For the sunniest capital in Europe, you’ll certainly feel like you’re walking on sunshine, as you dance your way through Madrid’s vast tapas and churros bars. I love this city for its social offerings, such as Sunday flea markets, buzzing food stalls and pulsating night life. Here’s how to spread your wings, embrace Madrid’s social charisma and soak up that vitamin D.
The Royal Palace
Take a romantic stroll along the Royal Palace gardens, you’ll spot the locals snuggling up on the green, or chattering on their phones. It’s Madrid’s largest building, plus the largest Royal Palace in Western Europe. You can also be dazzled by its many rooms, chandeliers and staircases, by booking online to go inside (11 euro).
Parque Del Retiro
To bask in those sunny rays, your best option is to wander around Parque del Retiro. This park was designed to be a summer residence for Spanish Royalty and is definitely the most beautiful park in town, but be warned as it’s massive, the size of Monaco alone! I suggest paying around 5 euro to jump in a paddle boat and row around it’s lake, plus admire its rose gardens.
Bursting from the seams with tapas bars, mojitos, draft beer and smiles. This neighbourhood is perfect for an evening of nibbles and bar hopping. You can play a game of hide and seek with the beautiful churches that are hidden down cobbled alleyways. But I’d get stuck in at El Viajero, which is a 3 story bar/restaurant, famous for it’s rooftop terrace. It can be a little overpriced, but the views pay off, plus the Mediterranean inspired menu is very good.
Pathways leading to sweet smelling popcorn shops, crafty lollipop stores and vintage clothing parlours. In this neighbourhood you can purchase retro denim jackets, then treat yourself to a trendy brunch…avocado and eggs included! Check out the bargains at Flamingos Vintage Kilo, you can purchase Hawaiian shirts, sequin dresses and denim overalls by the weight.
One of my hidden gems that I stumbled across, where you can dive into Spanish tapas, or try something a little extra. Order an array of their tasty dishes, from salted grilled vegetables (I never knew they could taste so good), creamy mushroom croquettes and my favourite – the Asian inspired wok dish, Chow Mein. Excellent value for money and perfect for sharing (or gobble it up alone), washed down with excellently priced wine.
Ojala is my favourite venue for brunch, due to its affordable menu (all day brunch set 12 euros) and its beach located downstairs. You can sip on coffee shakes whilst crunching your toes in the sand. Later in the evening, this area transforms into a party paradise. My recommendation is Espit Chupitos for fire shots with marshmallows, organism screams and a peculiar drink called mouth wash – it’s good fun!
Chocolateria San Gines
Scurry away from the hast of Plaza Mayor and tuck yourself in and into a chocolate fiesta. lines of long fried dough pastry fill the waiters arms, along with a balancing act of rich, thick chocolate dip. You’ll not regret 4 euros for a plate of dipping fun and delicious hot mess. Did you know, the churro takes its name from the churra sheep, whose horns it is said to resemble? Spanish Sheppard’s up in the mountains had limited access to food, therefore created themselves a tasty treat with flour, water, oil and an open fire.
Pin these suggestions to your maps and quote like a local: ‘no pasa nada’. This is a saying that’s often heard in Madrid, and it means don’t worry. The locals don’t, so why should you? Relax and enjoy Madrid!