As far as city weekend escapes go, Madrid, the capital of Spain, is an excellent choice. Its beautiful streets, quirky boutiques, amazing food and affordable shopping make for the perfect quick weekend getaway.
I was recently lucky enough to pop over for 3 nights and fell in love with the city, so here are my tips and recommendations for how to make the most of a weekend in Madrid.
Where to sleep – The Chueca region is similar to London’s Soho. Great restaurants, boutique shopping and gay friendly.
Where to drink coffee – Toma Café serves up their own coffee bean roasts in perfectly crafted flat whites and lattes, as well as having Chemex and Aeropress options too.
My favourite way to discover new cities is to find the best coffee shops and go from there. This technique always works for me and helps me to explore new areas and see a part of a city that I wouldn’t ever otherwise see.
Where to shop – Gran Via and Fuencarral Street will keep you more than occupied. If you’re a fan of Zara, it’s extra cheap in Spain to save some luggage space!
Where to eat – Pop into any bar along Calle Baja near La Latina for some ‘tapas hopping’. Chueca also has great food. Don’t miss the amazing Mercado de San Miguel food market in central Madrid.
Where to party – La Latina is filled with bustling pintos and tapas bars, all boasting an amazing collection of wine too! Huertas, near Sol, is really popular and La Cruz street is filled with small bars. The student area of Tribunal is popular with a Shoreditch vibe – try Malasaña and Alonso Martinez.
Don’t miss – A visit to the Royal palace. Entry between 4-6pm on Mon-Thurs is free, otherwise it only costs €10 (€5 for students).
Where I ate –
- Bazaar – Calle de la Libertad, 21, 28004. €25 each covered tapas entrées, main meal, dessert and wine. Beautiful window seats and a perfect place for date night or to take the parents to (or in my case, the in laws)
- Lamiak – 42 Cava Baja street. Another fantastic basque tavern serving a beautiful array on pintxos. A great atmosphere, order a glass of Rioja and you get spoilt with a complimentary plate of incredible olives. Worth the visit just for those
- Taberna Txakoli – 26 Cava Baja street. This traditional pintxos taverna took me back to the streets of San Sebastian. Order a glass of red and enjoy the array of pintxos before moving on to the next tapas bars along Cava Baja for more
- San Miguel Market -Plaza de San Miguel, 28005. If you’re not so good at making decisions, beware of this place. There is just too much amazing goodness to choose from. Located in Madrid’s tourist centre, this market is perfect for an delicious lunch, an afternoon sweet tooth or an easy dinner before a night out with over 33 stalls selling tapas, wine, desserts and other delicious specialties
- Mercado de San Antoñ, Chueca – Calle de Augusto Figueroa, 24. This 3-storey health haven is the perfect place to kill an hour (or two). The first floor is a giant organic deli and fresh food market, and the second floor has a range of tapas for a quick meal. The top floor has a restaurant and although I avoided it due to some poor reviews, the views are lovely and it looked like a great place to enjoy a nice glass of wine.
Where I slept – A gorgeous 2 bedroom apartment in the heart of Chueca. A perfect, quiet location that’s within walking distance to everything. Rented online through Spain Select, who were lovely to deal with and very helpful, so I can highly recommend them
It was the perfect flat for visiting Madrid on foot, and also like a little haven to return to after a long day’s exploring. I highly recommend grabbing a bottle of Rioja and taking an afternoon siesta, to give you some energy before a typically late dinner
How I got there – £50 return flight from London Stansted to Madrid with RyanAir.
I didn’t think that I would enjoy my weekend in Madrid as much as I did, it was a really fantastic city full of delicious food, amazing wine, lively tapas bars, good shopping and a huge range of organic and health food stores, which was a bonus
Your time in Madrid is best spent exploring all these things on foot as you really get to take in as much as possible this way, plus, everything is super close and really easy to walk to
We had some mixed weather throughout the weekend. For early October it was quite humid and balmy, but the passing rain clouds kept us on our toes with ocassional showers and even the odd hail storm
The Royal Palace was just wonderful and definitely worth a visit. Without an entry ticket you can only see the Palace from outside the gate…
but for just €10 for a ticket you can have access to the whole Palace, including the courtyard with some pretty amazing countryside views, completely unexpected and totally breathtaking
Madrid’s Royal Palace is considered by many to be one of Europe’s finest, and it’s also one of the largest palaces still in use. Although the King no longer lives here, it’s still actively used for State events
Exploring the rooms inside, I felt like I had died and gone to Palacial heaven. It was all so grand and beautiful, filled with lavish furnishings, famous artwork and rich, intense colours at every turn. Each room had its own stunning theme, even the hallways were decorated to perfection
Madrid’s Royal Palace reminded me a lot of France’s Versailles, in fact, that was the designer’s (Fillipo Juvara’s) intention, but luckily this was much, much quieter as you can see. It wasn’t hard to often be the only person in a room, a luxury that anyone who has ever been inside the palace of Versailles can appreciate
It was a fantastic weekend and I would definitely love to return one day. I urge all of you who haven’t had a chance to visit Madrid yet to add it to your bucket lists.
For those of you who have been to Madrid, tell me about it in the comments – what was the highlight and what did you think of the city?