lacks the "difference" that you find in many other parts of Spain - and in fact in most parts of europe.
nytraveler is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -