Madrid Must Sees
As soon as I moved to Ireland, I thought it was an excellent idea to go to Spain almost immediately. The trip was incredible of course, but timing was not optimal. Anyway, as I am sure we all know, Madrid is the capital of Spain, and is almost directly in the middle of the country. I REALLY liked Madrid, like more than I thought. Also, it was relatively cheap, or maybe it just seemed that way because Barcelona was so expensive. I flew into Madrid, spent two full days there, then went to Basque Country, then came back to Madrid to fly back to Dublin. So I spent a bit of time there, and experienced very nice and very rainy weather.
We had intended on going on a walking tour that left from our hostel at 10:30 am, but we were in a different room than everyone else and the tour left with out us (lol). So we decided to do a self guided tour of sights we had looked up earlier and I had marked on my City Maps togo app. Which honestly kinda sucked, I really like to expertise and history that comes with walking tours, but I guess I saved myself some tip money. Here’s where we went ordered in my favorite sights, feel free to view my Madrid photo album for some sweet pics I took while there. Although these are my favorite “sights,” I highly recommend just walking around looking at buildings and the winding streets of the city.
Temple of Debod - This was my favorite especially because I really like the history behind it. It’s an Ancient Egyptian temple, that was originally 15 kilometers away from the Aswan in Upper Egypt and was at risk to become damaged, so UNESCO saved it to save it’s historical importance, and the Country of Egypt gifted it to Spain in 1968 as a sign of gratitude for Spain’s role in saving the Abu Simbel temples. I think it’s cool because it is one of the few ancient things in mainland Europe not stolen. Also it’s a nice park and cool thing to look at.
- Parque del Retiro - Ultimately a huge park in the middle of Spain, and a nice place to kill a couple of hours and get your steps in. It’s quite lovely to sit and relax and to walk around. The next three “sights” are located in the park.
- Monument to Alfonso XII - Huge monument to their previous King, and has a huge body of water in front of it that’s quite scenic and a place where you can rent boats and chill out in if weather permits.
- Palacio de Cristal - The name really says it all, it looks like a giant greenhouse, but instead of plants, there are usually art exhibitions inside. When I was there, it was in the process of setting up an installation so it was empty and I was unable to go inside. But the outside is beautiful, also featuring a body of water and a fountain and plants nearby, very aesthetically pleasing.
- Forest of Remembrance - This is one of those sights I think is important to witness. It’s a memorial garden which commemorates the 191 civilian victims of the train bombings from the attach of 11 March 2004. It’s kind of a shame they don’t have much posted information that I could find around the gardens, so I think not everybody knew it was a memorial site.
- Sabatini Gardens - Right next to the Royal Palace of Madrid was a nice little garden with some cool statues and such, another good place to hang out and rest your feet after a long day of exploring the city.
- Royal Palace of Madrid - Well, I wish I went inside, but we were running low on time. The outside was cool and had a sweet fence, but I really cannot speak more to it. Looked cool, I’d recommend going inside if you have time and money.
- Almudena Cathedral - We also could not go inside, which was a huge bummer because your girl loves looking at churches, especially at super religious countries like Spain. Alas, we were there on a Sunday and it was closed to visitors, so were not blessed on this day
- Plaza Mayor - Cobblestone plaza, with statue of dude in middle. Touristy and not a place where I preferred to spend my time. I mostly walked through it because it was near my hostel.
- La Latina (area) - A chill area of town, there were supposed to be murals somewhere but we didn’t stumble on any. We grabbed paella here for dinner, won’t mention restaurant because it wasn’t that good. I’d recommend yelping it up.
- Plaza de España - Nice to see, not essential. We stumbled upon it because it is near the Palace.
Technically these places are food locations, but they’re sights in their own right and have some good food.
- Mercado de San Miguel - Inside market where they sell all sorts of goods, food, wine, desserts, etc. I got some okay empanadas, but later saw some good looking paella I’m upset I didn’t get. Make sure to make the rounds around before you decide on your meal.
- Chocolatería San Ginés - OKAY I went here twice and they have such good churros and chocolate. There are imposters, but this place is my favorite and famous. The hot chocolate is thicker, and perfect for dipping, and the churros are perfect. Tasty but 4 euro, but also I love chocolate and I love churros so this place was made for me???
We stayed in two hostels so we could “try out” two different locations, but both were basically next to each other. The first time, we stayed at Way Hostel, and I honestly really liked it! They have nightly “fiestas” at 11 pm my friend went on and said it was a great time, it’s basically a pub crawl type set up for fifteen euro. In addition to nightly fiestas, they also host other events, like when a chef came over an made a huge paella and offered it for only two euros, which is an unbeatable price for dinner anywhere. My friend really wanted to go to Teatro Kapital, a bar thats famous for being seven stories and huge, so before we went there, we drank some wine and ate the two euro paella at our hostel.
The beds were whatever, the bathrooms were completely fine, and the location was very convenient, so overall, I’d recommend it.
When we came back to Madrid, we stayed at The Hat Madrid. It’s basically in the same general area near Plaza Mayor, but I personally wasn’t into the vibe the hostel was putting down. It’s pretty hipster, and I am saying this as a Californian from the SF / Bay Area. Everyone was wearing jean shirts, suspenders, and the exposed wire of lights aesthetic was strong. My friend and I had arrived at about 3:30pm after our train arrived, and we were ready to eat because we had missed lunch. We went to get take-away Mexican food (lol), and came back to eat. We ate in the common area in the front, only to be told once we were completely done that the area was for “hanging out” and not “eating” even though they did not tell us that at check in and there were no signs to indicate that was the situation. It kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but the beds were nice, and location was good, and it was LIT. We had a flight early the next morning so we didn’t partake, but looked to be fun if you were in the situation to rage. It was pricier than the Way Hostel, and the other one was more chill, so I think I’d recommend Way over Hat.
I didn’t experience much of the nightlife of Madrid, but I went to the very popular Kapital with two friends. Overall, it was fun, but has a younger crowd and I think way overpriced. It was twenty five euro to get in plus one drink inside, or thirty euros to get inside and two drinks. I always prefer pre-drinking so I don’t have to spend much money out because let’s me honest, I am trying to ball on a budget. So, it’s an experience and a thing to do, but I don’t think I will be a repeat customer if I ever go back to Madrid.
In addition to the Mercado and the churro place, these were my favorite places in Madrid.
- La Rollerie - I would be remiss to not mention this place. I think it’s a small chain in Madrid, but there was one right down the street from Way Hostel and my friends and I literally went there four times. First for tea, then sangria, then the next morning for breakfast, then again. It is cheap, nice and good. 10/10 would go back, mostly for giggles cuz so ridiculous we went there so much.
- La Teirra - Chipotle-but-better chain, so they have burritos, bowls, nachos, quesadillas, etc. You choose toppings and they make. My veggie bowl was 6 euro for a ton of food, and veggie ones have free guacamole, so your girl cannot complain.
- Cafe Federal - I got brunch here with a friend living in Madrid this semester because she recommended it and it was pretty good! I got basically avocado toast with an egg and a cup of tea. Pricier than our spot, but it was pretty good and cute. I recommend it if you're in the brunching mood.
I really liked Madrid, I understand why everyone goes to Barcelona for beaches, Gaudi, etc but I think Madrid is underrated. Also those churros, may go back just for those.