Welcome to Madrid, where the day starts later, the night ends later, and the locals look like Javier Bardem. Sound good? Well there’s more. Much more. Madrid is home to some of the biggest and baddest sights in the world, from museums filled with iconic art to discotheques packed with Spain’s most beautiful. From Goya’s The Naked Maya by day to the (almost) naked madrileños at night, Madrid insists that you stay on the move—in only the most laid-back style, of course. When it’s time to recuperate, slow down, savor some of the best in Spanish cuisine, and lounge at one of the city’s immaculate parks or gardens under the warm Spanish sun. Life is good.
Madrid’s plazas, gardens, and monuments tell of the city’s rich history. After Philip II made the city the capital of his empire in 1561, Madrid enjoyed centuries of being on top. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.) It served as Spain’s artistic hub during the Golden Age, becoming a seat of wealth, culture, and imperial glory, whose legacy can still be felt in literary neighborhoods like Huertas, in the sumptuous interiors of royal estates like the Palacio Real, and in the bad-ass collections of the museums along the Avenida del Arte. So get some rest on the plane, because from here on out it’s all dinners at midnight, parties at three, marathon treks through museums the size of small countries by day, and chasing down Javier Bardem at high noon.