Shopping, sightseeing, and elegant architecture are all good reasons to head to one of the Spanish capital’s most famous neighborhoods, Barrio de Salamanca. This posh pocket of Madrid is where you’ll find the famous Puerta de Alcalá, the massive and path-filled Retiro Park, and the world’s largest Spanish flag, which waves proudly in Plaza de Colón.
It’s also the ideal destination for shoppers keen to hit up high-end boutiques as well as budget-friendly stops, such as the giant and many-floored Zara store (which, along with some of the area’s biggest shops, is located on Serrano Street). Foodies can find a bit of tasty heaven here, too, visiting places such as the traditional market, Mercado de la Paz, or the theater-turned-gourmet-food-court, Platea, and even the rooftop Gourmet Experience found at the country’s biggest department store, El Corte Inglés.
Barrio de Salamanca is a decent-but-doable walk from the heart of the tourist center, and can also be reached by bus, metro, and hop-on hop-off tour. Note that many of the neighborhood’s shops (particularly the smaller ones) close on Sundays.