After living in Madrid for five years during my degree studies, I have come to the conclusion that these are the main reasons why you should visit the Spain’s capital. Of course there are so many more wonderful things about Madrid, but I shall leave those for you to discover as it’s always nice to be surprised by a city once you’re there…
1. THE WEATHER IS GOOD YEAR ROUND
Madrid is a city that’s predominantly sunny. The weather is rather dry so it can get quite fresh in the winter and extremely hot in the summer. In comparison to my hometown, London, you see the sun a lot more than the rain, which makes Madrid a great place to visit and sightsee!
2. YOU WILL EAT THE BEST TAPAS OF YOUR LIFE
Spain is all about food, and where else than the capital will you find some of the best tapas?! I suggest going to the Mercado San Miguel for some gourmet local specialties, Lateral for delicious tapas (especially their tortilla) and a lively young atmosphere, Perrachica for creative modern tapas (must try the squid ink croquettes) in a beautiful setting, and Meson Cinco Jotas for the best Spanish ham and other tasty pork dishes (must try the secreto iberico).
3. TO ADMIRE THE PALACIO REAL & ITS GARDENS
In my opinion, the Royal Palace of Madrid is the most impressive monument of the capital. It’s so majestic from the outside and the inside is even more beautiful with its stunning frescoes and luxurious decor so you must go inside despite the queue (only 11€ for an adult ticket). You can also walk around the lovely Sabatini Gardens which used to be where the royal stables were.
4. GREAT SHOPPING
Madrid is very fashionable and trendy, so you will find it hard to resist going shopping as there are so many options for everyone’s taste. There are all the lovely little boutiques hidden away on the backstreets across the city and the main streets such as Goya, Velazquez, and Ortega y Gasset which are the chic streets with a mixture of high-street brands and luxury brands. If you’re looking for more original quirky boutiques then go to Fuencarral street and the district of Chueca.
5. PUERTO DEL SOL
Puerta del Sol, also known as the “Gate of the Sun,” it’s the most famous square in Madrid and is the center point of Spain. There’s the old Post Office building, the famous Tio Pepe sign, and the km 0 plaque on the floor to see. It is an important meeting place in the city, where many protests and demonstrations take place, so please be aware of pickpockets.
6. MADRID’S RICH HISTORY
Madrid has an impressive history which I advise you to read a bit about before visiting. This becomes evident when you walk by so many impressive monuments such as the amazing Plaza Mayor, the Egyptian Temple of Debod, the lovely Almudena Cathedral, and the Plaza de Cibeles, with its stunning fountain.
7. RETIRO PARK
Retiro Park is the main park of the city where everyone goes for a picnic on the hot summer days. It’s a lovely park to walk around in, and you also have the central pond where you can rent a little rowing boat for less than 8€. And it is also home to the beautiful Palacio de Cristal, which is open for exhibitions. The Puerta de Alcalá entrance is one of the prettiest ones.
8. LIVELY NIGHTLIFE
Spain is renowned for its fiestas and Madrid offers the best nightlife. From simple local bars to trendy nightclubs, there are infinite options for a good night out! Try Areia or Eccola for good cocktails, the Urban Hotel or the ME Madrid Reina Victoria Hotel for amazing rooftops views, and Marieta for dinner, and drinks after at their bar, which is a new hotspot. Remember that things start a lot later in Madrid than anywhere else. For example, I tend to meet my friends around 10pm for dinner, so we go to bars at around midnight, and to clubs from 2am onwards.
9. MADRID IS A GREAT WALKING CITY
Madrid is not an extremely large city so it’s easy to visit everything by foot. Uber is banned in Spain, but the local taxis are not that expensive, so this is another affordable option to get around once you’ve tired your legs out by walking everywhere.
In general, I find that things are a lot cheaper in Madrid than other European cities. Travel, accommodation, restaurants and bars are all more affordable than let’s say Paris or London. If you’re looking for an affordable, budget destination then Madrid is perfect! However, if on the contrary, you’re looking for a luxury destination then don’t shy away because Madrid has plenty of chic hotels to stay in, and high-end shops and restaurants to enjoy.
I hope that at least a few of these reasons are enough to convince you to book that flight to Madrid. And do trust me on my recommendations as you can consider me a local. I pretty much know all of the ins and outs of this city and the places listed are those where my Madrilenian friends go to.
I loved the time I spent is this wonderful and lively city, and I tend to go back regularly to visit my friends and to enjoy the places I used to go to. It always brings back lovely memories of the good times when I was a student. If you’re staying for more than a weekend and want to visit a place not far from the capital then you should check out Alcalá de Henares, Aranjuez, El Escorial, Segovia or Toledo which are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites and all within an hour’s distance from Madrid.