Return flights: £44.85 (Ryanair)
Accommodation: £37.37 (each) Habitación interior .wifi (AirBnB)
Summary and Highlights:
- Walk everywhere – Madrid is very pedestrian friendly and everything is in fairly close proximity.
- Look for restaurants that have a menu del dia (menu of the day) as they offer various courses and dishes plus a drink for a reasonable set price.
- Gran Via
- Parque del Retiro
- Palacio Real de Madrid
- Puerta del Sol
Madrid is the often overlooked capital of Spain, overshadowed by Barcelona especially and arguably the likes of Seville and Valencia. Speaking to people before I went a lot seemed to not have been that enthused with it. However, much like TripAdvisor reviews, I don’t take it to heart and make a decision based on what everyone says. I found the chill atmosphere and proximity of everything a lot less chaotic than the busy streets of Barcelona. My social battery was even charged enough too to go with my neighbour Tristan (I’ve even got enough charge that we’re going away again in July). I’d say the only downside was the limited amount of time we had, due to the flight times and limited days off work to take. However, with enough research and preparation, I’d say 2 days is enough to get the main things seen and done in Madrid.
Although I am accustomed to staying in cupboards or odd places, I recognise going away with other people that a cupboard for two might not be ideal (especially since we’re both over 6 foot tall). The good thing about going with one or more people is being able to share a room and split the cost between you. (Plus they can take my pictures for Instagram instead of me having to use my tripod). Often single and double rooms have a small or no price difference at all. We opted for an AirBnB in the Chueca district which was centrally located and in a nice square by the Metro station. Our host Juan Carlos sent loads of recommendations and we managed to make conversation in Spanglish.
The first thing I had in store for us was, of course, a walking tour. Although, it did go on for over 3 hours so by the end we were pretty frazzled with info and were wanting to get back to change and catch the sunset. Our initial plan was to go to the rooftop bar of the Círculo de Bellas Artes building, which has views across Gran Via (the main street in Madrid). Turned out it was closed for renovation so that threw that out the window. Instead, our next option which was planned for the second night was to see the sunset from the Temple of Debod. Although on the other side of the centre we walked it in about 25 minutes and managed to catch some views on the way.
By then we were pretty famished, remembering that the Spanish don’t eat until late so it was a good time to eat. I’d previously found a place near our apartment that Juan Carlos had also recommended. It was €12.90 for 2 courses and a drink but we ended up being given an entire bottle of wine between us included. I knew about menu del dia from my previous trip to Barcelona and would say it’s one of the best and most affordable options for food. For a capital city, Madrid is not that expensive and prices can vary substantially (such as for the vodka lemonades we had after at various bars).
The morning after the night before we got out and about at a reasonable time to go to Parque del Retiro which was surprisingly busy for Sunday morning. Followed by the Sabatini Gardens at the Palacio Real de Madrid. This time of year is great to go as the weather is just right (the mid to high 20s) but I’ve heard in the summer the heat is unbearable and in the high 30s to 40 degrees Celcius.
After our failed attempt at a rooftop bar, we’d seen another that we went back to the second night…to find out it was closed for a private event. Eventually, after some swift Googling, we got that rooftop sunset at the Picalagartos Sky Bar on Gran Via which wasn’t overly expensive and made me one of the spiciest Moscow Mule’s I’ve ever had.
Overall I definitely rate Madrid. Sun, sights and sangria. ¡Salud!