Your Weekend Guide to Madrid
Spain is one of my favourite countries in the world. Not only because it is a beautiful country with a beautiful culture, but because it is a part of my family. My mother grew up in Spain and spent most of her youth there until she came back to Germany at 18-years old. She lived both on Ibiza and on the mainland, went both to English and Spanish schools, and experienced a youth you could write novels about. So, Spain’s culture became a part of her and she has conveyed at least some of it to me as I was growing up (at least, the best she could being back in Germany). Spain is where I got my given names from and it is where I spent all of my summers growing up.
Today, I want to tell you about Madrid. It has quickly become one of my absolute favourite cities in the world (and I really have seen quite a bit of the world, luckily) and was always up top on my bucket list of places to travel to. It is an old, beautiful city with incredible architecture, history, and food.
Where to stay:
As so often, my mother was able to get us a great deal for a wonderful hotel near the centre of Madrid. She is quite the bargain hunter. We arrived by plane and took the train into the city. We pulled our luggage up the Calle de Atocha all the way to our hotel: Hotel Plaza Mayor.
Hotel Plaza Mayor is a beautiful modern hotel with a hint of the good old Spanish rustic vibe. It’s a little way up from the train station on the Calle de Atocha. Up the street is the beautiful Plaza de la Puerta del Sol. It’s got some beautiful architecture, just like everything else in Madrid does. Oh, and a special tip from me: visit La Mallorquina. It’s a small café, not far from the hotel, which was incredibly full when we visited it. Despite this, we still managed to score a small table upstairs and enjoyed some wonderful pastry and treats for breakfast on our last day.
Where to score the best breakfast:
While La Mallorquina is a wonderful place for breakfast, the absolute best place in Madrid my mother and I have found for our morning meals at is La Rollerie. It’s also on the Calle de Atocha and not the cheapest place, but you are on a city trip – so treat yourself! You may actually have to wait in line a couple of minutes (as we did), but it’s definitely worth it. We had a wonderfully delicious breakfast which even included a piece of red velvet cake.
Places to see in Madrid:
Madrid is a place you can definitely in part discover by feet, but it does go up and down a bit, which can get quite exhausting. So, in this place, it’s definitely worth getting a bus ticket and maybe taking one of those tourist busses through the city. We did, and I must say that buildings such as the Gran Via were better experienced from up top on the tourist bus, because the architecture is just phenomenal. The city is also rather large, so you’ll cover a lot of ground with the tourist bus. Especially if you catch a hop-on-and-off bus, it’ll be well worth the ticket price.
Another super beautiful place to discover is El Palacio Real de Madrid. It’s the palace of the Royal Family, so you will be able to discover a good bit of history paired, again, with some wonderful architecture and proper Spanish flair. It was quite the experience and you can even see the King’s crown. You are, unfortunately, not allowed to take any photos inside, but I did get one inconspicuous one which is just beautiful but doesn’t really show you anything.
While you’re at it, don’t forget the Royal Cathedral right across the Plaza. We didn’t get to go inside, but even just from the outside, it is beautiful!
Unfortunately, I don’t have any secret tips that my mother and I just randomly discovered; but, really, Madrid as a whole is just the most beautiful place and I am sure that if you have a little more time than we did, you’ll find plenty of hidden gems here.
Where to eat:
Lastly, I do want to tell you where you should go if you crave a Spanish culinary experience and some really good food!
The Mercado de San Miguel is a typical Spanish market with loads of treats and delicious foods. It’s the place where I first ate Churros and my mother told me that it used to be her go-to food after a night out. We had and bought the most delicious jamón, dubbed jamón iberico! Honestly, if you get there, treat yourself to this wonderfully delicious ham.
When wandering around Madrid, another good spot to grab a snack or meal for lunch is the Plaza de Santa Ana. It is that kind of Spanish Plaza where a bunch of restaurants spread out their chairs and tables to the point where you don’t even know which restaurant you are sitting down for. Treat yourself to a Spanish tortilla – which is completely different to the flat tortillas you may find in Mexico – or a delicious bocadillo.
La Cocina de San Antón in the Chueca borough in Madrid is noy only a wonderful place to have dinner at, but also a great place to go in the evening and have a drink (or two!). The Chueca borough is known as the LGBT+ quarter and so the restaurant actually has no restrooms designated to male or females, as all restrooms are unisex. The food is phenomenal, and the restaurant is situated on the rooftop of a sort-of-small mall. Up there is also a large rooftop with super comfortable sofas and the most wonderful Spanish atmosphere, just like you’d imagine. The restaurant is under a roof, but the sides are open and you can feel the warm city air and hear the voices from the cafés on the streets drifting up. It’s wonderful and, really; night time is the best time in Spain, because people are outside, drinking and loud, and just having a good time socialising and taking life one day at a time.