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Dios mio, you’re going to love Madrid! This swinging capital city prides itself on its culture and progressive spirit. As you hit the town via bike or foot, you’ll witness history, art, food and so much more. But a Madrid visit is definitely not one that falls into the “quick stopover” category. You’ll need time to experience everything this vibrant city has to offer, so plan on spending at least 4-5 days minimum, if you can.

RELATED: 6 charming, off-radar European towns accessible via river cruise

Snack like a local

Some of the savory delights found in tapas bars throughout Madrid.

The signature cuisine of Spain is tapas and you’ll find these small bites of deliciousness in tabernas and tapas bars throughout Madrid. Even though most places serve similar items, each one is very distinct. One of the richest items you’ll find are croquettes—cheesy morsels of fried comfort food! And be sure to enjoy thinly sliced Iberian ham, which is served with bread, as well as the tortilla española, which is an omelette of egg, potatoes and onion—delicious!

Indulge in sweets with a history

Spanish churros with hot chocolate at Chocolateria 1902

If you are a chocolate lover, you must visit Chocolateria 1902 when visiting Madrid! This 117-year-old institution of decadence serves freshly prepared Spanish-styled churros and rorras which are served with a warm cup of rich, molten chocolate. Try it, it will change your life! In addition, wonderful and freshly made brownies, crepes, waffles and a wide assortment of pastries are also available to tantalize your palate. Yum!

Spend the night in an artful hotel

Junior Suite at Only You Atocha Hotel

It makes sense that many Madrid hotels have strong connections to regional art. After a day of touring, you’ll look forward to “coming home” to a thoughtfully designed property. The centrally located Only You Hotel Atocha is one of them. A whimsical luxury boutique property that totally breaks the mold of the traditional hotel experience, Hotel Atocha will amaze you with its artful display of books, vintage posters, souvenirs and even a large Philippine Airlines Airbus scale model. In addition, an old-school barber shop is located right in the lobby. Its guest rooms are eclectic, too: Each has a distinctive vibe exuding luxury and modernity without being ostentatious. Another art-inspired hotel is the VP Plaza España Design Hotel located within walking distance of the Royal Palace of Madrid. While its lobby will give you the impression you have entered a museum of modern art, its guest rooms will pleasantly surprise you as they’re designed with a light and airy feel, replete with luxurious amenities and bedding. Don’t miss the hotel’s rooftop pool and its stylish glass bottom.

Soak up world-class art at the Prado

A picturesque greeting at the entrance of the Prado Museum

To further underscore your “artful” visit to Madrid, spend a few hours at the ever-popular Prado Museum. Currently celebrating its 200th birthday, the museum remains one of the most popular institutions in the world. With its vast collection of Spanish and European art (dating as far back as the 12th century), you’ll want to spend at least a couple of days to fully meander through its many galleries.

Fine dine with a birds-eye view

One of the Iberian-inspired courses at Picalagartos Sky Bar

Dining alfresco takes on a whole new meaning at Picalagartos Madrid Sky Bar, a contemporary scene featuring locally sourced cuisine. Many of the dishes served here are seafood focused, and the wine pairing for these dishes are a true testament to the ingenuity and keen palates of both its chef and sommelier.

Imbibe in local cervezas

Artisanal Beers at Fábrica Maravillas

Not many people associate Spain with beer. But if you are a beer drinker, Madrid has plenty to offer, including everything you’ll find at Fábrica Maravillas. It’s quickly become one of the most popular microbreweries/micropubs in Madrid, featuring six types of artisanal selections such as stouts, IPAs and saisons. Plus, you’ll be impressed with the alchemy-like skills of its master brewer!

Get wowed by flamenco

Art of Flamenco at Teatro Flamenco Madrid

Virtually every country has its own national dance, in Spain it’s flamenco. There’s no better place in Madrid to experience the timeless art of flamenco than at Teatro Flamenco Madrid! Each performance is captivating: Think live, syncopated acoustical music, and storytelling through thoughtful dance choreography. The Flamenco experience is one which will leave you with an overwhelming sense of joy.

Getting there

While there are many noteworthy airlines flying to Madrid, Norwegian Air’s newer Madrid service from the U.S. is very affordable—even in its Premium Class. Lounge access, wide seats, tasteful meals and wonderful service provide for an experience that will only enhance your visit to Madrid.

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Tagged: Europe, Spain

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Jason Gordon

Jason Gordon

Jason is executive producer of the multiple award-winning luxury travel series andiamo! UPTOWN (@andiamotv), which airs throughout the U.S. every week on Magic Johnson's Aspire channel.

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