Move over, Barcelona. Spain’s lively, modern capital is a hotbed of stunning sights, unforgettable bites and eclectic style.
What To Do
While strolling around the heart of Spain is a treat in itself, the best way to fully experience the city is with a tapas-filled stomach and a sunset-lit visit to one of the many beautiful historic sights, including the famous Palacio Real de Madrid.
Spend an afternoon in Parque de El Retiro, one of the city’s largest gardens, with a bottle of Spanish wine, fresh bread and slices of the famous jamón serrano in hand for a perfect picnic. Rent a bike and cruise around the park’s beautiful historical sculptures, monuments and galleries, and finish off the evening by watching the sunset over the peaceful pond at the very centre of the grounds. This 17th-century attraction hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including an annual book fair, concerts and firework shows. Art enthusiasts should visit the Museo del Prado for a tour of some of Europe’s most celebrated painters, from Francisco de Goya and Diego Velazquez to Titian. Another nearby sight that’s not to be missed is Temple Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple rebuilt in Madrid in the 1970s, which is located on the same street as the city’s Royal Palace.
Where to Stay
Contemporary and sophisticated, Dear Hotel offers the ultimate elegant experience with a view. Climb up to the 14th floor and arrive at Nice To Meet You Restaurant and Lounge for a few cocktails at Madrid’s best 360-degree terrace, and enjoy music by new DJs every weekend. Complete with a rooftop pool overlooking Madrid, Dear Hotel is the ideal location for a scenic and relaxing stay in the city.
Where to Eat
Surprisingly, Madrid is a great city for brunch. One of the best avocado toasts you will ever consume — you can say “gracias” to me later — is at Fédéral Cafe, a chic minimalistic spot that is just a five-minute walk from the famous Plaza de España. Delicious smoothie bowls and brie-smothered slices of bread topped with fresh mango can be found at Frutas Prohibitas, a small trendy eatery located in the Chueca District. You can find traditional tapas and other regional cuisine on the numerous restaurants lining Calle de la Cava Baja, a charming but busy street near the center of Madrid. For a more alternative dining experience, head to the beach basement of the vibrantly decorated Ojalá restaurant on Calle San Andres, and grab a tasty dinner with your toes on their sand-covered floors.
Where to Drink
Calle de la Huertas, one of the busiest streets in the city, is the perfect starting point for an exciting night out. Each evening, the street overflows with bodies, upbeat music and the aroma of freshly-prepared Spanish foods. Go out on game night and catch the locals cheering for their favourite football teams, Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid, and join in the chaos all while sipping on a cold Mahou, a cerveza founded locally during the 19th century. Craft beer connoisseurs should go to Fábrica Maravillas, an artisanal micro-brewery in the center of the city.
Where to Shop
Although Madrid is filled with a variety of interesting boutiques, one of the best places to shop on a budget is the Spanish fast-fashion retailer, Sfera. With stores in just a handful of European and Asian countries, the Zara-esque chain has a uniqueness to their menswear-inspired silhouettes, which can be worn to a casual lunch or work. Known for their vivid colours, juxtaposition of bold prints and lots of layering, Sfera is the place to purchase standout pieces that will last you a number of seasons. If you’re looking to re-vamp your home with some special Spanish ornaments, look no further than R de Room, a furniture and decor store that specializes in simple but quirky designs that are perfect for creating an eclectic atmosphere.