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By Danni from Las Morenas De Espana
Madrid, the capital city of Spain, is a prime destination for foodies, architecture lovers, artists, and all around adventurers. Each corner and winding street explodes with history and style. This city begs to be read and explored like an open book. It’s quirky, and classic; modern, and ancient; cosmopolitan, yet a prime example of Spain in its purest form.
Where to stay on a budget:
I highly recommend airbnb.com to travellers coming to Madrid for several reasons. The first one being, it’s a great way to see a side of Madrid that many tourists miss because you have the option to stay in a flat, owned by a Spaniard, and it may be located on smaller, lesser known, but more charming streets in the city. There are entire flats for around 50 euro a night in some areas, and if you’re travelling with friends, it’s ideal to come home after a night of dancing, wine and tapas to a space all on your own. Hotels are plentiful in the city, but almost always show one side of Madrid: the tourist trap. Pensiones are hostels, but before hostels actually existed. They are usually owned by families or couples, much smaller, and occupy a floor in a building, instead of the entire building. They do not usually offer many group guest services such as tours or day trips. Hostels are becoming much more popular, and one that I can recommend is Room007. They have a location in Chueca as well as Huertas.
Where to eat on a budget?
Tapas are a Godsend: buy a beer, and the waiter gives you a few small things to accompany your drink. Lunch is the largest and most important meal in Madrid, and many restaurants offer something called a menu del dia which includes a starter, main course, dessert, and coffee or beverage in the price. This is a great way to eat on the cheap. Most menus cost between 10 and 15 Euros. There’s a great list here. My favourite is Martina Cocina in the La Latina neighbourhood; it’s quaint and the food is absolutely delicious and affordable. It helps that it’s also located in a classically Spanish neighbourhood.
What to do or look at:
- The Templo de Debod at sunset (an Egyptian palace of sorts in the heart of the city)
- The Teleferico ( a cable car ride above the city that takes you over the Casa de Campo and lets you off steps away from the amusement park.)
- Have a traditional cocido at Malacatin Restaurant (this dish has many courses, and the history comes from a Madrid from long ago when the winters were colder and the people were poorer. Its hearty courses packed with flavour will take you back in time, promise!)
- Check out the big, and the not so big plazas and fountains in Madrid such as Cibeles, and Carlos V, but also Plaza de Cascorro and others.
- Try the different artisan markets in Madrid such as Mercado San Miguel and Mercado San Anton.
- Think about taking a day trip! There are plenty of cities near Madrid that are worth the train ride.
- Look up! The architecture and facades of this city are awe-inspiring.
What not to do:
- Don’t be afraid of the metro and buses here: they are easy to navigate and will save you lots of walking.
- If someone hands you a paper on the streets, it’s usually a flyer for a club or restaurant. However, if someone hands you a sprig of rosemary or a flower, it’s usually a scam and they ask for money afterwards. Just say, no, gracias.
- 100 Montaditos, Mercado Provezal, Lizarran and Vips are all chain restaurants with very low prices for their foods, but don’t be afraid to go into the unsuspecting bars with less frills because oftentimes that’s where the best gems are hiding.
3 Fun Facts about Madrid:
- We enjoy about 250 sunny days a year!
- Madrid hosts one of the oldest flea markets in Europe: the Rastro that takes place every Sunday, rain or shine. Since 1740!
- The city symbol is a bear eating berries from the madroño tree. You can see this bear in the Plaza del Sol
This great guide was written by Danni. Check her out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She also has a website which is a great read, check it out here. If you are looking for more accommodation then check out Agoda and Hostelworld, I highly recommend them. Travel insurance? Go World Nomads, a trusted and reliable travel insurance company.
Danni, Community Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she’s managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful life partner. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.