Right smack in the middle of Spain, Madrid busies itself as the country’s capital and major tourist destination. When I first set foot in Madrid, the over trampled tourist attractions were quickly thrown in my face. Like any major capital city, Madrid has its tourist standbys but it also fills with attractions that have that extra quirk. If you want to dodge the tour groups but still get a sense of Madrid, head for these off-beat attractions in town.
Atocha Train Station: You might begin your trip to Madrid directly in one of its quirkiest attractions. The Atocha Train Station is the largest train station in the city. While it acts as a means of transport, it also features a tropical garden at its center. Home to over 7,000 plants, the space even sports a pond. Even if you merely find yourself at the station to catch a train in or out of Madrid, the stop is worth it to see the tropical gardens lining the concourse.
Teleférico de Madrid: Many don’t see Madrid from above, but rather they roam the city’s streets. Take a ride on the Teleférico de Madrid – the cable car provides the chance to soar high above the city, all while marveling at its historic buildings and green spaces. Dating back to 1969, the cable car runs between the center of the city and Casa de Campo. Passengers are whisked 2.5 kilometers in 11 minutes, reaching heights of 40 meters above the chaos. A round trip ticket costs €5.80.
El Oso y el Madroño: At some point or another on your visit to Madrid, you are bound to run into the center of the city, Puerta del Sol. The famous square is home to one of the city’s symbols, El Oso y el Madroño. The 20-ton statue measuring four meters high features a bear attempting to eat fruit from a tree. Once you have posed with the bear and his fruit tree, you can also marvel at the fact that this square in the city marks the starting point for all motorways in Spain.
Temple of Debod: An Egyptian temple doesn’t seem a likely sight to see in the heart of Spain, but Madrid supplies just that sort of history. The Temple of Debod rests in Parque de la Montaña, close to Plaza de España. The temple once stood in the Valley of the Nile until the threat of flooding called for a move. Spain was the lucky receiver of the gift from Egypt. The Temple of Debod was completely dismantled, shipped and reconstructed. It officially opened to the public in 1971. Today, you can appreciate this piece of fourth century BC Egypt in the middle of Madrid along with a museum on site detailing its history.