It’s no secret that Madrid is an extremely popular tourist spot. In fact, statistics reveal that a whopping 2.2 million overnight tourists visited in the city in 2021. However, most individuals flock to vacation there during the summer because it’s known for its warm weather and sunny blue skies.

But that’s not all there is to experience in the city of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree.

Madrid is a gorgeous place known for its rich history, culture, art, and food. It houses impressive renaissance and contemporary art museums, awe-inspiring old neighborhoods, and an amazing culinary scene. This makes the city ideal to experience any time of the year— especially during the winter months. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that Madrid feels like something out of a dream when it gets colder.

If this piques your interest, stick around for more! Today, I’m giving the 411 on all you need to know about visiting Madrid in winter and what you should see.

statues in the royal palace in Madrid

Experience The Art Exhibitions in The Prado

Whether you’re visiting Madrid in winter, or any other time of the year, keep visiting the Prado at the top of your itinerary. Considered one of the greatest art museums in the world, it houses extensive art collections full of masterpieces, with a focus on portraits. So, it’s safe to say that this place is nothing less than a paradise for art enthusiasts.

However, it’s important to note that experiencing the Prado needs careful planning. After all, with over thousands of paintings, numerous sculptures, prints, drawings, and more, it can be overwhelming to know what to see.

From the imperial and grand paintings of Velazquez to the mind-blowing Flemish art of Rubens, there is a lot to uncover here. It’s why I’m going to tell you what you shouldn’t miss.

There are four levels in the museum: levels -1, 0, 1, and 2. You’ll find a wide range of various styles of art and exhibitions on each level. The -1 level features decorative arts, out of which, the Cup with Golden Mermaid is a must-see. It’s a gorgeous structure that is enameled and furnished with diamonds and rubies.   

When you move up to Level 0, keep your eyes peeled for the Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch and Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Child. This level has striking Spanish works from the 12th-20th century, German paintings from the 1400s, and some Italian paintings.

tourists in front of the Prado museum in Madrid, Spain

Goya’s works should especially not be missed. After all, the museum houses more of his works than of any other painter. Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes is one of the most important Spanish artists of the 19th century, whose works inspired painters like Picasso and Manet. His paintings are renowned for their moving intensity that illustrate an inner disappointment with politics and the confrontation of his imminent death. It’s also awe-inspiring to see the development of his lighter early portraits to his much darker final works— something that paralleled in his life.

There are more of Goya’s works to experience on levels 1 and 2. You should also look out for German paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as French, Italian, and Flemish works from the 15th to 19th centuries. There are some great British works on display as well.

I personally recommend keeping an eye out for Diego Velázquez’s works. The Prado’s collection of his paintings surpasses other museums’ across the world. He was a Baroque period artist widely considered the most important Spanish painter of all time. After all, his revolutionary incorporation of realism changed art forever. So, it’s important you don’t miss out on his works, such as the Feast of Bacchus and Las Meninas.

Finally, on level 2, you’ll find mesmerizing sculptures as well as German and Spanish paintings from the 18th century.

However, if you’re someone who prefers modern or contemporary art, I recommend trying out the Reina Sofia for great works by Pablo Picasso and others.

Experience the Almond Trees in Bloom

Don’t listen to the summer travelers; visiting Madrid in winter is great. In fact, February is one of the greatest times of the year to visit this wonderful city.

Though it is still cool (around 54°F), the days are sunny and the weather is pleasant. This means that this is a great time to go hiking to experience the natural beauty of the city without it being sweltering hot. Moreover, it is the time of the year when all the festivals are done and over with. As a result, not only will it be less crowded, but the trip will be a lot more affordable.

That being said, the top reason why you should visit Madrid in February is to see the almond trees blossom. The flowering of these trees is considered the event that marks the arrival of spring. So, between the end of February and the start of March, almond trees in Madrid are full of vibrant white and pink flowers.

almond trees blossoming flowers in Madrid, Spain

Watching flowers bloom is a tradition that comes from Japan. This is called Hanami— the word “Hana” means flowers while “Mi” refers to the act of viewing. Not only is it an awaited event in the country, but it has spread to other areas of the globe (such as Spain), where the spectacle is viewed by hundreds.

I recommend three places in Madrid where you can get the best views of flowering almond trees. These are the La Quinta de losMolinos, Huerta de la Partida, and Botanical Gardens. The first on this list is a 25-hectare park that consists of 6,000 almond trees, among others. It is located in the east of the city near the Suanzes metro.

Huerta de la Partida is a former aristocratic garden with almond and olive trees stretching around 38,000 square meters. It is nestled near the bank of Manzanares. On the other hand, you’ll find the Botanical Gardens behind the Villanueva Pavilion, which has nearly 5,000 different plant species.

a plate of churros and chocolates next to candles

Warm Up with Some Churros and Hot Chocolate at San Gines

Looking at almond trees and walking through the bustling Madrid streets can be tiring. So, once you are done exploring the city, it’s time to kick back and warm up with some churros.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must have heard about this delectable snack. Churros are a popular tube-shaped pastry around the globe that are made from unsweetened dough, which is deep fried and topped with cinnamon sugar. It tastes a lot like donuts.

Many don’t know that churros are a traditional Spanish and Portuguese choux-pastry snack. It is why you’d find some of the best-tasting churros in Spain. As a matter of fact, numerous tourists come to Madrid just to try it. I can vouch for the delicious goodness of this pastry myself.

However, when it comes to the most delectable churros in Spain, I’d have to say that San Gines has the best-tasting ones. It’s a café located near the Plaza Mayorin the main square of Madrid. This place has been a long-standing favorite of the locals when it comes to churros and hot chocolate since it first opened for business in 1894. That said, they’re also a riot among tourists, who keep coming back to Madrid just to have another taste of their choux pastry.

Their churros are super light and crispy and aren’t dense or too sweet. They also have a great eggy taste, which will keep you coming back for more. Moreover, they are served with a mug of thick and rich-tasting dark chocolate that will warm you right up. This makes it the ideal snack for winter evenings.

Though the café has now expanded to occupy more space and is open 24/7, it’s still not out of the ordinary to wait for a table. So, you might need to bring your patience to experience this rich flavor.

The Monument for King Alfonso XII in Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain

If you need more travel guides for vacationing in Europe and visiting Madrid in winter, take a look at my travel and food blog at Irina Bukatik.

Hi, I’m Irina Bukatik and I’m a travel enthusiast trying to discover different art, cultures, and cuisines during my trips. I love globe-trotting, and I’ve spent a lot of years experiencing what the world offers. If you’d like to come with me on my travels across the globe, join me from the comfort of your home by reading about my travels.

Keep up with me through Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Tumblr. Or, you can contact me here.

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