Madrid

Madrid is Spain’s capital and is the third-largest city in the European Union after London and Berlin. Here you will find an abundance of sangria, tapas and paella – a food lovers heaven!

I checked into Petit Palace Puerta del Sol for 3 nights in June 2018. The hotel was just a 20 minute taxi ride from the airport, which cost approx. €35. I chose this hotel because of its location; it’s in the heart of the city close to many of the local attractions, as well as Sol Metro Station which makes getting around the city even easier.

The view from room 409

I arrived in Madrid at late afternoon on a Saturday. Not long after checking into the hotel, I headed straight to Calle Cava Baja for a traditional Spanish lunch – tapas! Just a 10 minute walk from Petit Palace Puerta del Sol, I had plenty of tapas bars to choose from. After walking up and down, I decided to eat at La Concha.

Cava Baja

After some serious indecisiveness, because the whole menu sounded delicious, I ordered the beef in red spicy curry, pork cheeks in red wine sauce, homemade meatballs in tomato sauce, hummus and flatbread, and the bread basket which came to €37.50.

Tapas

I still had room for dessert though! So I headed to Chocolatería San Ginés for some churros. Six churros and a hot chocolate only cost €4; I could see myself visiting here on more than one occasion!

Churros at Chocolatería San Ginés

The evening was spent at Bar Yambala, just a short walk from the hotel, and literally next door to Chocolatería San Ginés. Their sangria had to be one of the best I’d tasted in Madrid. Offering shishas and cocktails, the bar had a really nice chilled vibe to it.

I started my first full day in Madrid off with a pastry from a local bakery just across the road from the hotel called La Mallorquina, and sat underneath the mounted statue of Charles III of Spain in Puerta del Sol plaza.

Napolitana de chocolate = breakfast!

After breakfast, it was time to burn some of those calories off so I walked to El Rastro market. I followed Google Maps from Puerta del Sol and walked 15 minutes before arriving at Madrid’s largest flea market. Open between 8am-3pm, it’s a great place to pick up some souvineers to take back home.

El Rastro Flea Market

Once I’d finished at the flea market, I followed Google Maps to Mercado de San Miguel. Mercado de San Miguel is a popular food market, attracting both locals and tourists; it is not your usual culinary experience. It’s the most popular food market in town, with colourful stalls selling fresh fruits and vegetables to cured meats and olives. Even if you’re not hungry, it’s worth a look around.

Fruits at Mercado de San Miguel
Fresh seafood at Mercado de San Miguel
Cured meats at Mercado de San Miguel

Late morning was spent following the Lonely Planet’s 5 kilometre architectural walk. I started off admiring 17th-century architecture at Plaza de la Villa before heading along to Plaza de Oriente and Plaza de España.

I then made my way up to and along Gran Vía. Gran Vía is the busiest street in Madrid, lined with designer shops and elegant boutiques.

Next up was Plaza de la Cibeles which is home to Madrid’s most striking roundabout featuring Cibeles Fountain. The fountain was designed by the Spanish architect Ventura Rodríguez in 1782. Not only is the fountain one of Madrid’s most iconic symbols, it is also the place where Real Madrid Football Club celebrates its victories.

Cibeles Fountain

On my way to Caxia Forum, Madrid’s most unusual example of contemporary architecture featuring a vertical garden, I passed Museo del Prado which is the main Spanish national art museum.

Caxia Forum

Last on the list was Antigua Estación de Atocha which is the largest railway station in Madrid, serving 80 million passengers every year.

After all that walking, it was time for lunch at the oldest restaurant continuously operating in the world. Sobrino de Botín is open daily from 1pm – 4pm and 8pm – 12am. Booking a table is recommended if you wish to eat here, as it gets super busy! It’s no wonder, the roasted baby lamb was delicious!

Sobrino de Botín

I spent the evening watching a traditional Flamenco show at Cardamomo Tablao Flamenco. Booking is also recommended for this as the performances get really busy. I attended a 1 hour show which cost €39 each, plus €15 for the pre-show tapas.

Cardamomo Flamenco Show

On Monday, I spent the morning exploring Estadio Santiago Bernabéu – home to Real Madrid Football Club.

Real Madrid Football Stadium

To reach the stadium I took the Metro Line 1 from Sol, heading towards Pinar de Chamartín for 2 stops before jumping off at Tribunal, where I took the Metro Line 10 heading towards Hospital Infanta Sofía for 4 stops. The station for Santiago Bernabéu is called Santiago Bernabéu – nice and easy! and is just across the road from the stadium.

The audio guided tour cost €23 each and started off with a fantastic view of the stadium.

Even though I’m not a massive football fan, I still found the tour very interesting. I saw trophies, old kits and footballs, the press conference, the changing rooms and walked through the dugout. I spent about two hours here before making my way back to the hotel.

Press Conference Room

Lunch was at La Casa del Abuelo, a traditional tavern just off the main Plaza Mayor, where I tried the local speciality “bocadillo de calamares”. It didn’t disappoint.

Bocadillo de Calamares

From Plaza Mayor, I followed Google Maps and took a 20 minute leisurely stroll to El Retiro Park. The sun decided to make an appearance, which made it the perfect afternoon to hire a rowing boat on the lake. It was €6 to hire the boat for 45 minutes, or €8 on weekends and Bank Holidays.

El Retiro Park

I couldn’t leave Spain without eating any paella, so dinner was at España Cañí where I had the most delicious seafood paella for €12.90.

Dessert was one last visit to Chocolatería San Ginés for some churros con chocolate, followed by my last sangria at Bar Yambala.

Thank you Madrid for a great weekend away!

Read about my top 10 things to see and do in Madrid here.