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Madrid in December. Things to do?

Daly City...
13 posts
Madrid in December. Things to do?

Hi fellow travelers,

I will be going solo to Madrid, Dec 12-18.

What are the absolute must see/visit in Madrid?

How is the weather like in Madrid?

What do I have to look for or look out for?

Any suggestions and tips would be greatly appreciated. I have a travel guide but I think suggestions from real experienced travelers would be most helpful.

Thanks in advance!

Malaga, Spain
Level Contributor
70,716 posts
3,787 reviews
1. Re: Madrid in December. Things to do?

BigPetey:

I used to live in San Jose before retiring to Malaga.

Madrid will be a bit cold, so bring a warm jacket.

You could see the museums if you like art:

1. Prado

2. Thyssen

3. Reina Sofia

There are many other good museums, but these 3 are the biggest. Madrid is the culture capital of Spain.

You can do a day trip to Toledo one day and another one to Segovia on another day. The El Escorial Monastery and Palace is another good option for a day trip.

See the Royal Palace in Madrid.

Plaza Mayor.

El Retiro Park.

Have lunch at El Botin, the oldest restaurant in Spain.

I am sure you will enjoy your trip. I always love to visit Madrid myself and try to go there twice a year.

2. Re: Madrid in December. Things to do?

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London
Level Contributor
31 posts
1 review
3. Re: Madrid in December. Things to do?

Madrid will look stunning in December with all the Christmas lights up so make sure you walk around in the evening around. Luckily for you Madrid is great for walking around as the most interesting must sees are all nearby:

-Calle Preciados (calle means 'Street') (lots of shops)

-Puerta de Sol (the heart of Madrid)

-Calle de Alcala (which leads to Fuente de Cibeles)

-Fuente de Cibeles (Beautiful Fountain where Real Madrdid fans tend to celebrate big wins)

-Plaza Mayor (the main square) (I prefer it without the Christsmas market, like in summer as it's lovely to sit out there in the many terraces, but it's still nice anyway).

-Calle Arenal to Plaza de la Villa (small square) to the Cathedral, then to the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) which is stunning and to the square/gardens opposite with all the statues of all the kings of Spain.

Museums: if you like modern art, Queen Sophia Museum (Museo de Reina Sofia) is good, has lots of Picasso's, Dali's, Miro's etc. If you like 'classical paintiing', Velazquez, Goya, Bosch, El Greco, head to El Prado museum.

If you are there on a Sunday, from the Plaza Mayor you can walk to the flea market (El Rastro) by taking the Calle Puerta Mayor, walking all the way down to La Latina (or get the metro to La Latina), the heart of the Rastro. There is interesting bric a brac, but not 'trendy clothes' or anything like that. I have bought there good 'imitations' of paintings I saw in the Rastro, so for things like that, it's good.

If you want to check out a typical 'well to do' Madrid neighbourhood, go to Moncloa (get the metro), which is where the Army state buildings are based, and where the University of Madrid is, so a lot of young students around too. You can then walk all the way down the main street (Calle de Arguelles), check out the shops, (there's also a good department store there, El Corte Ingles), have a coffee, and you can walk all the way down to Plaza de Espana, with its wonderful Don Quixote statue. Just before you get to Plaza de Espana, you could veer off to one of the side streets on your right, walk down and you will end up in a park, which is where you will find El Templo de Debod, an Egyptian temple gifted to Spain, and there are some good vantage views of Madrid from there. From there you can walk to the Plaza de Espana, (with the famous Don Quixote statue, yes, he of the Windmills) and either go the back way of the Plaza de Espana to the beautiful Royal Palace and it's gardens or continue your walk up main street at the front of Plaza de Espana with all the shops which will now be called La Gran Via (yes, Calle Preciados changes it's name) and it is where there used to be many cinemas (there still are a few) but now they are mainly musicals theatres and perfume shops and some tapa bars and cafes. If you continue walking you will see the stunning Art Deco building Metropolis, and you will also end up in the Cibeles Statue, which I recommended earlier! As you can see, you can go around in circles nearly!

Another lovely and typical Madrid 'well to do area' is the Salamanca suburb (Barrio de Salamanca), and for this you have to go to Calle Velazquez or Calle Goya, all walking distance from the Cibeles Statue, or get the metro to Goya or Velazquez.

There are many south americans working now in Madrid, so the typical Madrid ambience has somewhat died, which was more like the Paris ambience, but not so much in these 'well to do' areas, as the immigrants tend to live in cheaper suburbs.

Finally, there is another square called Plaza de Santa Ana which is a short walk from the Gran Via and also from Plaza de Sol (or simply known as Sol (Metro Sol) and I recommend the Plaza de Santa Ana for drinks and food in the evening as it has a few tapas bars, cafes, and the lovely big white hotel there has a new 'lounge bar' on the roof that anyone can go to (as long as they don't look like a slob). It's a good place to start your evening, though remember don't turn up too early or you might be the only one there as Madrilenos tend to go out very late. Another good night life area is Chueca, which is like Soho in London (a mix of gay, straight and liberal minded).

PS: If you go to a cafe ask for 'Cafe con Leche en vaso con Porras', which is a typical Madrid breakfast. Oh and you are meant to dunk the 'dough' sticks in your coffee. In the afternoons or evenings, people like to drink 'Chocolate Caliente con churros', which is a thick hot chocolate drink with another type of typical Spanish dunking style doughy thing. They also have this as a hangover cure!

London
Level Contributor
31 posts
1 review
4. Re: Madrid in December. Things to do?

Edit: The street that leads to the flea market in La Latina, from the Plaza Mayor is Calle de Toledo! Also note if it's not a Sunday, it's also an interesting walk to walk to La Latina, which is to Madrid what the East End was to London....ie, the typical Madrilenos, the working class Madrlenos, came from them, as Cockneys came from the East End. There are some cheap eats around that area, shops, and churches too.

Daly City...
13 posts
5. Re: Madrid in December. Things to do?

Wow Guys/Gals,

Thanks for all the input. I will definitely take all your suggestions to mind.

RIGHT ON!

Daly City...
13 posts
6. Re: Madrid in December. Things to do?

Couple more questions,

Are there areas/neighborhood I should stay away from or everywhere is pretty much safe?

Of course common sense is a big factor, stay away from dark alleys, etc.

Also, is it better to bring cash (USD) there and exchange money or just use my ATM for cash? I don't want to carry to much cash and end up losing it.

Thanks again!

Benson, Arizona
Level Contributor
4,266 posts
3 reviews
7. Re: Madrid in December. Things to do?

don't bring dollars use your atm...you get a better rate and it is safer...I don't know what areas are a no no...we were there for 8 days and felt safe every where we went...have fun as I am sure you will...and make sure you tell your bank that you will be using the atm's....

Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
8,122 posts
17 reviews
8. Re: Madrid in December. Things to do?

HornyCorny...liked everything about your post except your handle.

BigPetey, if you stay in the areas described by the Corny one and others, you will be safe, but remember

to keep important papers in a money belt or in your hotel safe.

Madrid, Spain
Level Contributor
8,276 posts
1 review
9. Re: Madrid in December. Things to do?

Download a free copy of 'esmadrid magazine' (December issue, pdf file):

esmadrid.com/recursos/doc/es/Siempre/esMADRI…

London
Level Contributor
31 posts
1 review
10. Re: Madrid in December. Things to do?

BigPetey, I have just come back from a short stay in Madrid. The best Christmas lights this year are where the Cibeles Fountain is in Calle Alcala (right up the Gran Via). From there you can walk up Calle Serrano which also has nice lights.

I think Madrid is quite a safe city. Just be sensible and don't go walking around with your wallet hanging out of your trousers.

Some guides suggest going to Lavapies making out as if it is cool and multicultural, but I wouldn't bother if I were you. In my opinion, that area is a bit dodgy.

Good areas to stay in are:

Arguelles/Moncloa - A bit quieter, but nice and a short walk to many places of interest (Arco de Triunfo, Museum of the 'Americas', Templo de Debod, Plaza de Espana, etc.

Sol/Plaza Mayor - very central. The heart of 'old' Madrid.

Plaza Santa Ana - Also good location. Inbetween Museo del Prado way and Sol. Nice quiet square in the mornings, can be hectic in the evenings due to it's bars and cafes.

Gran Via - Good location because also walking distance to anywhere of interest. On one end Plaza de Espana (from then on it turns into Calle Preciados which goes to Moncloa as per my earlier post) and on the other end it becomes Calle de Alcala which leads to Fuente de Cibeles (Cibeles Fountain).

Calle de Alcala/Paseo Recoletos/Paseo del Prado/Calle Serrano (probably upper range hotels) - If you can afford it, nice location, short walk to El Prado museum etc.

Plaza de Oriente/Opera - Nice area, just in front of the Palace. Good location.

Other tips:

Have a coffee or chocolate caliente (hot chocolate) in Cafe Comercial which is in Metro Bilbao.

From there walk down Calle Fuencarral, where you will find 'trendy' clothes for guys and girls, espeically in the small shopping centre, the Mercado Fuencarral.

Chueca and Malasana - lots of 'trendy' bars, restaurants and big gay scene. Relaxed attitude. (gay marriage is legal in Spain). By all means, many straights hang out in these areas too.

Plaza Santa Ana - I know I said it before, but again, good for a coffee in the mornings or drinks and tapas in the evening etc.

Oh, one thing! It was VERY cold, felt much colder than what the weather reports suggested, so wrap up warm.