Food & Drink
Madrid in 36 hours
The Spanish capital has really reinvented itself in recent years. Its museums are bigger and better, while the city center is full of new shops, gastrobars, cafés and restaurants. It’s an ideal city break destination, offering culture, good food and great nightlife.
These are Scandinavian Traveler’s best insider tips on how to spend 36 action-packed hours in Madrid:
Choose one of the city’s three amazing museums, the Prado, Reina Sofia or Thyssen-Bornemisza. They are all well worth a visit but don’t attempt all three in a morning.
Paseo del Prado s/n
Paseo del Prado, 8
Calle de Santa Isabel, 52
Chill out in El Retiro park (Parque del Buen Retiro, literally “Park of the Pleasant Retreat”). Madrid’s lush 140-acre park is home to countless sculptures and statues, a lake, some 15,000 trees, a rose garden and several art galleries.
For lunch, stop off at super trendy Ramses. On a nice day, be sure to get a table on the terrace.
Plaza de la Independencia, 4
Useful tip: The sooner you get used to Spanish eating habits, the more you’ll enjoy your stay in Madrid. Lunch is served from 2 to 3.30 pm, dinner from 9 to 10.30 pm.
The mid-day siesta ends at 4.30 pm, so time to go shopping. Avoid the tourists on Gran Via like the plague and, instead, head to Calle Serrano and Calle Goya for typical high-street names and more luxury brands, ranging from Zara to Adolfo Domínguez, Armani and Manolo Blahnik.
For an edgier shopping experience, the Chueca neighborhood is full of boutiques and outlet stores. While you’re there, join the hipsters on the roof of the Mercado San Antón for a refreshing gin & tonic. Every brand of gin comes with its own unique flavoring – from cardamom and black pepper to cinnamon and orange.
Calle de Augusto Figueroa, 24
If you’re an adventurous eater, book a table at Álbora for one of the most innovative, affordable Michelin-starred tasting menus in town. For the more traditional palate, The Sexto is always a sure bet.
Calle de Jorge Juan, 33
Calle Fernando VI, 6
Madrid’s nightlife scene is legendary but, be warned, it doesn’t really get going till after midnight, or even later on weekends. Get the party started on the stunning Hotel ME roof terrace, before heading out to the lively areas of Chueca, Huertas and Malasaña, or the clubbing district around Calle Arenal.
Plaza de Santa Ana, 14
Madrid never sleeps, which is why its breakfast of champions is designed for someone who’s been out all night, as opposed to someone who’s just woken up. Churros con chocolate are long doughnuts, served with thick chocolate sauce for dipping. For the best churros, head to San Ginés. San Ginés never sleeps either. It’s open 24 hours.
Pasadizo San Ginés, 5
Every Sunday, from 9 am to 3 pm, buy everything you could ever need (or not need) from the immensely popular Rastro flea market. It stretches down the hill on Calle Ribera de Curtidores, with more stalls in the adjacent streets and squares.
Calle Ribera de Curtidores
Walk over to the La Latina district for a ruta (route) of tapas. Most bars in this historic neighborhood give you a free tapa with every caña (beer) on Sundays. Start at Plaza de la Cebada and finish up at Plaza Mayor.
Warning: if try to keep up with the Madrileños on this, their favorite Sunday tradition, it’ll be long past midnight before you’re done.
Mercado San Miguel is a restored food market, just a stone’s throw from Plaza Mayor. It houses a fantastic array of food stalls, both for eating and buying specialist groceries. Pick up some delicious jamón serrano (dry-cured Spanish ham) for a fraction of the price you’d pay back home.
Plaza de San Miguel
Ready to discover one of Madrid’s best-kept secrets? Catch the last rays of afternoon sun in the Jardin Secreto (Secret Garden), expertly hidden on the top-floor of Salvador Bachiller, a very unassuming high-street bag shop off Puerta del Sol.
Calle de la Montera, 37
No trip to Spain would be complete without a flamenco performance. If you’re on a budget, check out Tablao Flamenco la Quimera for an intimate, cheap-as-chips show or, for something more extravagant, try Corral de Morería. Most good tablaos (Flamenco venues) offer show plus dinner packages.
Calle de Sancho Dávila, 34
Calle de la Moreria, 17
Text: Isabelle Kliger
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Published: April 13, 2015
Last edited: April 13, 2015