5 Awesome Things to do in Madrid

5 Awesome Things to do in Madrid


Madrid is a city that is hard to summarize. There isn’t one single thing you must do when you visit the Spanish capital. There’s no La Sagrada Familia or Las Ramblas like in Barcelona. I had previously been twice to Madrid; once in 1998 and then again in 2010 and neither time was I very impressed. In fact, I was extremely underwhelmed.

5 Awesome Things to do in Madrid

But I have always heard from people I trust that it really is a great city so I was always open to returning. So when my 2 best friends and I decided to head to Madrid for El Clasico, it was a decision made easy. Now I’ve become a big fan of Madrid and look forward to returning again soon. In fact I’ll probably include it in my next 30 best cities in the world post. Here are 5 awesome things to do in Madrid that I did during my 4 days.

Walk Around

Madrid is a great walking city. In fact it’s up there with places like Rome and Paris for great walking cities of Europe. Since there really isn’t anything specific to see it’s a great city to just get lost in.

Madrid, Plaza Mayor, 5 Awesome Things to do in Madrid

Puerto del Sol and Plaza Mayor are pretty much the center of the city. They are very touristy and have the same stupid characters to take pictures with like they do in Times Square. Puerto del Sol isn’t much to look at to be honest but a good place to choose a side street and go. Plaza Mayor is a big plaza that is attractive to check out. Nearby are a ton of little streets going in every direction imaginable so just choose one and go with it!

Things to do in Madrid, Madrid, 5 Awesome Things to do in Madrid

I’m not a museum guy but I have been to the Prado Museum before and if you’re into art, especially Spanish art, then you’ll enjoy it. It’s one of the world’s top museums and a popular place to visit in Madrid. The nearby Naval Museum is also worth a look. They’re clustered together on a very scenic street that should be a part of any walk in Madrid.

Metropolis, 5 Awesome Things to do in Madrid, Madrid, things to do in madrid

That’s just it, you can’t really say you should walk one specific place because the best part of walking in Madrid is just stumbling upon a little plaza or a scenic street and just watching Madrilenos living their lives and smoking a lot-as they do.

Food

Pretty much everything in Madrid, like all of Spain, revolves around ham, specifically, jamon Iberico. You honestly cannot escape it and will pretty much have it with every meal. I don’t know how vegetarians could survive in Spain! There are ham stores and restaurants all over the city and I definitely suggest checking them out. But my favorite place for jamon and just about everything else is El Mercado de San Miguel.

El Mercado de San Miguel, Things to do in Madrid, Madrid

It has just about everything and is a very popular place adjacent to Plaza Mayor. Expect to push through crowds but eat to your hearts content. The best way to attack is to do it tapas style. Get a little thing from a lot of places. Each stand serves up different foods and each is excellent. My personal favorites were the olives obviously with ham!

Jamon at El Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid

We ate out a lot in Madrid and the two places that stick out to me. First, Bar Galleta is a really central, nice place with very poor service and excellent food. The beef cheek and Greek style Moussaka were both really good. Most service in Spain sucks to be fair but this was noticeably bad but the food more than made up for it. It’s also pretty cheap for great food and wine. For 3 grown men who ordered like 5 appetizers, 3 mains and 2 bottles of wine, it was only 150 or so Euros total.

Madrid, Bar Galleta, Madrid

Pai Pai is a little off the tourist map, out of the center and owned by a friend of a friend. So we were treated really well and ate like kings. It’s a place where you just order a bunch of stuff and share it all. We had 6 people and obviously it all got eaten! For 6 people, many drinks and a very good time, it was only 200 Euros total so we thought that was a great deal!

Drinking

Drinking in Madrid is a way of life. Everyone you see is drinking wine, beer, Tinto Verano, cocktails or coffee. It’s a very social thing that’s engrained in the Spanish culture. I was fighting jetlag the whole trip so I probably had coffee or espresso in 15 different coffee shops. I cannot recommend one specifically but they were all excellent. Don’t even think of going into a Starbucks in Madrid!

Salmon Guru, Madrid, drinking, things to do in madrid

My favorite bar by far was Salmon Guru. It’s a world-class cocktail bar that is currently ranked #47 in the 50 best bars in the world list. I can affirm it is awesome, creative, has great décor and excellent cocktails.

Salmon Guru, Madrid, drinking, things to do in madrid

We tried about 12 different drinks between the 3 of us and all of them were good. Like any great bar, I always use the old fashioned as my basis for comparison. Then I ask the bartender to make me anything whiskey or bourbon based he wants-I like to be surprised by great mixologists. Then I’ll usually order a specialty cocktail or 2. And if I’m with others than we can all order different things and taste them all.

 

Rooftop bars are big in Madrid. My friend Lori, who lives in Madrid, loves Circulo de Bellas Artes for sunset views and highly recommends it. We didn’t actually get there because of whatever reason but I’m recommending it anyway! Other than that there are literally thousands of bars and cafes in Madrid. You won’t go thirsty!

Sports

Madrid is a very sporting city. It boasts two of the best club soccer teams in the world in Real and Atletico Madrid football clubs. The whole reason behind this trip to Madrid was to watch El Clasico; which is the worlds biggest club soccer match each year between my favorite team FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Getting tickets is no easy task and you will overpay but it’s well worth it!

Santiago Bernabeu, El Clasico, things to do in madrid

The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium; the home of Real Madrid is a great stadium. Dare I say even better than the Camp Nou in Barcelona? It’s also in a really nice area, which is very pleasant to have drinks before and after the game. Barcelona won the game so I was thrilled. Real Madrid fans not so much as it was their second El Clasico loss in a week-the other was in a Copa del Rey semifinal.

El Clasico, things to do in madrid

Later this year Madrid will host the Champions League final. That is the biggest game in world football each year when there is not a world cup. It’s basically the Super Bowl of Europe. That’ll be hosted at the new Atletico Madrid stadium, which I’ve not yet been to. Madrid is also host to a Masters tennis tournament in May at the Caja Magico. It’s one of 2 tennis Masters events I’ve not yet been to so I have some reasons to come back to Madrid soon!

Parks

Retiro Park in Madrid is one of, if not the best urban park I’ve ever been to and I live near Central Park in New York. It’s a tremendous place to stroll, play and people watch. It’s immaculately kept up and even has rowboat rides like Central Park. We went there twice as the weather was absolutely perfect and pretty much saw every inch of the park; which is a pretty big park! I highly recommend it.

Retiro Park, Madrid

I also recommend checking out the botanical gardens right next to the Prado Museum. You have to pay a few Euros to enter but it’s worth it and it’s never crowded. It’s a nice way to spend an hour or so and chill.

5 Awesome Things to do in Madrid

So those are 5 awesome things to do in Madrid. It’s a city that is best experienced because it’s hard to really explain it to people. So walk around, eat, drink and be merry all around while soaking up the Spanish zest for life. You’ll be happy you did.

Comments

  1. And for eating the Museo del Jamón! It’s not a museum at all, just a traditional pub with a loooot of jamon. There are at least two of these in Madrid and are always my favorite places to go 😉

  2. Great blog. Amazing photos! Thanks for sharing and keep it up!

  3. Incredible content. !! Amazingly written post.
    Thanks for posting such valuable information about these great things one can do in Madrid.
    Your article is really helpful. Thanks And Keep Posting !!
    Looking forward to know more from this blog .

  4. Edward Hansen says

    Madrid is a place I enjoyed most in my last year visit. I enjoyed almost everything you’ve shared here. Thanks for the nice post.

  5. This is great article, These are the essential place that everyone looking for. Thanks mate as I am a big fan of real madrid I will gonna explore these places next time.

  6. Other alternative activity that can be developed if you visit Madrid would be to make a wine tour through the surrounding villages visiting the wineries and tasting the most renowned wines (Duero, Rueda …). There are several companies that make them but I will highlight Winebus (https://www.winebus.es/en/) that makes 10-hour tours with traditional foods like the tapas and complementary activities in addition to the tasting of these wines.
    Cheer up!

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