Whew! The last few weeks have been crazy busy and things have just slowed down enough that I am able to recap all of my recent travels.  Last month, I headed back to Europe for a third time and added a new city to the mix, Madrid!  There was so much I loved about Madrid, so I created a quick list recapping my favorite things.  Here are the 12 Things to Do and See in Madrid!

1) Start with a City Tour

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I recommend starting with a city tour in any new city.  Book a simple hop on and off tour on your first day and if the route isn’t too long, take one loop around without hopping off.  A free walking tour will also be a great way to start.  Visually seeing all of the cool things in the city helps me plan better than any Pinterest board.   You always are able to get a good lay of the land and map out what attractions are near each other.

We did this on our first day in Madrid and it was extremely helpful in determining what I wanted to circle back to.

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2) Visit El Retiro Park

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We caught the beautiful sunset *swoons*

Don’t you just love when cities maintain beautiful green spaces in the heart of the city? El Retiro Park is Madrid’s “Central Park” but way prettier.  This park reminded me of the Monet painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”  Here, you will find ponds with cute ducks,  long walkways lined with statues and with perfectly manicured hedges.  All of it just SO pretty.  You can also rent boats on the pond or grab a snack or drink at one of the snack stands.  So much to see and do over here, so add it to your must visit list.

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3) While at the El Retiro Park, be sure to visit Palacio de Cristal (Glass Palace)

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This beauty deserves its own slot on the list of things to see and do!  Quite honestly, I went to El Retiro Park just to see this beautiful glass structure.  Unfortunately, it was closed so I did not get to see it from the inside, but it is a beautiful sight from the outside too.  Built in 1887, the palace was once used as a greenhouse and is now home to art exhibits.

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4) Eat at a Rooftop Bar

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Drinks with views >>

I saw this mentioned on several “things to do in Madrid” lists and honestly took it for granted until I did it.  Yes, folks eating on a rooftop in Madrid is different than eating on a rooftop in your respective hometown.  From up above, you get a unique view of the city.  We were lucky and had a rooftop bar at our first hotel, the Roommate Oscar.   Be sure to find one near the city center for good views!

5) See a Flamenco Show

The Flamenco Show was my absolute favorite thing in Madrid.  On the recommendation of our hotel, we booked reservations at Cafe de Chinitas for the early showing.  We arrived early for dinner and about midway through our meal the show began.  It was EVERYTHING.  The dancers and their backup singers were incredibly talented.   They had us captivated throughout the show.  This is a definite must see!

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I’ll take any opportunity to channel Beyonce.

6) Visit the Famous Plazas

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Plaza Mayor

We walked through Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor several times during our visit.  Both are beautiful and bustling with tons of people.  There are also a lot of shops and restaurants near these areas so make it a point to breeze through this area.

7) Visit the Royal Palace of Madrid

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Loved this picture I took of my aunt in front of the Palace.

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My version of that photo wasn’t quite as good LOL.

Listen, America tried to be different and not have a royal family (for good reason), so whenever I go to a country that has a royal family I must visit the palace.  In Madrid, the Royal Palace is near many of the other attractions making it an easy walk.  Walking up to the palace you will see fountains and a beautiful park that you can mill about.   You can get pretty close to the palace and also go inside.  The line was too long so we skipped going inside, but I hear from my sister (she visited Madrid some years ago) that it is gorgeous!

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So grand!

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Look at that view you get if you actually go inside of the palace.

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Another view!

8) Eat Spanish style Churros

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If you live in Texas like me, you have likely had churros at some point, but the ones in Spain are a bit different.   You see, churros originated in Spain then Mexico put their own spin on them by adding cinnamon and sugar.  In Spain, they are served with hot chocolate which is where you get the sweetness from.   Be sure to dip it in the hot chocolate especially if you are accustomed to the sugary churros like me!  We visited Chocolatería San Ginés  for churros, which has been around since 1894.  It’s open 24 hours a day for your convenience.

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9) Order Tapas

On one of our first days, we ventured over to San Miguel Market for lunch.  Since it was packed we opted for a restaurant near by called Taste Gallery.  Here we went for an order of classic tapas.  If I told you what all of the things were, I would be lying.  What you should know is they were ALL good.

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These were prawns and potatoes. Delicious.

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All of the items. Not the most photogenic, but REALLY good.

10) Eat at San Miguel Market

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I could have spent all day in San Miguel Market! The market includes so many of the Spanish food highlights all under one roof plus it is open late.  While it is pricier than some of the other places I visited, they offer smaller bites allowing you to try tons of things.  I ate a cheeses, paella and topped it off with a sangria.  All of which was amazing.

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11) Shop along Gran Via

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Finding the shopping district in a major city is always a must!  Be sure to swing through Gran Via and if you stop anywhere may I recommend Primark? Apparently we have these on the East Coast, but Texas has not been so lucky yet.  It is an amazing five story department store with everything at rock bottom prices.  Thank me later!

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Iconic Schweppes sign.

12) Eat ALL the Iberico Ham

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Well for those that eat pork, take every other opportunity you can to order iberico ham.  I do not know what they do to the ham over in Spain, but it makes for a better product! Trust me on this one.

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Even grabbed a ham sandwich!

Our time in Madrid was limited as we made a stop over in Rome for a few days.  There are still quite a few things I would have loved to see, so if I ever go back the museums (Museo del Prado) are top of my list.   I would also add the temple of Debod to the list.  For those who have been to Madrid what places did you love? Be sure to comment below!