Updated: Jun 8, 2019
Thinking of going to Madrid? This guide will give you a little overview of places that are worth visiting. And if you never thought of visiting Madrid, maybe you will after you've read this!
This blog post is split in two parts. This is the first part which is all about places you should visit whereas the second post is specifically about vegan places that you should go to. I was in Madrid the first time this August for six days and besides it being really hot, Madrid has cool places to visit.
Madrid is a city that you have to walk through. Don't take too many buses or the metro (even though the metro is convenient) because the architectural features are the best thing about Madrid. On the one side you have the residential buildings that all look unique but their Mediterranean style unites them.
On the other side you have old buildings with elements of art deco, baroque and even brutalist inspired architecture. The mix makes Madrid.
Malasaña is the place to be if you wanna go out in the evening. They have clubs and bars and everyone's hanging out outside, enjoying their lives. La Vía Láctea (transl. the Milky Way) is a really popular bar with an old school feel that I went to. It's super cool there! If you're looking for a quiet spot with cool music and a nice aesthetic then go to La Vía Láctea when it opens at 10ish. If you want to go for a boogie, after midnight the place gets crowded and dance-y.
There were two places that we wanted to try out that were closed. If you go to Madrid, don't expect shops, bars and cafes to be open at the times that are on google. Both Tempo (a 60s bar) and The Passenger were closed every time we tried to go there. We couldn't find out why but hopefully they will be open for you guys. I assume that in August lots of businesses might be closed because they're on annual leave.
All cafes have a fantastic atmosphere and pour over / filter coffee. Toma Cafe have the best coffee and their teas are nice. Staff are super friendly and flexible, I asked for some iced tea even though it wasn't on their menu and got some. HanSo Cafe is specialised in coffee too. Their coffee is good quality and they served me the best matcha that I've ever had! In Pum Pum Cafe they have great coffee and chai lattes. You can get tap water at all places too which I think is super important for every place, especially in such hot weather.
Now, let's talk about art. Madrid has a lot of cool graffiti around the city and art galleries / museums that you should visit.
La Tabacalera is an old tobacco factory that has been repurposed as an art gallery. They had an incredible art installation, which was spread around throughout the entire building. It was fun to go through all the rooms and the installation created a great (spooky) atmosphere.
Really close to La Tabacalera is La Casa de Encedida, a contemporary art gallery. It's so much bigger than I expected (I thought it's a tiny art gallery with one room but no no no this is huuuuge). When I was there, they had an exhibition about Gus Van Sant. I have never seen any of his films but I'll definitely start now. The gallery has most texts in Spanish and not English so just be aware that that's the case and you might want to start practising Spanish before going to Madrid. Most places are okay with English and especially the younger people in Madrid are super fluent in English but I think it adds something to the city when you actually understand some Spanish.
Then, we went to the slaughterhouse. It was great. Lol this sounds so wrong!!
But we really did! And it's not what you think it is. Matadero is an old slaugherhouse that has been repurposed into a cultural centre. It's massive, with lots of different buildings. What you need to know is that you should look up their programme before going there. We went during a day when they didn't have anything on except some films in the evening. It was still totally worth to see the space but if you want to see some art, definitely check their website before. This is the Cineteca building of the Matadero (photo), so only a small part of what the Matadero actually is.
The Reina Sofia Museum is a must for all art lovers. If you're into Dada, Surrealism, Cubism, and contemporary art, this is your place. It's free for students but after 7pm it's free for everyone. If you go after 7pm, definitely go again on a different day because two hours is simply not enough to enjoy all the art in this building, which also happens to be the home of Picasso's famous Guernica. Just saying. It's worth it.
If you like cute little markets, I recommend the book market on Cuesta de Moyano. As far as I could see, the books were all in Spanish so time to practise yours!
You'll be surprised how many parks there are in Madrid. There's the Madrid Rio Project and the Retiro Park where you can get a skateboard, longboard, rollerblades, bikes, and other such vehicles that can carry you around the city without making an impact to your ecological footprint. There are tiny parks spread around the city too where you can just sit down and relax. In Retiro Park you can find the Crystal Palace (photo above) which is worth a visit. When we were there they had an art exhibition on. Not sure whether they always do this but it felt like extra peanut butter sprinkled on your banana cake.
Plants. You want plants in a city. Madrid has a botanical garden (photo) and a rose garden. How romantic. The botanical garden was so different from all the botanics I have visited so far. I don't know how much I liked it (maybe due to the super hot weather?) but I definitely enjoyed the glass house with all the tropical plants. So if you're into botanical gardens, I'd visit it but if you're not, maybe this is not so much for you. By the way, the botanical garden is exactly next to the book market.
The rose garden was a super cute experience. Smelling roses makes me so happy and I remember one rose type in particular that had the strongest rose smell ever and if I could I would have taken it home with me.
And they even have water lilies (photo). Plus the garden is free and attached to another park.
But if this is not enough green for you, you can escape the big city and go the Peñalara which is the highest mountain peak in the mountain range of Guadarrama. It's incredible! There are two trains that you need to take and the train journey takes around two hours altogether. The second train journey is the nicest train journey that I've ever had in my entire life. It's SO worth it just for the view from the train!
And that's it for Madrid. Check out my vegan guide for Madrid (coming next week).
Leave any comments below.