I lived in Madrid for approximately 9 months when I was studying. Coming back to this city is always a delight as it brings me back to the great time I had and shows me its new faces now that it has evolved since then. Totally prejudiced I always defend Madrid above Barcelona and I will tell you why.
Tapas – Isn’t it the best thing to enjoy a city with good food, wandering around the streets, and feel one with the locals? In Madrid it is still possible to do just that when enjoying your tapas and going where the locals go. You could join Calle Huertas which leads up to Plaza Santa Anna and pop into Los Gatos in Calle de Jesus, a side street. Besides from great tapas you will have enough to discover in this little gem as it is like a mini museum displaying Madrid artefacts. And for the modern twist on tapas continue to Tandem which gives you that hip environment with a great kitchen, a wonderful next stop.
Art – I can’t stop from recommending a bit of culture to maybe inspire you. There are many museums to choose from like Del Prado, for your Spanish historical art, Thyssen Bornemisza for the modern artists or my favourite Reina Sofia. Reina Sofia is impressive because of the building, which is a former hospital breathing the splendour of that age, and of the art which displays the Guernica from Picasso and Spanish artists like Tapies, Dali, and many more. P.s. check the Sunday opening hours which are free. And if you need a nice restaurant break after, take a stroll to Salamanca and drop in at Ramses life.
Bars – New and different bars will pop up, so don’t just take this as your to do list but also start exploring. Macera is a special one as it produces its own spirits, from gin to whisky to rum. It sells only its own brand in the bar, and you will see it in other bars throughout town when you pay attention. You will find Macera opposite Ole Lola in San Mateo another bar worth a visit.
Shops – but then the new and different ones. Go to Pelayo street where you will avoid the crowd and be surprised by a good mix of independent stores about Fashion, Art, Food, Design&Decor and Beauty. Like mad is mad for affordable art, 101 for fashion, or Hola Guille for ceramics and furniture. Some other stores not to miss (fashion) just a few blocks from here are Can or Vallmai.
Restaurants – when doing your essential shopping pass by Barra Atlantica, which will treat you to amazing fish dishes and healthy foods from Galicia. But also try the And when ready for dinner consider ten con ten, where you will have a nice mix of people and a DJ entertaining you after.
Mercado – a thing not to miss are the Mercados that are your food markets for lunch or dinner. Those bigger spaces where little stalls sell their specialities and you join in a communual space to consume it, have become even more popular. The two extremes are Mercado de San Ildelfonso and Mercado Platea. Mercado de San Ildelfonso which is the hippest addition in Calle Fuencarral with over 15 stalls selling their produces. And the one to go with your family is Platea in a former cinema. They kept the interior and made it even grander to accommodate the right environment for the champagne bar next to the oyster stall.