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Why Visit Madrid?

The first destination most people will think of when visiting mainland Spain is Barcelona. But don’t overlook Madrid! You may be asking, why visit Madrid? For me, it has the perfect mix of culture, food, nightlife and amazing weather. For being one of the most famous cities in Europe, Madrid is still one of the most affordable cities I’ve visited. The food is super cheap and the city itself is very walkable so you probably won’t need to spend much on taxis or public transport. Overall, I think you would need at least 2 days to see Madrid but I could have stayed longer just to enjoy all of the wonderful food.

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    Tips for Visiting Madrid

    How to get to Madrid

    Madrid is one of the best places for a quick city break in Europe as it’s so easy to get to. You can get to Madrid a number of ways depending on where you’re coming from. Flying, driving, or via train are all options. Coming from London myself, I found the easiest and quickest way to get to Madrid was to fly from Gatwick Airport. We flew on AirEuropa which I’d actually never flown before and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a budget airline like EasyJet and the service was great and the flight was on time. The airport in Madrid is pretty small so it was relatively quick to get through immigration and out the door! Getting from Madrid airport to Madrid center only takes about 20 minutes via taxi or 35 via the train.

    How to get around Madrid

    There are a few different ways to get around Madrid. Firstly, if you’d like to take a taxi, Uber is available in Madrid and the rates are pretty reasonable. There are also licensed taxis and they take cash or card. In addition to Ubers, there are also electric scooters and bikes available to rent.

    Secondly, there is a public transport system in Madrid which consists of buses and the Metro.

    Lastly, as I mentioned above, Madrid is a very walkable city, so this is really how I made my way around the most so I could see all of the sites.

    Best time to visit Madrid

    As Madrid experiences four season, the best time to visit would depend on what type of weather you’re after and the level of crowds you are willing to deal with. High season in Madrid runs from June-August and the temperatures are quite hot, around 30 degrees celsius. The city is also crowded as there are many festivals including Madrid Pride in June. The low season is in January and February as temperatures dip to around 10 degrees Celsius. The months of March to May and September to November are what you would consider the “shoulder season” in Madrid. This means temperatures are starting to heat up or cool down and aren’t unbearable and the crowds haven’t arrived yet. These are the best months to travel if you’re on a budget and looking for a good deal. Just be aware the weather can be unpredictable during these months.

    Currency used in Madrid

    The currency used in Madrid is the Euro and most places accepted card while only a few preferred cash.

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    Must-see sights and things to do in Madrid

    Flamenco Show

    I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in my entire life and it is hands down one of the best activities you can do while in Madrid. Everything about it was completely mesmerizing. The music, the singing, the dancing, all of it. I booked a Flamenco show through Get Your Guide (if you book using that link I get a small commission 😊) which was on at the Tablao Flamenco Torres Bermejas. The dancers were incredible and I’m now a Flamenco fan for life!

    woman dancing flamenco at tablao flamenco Torres Bermejas madrid

    The Royal Palace of Madrid

    The Royal Palace is a must see site while visiting Madrid. As you’d expect it’s a very grand and regal building plus there are actual guards patrolling which is pretty cool to see. On the day we went, there was actually a procession of the horse guards welcoming diplomats and someone told me this happens quite often, so you might be lucky and see the same.

    Catedral de la Almudena

    The Cathedral is literally right next to the Royal Palace and is now in my list of top 3 churches in Europe I’ve ever seen (The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris being the first). Entry is $6 and it’s completely worth it. The best part is the rooftop dome where you can walk along the perimeter and enjoy 360 views of the city. Back inside the main part of the Cathedral where services take place, you will notice the unique Spanish painting and architecture which is absolutely breath-taking. I was standing there looking at the ceilings for at least 10 min.

    El Retiro Park

    I love exploring parks in Europe and the one in Madrid was beautiful with stunning landmarks and multiple gardens to explore. It’s located right in the centre and very easy to walk. The park itself is huge, we wandered around for at least 2 hours and saw the grand pond where you can rent paddle boats, a rose garden, multiple snack pavilions where you can grab a bite to eat or a glass of wine, and the Crystal palace.

    girl walking along the fountain of a rose garden el retiro madrid

    Palacio de Cristal

    The Crystal Palace is located in El Retiro Park but I wanted to list it separately as I think it deserves it’s own shoutout. It was such a stunning piece of architecture and I’d never seen anything quite like it before. It looks like something straight out of the Secret Garden.

    view of Palacio de Cristal in madrid

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    The best places to eat in Madrid

    If anyone were to ask me why is Madrid a good place to visit, I would immediately say, the food. The food is just incredible and incredibly cheap for what I’m used to paying in London. Here are some of my favourite spots around town recommended to me by friends and locals and also some we simply stumbled upon by accident.

    La Paloma

    A tiny hole in the wall local seafood restaurant that gets quite packed at lunch! This place was recommended to us by one of the waiters at another place. He told us it wouldn’t be anything fancy but it would be local and that it has some of the best seafood in Madrid. Sold! It’s standing only and very tiny so you will be rubbing shoulders with your neighbours which will most likely be locals. Their specialities are the peel and eat shrimp and oysters. They also do how wine and beer on tap. It’s quite affordable and definitely an experience.

    Taberna Tempranillo

    This is a tapas bar located in the La Latina neighbourhood. They have an entire wall of wines and an extensive menu of local tapas. I would recommend trying to book as it’s quite small and very popular. We got lucky and were able to find a standing spot at the bar.

    wall of wine in wine bar Taberna Tempranillo la latina madrid

    Los Chanquettas

    This is a very popular spot with the locals both young and old. The place is split into two parts. There’s a small bar area right when you walk in where I saw all of the younger generation enjoying drinks and tapas with their friends. In the back there is an actual sit-down dining area which looked to be more popular with the older generation enjoying a nice meal. We went on a Saturday and the place was very lively and everyone was laughing, chatting and having a great time. The best part about this place is that every time you order a drink at the bar you get a free small tapas plate to go with it! You can also order a specific tapa if you want but the free ones were quite good!

    Tasca Celso y Manolo

    This place was recommended to me by a friend and is in the Chueca neighbourhood of Madrid. It’s a small hip and stylish place and the staff are incredibly friendly. The menu has many local dishes and it’s more of a sharing style but you could also order your own plate if you wish. We had the famous pork dish and a side of their popular tomato salad and it was so delicious. They have an extensive wine and drinks menu to choose from as well.

    Los Cuatro Robles

    My friends and I actually stumbled upon this place on accident when we were looking for a quick drinks and small snack. It’s right off the main tourist road of Arenal so I didn’t have that high of hopes but I was highly mistaken! This place did incredible local dishes and the sangria was to die for. We tried the croquettes and the pan con tomato and it was simple yet delicious.

    San Miguel Food Market

    I absolutely love a good food market as it’s the perfect way to try a variety of local cuisines all in one place. The San Miguel Food Market in Madrid is perfect if you’re looking to try a bit of everything as they have croquettes, Spanish tortillas, empanadas, pintxo, and multiple bars to grab a sangria or 2.

    Pez Tortilla

    If you’re looking for a cheap and quick place to grab a local Spanish Omelette, this is it. It’s nothing fancy, definitely a local hole in the wall but they do such good omelettes where the inside is a little bit gooey and runny still and cooked to perfection.

    spanish omelette Pez Tortilla la latina

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    Where to stay and the best neighbourhoods in Madrid

    La Latina

    La Latina is a fun hip neighbourhood in central Madrid just a stone’s throw away from the Royal Palace and Cathedral. Its central location means it’s within walking distance of all the main attractions including El Retiro Park and San Miguel Market. There are tons of bars and restaurants on the famous street C. de la Cava Baja which you can’t miss for a night out! We stayed in this Airbnb and it was super affordable, clean, and a great location. If you’re looking for a hotel, try finding the best deals through Booking.com



    Chueca is a lively LGBTQ friendly neighbourhood located in Central Madrid and home to some of the most spectacular restaurants and bars. It’s right on the doorstep of El Retiro Park which is a must see attraction while staying in the city. The central location means it’s also perfect to base yourself here if you want to see the city by foot.

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    Where To Go Out in Madrid

    We stuck around our local neighbourhood of La Latina for going out at night as there were so many bars and it was super lively! The famous street is called Cava Baja and I’m not exaggerating when I say there are probably 50 bars and restaurants on this one small street. It really comes alive around 9PM. The Plaza San Andres is also right around the corner and has multiple bars and restaurants you can stop in to have a drink and people watch.

    The other place I’d recommend for going out but we didn’t really make it is the Chueca neighbourhood. This place was highly recommended by my friends as a place with some of the best nightlife in the city so check it out!

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