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Activities and Restaurants in Madrid Spain

Updated on February 1, 2014
Panoramic view of the Gran Via
Panoramic view of the Gran Via | Source

I first visited Madrid accidentally. I was studying for my Master's Degree in Lisbon while my boyfriend was asked to go on a two month assignment to Madrid for his job. So I went to visit him for the weekend. Well the two month assignment turned into an eight month assignment and on my end, it meant many unplanned trips to Madrid and a lot of time to see everything with all the time in the world. I got to really explore this modern yet conservative Spanish capital.

What can I tell you about Madrid? I love it! It has a really good vibe and something I particularly loved is the Madrilenos passion for the nightlife. Even Hemingway noted their nocturnal tendencies writing "Nobody goes to bed until they have killed the night". I love the cobbled streets and plazas full of little bars and restaurants. Madrid is fun.

Below is my list of what I think are the top things to do, what to see, and where to eat when you're in Madrid.

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La Plaza MayorThe Palacio Real
La Plaza Mayor
La Plaza Mayor | Source
The Palacio Real
The Palacio Real | Source

Some of my Madrid Pics

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How cool is this vertical garden?A very convenient way to get around is by metro.  To get to to the center from the airport, it's just 1EUR - a flat Euro fee to get anywhere in Madrid and an extra Euro for the airport.
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How cool is this vertical garden?
How cool is this vertical garden? | Source
A very convenient way to get around is by metro.  To get to to the center from the airport, it's just 1EUR - a flat Euro fee to get anywhere in Madrid and an extra Euro for the airport.
A very convenient way to get around is by metro. To get to to the center from the airport, it's just 1EUR - a flat Euro fee to get anywhere in Madrid and an extra Euro for the airport. | Source

Top Sites to See in Madrid

Here is a lists of sites that you can't miss when you go to Madrid:

  • The Prado Museum, one of the best museums in the world and includes work from European masters such as Velázquez, Goya, Raphael, Rubens, and Bosch.
  • The Reina Sofía, which includes pieces by Picasso (including the famous "Guernica"), Miró and Dali.
  • The CaixaForum which is a site to see both on the inside and out, and did I mention that entrance is free? Inside, there are some interesting exhibitions and the outside façade features an unusual and awesome vertical garden.
  • The Royal Palace (Palacio Real), Madrid's largest building which is also the largest royal palace in all of Western Europe. It's built on the spot of a Moorish castle that was destroyed by fire in 1734. The palace is open to the public and includes things like furniture, tapestries, paintings and ceramics. The closest metro is Opera.
  • The Plaza Mayor, Madrid's main square.
  • The Debod Temple, is a real Egyptian temple right in the middle of Spain! The temple dates back to the 2nd Century BC and is dedicated to the gods Amon and Isis. The Egyptian government donated this wonderful structure to the Spanish people in 1968.

  • Almudena Cathedral, Madrid's main cathedral.

  • Retiro Park (Parque del Retiro) is Madrid's version of New York's Central Park. I also loved the exhibition I saw there.

Flamenco Dancing at a Tablao in Madrid

Things to Do in Madrid

  • Do a tapas tasting tour or walk from tapas bar to tapas bar.
  • Walk down the Gran Vía, the most famous street in all of Madrid.
  • Shop in Madrid's shopping district, Salamanca.
  • Enjoy the nightlife! La Latina is popular amongst those over thirty, Malasaña & Chueca is popular with the younger crown, and Huertas is the area where tourists go out.
  • Watch flamenco dancing in one of the many bars and taverns that feature it. A "tablaos" is a nightclubs which features flamenco dancing.
  • Watch a bullfight at the main bullring - La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas del Espíritu Santo.

Cervecería Alemana at the Plaza Santa Ana
Cervecería Alemana at the Plaza Santa Ana | Source

Try Jamon Iberico (Spanish Ham)!

OMG You cannot leave Spain without trying Jamon Iberico. It's a really delicious ham that's only found on the Iberian Peninsula and comes from pigs who roam the forests freely and eat nothing but acorns. This gives the ham a distinct and crave-worthy flavor.

The Best Tapas Restaurants in Madrid

When in Madrid, you have to try tapas, paired with beer or a glass of sherry. So which tapas restaurants should you check out? Below is a list of some of the best.

  • La Casa del Abuelo - This tapas bar specializes in shrimp dishes and has been around since 1906. There are no tables but only a marble-topped stand-up bar and a great atmosohere! Address: Calle Victoria, 12
  • Casa Revuelta - This is the place that local residents go for bacalao. The owner is said to pick each and every bone from each codfish every single morning. Address: Calle de Latoneros, 3
  • Cerveceria Alemana - Hemingway used to come to this bar for a cold one. It has a very old-school feel with the waiters in their white shirts and bow ties. Address: Plaza de Santa Ana, 6
  • Taberna de la Daniela - This is the spot to head for a late dinner in a fun atmosphere and try their specialty, Cocido. Cocido is a traditional Spanish three-course meal which includes first broth with noodles, then come the chickpeas, carrots and cabbage, and lasty out come the meats which include dishes like morcilla (blood sausage). Address: General Pardinas, 21
  • La Trucha - This is the place to go for a great selection of tapas and great service. You can try one of my personal favorite tapas dishes here, Pimientos de Padron. Address: Calle Manuel Fernandez y Gonzalez 3 and there's a second location at Núñez de Arce, 6

show route and directions
A markerLa Casa del Abuelo -
Calle de la Victoria, 12, 28012 Madrid, Spain
get directions

B markerCasa Revuelta -
Calle de Latoneros, 3, 28005 Madrid, Spain
get directions

C markerCerveceria Alemana -
Plaza de Santa Ana, 6, 28012 Madrid, Spain
get directions

D markerTaberna de la Daniela -
Calle del General Pardiñas, 21, 28001 Madrid, Spain
get directions

E markerLa Trucha -
Calle de Manuel Fernández y González, 3, 28012 Madrid, Spain
get directions

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    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 5 years ago from Olney

      I'll bookmark this for my upcoming trip to Spain. Thanks for the info.

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Thanks for all the useful information! I visited Madrid in 2009 and I found out that entrance is free at the Prado museum after 6pm, if I remember correctly. We arrived earlier and took a nice nap on the hill side in the grass near the museam.

      I'll keep this Hub handy for my next trip to Madrid!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great Hub Anna. Want to get to Madrid soon so this will come in handy. Will bookmark this for future reference. It's always great to get some restaurant recommendations also. Very informative with great photos. Voting up, sharing and the other stuff.