Ten ideas for an autumn getaway in Madrid

Shopping, museums, a show, a gastronomic treat of mushrooms, chocolate or full-scale haute cuisine... the leisure choices on offer in the Spanish capital this autumn are endless.


1. Madrid International Dance Festival
From November 8th to 28th, Madrid becomes the focus for the international Madrid en Danza festival;  this year it's the twenty-fifth anniversary of the event, and the celebrations will feature 33 different dance companies from around the world. Dancers from countries such as Korea, the UK, Israel, Canada, Columbia, Finland, Poland, and the USA, as well, of course, as Spain itself, will gather to demonstrate a wide range of dynamic styles and the very latest in contemporary creative choreography.

2. MTV European Music Awards 2010 

Over 600 million people around the world watch the annual Eva Longoria is signed up to do the hosting honours at the grand party night of November 7th at the ultra-modern, and aptly named, Caja Magica – the 'magic box'. 

3. Madrid Restaurant Week
Haute cuisine at affordable prices? It sounds too good to be true, but that's just what you'll find in Madrid between October 22nd and November 1st, when the capital celebrates Madrid Restaurant week. Over fifty of the city's best restaurants are taking part, each offering a special Restaurant Week menu for just 25€ – around £20 – and giving you the chance of a fine gastronomic experience that won't break the bank. And, since the event stretches for just over a week, you'll have time to sample several of the options. Check the Madrid Restaurant Week website for participating restaurants.

4. Passion for Renoir 

With this intriguing title, the Museo del Prado is launching the first monographic exhibition of works of the French Impressionist master to be held in Spain. From October 19th until February 6th, an outstanding selection of 31 paintings by Renoir, including landscapes, flower paintings and portraits, will be on display at Madrid's most famous museum.

5. Caprice and folly
The Retiro, the Casa de Campo, the Botanical Gardens... Madrid has plenty of green spaces where you can enjoy the colours of autumn without straying far from the centre, But one of the lesser know parks, El Capricho – literally, 'the caprice' – is definitely worth a visit. The park's 14 acres are the lands of the old palace of the Dukes of Osuña and include formal and landscaped gardens. There are lakes, a river and a maze, as well as a number of follies, temples and monuments that almost make up a miniature theme park and make it a perfect place for a leisurely autumn stroll.

6. A chocolate feast

Now the summer heat has died away, it's the perfect time to enjoy the typical Madrid breakfast of chocolate con churros – thick hot chocolate and deep fried dough sticks – at the capital's most famous chocolate cafe, the San Gines. And for further indulgence, why not try sample the delights from award-winning pastry chef Oriol Balaguer's exceptional autumn/winter collection. Sweet! 

7. Step back in time
Madrid may be of Europe's most avant-garde cities, but dotted all around are tiny shops dating back to the 1800s, often run by the same family for three of four generations. The ornate porcelain jars and neat walls lined with tiny labelled drawers, so typical of the pharmacies of the past, the advertising posters painted on tiles, solemn shops selling icons, rosaries and prayerbooks, shops specialising in cork or string in all weights and colours, and, of course, the traditional cafes with their bright mirrors and polished marble tables. Madrid city council –  Ayuntamiento de Madrid – has prepared a list of some of the most unusual and best conserved of these specialist businesses, offering an intriguing glimpse into the past.

8. Sunday at the races
For an unusual and exciting day out for the whole family, why not visit the Hipodromo de la Zarzuela where horse races are programmed to run every Sunday morning until November 21st. Entrance is free for children under 14, and there's a photography competition running until November 10th.

9. Mushrooms: an autumn delicacy
In Spain, the damp days of autumn bring a promise of a mushrooms of all types, and many people head out of town on weekends to gather the strange fungal harvest. Rather than risk the chance of including a poisonous toadstool in the mix, why not put yourself in the hands of the experts and enjoy the delicacies in the range of carefully prepared dishes on the special seasonal menus at El Chaflan, El Cisne Azul (C/ Gravina, 19), La cocina de Maria Luisa or Viridiana?

10. A room at the top
To all these great reasons for visiting Madrid, we'll add one more: the special offer from Eurostars Madrid Tower. The package includes accommodation in the hotel with the best panoramic views of the Spanish capital – complete with breakfast buffet on floor 30, and spa facilities on floor 29. And you'll also get a VIP discount card for shopping in the classy Las Rozas Village where you'll find the best and brightest in fashion and home-ware.

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