After five wonderful days in Paris, we flew to Madrid to take in some of the Spanish culture which includes sangria, tapas, and of course, flamenco dancing!
If you’ve never been to Madrid, hopefully these tips will help you get the most out of your stay.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed in a lovely little apartment in the Palacio neighbourhood on Plaza de San Miguel. We were very centrally located, within walking distance to the main attractions and within close proximity to a metro station. In addition, the apartment was tucked right in behind the Mercado de San Miguel, where you can enjoy fresh, seasonal products from local entrepreneurs almost all day long!
As long as you are staying within the city centre, you should find it quite easy to get around on foot as almost all sights and attractions are within walking distance from one another. We were only required to use the metro system about a handful of times.
WHAT TO DO/SEE
Although Madrid didn’t necessarily stand out to me compared to the many other European cities I visited, it does have its charm and a few gems that are worth discovering.
- Have a picnic in Parque del Buen Retiro: You’ll find it quite difficult not to get lost in this ENORMOUS park but its so beautiful that you won’t really mind. Pick a spot to have a picnic and just enjoy the fresh air.
- Have lunch in Plaza Santa Ana: Plaza Santa Ana is a charming little square filled with different restaurants. Enjoy an afternoon here with a platter of tapas and a pitcher of sangria!
- Templo de Debod: Take a little time to visit this Egyptian monument that was transferred to Madrid from Egypt as a sign of gratitude to Spanish architects for helping them save some important monuments. The view of the temple is especially beautiful at sunset.
- Mercado de San Miguel: As I mentioned earlier, this market is where you will find the freshest products from local entrepreneurs around the city. Although it tends to be a little more on the pricy side, the food is delicious and the atmosphere is incredibly lively! We found ourselves stopping here for tapas quite often before heading back to our apartment at the end of the day. I would highly recommend checking it out!
- Plaza Mayor: Take a walk through one of Madrid’s most popular squares but never buy anything or eat a meal there as everything is incredibly over priced! Fun fact: Our walking tour guide informed us that a one bedroom apartment in plaza Mayor costs about €1.4 million. Crazy!
- Centro de Arte Reina Sofia: Take some time out of your day to visit this museum filled with works by some of the worlds greatest artists, including Picasso and Dali. If you are a student, entrance to the museum is free!
- Royal Palace: Unfortunately, you aren’t permitted to take pictures inside the palace but the interior design of Madrid’s royal palace is absolutely incredible! Out of all the palaces I visited, this one had the most beautiful and intricate decor. I highly recommend making time to visit. Entrance to the palace is €10 but if you are a student, child or senior you are eligible for the reduced fee of €5.
- Flamenco Show at La Quimera: One of the best things we did in Madrid was attend a Flamenco show! The artists were absolutely phenomenal and the atmosphere was excellent as well. It was truly an authentic experience and I’m so happy I made time to attend the show. If you really want to experience the Spanish culture, I would highly recommend going. You need to make a reservation ahead of time but you can actually do it online if you want to avoid making a phone call. You can either select the dinner and show option (€37) or simply the drink and show option (€18.50).
- Take a free walking tour: In my opinion, a walking tour is the best way to get an introduction to a new city. It’s even better if you can do it for free! The majority of European cities offer 3 hour free walking tours and they are extremely fun and informative. The tour guides are very lively and knowledgeable and all they ask for in return is a few € to show your appreciation. We usually offered the guides between €5 – 10 per person. There are a few company’s that offer these free walking tours. I would recommend the SANDEMAN tours. The guides are fantastic and they offer a few other tours (usually cost about €8 – 10 per person) that you may be interested in as well!
- Mercado de San Miguel: As I’ve mentioned several times in this post already, Mercado de San Miguel is absolutely amazing! As you browse through the different stations, you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh smoothies and juices, traditional Spanish desserts, fancy cocktails, tapas and much more!
- El Tigre: We had some friends staying in a hostel and decided to join in on some of the activities they had organized for guests. One of these activities was a tapas tour. Although it was called a “tour”, they only took us to this one particular restaurant in Chueca called El Tigre! The price of the tour included one very large glass of sangria and unlimited tapas! The food was great and the ambiance was really fun and lively. I would recommend checking it out and taking some time to explore the neighbourhood of Chueca while you’re at it!
- Chocolateria San Ginés: To satisfy your sweet tooth, you MUST visit Chocolateria San Ginés for some traditional chocolate churros! This place has been around for years and inside, the walls are covered with pictures of famous people who have passed through here. It’s really quite impressive and the churros are absolutely delicious!
Just like Paris, there are quite a few day trip options that can be done from Madrid. After doing a little bit of research, we narrowed it down to two possibilities; Valle de los Callídos (The Valley of the Fallen) and Toledo. In the end, we decided to make the trip to Toledo, simply because we felt as though there would be more opportunity for exploring and we absolutely love medieval cities!
If you would like to know more about what to see and do in Toledo, stay tuned for my next post that will be completely dedicated to this beautiful medieval town!
I would love to know if you’ve been to Madrid and visited some places I might have missed!