“De Madrid al cielo”, or from “Madrid to heaven”, is how locals Madrillenos describe their city. It’s so wonderful that there’s nowhere better, for the living at least.

In contrast to Madrid, I’ve found that Spain’s second biggest city, Barcelona, is a more frequent addition to the itineraries of international travelers. This is probably because it’s blessed with pleasant weather year round, has a more developed travel scene for youth and budget visitors, and boasts a couple of beaches with clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Seemingly languid and landlocked by comparison, Madrid is often overlooked if time is tight in favour of its fun loving national counterpart. This is a shame as Madrid has a lot to offer travelers – from stunning architecture to incredible eats – even if it isn’t as in your face as Barcelona.

I think that the best way to describe the juxtaposition of these two cities is by metaphor. Barcelona is unapologetically flashy and oozes carefree youthfulness like the prom queen in a 90’s teen movie. Madrid, by contrast, is the more refined and sophisticated college student that comes home for summer break wielding an air of confidence and mystery that everyone can’t help but notice.

With that, here are some photos we took during a self-guided walking tour of Madrid. At the end of the post is a description of each picture. For those less interested in planning your own trek, Sandemans offers a selection of tours, including a great free walking tour daily that covers many of Madrid’s main sites.

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1. Casa de la Panadería in Plaza Mayor
2. Entering Plaza Mayor
3-5. Almudena Cathedral
6. Palacio Real
7-11. Mercado de San Miguel
12. Museo’del Jamon
13-14. Parque del Retiro
15. Puerta de Alcalá in the Plaza de la Independencia
16. Mercado de San Antón in the super hip Chueca neighbourhood
17-18. Instituto Cervantes along Calle de Alcalá
19. 
Gran Via, an upscale street renowned for shopping and high end hotels
20. Calle Lope de Vega
21-22. Plaza Mayor at night

Any spots that you wouldn’t miss on your Madrid walking tour? Let us know in the comments!


Madrid Walking Tour photos courtesy of Lauren Barth and JP Bervoets


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JP Bervoets

JP Bervoets

JP has spent the last decade working in the not-for-profit sector and has called Canada, the Netherlands and South Africa home. He’s travelled to over 30 countries and currently lives and works in Toronto, Canada. His interests include photography, cycling, playing guitar and working on Departful. JP co-founded the site in 2012.

Departful is a travel magazine that provides accessible, relevant, and thoughtful travel tips and ideas to inspire people to explore the world around them. We feature travel articles, travel tips, and photography based on our own experiences from over 100 countries covering all things adventure, culture, food and drink, technology, and gear. Made with ❤ in Toronto.