Spain Itineraries: Sunday in Madrid

City Travel, Spain — By on January 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm

By Briana Palma
LG Contributor

Mercado de San Miguel MadridIn Spain, Friday and Saturday consist of late-night dinners and early morning dancing, so it comes as no surprise that natives consider Sunday a day of rest. Even in the normally bustling capital city, streets seem deserted, especially at lunchtime, when the few open shops shut their doors and friends and family sit down together for a multi-course feast. Though you might find yourself giving in to the lazy weekend attitude, Madrid offers plenty to explore on the last day of the weekend. And no, your plans don’t need to revolve around the Rastro, the chaotic weekly flea market.

Rather than hitting the enormous and crowded Prado Museum, take advantage of free Sunday admission at other art institutions. You can start your day at the prestigious Reina Sofia, which boasts Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica as well as famous works by Salvador Dali and Joan Miró. Or opt for a truly tranquil morning at the small Museo Sorolla, dedicated to one of Spain’s favorite painters, Joaquin Sorolla. Not only can you take a look at his stunning scenes of family life and impressive images of society’s ills, but you can also relax among the garden’s tall trees and trickling fountains.

Even on the weekend, people flock to the city center, appropriately named Sol, Spanish for “sun.” Just a short walk from this hub you’ll find the Mercado de San Miguel, one of the capital’s most fun culinary experiences. The visit also provides a window into Madrid’s history, since the iron market, built in the early 1900s, is the only remaining structure of its kind. Once you enter the glass building, explore the diverse booths and taste a little bit of everything, from salty cured ham to sweet ice cream. But get away from the crowds by asking for your lunch to go (“para llevar”).

DowntimeRetiro Park Madrid

After you pack up your food, hop on the easy-to-use metro and head to Retiro Park, a favorite weekend afternoon spot for locals. Find a plot of grass and have a picnic lunch, or simply stroll around the 350-acre park.You can also stop to watch entertainers or browse the stands selling jewelry and other trinkets. Discover less busy areas by moving away from the Estanque, the large pond usually filled with rented rowboats. By wandering a bit, you’re sure to come across old statues, monuments and of course palaces – the extensive green space originally belonged to the royal family.

Sunday bullfight in Madrid

Sundays in Madrid bring plenty of choices for entertainment. You can catch two of the world’s top soccer squads, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, which play league games on weekends from September to May. The hard-to-come-by tickets can cost quite a lot depending on the opponent, though, so consider getting into the action by watching the match at a pub near the stadium or in the Sol area. If visiting the capital from May to October, you can spend the day of rest with the world’s top matadors at bullring Las Ventas. Tickets are available for just a few Euros, but beware, the spectacle is not for the faint-hearted. At each corrida, or bullfight, at least six bulls are killed. Prefer a more cheerful evening? Try the theater. Along Gran Via, one of Madrid’s main streets, you’ll find large productions that rival Broadway. Or stop by the Teatro Real, located across from the royal palace. The lavish building hosts opera, ballet and vocal concerts, and sells last-minute tickets at a 90 percent discount for anyone under 30.

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