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Madrid has long been an integral part of Spain tours, but while the country's capital is a thriving hub of activity, it can often get overshadowed by cities such as Barcelona and Seville. However, Madrid contains something for everyone, whether you want to sample the city's trademark cuisine, get a taste of Spanish culture or spend hours exploring its famous museums. With so much to choose from, it may seem difficult to pare down your itinerary, but there are a few must-see destinations you need to check out when a tour of Spain brings you to Madrid.
Plaza de España
Located in the center of the city, Plaza de España is a popular tourist destination for a number of reasons. Aside from buzzing with activity seemingly all day, the square is replete with interesting monument and statues that pay tribute to the country's history and culture. One of the most recognizable sculptures is of famed Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. There is also a monument paying tribute to two of his most well-known characters - Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid
Botanical gardens often appeal to travelers because these natural landscapes give them the opportunity to get a respite from the bustling city streets without having to travel too far, and the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid certainly does not disappoint. Situated next to the famous Prado Museum, this stunning 20-acre garden, which was founded more than 250 years ago, is home to an estimated 5,500 different plant species.
Ride up to Peñalara
Not all the highlights of Madrid are located in the center of the city, and that is certainly the case when it comes to Peñalara, the highest peak in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range. Getting there is one of the most appealing aspects of visiting the mountain. Starting in the tiny neighborhood of Cercedilla, you can take an old railway up nearly 5,000 feet to the smaller village of Cotos. From there, you can hike up to the 7,500 foot peak and admire the stunning views of the city below. Additionally, if you're looking for some adventure, make the trip during winter and enjoy some of the best skiing in the region.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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