A Local's Guide to Madrid

January 7, 2021

Gran Vía, Madrid

Today I am going to take you along with me on a local’s guide to Madrid. Covering where to stay, the best things to do, and of course my local picks for where to eat and shop.

Why trust all this local advice from me? I have been living in Madrid for 6 years, experiencing the city to the fullest. I have truly tested out the town and want to share the best of the best with you. Without further ado, let’s get into the list.

Here’s my local’s guide to exploring Madrid


COVID-19 Update

It's possible to travel to the Madrid right now. However, if you are coming from a country with a big covid-19 impact, you must have a negative test done 72 hours before when you land in Spain. International visitors to Spain do not currently have to go into quarantine. However, you must check what conditions your country has when you return from your trip. Most hotels have now reopened their doors along with the main tourist attractions, shops and restaurants.

At the moment, shopping centers, restaurants and cafes have some restrictions such as capacity limitations and distance between tables. It's mandatory for anyone 6 and older to wear face masks while in public, both indoors and outdoors.


Where to Stay in Madrid

There are plenty of hotels around the city center for all budgets. The most luxurious hotels are the Ritz and the Palace Hotels. More affordable options include The Principal or Orfila. Hotel chains like Melia, NH, Hyatt or Vincci are always a wise choice. The Hat is a lovely hostel with one of the best rooftops. Finally, Urso is another budget friendly option to check out. 


Transportation in Madrid

Metro is the best way to move around Madrid. It's clean, safe and fast. Although, if you are staying downtown, you probably won't even need to use it as the main spots are within walking distance.


What to do in Madrid

Parks: there are several parks worth visiting. Retiro is the biggest and most beautiful. It's right in the city center. La Quinta de los Molinos and El Capricho are off-the-beaten track but still worth visiting.


Museums: visit El Prado for one of the most impressive collections of classical art in Europe. If you prefer modern art, Reina Sofia is the place to go. I also recommend the collections from the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Sorolla house-museum. 


Landmarks: the main square: Plaza Mayor, the bustling Gran Via, the stunning Palacio de Cibeles, the Almudena Cathedral and the Egyptian Templo de Debod must be on your to-see list.


Get the best views from the Teleferico, a cable car service that connects both sides of Madrid.


Visit the best palaces: Palacio Real, Palacio de Liria and Palacio de Linares. The later offers a dramatized visit once a month that tells you the story of the ghost that is believed to live in the palace. If you speak Spanish I highly recommend it, it's a unique experience. 

Templo Debod

Retiro

Retiro, Madrid

Librerías Cuesta Moyano

The best places to shop in Madrid

Did you know that Zara and Mango are Spanish brands? Be sure to visit their flagship stores in Serrano street. This street and the contiguous ones house the best brands in the world both high street and luxury. 


If you want to take home with you unique Spanish products check out Real Fabrica Española and Gonzalez & Gonzalez


Find the best vintage books at the book stands in Cuesta Moyano.

Read more about Fashion Shopping in Madrid

Read more about Spanish brands

Brownie shop

The best places to eat in Madrid

Best restaurants

One of my favorite things about living in Madrid is the wide variety of restaurants you can find. Their amazing decor and food make Madrid foodie paradise.

If you love healthy food, Superchulo is for you. El Perro y la Galleta is the cutest place with yummy and affordable food.

La Petite Cuisine

Fellina

Best coffee shops

You can't leave Madrid without trying the world-famous chocolate con churros from San Gines. Especially at winter time!


The most spectacular coffee shops are Salon des Fleurs and Living in London.


If you can't skip brunch go to Zenith, Abolea or Bendita Locura. For a unique brunch surrounded by nature go to La Petite Cuisine.

Read more about the best brunch and breakfast spots in Madrid


Best rooftops

Drinks with a view are your thing? Madrid has some of the trendiest rooftops in Europe. Add 360º Skybar Riu Plaza España, Picalagartos and Radio to your itinerary.

San Gines

Vincci Mint Rooftop

Food Markets

San Miguel, San Anton and San Ildefonso are the best markets to grab a bite. (San Miguel is closed at the moment due to Covid-19)

Mercado San Miguel

Helpful tips and fun facts about Madrid

  • Did you know that the name Madrid comes from the Arabic “magerit” which means ‘place of many streams’?
  • Madrid’s most famous museums offer free admission on certain days and hours. Book your ticket in advance as these times tend to be more crowded.
  • Avoid the restaurants in Plaza Mayor in Madrid. The food is overpriced and the food  is average.
  • Paella may be Spain's most famous dish but Madrid is not the place to have it. Save that for a trip to Valencia.
  • Madrid is a safe city but you still have to watch your belongings. Pickpockets are global.
  • Any season is good to visit Madrid as it doesn't rain a lot. Actually, it has more cloudless days than virtually any other city in Europe. Summer does get a bit to hot to explore the city in the midddle of the day though.

City Hall, Madrid

I hope you enjoyed this quick local’s guide to Madrid. I'll be happy to answer any questions you have while planning your trip. So don't hesitate and ask away on the comment section below!

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