I Love Madrid. It’s held a very special place in my heart since I spent a summer there after university studying and drinking ‘tinto de verano’ and I was lucky enough to visit for the fourth time a couple of weeks ago.
Each time I’ve visited it’s been for a different reason and this one was definitely more food and drink focused than anything else which is why I had planned on writing a guide on where to eat like I did for Oslo.A quick poll on Insta proved that the sights were just as sought after as the restaurants though so I thought I’d put together more of a city guide that combines the two instead.
It’s by no means an exhaustive list of places to go/eat given we were there for the best part of two and a half days but, if you’re planning a long weekend, I hope it gives you some food for thought – literally.
Where to go
El Palacio Real
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that a simple photo outside this palace turned into an awkward almost marriage proposal but it’s well worth a visit if you can bear with the strange requests of glam old Spanish ladies.
I’ll admit that the outside’s probably more impressive than the inside but if you’ve got time, I’d still do both. Make sure you don’t miss the palace gardens behind either. They’re a lovely place for a stroll in the summertime.
Museo Nacional del Prado
I’ll be honest and say that art isn’t really my thing which is why it took me four visits to finally go to this museum. I’m glad I did though. Paintings might not be my passion but it’s full of people and history which definitely are. Just make sure you consult the ‘where to eat’ section of this post before you head there. You’ll be inside for hours.
My favourite of all the sights in Madrid. This park never gets old. I’m used to going in summer when you can easily spend hours lying under trees in the shade but it was equally as beautiful in October with its orange leaves and autumn sunshine. Make sure you hunt down the rose garden, go for a row on the lake and get the famous shot of El Palacio Cristal.
I’m a sucker for a historical sight but for me, the best things to see in Madrid are its neighbourhoods. Chueca and Malasaña are my personal favourites. They’re full to the brim with narrow winding streets, independent shops and more character than you can shake a churro at (more on those later).
Where to eat
This cute little café near Retiro Park was filled with books and mismatched furniture and it couldn’t have had more than about five tables so I quickly knew I was onto a winner – we always try and hunt down little independents over chains no matter where in the world we are. The menu is simple but features one of my favourite Spanish breakfasts (tomatoes and olive oil on toast) so I was really rather chuffed. The orange juice also came freshly squeezed and our window seat in the corner was the perfect place to watch the world go by.
Those of you who have visited my blog before will know I’m a massive fan of The Anna Edit. I pretty much solely did Brighton on her recommendations so obviously, I took on board her advice for Madrid and boy am I glad that I did when it comes to this place. It’s definitely on the less typically Spanish, more Instagram-appropriate end of the scale but between beautiful interiors and even more beautiful food, neither of us were complaining.
- Mercado de San Miguel
I discovered this spot on my first visit to the city and have been back every time since. Yes, it’s full of English people and no, it’s not as cheap as some of the more traditional places but the food is delicious and the atmosphere is buzzing.
- Yatai Market
Another of Anna’s recommendations. Yatai Market was a new one for me this time around and while I can’t say the atmosphere was great, it was decorated amazingly and the sushi and ramen we had there more than made up for it.
- Taberna El Sur
This is a must-visit if you’re after a typical Spanish lunch. The food was top notch (grilled octopus, patatas bravas and tortilla all recommended) and to say the service came with a smile would be an understatement. The €2.50-a-glass wine didn’t hurt either.
- La Taberna de Colono
Stumbling across this taberna was a total accident. We were heading somewhere around the corner that we soon discovered had an hour’s waiting list so opted for this place instead. Another helping of patatas bravas and a Brazilian steak special made for an unbelievable first meal of the trip.
- La Pescaderia
If you’re into seafood, this one’s for you. Again I wouldn’t say it’s the most typically Spanish place I’ve ever been to but the food was really quirky (I’m talking mango and avocado baked prawns) and I’d definitely think about going back if we ever return to the city, which we definitely will.
- Chocolatería San Ginés
This is Madrid’s most famous churro spot and it’s been serving the Spanish delicacy since the 1800s. Its walls are filled with famous faces who’ve eaten there and it’s definitely a rite of passage on your travels. We took our churros and a cup of melted chocolate to go, saving more time for exploring.
- Llao Lloa
On reflection, frozen yoghurt was definitely not what we needed at 10 pm on a cold, rainy evening but, if you’re a little more lucky with the weather than we were, there are Llao Llaos dotted around a lot of the plazas and I highly recommend paying them a visit (or three).
For coffee, you HAVE TO GO TO TOMA. Plants, inspirational quotes, top notch coffee and interiors inspo, what more could you want?
Have you visited Madrid before? Any recommendations to add to the list?