25 November 2013

What to do for a weekend in Madrid, Spain

A couple of weeks ago i went to Madrid for the weekend. I'd never been to the city before and couldn't resist my friends offer to be my guide and translator. Plus, i was curious to see how Madrid compared to Barcelona.

Royal Palace

I had just under 3 full days in Madrid which allowed me to take my time and and explore the city at a casual pace. Madrid makes for a great city weekend escape. Anyway, if you only have a short amount of time in Madrid, here is my must-dos for your trip.

Morning: Find yourself a local cafe, grab a decent coffee and pastry or churros which shouldn't set you back more that 5 Euros. Wander over to the Plaza Mayor to see it in the morning light. Then, stop by the Mercado de San Miguel (market) right next door. This place is always busy and has some of he freshest tapas you can get.

Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Mercado de San Miguel at 1am!

Noon: An absolute must for Madrid is a Segway tour*. I went with MadSegs on the recommendation of a friend. Its a brilliant way to see the city sights such as Temple of Debod, Royal Palace, Cathedral and to see things you wouldn't ordinarily come across. You cover a lot of ground on this tour! Don't be put off if you don't have the best balance, it is easy to learn how to use a segway and if a klutz like me can do it, ANYONE can do it!  Its a good deal 3 hours for 65 Euros. The owner is the guide, our group was small, a drink and tapa are included and at the end he throws in a CD with photos taken during the tour for free.

*Note that it is possible to do this tour in the morning during summer.

After the tour, take a break or walk around Madrid's shopping district from Sol to the El Corte Ingl├ęs which is a department store on the Plaza de Callao. Why am i telling you to go to a department store of all places?? Because it has a great view over the city of Madrid from he top which doubles as a fancy "food court" so you can grab a snack or a drink and relax for a bit. You can thank me later ;)

Royal Palace, Madrid
Temple of Debod
Almudena Cathedral
Inside Almudena Cathedral
Inside Almudena Cathedral

Evening: Like any self-respecting Spanish city, dinner in Madrid doesn't start till very late. You can always opt for a tapas tour or do your own tapas crawl. The area around Sol is famous but if there are only two places you try make sure its La Casa del Abuelo and Taberna del Chato. La Casa del Abuelo only do prawns and they do it well. Try the Gambas Ajillo (garlic prawns) they are divine. Taberna del Chato is simply brilliant, eat at the bar or at the tables in the back, the food is fresh, waiters friendly and its where locals go too. Be adventurous and try some different dishes like Melva Canutera con Tomate y Cebolleta, Cecina con Picadillo or their version of Solomillo Teriyaqu which is possibly the most tender I've ever had.

The first two are from Taberna del Chato, the last is from La Casa Del Abuelo

Madrid Travel Tips

Getting to the city from the airport: Madrid airport has Rail and Metro links from the airport to Madrid. You can also opt for a shuttle service that will take you to your hotel for approximately 12 Euros per person thought this may get you caught in traffic!
Getting around Madrid: Its easy to get around Madrid on foot, especially if you are visiting the old own, Palace, area around Sol etc. The other option is to use the metro.
Keep an eye on your belongings, as you should in other cities, especially in the shopping and touristy areas.

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