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Madrid Travel Guide

Rising amid the central sierras of Spain, this is the late-night city of Dalí and Hemingway, Ronaldo and Picasso, and those fast-talking '80s melodramas by Pedro Almodóvar. There is imperial baroque, and post-industrial cityscapes, street markets and seriously good museums. Despite its size and capital status, Madrid was often overlooked by those heading to Barcelona and the coast. But it emerged from Spain’s economic downturn with its head held up high and a renewed appetite for inventive menus, opening up new green spaces such as the Madrid Rio and fresh-faced arts hubs. Plenty of hip cafés, yes, like the ones on Calle Ponzano, but also those family-run joints that have endured for decades—where it’s possible to chow down for a handful of euros. Rather than meeting it head-on, best to approach it through its different barrios, all with different characters, from upscale Salamanca to unbuttoned Chueca and multicultural Lavapiés. And to really feel part of the scene, step out on "La Marcha," hopping from one vermouth bar to another all evening long and making friends along the way.

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A Day in Madrid

Madrid is a city that radiates energy and to best experience it, you need to keep moving. Start the day touring la Plaza Mayor and the winding alleyways of the city’s center, then eat your way through San Miguel Market before a quick siesta in El Retiro, the city’s sprawling park. Dine late and party even later: “El Foro,” as the capital is known to locals, never stops buzzing.

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