The Puerta del Sol is one of Madrid’s most important public squares and its name, “Gate of the Sun”, describes it perfectly. Historical buildings circle the stone center like planets surrounding a star. One of those buildings is where the president of Madrid has her office. The square itself is where the New Year begins as does everything else in Madrid. All roads start their journey here.

At the heart of the city, many of the features integral to Madrid’s character are represented. There are plenty of bars selling tapas dishes that tourists must try when they’re in town. A few hours roaming around the Puerta del Sol allows travelers to visit several of the must-sees in Madrid in a short period of time.

Let’s take a look at what those itinerary items should be.

10 The Kilómetro Cero Plaque Marks The Center Of Spain

Its positioning may be a little off these days since Spain's center was declared in 1720. Back then there was no plaque. Just six post routes that led to this point in the post office square. Caminando Por Madrid claims those routes transformed into Spain’s national roads. It’s now the point from which they are measured. The plaque also serves as a means of navigation since streets are numbered according to their proximity to Kilómetro Cero.

9 Madrid Is Identified By The Clock Tower At Real Casa De Correos

Just behind the “center of Spain” is the post office. The landmark is hard to miss with its height and massive square. A gold-faced clock tops it off. Every country has its odd takes on certain holidays, and for Spain, it’s New Year’s Day. The transition into the new year at midnight is marked by 12 tolls of the bell. Spaniards must eat a grape for each toll or face a year of bad luck.

8 There Are 10 Streets To Explore

Venturing down each street would be impossible to accomplish in just one trip to the Puerta del Sol. Pedestrians who don’t want to deal with public transportation methods must select a handful. Some of the most interesting streets are Mayor, Arenal, and Alcalá. Shepherds herd their sheep down Mayor once a year during the winter Migration Festival. Arenal is a pedestrian street packed with shoppers. The last street, Alcalá, is where the Palace of Linares is located.

7 Wine Is Served Alongside Tapas In The Evenings

Bars along the edges of the Puerta Del Sol offer tapas, an essential part of the full Spanish experience. Tapas are little dishes like gambas al ajillo and albondigas that combine to create a full meal. A healthy serving of wine on the side fleshes out the taste. International brands are available, but the opportunity to try local alcohol should be taken. The Matador Network places the best time for evening tapas between 8:30 PM and midnight.

6 Take The Metro To Be Dropped Off Directly In the Square

Parallel to the set of metro entrances covered in glittering glass is another set. This one consists of the traditional, uncovered staircase leading into the ground. Access to Metro Sol is covered by a standard tourist metro pass. The pass allows seven days of unlimited access to stations in Zone A, according to Disfruta Madrid. This includes all of Madrid, but a more expensive pass expands coverage to neighboring cities. The max seven day Zone A pass costs $30.70.

5 Churros Dipped In Fresh Chocolate Are Down The Street

The ability of the San Ginés Chocolatier to survive for more than 100 years on the simple formula of chocolate and churros speaks to the quality of its product. People come in at all times of day for a mug of velvety chocolate and a sweet plate of steaming churros. The store never closes so there’s no bad time to visit. They serve coffee and other chocolate confections too. Molletes, open-faced sandwiches, are more filling.

4 Rent Bikes For Transportation Through The Square

Bikes can be rented in the Puerta del Sol for a rejuvenating ride around the city square. Feel free to take them into the streets too. The activity is safe for families since most of Madrid’s major streets have bike lanes. Visitors who aren’t interested in exercise but who want a fun way to get around can choose an electric bike instead. TripAdvisor shows companies providing tours for both types of bicycles.

Related: 10 Etiquette Tips To Know Before Going To Spain

3 The Mood Transforms At Night

Numerous night clubs surround the Puerta del Sol such as Joy Eslava. Live music is played most nights from a wide range of artists. One of the club's regular artists performs cabaret. Regardless of the show, Joy-Eslava says the club is open every night. Clubs that focus on dancing instead of music can be found on the same streets. For a cultural experience, visit a flamenco show. The shows are held in intimate settings with live music.

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2 Statues Are Sprinkled Throughout The Plaza

Madrid’s coat of arms depicts a bear reaching for a strawberry tree. That image recreated in bronze is located on the eastern side of the square. Another noteworthy statue depicting King Charles III on his horse is found in the south. Finally, there is a replica of the Mariblanca, a female figure made of white marble, located at the entrance of Arenal Street. Mirador Madrid says the original is kept in the town hall.

Related: A Travel Guide To Spain: Tourists Should Plan Their Trip Around These 11 Things

1 Buskers Provide Quick Entertainment

The high level of traffic through this square means buskers flock to it to perform. Metro passengers will realize this immediately. The sound of bows gliding across the strings of classical instruments mark the end of the ride. Passengers then exit their trains to find dancers flipping around the station beneath its decorated ceiling. The arts get more diverse once passengers arrive above ground. There are magicians, daredevils, and artists to provide top entertainment.

Next: 10 Absolutely Free Tourist Sites In Spain