Madrid isn’t really about seeing landmarks or visiting tourist attractions. It’s about experiencing, tasting and absorbing the culture. One weekend is nowhere near long enough to visit all of the amazing cafes and restaurants, to walk in all of the parks, or to sample all of the tasty dishes on offer. However, if you are limited on time (like I was just over a week or so ago) try these #7POW (seven pearls of wisdom):
♥ Cafe Culture
The cafes in Madrid are not your usual, run of the mill kind. They’re artistic creations and look like stylish, cute photosets. Whether it’s flower-filled crates on the wall, exposed brickwork and low lighting, or futuristic light displays, you’ll want to stop for lots of coffee breaks. Head down narrow Calle Tudescos and then Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo for some of the best cafes.
♥ Street Life
The plazas are absolutely jam packed with anyone and everyone. For this reason they’re equally as crammed with street entertainers. Whilst the majority are pretty cringey, not mentioning any names (Papa Smurf), there are some rare talents on the quieter streets. Look out for the saxophonist outside one of the poshest Starbucks I’ve ever seen on Plaza Canovas del Castillo, 528005. He may only know a few songs, but he plays them well and with a smile. The run-down guitarist outside Lamucca (Plaza Carlos Cambronero, 428004) is also really good.
♥ Mercado San Anton
It’d be criminal not to visit this food market. Allow at least a couple of hours so that you can head up to the upper floors for a trip around the world though your tastebuds. Try fresh sushi, Italian savoury snacks, sweet cakes and much more. Make sure you spare an hour to enjoy a drink or two on the twinkly roof terrace. You can see more photos and find out more here.
♥ Mercado San Miguel
Another food market, but unique all the same, this one is also worth a visit. It’s chaotic, loud and ridiculously busy, but that just creates a fun atmosphere. This market has high class tastes from all over the world. You’ll find things like sea urchin, cones of squid and prawns, and gourmet croquettes and empanadas. There are also sweet treats on offer, as well as lots of drinks, including mojitos, Spanish Sangria, and Aperol Spritz.
This one is for the girls. Sephora is an institution in Paris and queues sweep the store. Madrid has quite a few branches, on a smaller scale. I found that the queues were nowhere near as big. Sephora sells make up and perfumes, including their own range which is really good and surprisingly affordable. If you’re nearby it’s worth stocking up on a few beauty supplies. It’d be rude not to…
♥ Retiro Park
Spend half a day enjoying the sculpted trees and pretty flowers in this famous park. If you have time to play make sure you enjoy the rowboats on the lake too. (Buen) Retiro Park is a gorgeous green space that’s popular with both tourists and locals. Click to see lots more photos of the park and to read exactly what’s on offer.
♥ Palacio de Cristal
Whilst you’re in Retiro Park it’s worth visiting the very pretty Palacio de Cristal, or what’s otherwise known as The Glass Palace, or Crystal Palace. It’s a beautiful building that’s home to a very quirky (and a little freaky) exhibition at the moment. See if you can get your head round it. If you missed my #TravelTrailer video and write-up, recap here.
Madrid is a vibrant city that really has a lot to offer. Locals sit on the terraces laughing and chatting the hours away with their friends. I’d love to go back for another few days to see more of the city, and to enjoy it with my favourite people (especially on that roof terrace!).
Have you been to Madrid? What’s your top tip or recommendation? Is Madrid somewhere that you’d like to visit? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. X