Madrid, Spain captured my heart in 2012 when I studied abroad. I’ll be going back to Madrid for the third time in September! And for many people, you might be planning to visit or a move to Madrid very soon. So I wanted to create a list of things that made me fall in love with this amazing city.
1. Dancing the Night Away: There are so many amazing clubs in Madrid! You have to dance until the metro reopens (7 AM) at least once.
- Fabrik is an amazing club in the middle of nowhere. You take a bus from Plaza de Espana to the club, in the very south of the city. It used to be a airplane hanger. It’s huge with amazing decorations, expensive drinks and wild performers such as aerial gymnasts, go go dancers, and acrobats.
- El Kapital is by Metro Atoche. It’s a seven story club with a different music genre per floor. The rooftop bar looks like something from Las Vegas. This club is considered one of the best clubs in the world.
- Metro stop Sol has lots of clubs like Moondance, Mundo and Joy. There’s always promoters tempting you with discounted covers and free drinks.
- * Don’t go before midnight to a club. Most clubs are open until 7 AM. Expect a cover.
2. Drinking Like a Spaniard: Barrio Malasaña is the hipster area with lots of great bars and restaurants. It’s my favorite neighborhood in Madrid.
- Cherokee is known for cheap shots and huge drinks. The shots are watered down but the vibe isn’t.
- La Via Lactea has a chill area on top and dancing downstairs. You can transition from dancing to just talking by walking upstairs. The drinks are decently priced and the crowd is young and fun.
- Tupperware plays lots of 90’s grunge music. It’s one of my favorite bars in Madrid. I love it because I can get so sick of the Top 40 music at every other bar. Sometimes, they play random music from all different genres and even throw on a random movie. The clientele is just as random. I’ve seen stag parties, laid back chatter boxes and girls dancing on tables. You never know!
3. Chocolate and Churros: This is a classic dessert in Spain! You have to try it once. The most famous place is Chocolateria de San Gines. It’s open all night long for those late night cravings. It’s conveniently located near metro stop Sol. Valor and Chocolat are also popular chocolate spots.
4. Flamenco: There’s plenty of flamenco bars and even the classic flamenco theater but you can’t leave Spain without seeing a show! It’s the dance of passion.
5. Museum Heaven: If you love museums, you came to the right place! There’s the Reine Sofia (modern art), The Prado (fine art), Thyssen (impressionism), Lazaro Galdiano (an assortment of everything), and more!!! The majority of the museums are near metro stop Atoche. Depending on how much time you have in Madrid pencil in at least the Prado or Reine Sofia. Students get a discount at most museums.
6. Goya: The largest collection of Francisco Goya is in The Prado. If you start from the top floor and go down, his work will be in chronological order. And if you really love Goya there’s a little church, Glorieta de San Antonio de la Florida by metro stop Principe Pio. Goya painted the frescoes and his tomb is there. It’s free too!
7. Ernest Hemingway: There’s plenty of places in Madrid that proudly declare “Ernest Hemingway hung out here.”
- Sobrino de Botin is a famous, fancy restaurant where Ernest Hemingway used to write. It’s the oldest restaurant in the world dating back to 1725.
- Museo Chicote and La Cervecera Alemana were bars Hemingway used to frequent.
- Don’t forget the bullfights at Plaza de Toros, that inspired him in The Sun Also Rises (I don’t like bullfighting but it has to be mentioned).
8. Sundays: A perfect Sunday in Madrid is shopping at the Rastro (a weekly flea market). The most random things are being sold. It’s at Metro Stop La Latina from 9 AM to 3 PM. Then get a drink and tapas at one of the little bars in the neighborhood. Everyone is out so be prepared for a crowd and the pickpockets that come with them.
9. Parks: Retiro is the largest park in Madrid. There are stands with tapas and sangria sprinkled around with street performers near by. The Reine Sofia has a free rotating exhibit in Palacio de Valesquez. Also, don’t forget to get in a rowboat and enjoy the lake.
Parque Oeste is near metro Moncloa. In the middle of the park is a Templo de Debod. Templo de Debod is a famous, must-see landmark. It’s surrounded by reflective pools on a hill. This temple was a present from Egypt for Spain’s assistance saving Egyptian historical monuments. It’s best to see at sunset.
10. Royalty: The Palacio Real is near metro stop Opera. It’s a classic sight in Madrid. There’s little museums inside and fantastically decorated rooms. See how the king lives! Casa de Campo is the public gardens directly behind Palacio Real at metro stop Principe Pio. The gardens are beautiful with lots of flowers, swans and fountains.
11. Eat like a Madrileño: Bite size food with a bucket of beer? That’s eating like a Madrileño! A botellon is lots of beer in a bucket for one low price. Pair it with tapas and friends. Some of my favorite spots are El Tigre, La Sureña and Lateral.
*Vegetarians, beware, there are not many vegetarian tapas. Queso manchego is bread and cheese. Tortilla de española is a omelette on bread. Those are usually your only two options.
12. On Top of the World: There’s two great viewpoints in the city. Teleferico is a classic tourist site at metro stop Arguelles. The cable car takes you high in the sky for a bird’s eye view of the whole city.
Palacio Ciebeles is at metro stop Banco de Espana. There’s a few contemporary art exhibits that circulate through the palace. You can take the elevator to the top of the beautiful building get some views of the city. And if you are feeling extra posh, there’s a rooftop bar with overpriced drinks. Enjoy the fresh perspective!
13. Real Madrid: I’m not a sports fan but I’d still take the time to watch a football match! It’s part of being in Europe. You definitely should check out the stadium whether it’s for a game or not. It’s near metro stop Santiago Bernabeu.
14. Get out of the city: There’s an assortment of daytrips from Madrid. Segovia, Escorial, Toledo, Cuenca and Manzanares are great small towns near Madrid. If you don’t have a lot of time go to Toledo. It’s one of the few places in the world where mosques, synagogues and churches coexist together in peace and unity. Also, it’s one of the few places that didn’t destroy its synagogues during the Inquisition. There’s a great collection of Greco paintings at the church as well.
I hope you fall in love with Madrid just like I did.