There is no such city more lively and vibrant than Madrid. Their rhythm of life and especially their MOVIDA (nightlife) is just legendary. A city of art, full of historical buildings and places to discover. Here’s a few travel tips for you to experience the REAL Madrid and embracing local culture by mingling with the locals.
Where to stay
Be at the centre of everything: modern and medieval Madrid. Travel on foot by staying in an peculiar hostel right in the core of the city: Plaza Mayor
Best BARRIOS in Madrid
Malasaña: combination of modern and tradition. Popular for its nightlife fun and urban art. Be amazed by the incredible masterpieces in many of the city walls/buildings. Get off at Tribunal Metro station and start wonder around towards Plaza del Dos de Mayo
Las Letras: once home of the greatest Spanish writers of the Golden Age such as Cervantes, Vega and Quevado. Now famous for its peculiar tapas bars and pedestrian roads where you can read quotes of the famous writers. Also in this area is where you can find major art museums such as El Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza.
La Latina: medieval part of the city which preserved its medieval structure with its narrow streets, churches and basilicas.
Where to get those TAPAS
Stylish modern Spanish restaurant/bar where to enjoy a variety of succulent Spanish tapas in one of Madrid’s most lively and vibrant plazas: Santa Ana. My recommendation as must-have tapas from their menu are: bull’s tail with creamy mash potato, croquets, Iberian ham, gazpacho, duck ravioli, albondigas (meatballs) and of course spanish tortilla (one of the best I ever had too).
A 3-floor market where to purchase authentic grocery products. This is not you usual food market as it is quite unique in its style and conception. On the first floor in fact, one can purchase authentic and fresh goods (ideal to buy and cook them once back in your airbnb/hostel if the case) and then proceed to the second floor to admire Spanish chefs giving cooking demonstrations. On the 2nd floor you can also enjoy a wide variety of freshly made food and take-aways and try out a good glass of Spanish Rioja from the market’s tavern-wine bar. To top up your experience I recommend visiting the 3rd floor terrace-restaurant where to enjoy a dessert or have a sit down meal in one of the market’s finest restaurants.Madrid’s top food market with over 33 stalls of freshly made dishes and tapas. Beside enjoying a central location (just off Plaza Mayor), it’s the only standing market with an iron structure. Its selection ranges from delicacies to carefully picked raw food showcasing the finest Spanish gastronomy. There is no specific food I can here recommend the most as EVERYTHING looks and is actually delicious.
Unique Bars & Rooftops
Areia Chill Out – a cocktail bar and lounge characterised by its unique style: with swing-bench booths, sandy area where to enjoy a good (and strong) cocktail with your friends and mingle with the locals feeling you are on a Caribbean beach.
Gymage – By far one of the coolest urban resort I have been. The most hipped place unique in its style. A must-go rooftop terrace in the heart of the city, boasting an infinity pool and modern cocktail bar overlooking surrounding historical Spanish buildings.
El Viajero – One of the best idyllic view of the city you can get, located in one of the oldest area of the Madrid, La Latina, famous for its narrow and medieval streets opening up into large squares. Best time to go would be sunset whilst enjoying some quality freshly prepared food.
Botin – World’s oldest family-ran restaurant in the heart of Madrid. A mere gem offering authentic and succulent Spanish dishes.
Goiko Grill – if you are craving for an authentic Spanish burger, this place selects the finest meats from the Basque country (region in north of Spain). My top 3 burgers are: M-30 (with goat cheese), Pigma (with egg) and Baby Yankee (soft ribs that melt in your mouth).
San Ginés – Thinking of a breakfast/break option but cannot decide what to have or where to go? Your best call would be Chocolatería of San Ginés. Ever since 1894, this place is delivering the best quality churros and hot chocolate by being faithful to the same traditional recipe. Once in there have a look at the pictures off all the many many VIPs and politicians who have visited and ate at this place.
M o v i d a – Nightlife
OCHO Y MEDIO: Blend with the locals and enjoy a variety of music styles: indi, electro-pop, 70s, 80s and 90s…This is the true Madrid hipster heaven.
OCEAN – During the day a sport venue for locals watching rugby, NBA, MLB and NFL and at night: a pre-drink/party place offering a liter-long drink of your favourite spirit and mixer for 7-8 euros. Now, this is what I call a bargain!
S E V E N floors of pure madness, connected by a stylish elevator. Your best night-out call as it pleases all sort of people given the fact that each floor has a different music: from techno to house, reggaeton, salsa, commercial and even a karaoke section. The home of my nights out during my Year Abroad. Thursdays are usually University nights where locals (and Erasmus) students go to have a good time. The vibe and style inside is incredible, topped up with a sensational rooftop terrace and lounge. My favourite floor however has to be the ground floor due to its special effects of confetti and fog shows. Here you can also experience live exhibitions in a theatrical display
Enjoy 2 drinks for 17 Euros (including entrance ticket). Valid before 1:30 AM.