10 Things to Do During a Weekend in Madrid

Tirso de Molina, Madrid

This post originally appeared on our sister site notesfromspain.com.

Recommendations for 10 things to do in Madrid

1. The Do or Die Arty No-Brainer
Visit at least one of the big three art museums, the Prado, the Reina Sofia or the Thyssen. If in doubt pick the Reina Sofia and see Guernica.

2. Tapas Grazing
Start on Cava Baja, stopping at will on this bar-packed street, then head into the depths of La Latina for more.

3. Something Different
Take a trip on the Teleférico, out into the depths of the Casa de Campo.

4. A Walk
Go to Plaza de la Villa and take one of the small alleys on the left-hand side or at the back of the square. Wander aimlessly, follow your nose, change course at will, check out the churches – it’s the best way to see Madrid de los Austrias, the ancient city centre.

5. Everyone misses
Malasaña – a really charming barrio centered around Plaza Dos de Mayo. Check out the lovely tiled shop fronts, ignore the graffiti, and have a drink at Manuela Café, on Calle San Vicente Ferrer 29.

6. A Park
The Retiro: for people-watching, romance, rowing, and relative peace and quiet.

7. A Shop
Antigua Casa Talavera, an incredible ceramics shop on Calle Isabel la Católica, 2.

8. A trip out of the city
El Escorial or Toledo. It’s a toss up as to which is best. If you really can’t decide, try Chinchón instead.

9. Hidden Culture
El Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, at Plaza de las Descalzas Reales, 3. A closed order of nuns still live in the private quarters of this monastery. Amazing treasures lie within.

10. Last thing at night
Ward off a hangover with chocolate con churros at Chocolatería San Ginés, on Pasadizo de San Ginés. Things liven up after 3 a.m., when locals gather to dip thick battery churros sticks into gloopy hot chocolate.

Add more Madrid recommendations in the comments below!

See map below for places mentioned above: Continue reading

Posted in Travel tips | 4 Comments

Kids in Madrid: The Train Museum (Adults Too!)

by Ben Curtis

Train Ride, Madrid Train Museum - Museo del Ferrocarril Delicias

The train museum, tucked away in an old station building to the south of Atocha, right next to Delicias Cercanias and Metro stations, is a fantastic way to spend a morning.

On Saturdays from 11.30 until lunchtime they have the mini trains running around a great little landscaped track at the back – it’s amazing how these replica mini steam and electric trains can happily pull about 8 adults with kids on their knees.

I’m not sure who enjoys it more, the kids of the adults, both the train rides, the vast model railways, and the wonderful old locomotives and trains from the past century and a half.

More information at the Madrid Train Museum/Museo del Ferrocarril webstie: http://www.museodelferrocarril.org/

Posted in Kids Madrid, Madrid Museums

Las Ventas

ventas250.jpgby Marina Diez

Despite being completely against bull fighting I have to admit that Las Ventas bullring is an impressive construction. Luckily it has other uses apart from the obvious one.

For example, from June through October it is used as a pop & rock concert venue, and in my opinion it is one of the best places to listen to live music in Madrid.

It is big enough to hold several thousand people (23,798 seated, to be precise) yet being completely round makes it much more compact and atmospheric than any stadium that I’ve been to for a concert. I’ve been lucky enough to see international bands there like Radiohead, and Spanish artists like Joaquin Sabina. Definitely worth checking out if you see one of your favourite bands on the list for this unique venue.

Metro: Ventas Address: C/Alcalá, 237. See map below: Continue reading

Posted in Culture, Travel tips | Leave a comment

El Rastro

organillorastro.jpgby Marina Diez

This famous Sunday morning flea market, located next to La Latina, one of the oldest quarters of Madrid, has everything from clothes, bags and other paraphernalia, to the funny stalls dedicated to just one single thing: there is one, for example, that sells nothing but various shapes and sizes of elastic bands!

One specific side street is dedicated to pets, with real pet shops on either side of the road, and a few people outside selling their own puppies out of cardboard boxes and sports bags. The main street, c/ Ribera de Curtidores, is the place to head to if you’d like to see antique shops in Madrid, most of which open every day of the week.

There are two extra reasons for visiting the Rastro on a Sunday morning: the first is the live music, from the organ grinder playing Chotis, a popular music and dance from Madrid, to a complete Jazz band if you’re lucky.

The second reason is food: finish your Rastro visit with either the traditional bocadillo de calamares, a battered squid baguette sold in one of the many bars lining the main Rastro strip, or head towards the atmospheric heart of La Latina for lunch in one of the many tapas bars around Plaza de la Cebada and Cava Baja.

TIPS: Go early, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., to avoid the masses. Be careful with your wallet, camera and other possessions, as this is a favourite spot for pickpockets.

Metro: La Latina / Tirso de Molina. The Rastro is on Calle Ribera de Curtidores and surrounds. See map below: Continue reading

Posted in Eating out & Madrid Restaurants, La Latina, Rastro, Shopping in Madrid, Travel tips | 6 Comments

An Evening on the Terrazas

by Amy Menchhofer


The weather in Madrid has taken a turn towards summer and streets throughout the city have sprouted terrazas. You can surely find a sunny spot for a drink and a snack near your apartment or hotel, but there are two streets in Madrid that truly are prime for dining and drinking al fresco.

Starting at Calle Menendez Pelayo (on the eastern perimeter of Retiro), calles Ibiza and Alcalde Sainz de Baranda are proper boulevards whose wide, paved medians are dotted with newsstands, benches, and, April through October, a non-stop parade of terrazas.

Along these roughly 10 blocks you’ll find all manner of food and drink and almost no tourists. Located in the heart of the Retiro district (located east of the park and south of the Salamanca neighborhood), the area is favored by the locals and the prices are set accordingly. You’ll obviously pay more for dining outside than for having a drink at the bar, but the prices are below those found in more touristy areas. And FAR below those found at the terrazas in the nearby Retiro.

Head over that way in the early evening and pick a place which looks nice — or, more likely, one that has an open table. In the warmest months, the terrazas fill up starting around 7:30 and stay busy until 1 or 2am. If you get there at the right time and can take your pick of the locales, try one of these favorites: Continue reading

Posted in Bars and Cafes, Eating out & Madrid Restaurants, Retiro | 5 Comments

Where to Do Yoga in Madrid

City Yogaby Katie Goldstein

Yoga is a great way to get a workout, relax, and focus on things you easily forget in the hubbub of city life. The offering of yoga classes in Madrid is quite diverse, both in terms of styles and centers. Centers run the gamut from one-room studios with small classes to multi-room New York-style centers with all the requisite amenities. Where you decide to practice yoga in this city will depend on what you’re looking for, be it a studio close to your house, a particular style, or the right class schedule. Most centers will let you do a trial class either for free or for a nominal fee.

City Yoga is one of the bigger (and posher) studios in the city, and offers everything from a variety of styles of yoga to pilates, as well as various massages and therapies. Schedules are very accommodating, as there are classes available all day during the week and Saturday mornings. Yoga class size can reach a maximum of 20 students.

Metro: Cuatro Caminos Address: C/ Artistas, 43 Phone: 91 553 4751.

Yoga Flow is a small studio where the experienced instructor, Oscar Montero, teaches Iyengar Yoga. Schedules are more limited than a place like City Yoga, but classes are smaller (eight tends to be the maximum), prices are slightly less expensive, and the attention is very personalized.

Metro: Islas Filipinas Address: C/ Cea Bermudez, 66 5A3 Phone: 91 442 3288. Continue reading

Posted in How To's / Where To's | 5 Comments

You Can Get it for Free (in Madrid)

by Julie Espinosa


There are tons of free things to take advantage of in Madrid, but this post goes beyond the normal standbys of parks, museums during certain hours and public healthcare. If you are hunting down frugal activities in the city, be on the lookout for the phrase, “entrada libre hasta completar el aforo,” free entrance until full. Search various event listings and check out the resources listed (in Spanish) here.

1. Art: For hip and fresh art spaces I recommend a visit to the Matadero and NFM’s perennial favorite, La Casa Encendida.

2. Clothes: Sincoste is an experimental “store” where the ropa is all free. It’s located in a sort of hippie-collective building that, according to a friend, calls to mind both Berlin and the U.S. Food Not Bombs movement. The name is an anti-capitalist riff on the Lacoste brand.

3. Books: Madrid’s library system offers a network of municipal libraries plus metro-based mini-libraries. To qualify for a borrower’s card, present your Spanish ID or passport, if a foreigner. Some English-language reading material and plenty of versión original DVDs available.

4. Tapas: OK, technically you do have to shell out for your drink to qualify for this offer, but several bars—like El Tigre—do a great job attracting clients with this freebie.

5. What would you choose as the best free thing in Madrid? Add your comments below!

See map below for locations mentioned above: Continue reading

Posted in Weird : Quirky : Fun | 3 Comments