Madrid

This colourful, cosmopolitan city is one of the world's great capitals. Stately and historical, yet exuberantly modern, this city comes to life at night - if you have trouble staying up, the secret is a siesta!

Insider Tip

When visiting over a weekend many of Madrid's famous museums and art galleries offer free admission on Sunday mornings or Saturday afternoons. Each location tends to have one day of the week when they are closed which is often a Monday.

When eating out in Madrid you can experience a variety of Spanish fare. The cuisine of Pais Vasco (the Basque country) and Catalunya are the greatest admired. Purrusalda, a leek and potato soup frequently including bacalao (cod) is an example of the Basque cookery whilst Ilagosta a la Catalan, Catalan lobster in a pepper, tomato, brandy and wine sauce, sometimes with almonds and chocolate, is a must if it is on the menu. A speciality dish of Madrid is bartolillos, triangles filled with custard and deep fried.

Probably the best place to go for a traditional Spanish tapas is Plaza Santa Ana. Tortilla de patatas (potato omelette), al bondigas (meat balls in tomato sauce) and ailoli (garlic mayonnaise) served with rustic bread are some of the most popular.

You can find just about everything in Madrid. Some of the best souvenir shops are scattered in and around the arcades of Plaza Major, which is also known for its numerous specialist shops.

Followers of fashion should head to Calle Almirante and the Salamanca district for the small designer boutiques and outlets. Take a stroll down the cosmopolitan and dynamic Grand Via one of the city's most popular shopping streets.