From flamenco and soccer to bullfighting and ham, Madrid has a proud tradition of culture seeping from every corner of the city. Hemingway’s haunts dot the trails of downtown, and the tapas and beer spill out into the streets, begging you to stop and spend a moment soaking in Madrid.

Epiphany, in early January, is Spain’s favorite holiday, when presents and parades abound in the city. The entire downtown closes to enjoy and participate in the parade, while the Three Kings throw candy to the cheering crowd. To see the real spirit of Madrid, visit in mid-May when the San Isidro festival transforms the city into an earlier version of itself. Everyone, young and old, dresses in traditional Madrileño costumes and dances the night away in the San Isidro neighborhood. This is also when the famous San Isidro bullfights are held at Las Ventas arena, and the city pulses with energy.