Traveling to Barcelona, Spain for my birthday was one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a while, besides my 21st of course. Before and during my trip I wanted to get the most out of Spain and visit another city. My top two choices were Madrid and Valencia and while Valencia is beautiful and has a beachy vibe I couldn’t resist to visit the capital.
Home to the Spanish royal family and rich Spanish culture, Madrid does not fall short of an amazing city. We did a mini road trip to Madrid since it is 6 hours away from Barcelona. If you are going to drive any where in Spain make sure to ask the rental agency for a automatic car. Stick shift cars in Spain are the norm and it will cost a little extra to rent an automatic car. I would also suggest to make sure the car comes with a GPS since you most likely will not have wifi on your phone to use your maps app.
We left Barcelona at 8 am and got to Madrid around 2 pm. From the moment you drive into the city limits you feel the major difference from Barcelona. Madrid has a metropolitan feel with a splash of NYC. We got to the hotel (Occidental Madrid Este) which we booked via “hotel tonight” an awesome app that gives you the best last minute deals on hotels starting from tonight, tomorrow, and the day after and freshened up before hitting the streets.
We hopped on one of the tour buses and saw as much as we could in a day. We took the historical route of Madrid and made pit stops in:
- Plaza Mayor
- Palacio Real
- Gran Via 14,30, and 54
- Plaza de Espana
- Puerta del Sol
For dinner we stopped at Gino’s which is an Italian chain restaurant in Spain and is super good with cheap wine! After dinner we hit the town and checked out Shoko nightclub – it was Saturday night and they played Reggaeton with some older hip hop. One thing that I did notice is that clubs in Madrid are more strict than Barcelona so come dressed to impress.
All in all, Madrid was a spectacular city filled with history and awesome sights. I am very happy with our decision to visit while in Spain.