In July 2022 we flew from San Sebastián to Madrid so that we could explore the capital of Spain and also have a direct flight back to NYC. We were only in Madrid for two nights and we stayed at NH Collection Madrid Paseo del Prado, which was a great price point and in a great location.
Free Walking Tour: As we do in most cities, we did a free walking tour! Our guide, Miguel, began the tour by explaining the rich history of Madrid, which began with the Arabs in the 9th century. He taught us that Madrid became Spanish speaking when it was conquered by the Segovians in the 14th century and then it became the capital of the Spanish Empire in the 16th century. As he taught us about the history of Madrid, Miguel led us from the city center to the Royal Palace, a palace of over 1 million square feet and over 3,000 rooms designed with French influence. Then he led us to Plaza Mayor, which is a large square that reminded us of many Plaza De Armas that we have seen in Spanish cities throughout South America. There we observed the historic influence of Arabic, French, and Spanish architecture. We really enjoyed our walking tour with Miguel and highly recommend it to anyone planning to visit Madrid!
Flamenco: On our walking tour, Miguel recommended that we go see Flamenco during our stay in Madrid. And so, we booked tickets to Cardamomo Flamenco! Flamenco is an art form based on the various folkloric music traditions of southern Spain. It is a highly-expressive solo dance characterized by hand clapping, percussive footwork, and intricate hand, arm, and body movements. The dance is usually accompanied by a singer and guitar player. Given that it was so hot during the daytime (temperatures were reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit), we were very glad to sit inside and watch Flamenco!
Ferretería Restaurante: This spot was recommended by Luis, our pintxos tour guide in San Sebastián. While the food was good, the vibe of this restaurant was what really made it stand out. The restaurant used to be a hardware store, so the walls are covered in cabinets and iron tools!
Chocolatería San Ginés: This is Madrid’s most famous chocolate shop and it was recommended to us by many friends! We ordered the “classic” which is six churros and a thick, warm hot chocolate dipping sauce. The churros were a lot skinnier than churros we are used to seeing in the United States, which we later learned is the difference between Spanish churros and Mexican churros. Also, the people in Spain call the chocolate dipping sauce “hot chocolate,” but it is much more thick and fudge-like compared to what we consider hot chocolate to be in the United States. The dessert was unique and so were the walls of the restaurant which were covered in many photos of famous people who have visited Chocolatería San Ginés over the years.
La Venencia: According to Culture Trip (one of our favorite travel blogs), this is the one bar to visit while in Madrid. Luis also told us about this spot and that it is known for it’s sherry wines.
Feliz Coffee: We stumbled upon this cute coffee shop when exploring the streets near our hotel.
Saint Michael Market: Many people recommended we go here. We passed it on our free walking tour with Miguel, but we didn’t go. Miguel said that it is very touristy and that it has overpriced tapas.
Bodega de La Ardosa: This spot was recommended to us by Luis. It is a casual, time-tested tapas bar. It is located in the neighborhood of Chueca, which is the gay-friendly neighborhood with jam-packed cozy sidewalk cafes, tapas bars, restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. It was extra fun to eat here when we did because it was the day of the gay pride parade in Madrid, so the neighborhood was even more lively than it typically is.
Tapas: Given that Madrid is such a walkable city (we didn’t take the subway nor an Uber/cab once during our stay), we spent a lot of the days just wandering around and popping into many tapas bars. We made sure to have lots of cured meats, tortilla de patatas (also known as a Spanish omelette), and croquettes.
Next time we are in Madrid, we definitely want to go to the museums, which we were unable to get to this time around. Although our stay was brief, we had a great time in Madrid!