Madrid, the capital of the vibrant, passionate and energetic country that is Spain. This city has embraced the modern culture while still clinging to its past. This fast-paced city is home to one of the best fútbol teams of all time, the largest royal palace in western Europe and home to the UNWTO (United Nation’s World Tourism Organization). Here are some tips and highlights from our time spent while in Spain’s capital:
WHERE TO STAY:
As one of the largest cities in Europe with a metro population of 6+million, according to the World Atlas, it’s safe to say that Madrid is pretty big. When we were looking for where to stay, we honestly had a hard time choosing. As always, we knew we wanted to live like a local by staying at an AirBNB but with so many neighborhoods, it ultimately was the last city we made lodging arrangements for.
The Centro (Center) part of Madrid is essentially the downtown area, so we decided that we wanted to be centrally located. Not only did we pick this area, but we also found an AirBNB in the center of Centro, next door to Plaza Santa Ana. There are so many wonderful areas to stay in Madrid, given the size of this metropolitan city, and we hope you find a wonderful place, hopefully at an AirBNB!
WHERE TO DINE:
La Vinoteca is located on Plaza de Santa Ana, which is in the Centro (Center) District of Madrid. Our AirBNB was next door and every time we walked past it, it was packed.We knew we had to check it out and once we did, the tapas were simply delicious. Not only did they serve my favorite croquetas de jamon, but they also served a lot of crostini type of tapas. If you’re in Madrid and looking for a solid meal, consider La Vinoteca- both the food and drinks here won’t disappoint!
Mercado de San Miguel
First off, this place is a MUST. This market is the perfect spot to sample many foods from many talented, culinary professionals. From sushi, to paella, to olives, to desserts, each vendor in the market focuses on a specific type of cuisine. This market stays crowded, for good reason. Snagging a spot to sit can be hard, so be ready to lurk or to eat while standing by the window walls, there is a bar top to set your food on. Come hungry, bring cash and be ready to sample some of Madrid’s finest foods!
Merimee is a hidden gem that you find in a city. Fresh. Pristine. Detail Oriented. Pretty. Those are some of the words that come to my mind when I think of the atmosphere and food here. Not only are their dishes filled with bold flavors and well paired ingredients, but their presentation also makes a bold statement. Lets just say that as an event planner, I’d love to do a buy out of this restaurant for a client and let the space and food speak for itself. If you make it to Merimee, please do me a favor and try their nutella pie. It’s simply delicious and the perfect use of nutella.
I know what you’re thinking. We went to Madrid and ate Ramen, how dare us! Well, we love ramen and we know how much Spaniards love pork AND it popped up on our Apple Maps. We saw it had 4.5 stars with almost 1,000 reviews, so we decided to check it out. As its normal to eat dinner around 10pm in Spain, Ramen Kagura opened at 8:30 pm. We got there around 8:20 and there was already a long line. We indulged in fantastic ramen along with some delicious appetizers and when we left, there was still a line while every table was filled. The wait is SO worth it. The ramen is flavorful, the pork belly is tender and the service was very hospitable. I’m glad we tried this place and I would go back in a heart beat!
WHAT TO DO:
Given the size of Madrid, you could spend weeks here and still do something different everyday. While in our time here, we hit up some tourist must-do’s while also discovering some off the usually list locations. Out of all of the activities and places we explored, the following are some of our favorite spots and things you we think anyone visit Madrid should do.
1.Stroll through the beautiful, Parque de El Retiro.
2.Go to one of Madrid’s many Museums- specifically, the Prado Museum.
3.Checkout the rooftop at Circulo de Bellas Artes for a unbeatable view of the city of Madrid.
4.SHOP TILL YOU DROP! Madrid has an unbelievable shopping scene, especially if you are looking for athletic ware. We recommend starting at Calle Grand Via, one of Madrid’s main street’s with many store fronts!
5.Go to the Royal Palace of Madrid and spend some time admiring this beautiful building.
6.Try the spanish delicacy of pig’s ear– the taste is similar to bacon, just cartilage and fattier. We recommend La Oreja de Jaime for this one time venture.
7.Attend a game &/or tour the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, home of Real Madrid.
8.Checkout the Debod Temple, an ancient 2nd century bc egyptian temple that was gifted to Madrid by Egypt. The temple was a donation with intent to save this archeological site.Furthermore, it became a token of gratitude from Egypt to Spain for their assistance in helping preserve other temples.
HOW TO GET AROUND:
Depending on where you stay, you can essentially walk to a lot of places. Essentially, if you stay close to downtown, it’s safe to say that you can walk to most of the activities we just mentioned and many more. Between the Royal Palace of Madrid and Parque de El Retiro, it is only 2.5km (1.5miles). This means you can save money as you enjoy all of the beautiful sites the heart of Madrid has to offer!
2. Underground Metro
If you would like to venture out of the the downtown Madrid area, the metro is a great way to do so while also living like a local. The Madrid Metro is extensive and a cheaper alternative for those who don’t want to pay for a taxi or Uber (yes, Uber exists in Madrid).
If you rather just walk outside an hop in the first taxi you see, taxi’s are always an easy option. Not only are taxi’s everywhere you look, but you can also schedule a ride by calling or by using their mobile app. We used a taxi getting from the train and to the airport and it was cheaper than an Uber, and easier to spot.
In conclusion, if you are dreaming of Madrid, make it happen. This city is one of a kind and getting here isn’t too hard (literally flew nonstop from Dallas, TX). Madrid is modern and has many restaurants, shopping, museums and all types of entertainment options. If you make if to Spain, be sure to step over and checkout this city. It’s worth the drive, bus, train or flight!