Clockwise from top: View from Palacio de Cibeles, Old Madrid café, Catedral de la Almudena, park with almond blossoms, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, bridge over Río Manzanares

Located right in the heart of Spain, Madrid’s attractions include world-class art, a lavish royal palace, glorious gardens and showpiece squares. It’s a place that fizzes with energy and creativity, yet preserves plenty of old-fashioned appeal. Contemporary art, dance and theatre thrive, while traditional festivals bring Madrileños out in droves. With Eyewitness Top 10 Madrid, it’s yours to explore.

For all Madrid’s big-city bustle, it still feels surprisingly intimate, thanks to the appeal of its different districts, and the friendliness of its inhabitants. Swanky Salamanca has the fanciest restaurants and fashion boutiques, while La Latina boasts the fantastic El Rastro flea market and atmospheric tapas bars. Gritty Lavapiés is great for vintage stores and underground bars, while boho-chic Chueca’s cocktail bars and cafés feature regularly in glossy magazines.

You can walk in the footsteps of great writers in the Barrio de las Letras; visit a convent for blue-blooded nuns, the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales; or watch the sun set over the Guadarrama mountains. Shiver at Picasso’s Guernica in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and try to interpret the enigmatic smile of the Lady of Elche in the Archaeological Museum. Once night falls, don’t forget that Madrileños aren’t known as gatos (cats) for nothing: you’ll dine and party late in this city that never sleeps.

Whether you are visiting for a weekend or a week, our Top 10 guide brings together the best of everything the city has to offer, from Goya’s “Black Paintings” in the Prado to almond blossoms in the Parque Quinta de los Molinos. The guide has useful tips throughout, from seeking out what’s free to avoiding the crowds, plus nine easy-to-follow itineraries, designed to tie together a clutch of sights in a short space of time. Add inspiring photography and detailed maps, and you’ve got the essential pocket-sized travel companion. Enjoy the book, and enjoy Madrid.

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