Top 5: Adam

¡Hola! After living in Madrid for a few months I have quite a lot of favourite places, but below you can find my top 5. I hope it’s helpful and you try some of them out whilst you’re in Madrid.

1. Parque del Retiro

Sorry to be basic but this is by far my favourite place in Madrid. You can go rowing, visit the book fair (in June), sunbathe and get a glass of sangria at the cafeteria. Rowing there is great value for money and costs around 7€ for 45 minutes. I cannot recommend it enough and it is particularly amazing to watch the sun set there. It’s really easy to get there from the centre too and you can even walk if you’re feeling brave enough.

Retiro Park
2. Palacio Real

This is another classic. The architecture and interior design of this palace is really something else. I went 3 times whilst staying in Madrid and have got to say it is one of my favourite places. You can access most of the palace, its gardens and take pictures in front of amazing views. Each room has its own theme and it really is a must-see if you want to try out being a Royal for the day. There is a discount for students too if you book it online in advance too at www.patrimonionacional.es/ and this will make sure that you avoid the extremely long queues for visitors who haven’t booked tickets in advance.

Royal Palace
3. LLBar, Chueca

I would highly recommend this little drag bar. Coming from Manchester which has the biggest gay night scene in Europe, I really didn’t expect to find much to compare it with here in Madrid. However, I was wrong. Chueca is a part of the city which really embraces LGBT culture. This bar has drag queen shows most nights and really is so fun and a great way to practice your Spanish talking in the queue or listening to the extremely talented Drag Queens singing and dancing. The entry is free and the copas (doubles) are good value for money.

Chueca
4. Purmina Indian Restaurant

This is by far my favourite place to eat in Madrid. Although not particularly Spanish, it serves authentic Indian food and is run by local Bangladeshi people who are extremely friendly. You can personalize each dish to have it as spicy as you want and the interior design really is to die for. It is a bit further out from the city centre but it is worth the effort, trust me! It is a bit pricey but the mains are extremely big so you could always share a main with a friend or just have a whole dish to yourself! We are all kind of holiday after all ;).

Indian restaurant
5. Ojalá, Malasaña

My favourite café to have brunch at on a Sunday morning is definitely Ojala. It is really quirky inside (as you can see in the photo) and the food is delicious, particularly the breakfast menu. All the brews come in tiny little cute tea cups and the avocado on toast is gorgeous. Go whilst you can! It is in the very trendy area of Malasaña, which is full of cool restaurants and cafes so you can go and do a bit of retail therapy in nearby vintage clothes shops after a delicious breakfast.

Ojalá, Malasaña

Top 5: Natasha

El viajero

This is one of my favourite rooftop terraces. It is perfect for a sunny weekend lunch or drinks in the evening after work, in the lively neighbourhood of La Latina. It´s a great place to go and relax after a hectic time in El Rastro market. While it may not have a panoramic view of the city, it still has a cool view of La Latina and a great atmosphere.

Caixa forum

Caixa forum is a cultural center on Paseo del Prado that hosts temporary exhibitions. It always has some kind of interesting and exciting social work exhibition on. One I went to was a really thought-provoking photographic exhibition on different humanitarian crises. It is definitely worth a visit and once you´re done, you can head to the café for a nice sit down and a cup of coffee. Don´t forget to look at the vertical garden! 

Casa de Campo

If you want to escape the buzzing cosmopolitan life, then this is as close as you´ll get without having to leave the city! It is a huge park in Madrid, and one of the biggest in Europe too, with lots of woodland, making it feel like you are in the countryside. You can get there either by cable car (El Teleférico) or by metro. There is also a public pool open in summer, a big lake with restaurants alongside it and even a theme park!

Pez tortilla

Malasaña is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Madrid and one of my favourite streets is called Calle de la Pez. On this street you´ll find one of the best tortilla places in Madrid! You can choose from a range of unique and exciting flavours of both tortilla and croquettes. To top it off, they offer a selection of artisanal beers that go rather nicely with your meal. It´s always very busy so if you don´t have luck there, then try the other Pez Tortilla in La Latina.

Pantano de San Juan

With Madrid being in the centre of Spain, there is a lack of places to go to cool yourself down when it gets too hot! This hidden gem is a man-made beach, at San Juan reservoir and is just an hour´s coach ride away (and free if you have the youth transport card). Here you can pay to do watersports, or just simply relax on the beach and have a swim in the reservoir. There is a cafe there if you´re in need of an ice cream or else bring a picnic with you as it’s an idyllic setting!

Traditional festivals in Madrid

If you´re looking for an authentic experience in Madrid, the August fiestas (6th-18th August 2019), could be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the city´s traditions alongside the locals. Each summer, the streets come alive with three of the city´s most famous festivals – read on to find out how to get involved.

The celebrations begin with the Fiestas de San Cayetano (from 6th August, Embajadores). Events will include open-air concerts, dances, parades and games. In the evening you can enjoy a DJ session with a drink from one of the local bars which will be setting up in the street for the occasion.

The party continues with the Fiestas de San Lorenzo (10th-13th August, Lavapiés). Once you´ve worked up an appetite from dancing, why not go on a tapas tour of the local bars and try something new!

Fiesta Virgen de la Paloma

The Fiestas de la Virgen de la Paloma (12th-18th August, La Latina), are undoubtedly the highlight of the celebrations; if you only go to one of the three fiestas, this one is not to be missed. The festival reaches its climax on 15th August, which happens to be a public holiday in Madrid, so you won´t have to skip work to join in! On this day, alongside more events such as workshops and food tastings, the firefighters of Madrid take part in a procession and make an offering to their patron saint.

You can find more information and the official programme here:

https://www.esmadrid.com/fiestas-agosto-madrid-san-cayetano-san-lorenzo-virgen-la-paloma

Best summer plans in Madrid

It may be hot outside, but that shouldn´t stop you from having a great time! Here are some of our favourite things to do in Madrid in the summer.

Casa de Campo Lake

It´s hard to believe that this oasis is just a few metro stops away from the centre of Madrid; you could say it´s an escape from the city, within the city. Sitting by the lake is a lovely way to spend the afternoon, but if you fancy something more energetic, why not hire a boat? The lake even has a fountain in the middle to cool you down!

Metro: Lago (L10), Puerta del Ángel (L6)

When: Mon-Sun, 08:30-sunset

Price: Mon-Fri 6 €, Sat-Sun 8 € (45 min)

Veranos de la Villa 2019

This annual festival lasts all summer (28th June – 1st September) and fills every corner of the city with cultural activities. It´s a great way to enjoy a cultural experience outside of the typical indoor setting, as the events are held outdoors in parks, swimming pools, cultural centres and squares. Even better, 90% of the activities are free!

See the full programme: https://veranosdelavilla.madrid.es/es/programa

Veranos de la Villa

Open-air cinema

What better way to spend a summer evening than to sit back, relax and enjoy a film under the night sky?  Two of our favourites are Cine de Verano Conde Duque and Cibeles de Cine, which offer a wide variety of films, and all at a reasonable price.

Conde Duque:

When: 22:00, Mon-Sat until 7th September

Ticket price: 6 € / 3 € on Wednesday

See the full programme: https://www.condeduquemadrid.es/actividades/cine-de-verano-conde-duque-0

Cibeles de Cine:

When: 22:00, Mon-Sun until 12th September (closed 6th & 7th July)

Ticket price: 6 €

See the full programme: https://www.mk2sunsetcinema.es/film_category/cibeles-de-cine/

Swimming pools

In Madrid we may not have a beach, but we do have swimming pools! If the heat is just too much, you can always cool off in one of the 20 municipal swimming pools which are open until 22nd September.  One of our favourites is the Centro Deportivo Municipal Vicente del Bosque, which features two 50m pools as well as a children´s pool. Prepare yourself for a shock when you jump in, though, as the water is freezing!

Centro Deportivo Municipal Vicente del Bosque:

Metro: Barrio del Pilar (L9), Begoña (L10)

When: Mon-Sun 11:00-21:00

For more information on outdoor pools in Madrid: https://www.esmadrid.com/piscinas-de-verano-en-madrid

Swimming pools in Madrid

Madrid’s best rooftop bars

Tired of all the museum visits and long walks? Looking for beautiful views over the city of Madrid? Roof terraces will offer you the solution! The views over Madrid are impressive and there are a lots all over the city, from fancy and exclusive ones to local and folksy ones. Below you will find the 5 best roof terraces in Madrid.

5. Gau & Café

The Gau & Café is a hidden gem, located in the brisk and multicultural area of Lavapiés. The restaurant is located inside an ancient monument that is part of a national heritage, 500 meter from the heart of Madrid.

On the roof you will find a restaurant area (Mediterranean cuisine) and a part where you can enjoy a drink. The best time of the day to visit the terrace is during sunset, the atmosphere is enchanting by then! Certainly worth to mention is that this roof terrace is not as expensive as, for example hotel roof terraces.

Where: C/ Tribulete 14, fourth floor. Metro: Lavapiés.
Opening hours: Open the whole year. Mondays to Fridays from 11 – 23.30. Saturday from 13.30, closed on Sundays.

4. La Terraza del Urban

The fanciest roof terrace on the list is definitely La Terraza del Urban. You are already warned because it is part of a 5 star hotel. This 5 star hotel is located a stone’s throw from the Spanish Parliament and offers supreme quality, from luxury cocktails to quality tapas (caviar and oysters for example). For a tapa and a cocktail you will pay around €25 and twice a week they offer live music shows.

Where: Carrera de San Jerónimo, 34. Metro: Sol
Opening hours: Wednesdays to Saturdays from 11:00 to 03:00 and from Sundays to Tuesdays from 11:00 to 02:00.

3. Hotel Óscar

In the Chueca district you will find Hotel Óscar. This fancy hotel has a luxury swimming pool, lounge beds, cocktail tables and a beautiful panorama over the highest buildings of Madrid.

The entrance to the roof terrace is free but do not be shocked by the high prices for drinks and snacks. For a normal juice you will normally pay around €5. Using the pool costs €40 a day or €20 for half a day.

Where: Plaza Vázquez de Mella, 12. Metro: Chueca
Opening hours: 24/7

 2. Café el Viajero

This tropical roof terrace is located in the trendy area of La Latina, very close to the 2 most famous tapas streets of Madrid, Cava Alto and Cava Baja. The bar resemblance to a reggae-beach bar and normally reaches younger audience. You’ll get an amazing view of the basilica of San Francisco el Grande!

Where: Plaza de la Cebada, 11. Metro: La Latina
Opening hours: Tuesdays to Thursdays from 17:00 to 00:30. Fridays: 15:00 to 01:30. Saturdays: 12:00 to 01:30 and Sundays: 12:00 to 00:30.

1. La Terraza del Círculo de Bellas Artes

According to many Madrileños, the Círculo de Bellas Artes has the best roof terrace in Madrid. It is very close to our school, Inhispania, and for only €4 you can visit the roof terrace of this impressive building. Furthermore, the location (close to Plaza Cibeles and next to Banco de España) is excellent!

From the rooftop you have a beautiful view over the Retiro Park, Plaza Cibeles, the city hall, Paseo del Prado, the Prado museum and the Alcalá street. Go enjoy the view over ‘Madrid by night’ while chilling on one of the loungers and drinking a cocktail!

Where: Plaza Cibeles 1. Metro: Banco de España
Opening hours: Mondays to Fridays: 09:00 to 02:00 and Saturdays and Sundays: 11:00 to 02:30.