What to do in Madrid
While most travelers cover multiple countries during their trips, my wife and I prefer to stay for long periods in just one place to soak in the culture and enjoy everything the place has to offer at our own pace. Earlier this year we had a fantastic two-week vacation in Madrid, Spain. Allow us to share with you guys 10 fantastic things you can do and places you can visit in this beautiful city based on our time there. 🙂
I. Savor Roast Suckling Pig (Cochinillo) at the oldest restaurant in the world, Restaurant Botin!
If there’s one restaurant that you have to try during your vacation in Madrid, it’s Restaurant Botin. It’s the oldest restaurant in the world (Guinness Book of Records) so it’s an experience in itself just to enter the place. As for their food, they serve the most delicious roast suckling pig (Cochinillo) which just have to try in your lifetime.
Note two major things about this place. First, make reservations. Call in advance because they’re usually full for dinner. Second, this is a rather expensive restaurant. Not for cheaps at all and you can probably make this the highlight celebration dinner for your whole trip.
II. Enjoy piping hot coffee and Chocolate Con Churros at Chocolatería San Ginés.
Rumor has it that Dr. Jose Rizal spent afternoons here eating Churros and sipping hot chocolate or coffee. That alone is enough reason for Pinoys to make a quick visit to this place. Known locally and worldwide for their superb Chocolate Con Churros, Chocolateria San Gines is the perfect afternoon or evening snack joint to go to in Madrid.
III. Take the Hop On Hop Off bus to tour the museums and parks in Madrid!
A cheap way to get around the city and see all the sights Madrid has to offer! The bus has multiple stops all over major tourist destination spots including all of the parks, museums, and monuments scattered throughout the city. We highly suggest you guys spend one (or even two) days just going around the city and taking in all the sights and sounds. Get off at a few stops, enter a museum, get lost in a park, or just stand still and marvel at a statue. This is probably one of the first things you should do when you get to Madrid because it’s an awesome way to meet the city.
IV. Visit the grand Palacio Real de Madrid to get a glimpse of how royalty lived!
Arguably one of the best must-see tourist spots in Madrid! Palacio Real de Madrid will take you back in history to see how royals lived their grandoise lives. Inside you will see grand murals and paintings, majestic chandeliers, ridiculously blinged out furniture, rows upon rows of expensive china, and so much more. You can also spend time just walking around the courtyard because there are actually balconies along the edges which give you a great overlooking view of the city.
Palacio Real de Madrid is also situated near other tourist spots like big churches, a variety of parks, and restaurants. You can get here via the Hop On Hop Off bus, spend two hours in the palace, and then the rest of the afternoon you can just walk around. Plaza Mayor, another nice tourist spot, is just around 10 minutes walk from the palace.
V. Enjoy tapas and wine in one of the restaurants in Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor is a giant town square with multiple restaurants and bars in every corner. In the evening this makes for a great place to just chill and relax. You can sit outdoor in one of the bars and just sip wine and eat tapas with friends or your loved one. In the afternoon the square is filled with random street performers and people wearing costumes.
A word of caution: make sure you keep your stuff safe. Also if you take a picture with the people in costume they will harass you for money, hehe.
VI. Indulge yourself to a hearty lunch at Mercado de San Miguel
So you’ve visited the royal palace and spent time walking around Plaza Mayor. If you’re famished you can take a 3-4 minute walk from Plaza Mayor to Mercado de San Miguel. It’s a big foodie market with stalls selling a variety of dishes and delicacies! If you’re a foodie you need to make sure you visit this place!
VII. Watch the Street Performers at Puerto del Sol
Done with the royal palace, plaza mayor, and even Mercado de San Miguel? It’s probably evening and you might want to take another 5 minute walk to Puerto del Sol. This is another town square area with multiple street performers. There’s so much culture to just soak in this place!!
Also for the shopaholics, there are several malls here you can visit with luxury brands. For the techies you can visit their gadget mall FNAC and you can pay homage to the late Steve Jobs by checking out the massive Apple Store in the middle of Puerto del Sol. Of all the Apple stores I’ve ever been to, this one is my absolute favorite. You will know why when you see it.
VIII. Shop like crazy at Las Rozas Village (outlet store)
Did somebody say… SHOPPING? If you want to buy luxury brands at good prices you can take a bus to visit Las Rozas Village. It’s like an outdoor mall with all the shops being luxury brands. Great to spend an entire afternoon here (especially if you have the funds, hehe).
IX. Get Lost in Parque del Retiro
Let’s say you’re winding down your vacation in Madrid already. One of the last few things you should do is spend hours (maybe even the whole day) in one of the parks. Our recommendation would be the Parque del Retiro, one of the biggest parks in Madrid. There is so much to see and do here. It’s the perfect place to spend time with loved ones, family, or friends. It’s also a HUGEEEEEE park so expect to do a lot of walking.
Tip: make sure you check out the lakes and the different monuments. Also buy a painting or two from one of the merchants. They look really nice!
X. Kiss your special someone under the stars at a park
Last, but not the least… take your wife or husband to a park in the early evening. Apparently parks transform to major PDA places during this time in Madrid. No one will recognize you here since you’re from another country so just take the moment to pause the world, leave your worries in the Philippines, and just kiss your loved one passionately underneath the glittering stars of Madrid.
Madrid is a beautiful city. We spent two weeks there but we felt that it wasn’t even enough. We will definitely make it a point to visit again in our lifetime but we do hope that you guys make it part of your vacation plans in the future. It is so worth the trip. 🙂