Photograph by Guido Cozzi/Atlantide/Corbis
Like the best tapas bars, Madrid offers a selection of delights so tempting it reduces even the most seasoned traveler to giddiness. On one glorious stretch of boulevard, it houses three of the world’s greatest art museums. It boasts Western Europe’s largest Royal Palace and its most audacious gay pride parade. Get lost in the 16th-century cobblestoned streets around Plaza Mayor, the über-trendy boutiques of Chueca, the upscale chic of Salamanca, and the medieval elegance of La Latina. Dine on cutting-edge cuisine in a world-famous culinary temple or join locals in a gritty corner bar where the simple tapas come in huge portions and everyone throws their napkins on the floor. Begin a night out at 10 p.m. with a heart-stirring flamenco performance and finish at 6 a.m. with pulse-racing techno. Madrid is a city that locals proudly claim never sleeps. Except, that is, during siesta. Do like they do and take a nap—it is key to truly living la vida madrileña.
Photograph by Guido Cozzi/AtlantideFlamenco dancers twirl and stomp at the Jardines del Buen Retiro, a 350-acre (141-hectare) park not far from the Prado Museum.
An Intimate Moment
Photograph by Massimo Borchi/Atlantide/CorbisCouples find an intimate setting for drinks and conversation at the Viva Madrid Bar.
The Old Atocha Rail Terminal
Photograph by Krista RossowThe old Atocha rail terminal building was converted into a concourse with shops and eateries, with trains served by a new terminal nearby.
La Taurina Restaurant
Photograph by Luis Castaneda/TIPS ImagesMounted bull heads and ceramic tiles lend atmosphere to La Taurina restaurant, just off the busy Puerta del Sol square in Madrid.
Plaza de Espana
Photograph by Guido Cozzi/Atlantide/CorbisMadrid's Plaza de Espana offers needed open space in a forest of skyscrapers. In the center is a monument to Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote.
Photograph by Ullstein Goettlicher/Caro/Peter ArnoldA gentleman browses the wares at a bookshop in the Madrid Book Fair, which usually takes place the last week of May and the first of June.
Plaza de Toros de las Ventas
Photograph by Luis Castaneda/TIPS ImagesThe 24,000-seat Plaza de Toros de las Ventas in Madrid is Spain’s most famous bullfighting ring
The Old City
Photograph by Massimo Borchi/Atlantide/CorbisThe terrace of the ME Madrid (formerly the Tryp Reina Victoria) offers a lovely overview of the old city of Madrid.
The Plaza Mayor
Photograph by Guido Cozzi/AtlantideA ceremony to welcome a new ambassador brings horses and riders to the Plaza Mayor, which has hosted cultural events in Madrid since the 16th century
Photograph by Jose Manuel Navia/ASA/Aurora PhotosPatrons view Pablo Picasso's "Guernica" and other modern works at the Reina Sofía, Madrid’s museum of 20th-century art.
Photograph by Luis Castaneda/TIPS ImagesNorthwest of Madrid, overlooking forested hills, is El Escorial, a monastery and royal retreat dating to the 16th century.
Photograph by Allan Baxter/Getty ImagesMadrid’s Kio Towers, also known as "Europe’s Gate" are inclined skyscrapers at the edge of Plaza Castilla.
Sculptures in the Prado Museum
Photograph by Jose Manuel Navia/ASA/Aurora PhotosMorning light fills a sculpture room in Madrid’s famous Prado Museum, which has one of the world’s finest collections of European art.
Photograph by Guido Cozzi/AtlantideA flamenco player tries out an instrument at a guitar shop on Calle de Toledo
Schoolchildren at the Museum
Photograph by Guido Cozzi/AtlantideSchoolchildren sit for a lesson at Madrid’s Prado art museum, which has paintings dating from the 12th century through the early 19th.
Photograph by Guido Cozzi/AtlantideIn the bustling crossroads known as the Puerta del Sol square, the Mariblanca statue is one of many art works and monuments of historical interest.
Puerta de Alcala
Photograph by Luis Castaneda/TIPS ImagesThe three-arched Puerta de Alcala is a centuries-old gate to Madrid situated in the middle of a traffic roundabout in the Plaza de la Independencia.
Photograph by Krzysztof Dydynski/LPI/Getty ImagesA customer browses the racks at fashion designer Alma Aguilar’s shop on Callejón de Jorge Juan.
Plaza Salvador Dalí
Photograph by Luis Castaneda/TIPS ImagesA sculpture entitled "La Esfera de Newton" stands within the Plaza Salvador Dalí, honoring the famous surrealist painter.
Photograph by Krista Rossow