All in all, my time in Madrid has been all about enjoying life, food, going out and meeting people. If you are able to keep up with this crazy Spanish rhythm, you will LOVE Madrid.
All the places that my predecessors talked about are obviously a MUST! But let me give you some of my own advice for you to really make the most of this city.
1. Cocktail bars – Salmon Guru
In a big city such as Madrid, it is not always easy to meet people to talk to and to practice Spanish with. However, the one activity that gathers everyone here in Madrid is partying. Madrid is all about craziness, good vibes and bars.
Among the thousands and thousands of bars in Madrid, the one which found its place in my heart was Salmon Guru, near Plaza Santa Ana, in the Las Letras area. (Yes, weird name, I know…) This cocktail bar is owned by an Argentinian, with a Venezuelan and Spanish bartenders. They warmly invite you to enjoy their fabulous drinks which they make with artistic precision, in a softened light. If you sit at the bar, try to talk to them, you’ll end up feeling right at home and having a great, glamourous night!
2. Piercings – Hippies de Goya
If, like me, you like piercings and tattoos, Madrid is THE city! In the Chueca area and along Calle Montera, you’ll find the craziest types of piercings and tattoo at the lowest prices. But once you´ve ticked this off, you’ll need to go the Hippies of Goya. A few small tents are set up right next to the metro exit; here they sell a quantity of piercings, ecarteurs , fakes, backpacks… You’ll find quantity, quality and great conversation. Just like I did, you’ll be able to refurnish your hippie/backpacker collection. If you’re good enough, you’ll even be able to score yourself a bargain 😉
3. La Hummusería
Wandering around Malasaña and Chueca, you’ll find many places like this one. Less than 5 minutes walk from the school, La Hummusería is a little paradise. The place is quite hipster, just like the area itself, and cosy. There I get to eat my favorite comfort food: hummus. The food is cheap, good quality, fresh and healthy! I took all my friends visiting there, and they all fell in love with it! Now, I NEED to find the same in Paris…
4. Rooftops – El Viajero
The natives will tell you otherwise, but rooftops in Madrid are actually a THING! I won’t talk too much about them as we already have a whole article on this blog dedicated to them.
I discovered this bar not long ago actually. El Viajero, in the lively neighbourhood of La Latina offers different options. The ground and first floor are pretty classic Madrid type bar, full of energy. However, that’s when you get to the last floor that it gets interesting. The rooftop is very green, topped with sunshades and fans to try to fight the sometimes overwhelming heat. But be careful! If you want to go have a drink of there in the evening, you’d better get there early! Or try your luck, like we did 😉
5. Fish and seafood restaurants
From the smallest pub to the nicest restaurant, they all offer the most Spanish seafood dishes : bocadillo de calamares, pulpo a la gallega…
My two favorite ones: O’Caldiño and El Barril (de Las Letras). The first one offers Galician specialties with a very traditional ambiance. You can choose between tapas bar or restaurant style. The second one, more on the pricey side, offers very fresh products and a very good service.
My own advice: when you have the occasion, ask for barnacles! Before coming here, I had never heard of it. These weird little things will surprise you in many ways…
Even though my Top 5 is pretty complete, here is my bonus and favourite restaurant : Taberna Verdejo. This very intimate place is composed of only 10 tables. The place is run by Carmen, a small woman full of energy and warmth. Let her surprise you and customize you your very own menu. You’ll be charmed and convinced without a doubt by the talent and creativity of the chefs, offering a very simple but refined, fresh and authentic Spanish cuisine.
Be careful! You might want to get a reservation!