The best thing about living in vibrant Madrid is that you will never run out of things to do, places to visit or people to meet, but if you´re looking for some inspiration here are my recommendations!
While spending the summer in Madrid does bring its challenges (read: 40 degrees and no air conditioning), this is actually a great time to let the city surprise you. My favourite time of day to be outside in the city was after sunset, when the temperature starts to drop and you can comfortably enjoy a drink in the open air, but this is not the only way to enjoy the city after dark. Cibeles de Cine is one of the many summer cinemas which pop up each year around the Madrid. If you think the Palacio de Cibeles is impressive from the outside, you should definitely check this out: a huge screen is set up in the Galería de Cristal, an interior patio with a 30 metre-high ceiling made of over 2000 glass triangles. Just try not to let this distract you from the film!
When I started compiling my favourite places in Madrid, a recurring theme appeared… food! As a vegetarian, I didn´t know what to expect from the food scene here, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety of cuisines on offer. I have enjoyed Mexican, Italian and Middle-Eastern food, but the one place I would keep going back to is Bambúbox, the best Thai restaurant I have found in the city. The menu offers much more than your standard Pad Thai, with a whole section of delicious and fresh vegetarian dishes. Aside from the food, everything from the stylish décor to the presentation of the food makes this a great dining experience, all within a few minutes´ walk from the school.
If, like me, you prefer to be outside as much as possible, you can´t go wrong with an afternoon spent in the Retiro Park with a good book. If, like me, you get through a book in just a few days however, it can become an expensive habit, which is why I looked for second-hand bookshops almost as soon as I arrived. If you´re looking for something quirky, I recommend Libros para un mundo mejor, where, in addition to literature in various languages, you can find a range of postcards and canvas bags decorated with the motif of the shop´s resident cat, whom you are sure to meet if you visit!
I couldn´t share my favourite places in Madrid without including somewhere to go for breakfast – the best meal of the day. My favourite spot is in the Plaza de las Comendadoras, Malasaña, and is testament to Madrid´s cosmopolitan food scene. Federal is not like anything else I have found in Madrid; this Australian café is spacious and relaxed, and the food is fantastic. I would highly recommend the French toast or perfectly poached eggs, but if you´re indecisive you should be warned, the menu is extensive and it is super hard to choose!
Finally, no stay in Madrid is complete without seeing the city from above. One way to do this is to visit a rooftop bar, but I would highly recommend the Faro de Moncloa for a true panorama of the city. The 3€ you pay to take the lift 92 metres up the side of the tower are more than worth it for the sweeping view you are rewarded with at the top. Don´t be put off if you´re afraid of heights – the lift ride is over before you know it – just don´t look down!