Quick Guide to visiting Madrid

Updated: July 2019

When I visited Madrid back in 2011, I wasn't writing down any travel tips. Luckily though, I still remember enough to share with you a quick guide to visiting Madrid. Most of these tips were actually handed over to me by Samer, my awesome friend who was my guiding force when I first started traveling :).

Puerta del sol

1) Where to stay

  • Anything on Gran Via is a good idea
  • I recently stayed in B&B Hotels (Centro Fuencarral 52) and I loved it, you can see my review on booking.com
  • Calle de las Fuente (City Centre)
  • Calle del Arenal  (City Centre)
  • Calle de Bordadores (City Centre) 
  • Calle Mayor
p.s. You might encounter either small elevators or no elevators, so try to pack light or carry backpacks!

See what I mean!

2) Things to do

  • Watch a Flamenco show (this is a must), the place I went to was called "Artebar La Latina", located at Calle de San Bruno 2, La Latina neighborhood. The flamenco show is performed in a back room, so the atmosphere is cozy and warm. I am also trying a new venue called Corral de la Morería which I've been told is one of the best; I will update it with my review soon.
  • Museums 
    • Prado
    • Reina Sofia
    • Thyssen
  • La Latina (Nice on a Sunday, hope from one tapas bar to another) 
  • Live Band in La Negra Tomasa (Calle Espoz y Mina 9, centro), it's Madrid's Little Havana. The band plays salsa music and cuban songs.
  • Night life in the center of Madrid is a must, make sure you visit some of Madrid's best rooftops. Back in the days we went to Penthouse rooftop.

Flamenco show in Artebar La Latina - Madrid

Penthouse Rooftop - Madrid

3) Places to visit

  • Templo de Debod at sunset. It's an Egyptian type, gifted by the Egyptian government to Spain after the latter's efforts in saving ruins in Aswan.
  • Nearby is El Palacio Real (Royal Palace) in Parque del Oeste 
  • Also nearby is Cathedral de la Almudena (neo-gothic with amazing interior)
  • Puerta del Sol (Make sure you see the bear)
  • Plaza Mayor (Nice to visit, avoid touristy restaurants there)
  • Gran Via (big long street if you want to do some shopping)
  • Plaza de Cibeles (make sure you check Banco de España building)
  • National Geographic Café restaurant and shop (if you're a nat geo fan like me)
  • Tienda Real Madrid (if you're a fan of the FC Real Madrid)
  • Parque del Retiro
  • Teatro Real

Mercato de San Miguel

4) What / Where to eat

  • Mercato de la Reina (Calle Gran Via, 12.), you can take the metro there. It's a must visit if you love markets, great in the mornings!
  • Socarrat Valencian Food for a range of different paellas (it's a paella bar so that's the only thing you're going to find), and here's my review here.
  • Mercado de San Miguel (Plaza de San Miguel, centro), go in the afternoon, all Spanish food!
  • Chocolateria San Gines (Pasadizo de San Gines 11, centro), this is a MUST if you want to try the famous Chocolate con churros :)
  • Patatas Bravas (dices of fried potatoes with a red spicy sauce)
  • Jamon (if you like ham, this is the place to eat it)
  • Gambas a la plancha (grilled shrimp with a hint of garlic)
  • Huevos Estrellados (it's local, you got to try these eggs)
  • Pimientos de Padron (just order it)
  • Pulpo a la Gallega (cooked and slived octopus over potato slices and a lot of sweet paprika)

Tapas (Pimientos de Padron, Patatas Bravas)

5) What to drink

  • Sangria
  • Hot Chocolate (con churros)
  • Cortado (shot of espresso that has been "cut" with a splash of milk)
  • Wine (Rioja, heavy and amazing. Brands to try: Marques de Caceres and Protos)
  • Vino de Verano (if you're there in the summer), it's a mix of red wine and lemon Fanta, refreshing and nice.
  • Clara (beer with lemon, or lemon Fanta)
  • ColaCoa (Chocolate drink)

If you can eat Churros in only one place in the world, it has to be Spain. (and of course, have it with their specialty Hot Chocolate)

6) Useful Spanish Phrases

Hello = Hola
Good Morning / Good day = ¡Buenos días!
How are you? = ¿Que Tal? / ¿Cómo estás?
Where is the metro station? = ¿Dónde está la estación de metro?
Good afternoon = ¡Buenas tardes!
Good night = ¡Buenas noches!
See you soon = ¡Hasta pronto!
See you later = ¡Hasta luego!
Thank you = Gracias
You're welcome = De nada
How much does it cost? = ¿Cuánto cuesta?
I don't know = No sé


Make sure to check Barcelona Guide, and Road Trips from Barcelona


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