Although Madrid often gets overlooked for its more stylish, fun sibling Barcelona, the capital city holds many attractions for the world traveller – great food, renowned works of art and fabulous shopping. Here are 8 activities to put on your to-do list when in Madrid.

1. The Museo Nacional Del Prado
This is the national art museum and it houses some of the big names in European art. The museum is organized in such a way that all the masterpieces on display are placed along three specific routes, so that even if you’re pressed for time, you don’t miss the highlights.

2. Palacio Real
Palacio Real is the royal palace in Madrid and one of the largest buildings in the city. Although it is officially the residence of the King of Spain, the King spends most of his time in Zarzuela Palace, on the outskirts of Madrid and Palacio Real is mostly used for state functions.

3. Basilica de San Francisco El Grando.
Basilica de San Francisco El Grando is said to have the fourth largest dome in the world. The chapel inside has a fresco by the famous Spanish artist, Francisco Goya. It is said that Goya painted a self-portrait of himself in the fresco (he’s the one wearing yellow).

4. El Rasto
El Rasto is a Sunday morning flea market that is popular with both locals and tourists alike. The market has been in operation since the 17th or 18th century when it was a meat market. Walking around the market in the morning is a good way to get a feel of the local life in Madrid. However, beware of pickpockets!

5. Plaza Mayor
This is the plaza at the center of Madrid. Having a plate of churros and hot chocolate while people watching is a favourite activity here. In the winter, a beautiful Christmas market is set up in the plaza.

6. Mercado de San Miguel
This is a market dedicated solely to food, situated adjacent to Plaza Mayor. It has some of the freshest produce in Madrid. Try the garlic prawns (gambas al ajillo) and small skewers of olives, cucumbers, peppers and pickled onions (banderillas).

7. El Sobrino de Botin
Widely considered to be the oldest continuously-running restaurant in the world, El Sobrino de Botin has been a tourist destination for decades. It is said that Francisco Goya worked there are a waiter when he was a young, struggling artist. Both Truman Capote and Ernst Hemmingway have dined here.

8. La Latina
At the heart of Madrid is a street with a reputation for serving some of the best tapas in the city. Although the street is generally known for its good food, keep an eye out for Casa Lucio. The ‘huevos estrellados’ (eggs fried and broken up and served with potato and sausage) here are legendary. Also remember to try a plate of Jamón ibérico, a cured ham that is considered to be a Spanish delicacy.

If you find the financials of planning a European holiday daunting, why not consider a travel loan? A travel loan or a vacation loan is basically a personal loan for travel. Banks grant these loans to fund up to 80% of your travel expenses. You can pay for the tickets, insurance, accommodation, etc. with the loan. Lenders such as Bajaj Finserv will also give you a loan for travel.

Getting a Travel Loan in India

  • You must first prove your eligibility for the loan, in terms of age and income. The age bracket is typically within 21 to 58 years. Your minimum net income should be above Rs 4 lakh per annum. But the age and income requirements vary from lender to lender.
  • Next, you need to fill up an application form and submit some documents. Lenders need documentation to prove your identity, age, and income. So, keep your passport, pan card, driving licence, and three months’ salary slips ready.
  • Loan approval and disbursal nowadays is quick. For example, Bajaj Finserv promises to approve loans in minutes. The funds reach your bank account within 72 hours of loan sanction.

The actual procedure for getting a travel loan varies, depending on the lender. A lot depends on your CIBIL score. Having an existing loan with the same lender makes the process smoother.

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