Three days in Madrid - flea market, football or bullfighting - day 3
So far in our 3-day love affair with the Spanish capital we've toured amazing art museums, explored Madrid's massive green spaces, visited a convent and a Royal Palace, and shopped for everything from fresh produce in a traditional market to designer accessories on Gran Via and seen a show (be it opera, flamenco or football). On our last day we want you to dig in and relax, madrileño style. Because after all, when in Madrid, do as the madrileños do. That means weekends are for drinks, shopping, soaking up the sun outside and, of course, football.
10:00 – start the day in typical Madrid style
Skip breakfast and start your day madrileño style with tapas and vermouth. While the locals do this most often on Sundays, you can sip vermouth on ice and nibble on tapas anytime at one of the oldest vermouth bars in Madrid at Casa Antonio (metro stop Latina). You can also sample vermouth on draught at La Taberna de Corps (metro stop Ventura Rodríguez).
11:00 – flea markets, football stadiums or bullfighting
Post-vermouth, you have a few options to while away your last morning in Madrid.
If you went with Casa Antonio for vermouth, you're in luck, as antiques, artisan wares, electronics and other curiosities are only a short walk away at El Rastro, Madrid's massive Sunday Flea Market at Plaza del Cascorro. The venue takes its name from the trails of blood that used to form when vendors dragged animals to market. Nowadays, it’s a lively and chaotic place, and unfortunately, a favourite with pickpockets and petty thieves. While you're there, be sure to say hello to the statue of Eloy Gonzalo, a young soldier who died on an 1898 suicide mission to Cuba, and then amble over to the Plaza Mayor to watch street performers compete for attention.
Fancy a visit to the Bernabéu Stadium? Dedicated Real Madrid fans and football aficionados will especially enjoy learning about the history of one of Spain's most famous teams
and its star players as well as tours of the tunnel to the locker rooms, the bench and the presidential box. Get there via metro (Santiago Bernabeu, L10) or taxi.
Learn about the history of bullfighting in Madrid at the Bullfighting Museum in Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, a bullfighting ring where fights are still performed. Hemingway fans and visitors with the stomach for it can buy tickets for fights (which take place daily from March to December at 6 or 7pm). Get a cab or the metro there (Ventas, L5 or L2 ).
13:30 – the Parque del Oeste and the Temple of Debod
You'll need some time to get to know the massive Parque del Oeste, built on land formerly occupied by Madrid's main landfill. The nearest metro stops are Argüelles, Ventura Rodríguez and Plaza de España. Footballs fans are in luck, since from Santiago Bernabéu Stadium it’s a doddle to arrive. Count on a 25-minute trip on Line 10 towards Puerta del Sur to Plaza de España, which will leave you a 5-minute walk from the Temple of Debod, one of the park's main attractions.
This authentic Egyptian temple was transferred to Madrid after Spain helped construct the Great Dam of Aswan to protect the temples of Abu Simbel. Experts say the temple’s gateways were reassembled incorrectly, but even so it's one of the few works of ancient Egyptian architecture that can be seen outside of Egypt, and it's one of a kind in Spain.
Other must-sees in the park include the Rosaleda, a rose garden known for its annual flower show and competition, Juan de Villanueva fountain, one of the tallest fountains in Madrid, and the monument to Goya. When you're all walked out, sprawl out on the grass for a picnic lunch. Sit down in a spot of sun or shade, whichever you prefer, and snack on sandwiches or fresh fruit. Play a round of Frisbee or fly a kite. Embrace your inner child, then let it run around and burn off any excess calories from lunch.
16:00 – Madrid from the air
Only five minutes from the Temple of Debod, catch the cable car at the Rosales Teleférico Station on the corner of Paseo del Pintor Rosales and Marqués de Urquijo. Just be sure to check the opening hours at www.teleferico.com, as hours vary by season and it’s only open on weekends during the winter months.
Whip out your camera for 2.5km of aerial views of the city, the Manzanares River and Casa de Campo Nature Park. Instead of taking the return trip straight back, stick around and have a coffee or a drink in the station's restaurant, contemplating Madrid from a distance, and the end of your visit, closing in on you with far too much speed, then nab a ride back on the cable cars just as the sun is going down. If you’re in luck you’ll have the memory of a brightly hued violet sunset, best viewed from above, to take home with you.