Madrid is such a wonderful city and is one of my favourite places to visit. Not only because it’s like a second home to me, but I love the chilled atmosphere of the city. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as sitting in a Spanish restaurant at night with a few beers. But Madrid is still a city with a great buzz about it. The city offers travellers so much and has a different feel from other European capitals. Madrid is a city that offers a true Spanish experience, with the seemingly infinite variety of different foods and its cultural history.
When we visit new places we try our best to try different foods and take part in different cultures. In Madrid one of our favourites things to do is just eat all things Spanish, whether that be tapas, paella or a Spanish omelette. If the best places that offers great Spanish food is the ‘Mercado De San Miguel’. The market has a wide range of traditional food as well as drinks for you to try. We have visited the market so many times and can really recommend this place for its food and atmosphere. Its a great place if you want to just chill, have some great food and have a drink or two. The market has a real Spanish feel too it and is really chill.
What makes Madrid such a good city is that it is rich with culture and history. This means that there are so many different things you can do! You can choose to partake in flamenco dancing, a Spanish cooking class or enlightening yourself in its many art galleries. However, as we wanted to embrace Spain’s culture and history in one, we decided to visit the ‘Plaza Toros las Ventas’ – Bull Ring. Even if you do not like the idea of bull fighting, the tour was very educational and gave you a great idea of how the stadium was built and how the sport plays out. The tour is quite long so make sure you have plenty of time to spare if you want the full experience. The tour allows you to walk around the bull ring at your own pace whilst listening to an audio headset. Personally, we enjoyed the tour as it gave us a greater insight on how bull fights work, as well learning about the history of the sport and what it means for Spain.
Another must see sight in Madrid is the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace is quite simply mind blowing. Whether you’re interested in the history, the art or the architecture, by the end you will be fascinated by all three. If you do visit the Palace, make sure you do not miss the armoury as it is made up of Spanish weapons from its past colonial empire. Each room in the Palace is decorated superbly and you really can see why it was the former Palace of the Monarchy. Unfortunately, you will not be rubbing shoulders with any Spanish royalty, as it is now used for ceremonies only. Again, if you want to truly appreciate just how good the Palace is, we would recommend giving yourself a couple of hours so you don’t have to rush anything. We spent a few hours here, even though some of us had been before. There is a lot to see, especially if you want to fully engage with the tour.
You can’t mention Madrid without mentioning football. Real Madrid is not only the biggest club in Spain, but the biggest in Europe. With its recent domination of European football visiting the stadium is a must! If you’re a fan of football and/or basketball, then the Santiago Bernabeu is a paradise. The stadium tour allows you to see the stadium at your own pace and does not require a tour guide. This is very rare for football stadiums and makes the experience a lot more enjoyable. Having access to indulge in the history of one of the greatest footballing sides was a wonderful experience. The tour is very interactive and not a bore like some other stadium tours are. This is something that we would highly recommend visiting the stadium as it is so iconic to the city and Spanish history in general. The tour gives you a chance to take a picture of their 11 (now 12) European trophies all in one. However, as someone who does support Real, then I could be quite biased.
During our stay, we took a short-day trip to Toledo via the train, a small Spanish city close to Madrid. Whilst in Toledo we ate at more Spanish restaurants as well as visiting its castle. The castle is a bit of a walk away from the train station (it doesn’t help that we got lost) but is certainly worth the effort. The castle grants the opportunity to take pictures of some stunning views that are a must see! We really enjoyed visiting Toledo as it was something completely different from what we have done whilst visiting a capital city. Toledo also has a magnificently designed cathedral that you should visit if you have the time. As someone who has now studied the Spanish Civil War at University, learning about the history of the Toledo during this period was an eye opener for me looking back at my time spent there. Toledo is historically an interesting city and is definitely worth checking out!
As someone who has visited Madrid many times the amazing atmosphere and buzz you get from the city never disappoints. However, this was the first time that I had gone with my friends and not my family, and I was finally old enough to drink. What surprised us was that Madrid has an incredible nightlife. It was such a pleasant surprise as we were not expecting just how good It would be. Like a lot of other cities and if you will know if you have read some of our other blog posts, we would recommend signing up to a bar crawl online or at your hostel for the best exposure to what a night in Madrid has to offer. The pub crawl took us to some of the best bars and clubs in the city and made the night out one to remember.
Madrid is such a wonderful city and we would recommend anyone to go over a lot of other cities. Whether it be for a weekend or more, you will not run out of things to do. Madrid is a city that can give you whatever you want. If you like the chilled atmosphere, then Madrid can give you that. Most restaurants, squares and markets are some of the most relaxed places we have visited. However, if you like a city that is on the move, upbeat and eccentric then Madrid can give you that!
View the rest of our Madrid pictures here.