Plaza Mayor: This beautiful plaza is built on centuries of history, and today is filled with constant entertainment. Built in 1617, this square has seen many wonderful events along with tragedies take place. In the middle of the plaza is one of Madrids most treasured pieces of art, a bronze statue of King Phillips III. Surrounding the plaza are many shops and restaurants to enjoy. This is a very popular spot by locals and tourists to enjoy an evening out.
Patones de Arriba: Home to less than 537 people (according to the Instituto Nacional de Estaística), this cozy town north of Madrid has been established since before 1527 and is one of my favorite parts of this area. If you are looking for a deep cultural experience, great local food, hiking trails, old winding streets, and preserved infrastructure, then this is the town for you. There are quite a few hikes to choose from and most of them lead you up the mountainside to a gorgeous view of the town. Also be adventurous while dining in this town and try pigs blood, ox tail, or any of the other options that may seem completely out of your comfort zone; your taste buds will surprise you.
Puerta del Sol: This is the city center where all of the Spanish roads connect. Since it is located only a few minutes from the Plaza Mayor, it is easy to find and convienent if you only have a short period of time downtown. The clock that Spaniards use as their symbol during New Years Eve (like Americans ball dropping) can be found in this square. There are also many important statues and artifacts in this square and this area should definitely be a part of your visit.
Nightlife of Madrid: Take the time to enjoy the culture and nightlife of Spaniards. Their normal routine is different from ours for many reasons. The whole day is shifted back, lunch is the biggest meal and is around 2pm or later, which puts them having a light dinner around 10pm, and leaving for the downtown bars/clubs a few hours after that. Most of their nights out on the town don’t end until 6am or even later. They are known to stay up and continue socializing through breakfast. I had the opportunity to go out with some Spanish local friends (which is very much out of my comfort zone) and it is definitely a great experience.
Royal Palace of Madrid: Although only used occasionally for ceremonies, this is the home of the royal family of Spain and is a great way to experience the luxury they live in and see many years of history. The museum offers multiple different options of tours and gives flexibility in the desired time spent in this phenomenal home.