Barrio de Salamanca#7 in Best Things To Do in Madrid
- 4.0Food Scene
If you find yourself surrounded by designer stores and elegant restaurants, you've probably stumbled into Madrid's Salamanca neighborhood. Salamanca is one of the most elite areas of the city, and its main streets – Calle de Serrano, Calle de Goya and Calle de Velázquez – are some of the most expensive. Often compared to New York City's Fifth Avenue or London's Bond Street, Calle de Serrano has been nicknamed the "Golden Mile" because it's studded with posh brands.
Calle de Serrano begins near the corner of Buen Retiro Park next to the Puerta de Alcalá monument and ends in the Plaza de la República de Ecuador. The street is home to international names like Gucci, Prada, Armani and Cartier as well as locally born luxuries like Loewe. The street is not without smaller boutiques though; visitors will find Sita Murt, Renatta&Go and NAC, among other Spanish favorites.
Every September, the Salamanca neighborhood plays host to Vogue Fashion's Night Out where about 200 shops welcome visitors with discounts, live music, photo ops, free gifts, makeup sessions and limited-edition items. The glamorous night is topped off with catwalks showcasing the latest trends. Anyone can register online for free and explore the event, champagne in hand.
Even if you have no plans to purchase, Salamanca is a great place to spend the day strolling and window-shopping, according to previous visitors. There are many upscale hotels in the area as well as unique dining experiences and museums. Travelers enjoy Platea, a theater-turned-dining hall which houses 12 different restaurants, three gourmet markets and numerous cocktail bars. There are often musical performances or flamenco shows on the stage to make your lunch or dinner experience even more entertaining.
The area also boasts museums, such as Museo Lázaro Galdiano where many say the building's grounds and exterior are just as stunning as the art housed inside. Visitors enjoyed this museum and the surrounding area because it's not as popular among tourists, despite its many gems.
Salamanca also lures visitors to its streets with picturesque 19th-century buildings, characterized by their ornate balconies and ironwork. For the best architecture in the neighborhood, start walking down Calle de Serrano then make your way to Calle de Jose Ortega y Gasset. Also, plan to stop at the Italian Embassy on Calle de Velázquez to admire its design.
Originally built for the city's bourgeoisie, Salamanca still attracts celebrities, government officials and diplomats. If you plan to travel to the Salamanca neighborhood via public transportation, exit at Retiro, Serrano or Goya metro stops for easiest access. Visit the tourism website to learn more about what makes Barrio de Salamanca a Madrid a must-see.
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#1 Plaza Mayor
This square, located in the heart of Madrid, is more a must-experience attraction than a must-see one. Surrounded by cafes and bars, Plaza Mayor practically begs passersby to take a seat, order a coffee or glass of wine (depending on the time of day) and people-watch. Not only do throngs of tourists pass through, but multiple street performers plant their feet here to entertain. The square starts getting busy around 2 p.m. and will grow increasingly busy as night falls. If you find yourself in Madrid during the holidays, locals recommend visiting the holiday markets held in the plaza.
Recent travelers acknowledge the touristy nature of Plaza Mayor – the souvenir shops, the less-than-gourmet yet overpriced restaurants, for instance – but for most travelers, Plaza Mayor still affords a lovely ambience. If you want to learn more about the history behind Plaza Mayor, which dates back to 1617, reviewers suggest you sign up for a walking tour. One of the city's most emblematic pieces of public art, the statue of Philip III on horseback, can also be found here.
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