Over the years we have very occasionally visited Madrid, but starting in 2017 we have decided to try to see the major sights of the Spanish capital. Starting with our first visit to (part of) the Prado Museum in Feb. 2017.
We continued our visit to Madrid in May 2019, with visits to the Aranjuez, and then on to the Palacio Real de Madrid. We followed this with our first visit to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and finally we visited again the Prado. I have prepared two webpages on the visit to the Thyssen-Bornemisza, one generalist, and the other with a focus on 'Angels'. For our second visit to the Prado, we focused on Velázquez.
Sites, Monuments, Museums, ...
Tickets can be pre-purchased for the Prado Museum. There is 50% reduction for >65, but you must collect the tickets, and present passport, ID card, etc. to justify >65, and actually be physically present at the ticket window. There is a small advantage in that the ticket window is a different one from that used for the usual ticket purchases, so it is a little faster.
I also found a guided tour that had an early access to the Prado, but it was full by the time I had decided that it might be interesting.
On our second visit I found that you can pre-book tickets online at almost every museum, and all of them apply a reduction for everyone 65+. And in the other museums they did not make such a fuss about controlling our ages.
Our first stay (Feb. 2017) in Madrid was in the NH Collection “Paseo del Prado”. This 5-star hotel was well situated right in front of the Prado Museum, but in many ways it failed to live up to its 5-star status. Staff were fine, the breakfast perfectly sufficient, and there was secure parking very close by. But the room was a bit small, and the parking cost €75 for 2 nights (which I now realise is probably the going price for hotel parking in Madrid).
At the time I thought that an alternative might be to take a hotel less central, but use taxi’s to get around the city. Still, being near the Prado there were some good dining and tapas options, which might not be the case with a hotel in a less central location!
On out second visit to Madrid (May 2019) we stopped in Aranjuez and then in Madrid. I decided to start to write full page reviews of the hotels we visited, so there are now webpages on NH Collection Palacio de Aranjuez and on the Gran Meliá Palacio de las Duques in the centre of Madrid. We could walk to the Palacio Real, but we took taxi's to the museums, and the cost was usually less than 10€.
We actually only dined out once during our first visit (Feb. 2017), and this was in the marisquería restaurante El Barril de las Letras (C/Cervantes 28). The restaurant was nice, the food good, but a bit expensive, and finally it was nothing to “write home about”. I made the booking online, and got a email confirmation.
Other places I had identified were Sinfonia Rossini. For tapas I had identified the Taberna de la Dolores in Plaza Jesús (we also saw a number of other tapas bars in Calle de Jesús), the Taberna El Rincon de Jose in Calle Duque de Medinaceli, and the Cerveceria Cervantes, also in Plaza Jesús.
In driving up to Madrid in 2017 we stopped overnight in the Parador at Chinchón.