With 6.5 million in the metropolitan area, Madrid is mighty. If you have just a weekend in the Spanish capital, do this. I beg of you. There’s no flamenco listed, nor a stop for the Prado, but rather Madrid’s musts, from a local*. The places I have grown to love–or lust after.
1. Art Hop–
The Matadero. (Free). Ever stepped inside an old slaughter-house? Probably not. In Madrid, you can see its contemporary version turned hip, artistic and modern. Come for the architecture and art, stay for a picnic at the nearby (and recently renovated) riverfront. Paseo de la Chopera, 14. Legazpi.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. (€9, unless on Monday, when it’s nada). If you must take in Madrid’s Triangle of Art (as you should if you truly have just one weekend), the Thyssen is my favorite of the three. It adds an international spice to Madrid’s art scene. From the medieval age to the 20th century, the Thyssen shows off the likes of Van Gough, Rembrandt, Cézanne, along with a peppering of Spanish favorites, Picasso, Miró and Dalí. Afterward, admire the surrounding garden with a café con leche in hand at the cafetería. Paseo Prado, 8. Banco de España
2. Burst Buttons
Melo’s. (€ 2-15). If you can find a spot by the bar, cozy up. This Galician family owned bar is a favorite by many. Sin duda, order the zapatilla, a sandwich so large you’ll need to share with friends. The jamón (cured Spanish ham) and cheese croquetas are sublime, and gigantic, as well. Calle del Ave María, 44. Lavapiés. Expect a food coma after.
La Musa. (€3-15). After a slow (read: wine hopping) walk through La Latina last Sunday, my friend led me here. With delight, I glanced at the menu and then took a double look, triple, and a few more. What to order? Eggplant humus or an octopus and mango toast? (We shared the former, simply amazing!). The menu: traditional Spanish cuisine with serious contemporary flair. I’m still daydreaming about their desert; I’m suddenly craving lemon pie. Costanilla de San Andrés, 12. La Latina.
3. Saunter in the Sunset (or post sun dip)
Templo de Debod. (Free). This monumental structure sets the scene for Madrid’s most dramatic sunset experience. The temple, originally constructed in Egypt along the Nile River in the early 2nd century B.C., is one of the few Egyptian monuments that exist outside the country. Gifted to Spain in the 1960s, its statement is sufficient. Paseo del Pintor Rosales, 2. Plaza de España.
El Corte Inglés, The Gourmet Experience. (Free, unless you’re tempted by a glass of Rioja wine or coffee). Walk in, take the elevator to the ninth floor, and behold behind glass Madrid’s Gran Vía, Royal Palace and more. From here, the city lights up in sublime sunset magic. Plaza de Callao, 2. Callao.
4. Crawl to Cocktails
The neighborhoods of Malasaña or La Latina. (€3-10, depending on your choice of medicine). For one cheap and historic snag, go to El Palentino. The regular bartenders are three old Spanish men and the crowd is an assortment of young and old, who are frugal and thirsty. Sip a mojito for 3 euros. (El Palentino) Calle Pez, 12. Noviciado. (Neighborhoods). Tribunal, La Latina.
Hotel ME Madrid Reina Victoria. (€ Swag status prices). Lust starts here. I haven’t been to hotel ME ‘s rooftop bar yet, but it’s where I’d go to celebrate a momentous occasion, or to splurge on payday. Plaza Santa Ana, 14. <M> Sol.
5. Work it off Wonderfully
Hike Madrid’s mountains. (€~5, bus ticket to the mountain village of Cercedilla). If you can escape Madrid’s “Kill the Night” party vibes, come here. Many visitors to Madrid forget about the city’s sierra, a mountain range that stretches around the city to the north. You can burn off the weekend’s excesses while clamoring over boulders or ducking under pine trees. Famished? You can hop back on the bus and exit one hour later in the heart of Madrid’s “jungle”. For more information to arrive, see my link; the bus picks up from several locations.
Bike Parque Juan Carlos I. (Nada!). Free bike rentals** (for one hour at a time) gives this park an instant like. The modern art sculptures add an unexpected delight, it’s an alternate universe to Madrid’s other park offerings. You can enjoy that picnic in Parque del Buen Retiro after. Glorieta S.A.R. Don Juan de Borbón y Battemberg, 5. <M> Campo de Las Naciones (an alternative park name, as well).
**Register for the free bikes at the register desk next to the main car park.
What am I missing, or alternatively, what would you add? I say local*, but my stint in the Spanish capital is merely months (6.5, to be exact).
What do you like or dislike about Madrid? I have a list for both!