From a lazy walk through ‘Parque del Retiro’ to the crowded, bustling main plaza ‘Sol’, Madrid is a capital city that has it all. Not only is it the second safest capital city in Europe, it is one of the top five cheapest holiday destinations in Europe. This makes it a fantastic city to visit for a short weekend break or even a long holiday. You may have heard of all the classic Madrid spots to visit such as the famous ‘Prado’ museum, the grand ‘Palacio’ and the ‘Plaza Mayor’ square, but here are a few tips for a more authentic visit to the city.
This is the central area of the city, famous for being the birthplace of ‘Movida Madrileña’, the post-Franco counterculture movement. The area has retained this alternative vibe: streets are filled with colourful graffiti, bars are less touristic with a bohemian feel and you will find a vintage shop around every corner. The two top places to visit in the area are:
- ‘La Vía Láctea’ ( The Milky Way) was, and still is, a central point in the area: Pedro Almodóvar used to drink here. An eclectic mix of rock and roll and soul music is played on vinyl records and the décor is very 80s, with brash and colourful images covering the walls, giving it a retro feel.
- ‘Patio Maravillas’ is a social and cultural area where people can come together to drink, talk and work. It remains largely unfurnished and once again the walls are filled with abstract pictures. It is a fantastic place to bring a few drinks, have weird political conversations and just hang out with a huge mix of people.
The craft beer revolution is creeping up everywhere, including Spain. This bar, located in the diverse district of Lavapiés (literally translated as wash feet), is incredibly small but packed with the finest Spanish microbrewery beers. There are 5 taps and over 120 different bottles for you to try. It is a touch on the expensive side but well worth it for the great atmosphere and a very friendly barman.
Boca del Lobo
This live music venue is a 5-minute walk away from plaza ‘Sol’ in the very heart of the city. The music is a mix of blues, jazz, funk and soul, which continues into the early hours of the morning most nights of the week. The whole evening feels very similar to a big jam session, with singers and musicians from the crowd being called up on stage to perform.
Located next to Boca, this interesting establishment serves nothing but sherry. Walking in is like entering the start of the 20th Century, as nothing has been changed in the bar since then! There are five different sherries on offer, all at roughly £1.50 per glass and served by your typically unfriendly Spanish waiter. The best part is finding the black cat somewhere in the bar….
Images courtesy of ‘Marc’, Turismo Madrid, Rosa G and James Blick via Flickr.