Last month I visited Spain with Mary. A long distance friend and one of the most travel-enthusiastic people I’ve ever met. Mary asked me if I wanted to go to Madrid with her. Another home away from home for Mary, as she has lived in this city for a couple of months when she was younger. We decided to do a little Spanish city break and traveled to Barcelona as well.
Madrid was our second stop in Spain, and it couldn’t be more grand. While following Mary around the city she still loved by heart I walked into the most beautiful spots around this little part of the world.
Madrid is a beautiful city. Somehow the capital of Spain has gotten less and less touristic than Barcelona over the years and forgotten by a lot of people who travel to Spain.
How on earth is this possible?
Madrid is vivid, filled with the best restaurants, filled with city parks, stores and squares to see and explore. You’ll find yourself lost in the most random looking little streets and you’ll find yourself back on the most beautiful looking places through out in the capital.
I was in Madrid for 3 whole days. While I’ve seen a lot of the city already, I can’t say I’ve seen it all and I definitely don’t think I would do the city justice to talk about the 8 must do’s in Madrid. Because, let’s face it, I probably will forget to mention a lot of things you definitely MUST do.
That is why I decided to write a more ‘personal version’ of the ‘this could have been TripAdvisor’.. blah article. And so today, I wrote a list with the 8 things that I did in Madrid, that I think were so memorable you should do them to!
Relax in El Retiro
Park Retiro was the spot in Madrid we visited most. For some reason every time we walked through the city we ended up in this particular spot. El Retiro is my personal favorite to relax, to eat, to get a tan and to fall asleep. El Retiro is beautiful. The bigger streets of the park are filled with lots of tourists, but when you walk a bit further into the park you’ll find quietness, locals, students and a lot of the green grass to pick out a comfortable spot for the rest of your afternoon.
Walk to the University Pool
..To find out that the pool is closed. Or, of course, if you do some research you might have some better luck than us. Our walk to the University Pool was probably the reason why I lost so much kilos during my trip to Spain. Do you have any idea how big a (reasonably) small city like Madrid is when you have to walk all the way through it?
The reason why we chose to go to the University Pool in the first place basically was because we just came in the city from Barcelona, where we spent our last day at the beach. Madrid was even hotter than Barcelona, but unfortunately for us, good (or good priced) pools aren’t a regular thing in Madrid. And that is why we decided to go for it and to chill at the University Pool. Or well.. that was the initial plan anyway.
Step foot inside the oldest restaurant of the world
According to Guinness World Records. The oldest restaurant of the world definitely looks old. While it of course, still is a restaurant, you can (during the day) enter this restaurant to see what this place is all about. See the table where Hemingway came up with story ideas, see some historic features on the wall, step inside a very moldy wine cellar to find the oldest bottle of wine and most of all – remember yourself of the very fact that you are in the oldest restaurant of the world!
Get used to Spanish dinner times
Dinner at 6? Definitely not. While not necessarily having a jetlag, or something like that, we definitely had to get used (or at least, or stomachs had to get used) to Spanish dinner times. 8 O’clock is a reasonable time to get some tapas, 9 O’clock is probably a bit early for your actual dinner, but later than that? PERFECT!
Order a Sangria, order tapas, paella or something else that is looking quite Spanish and you’re good to go!
Eat frozen yogurt with a view
Wanting a good view of Madrid will probably cost you. Fancy rooftop bars have long lines, an entrance fee and even a beer will cost you the double amount of what it will normally cost you in the city. Of course, traveling with someone who has internet research-skills that could get her a job at the FBI, we (read: she) found an alternative in no time. Close to our hostel, we found this frozen yogurt place Rocambolesc at the top floor of a shopping mall (El Corte Inglés). A beautiful view, a delicious snack and a great ambiance. What more do you want?
Drink the best Mojitos in town
So Since Mary has lived in Madrid herself when she was about 20 years old, I bet she had quite a couple of Mojiotos herself before she could judge where to get the best cocktails in town. BOY, did she find them! In the middle of one crazy tangle of streets Mary was still able to find the bar El Imperfecto (Plaza de Matute, 2) back.. the bar that serves the best mojitos of Madrid. This quirky looking bar, which looks even smaller because of the busy decoration, would never have even crossed my mind. But Mary was absolutely right.. these Mojitos are to die for, and you better taste them for yourself!
Enjoy the Flea Markets
Something I always do when traveling is visiting flea markets. I don’t know why, because I never buy something, but they just look cool. There is a lot to see, to hear and to explore in the regions around the flea markets. Just look at the biggest cities of Europe – they all have some pretty awesome markets to discover – including Madrid.
The one I can recommend you in Madrid is the market El Rasto. One of the biggest, most crowded but also most fun markets of the city. Oh, and while you’re at it, also visit the market hall of Madrid. Not much of a flea market, but it’s a nice market to visit anyway.
Shop at Stradivarius
One thing I always say that I am not going to do, but always end up doing, is shopping.
‘No. I will spend my money on travels. Not clothes.’
One very good reason in Madrid to forget this rule is the Spanish store Stradivarius. Probably most of you have heard or shopped at this place already, but I just wanted to mention it. Because this store – not going to lie – defined a lot of my citytrip in Madrid.