Plaza Mayor – Balcony By Jose Maria Cuellar
Madrid is the capital of Spain, situated in the center of the Iberian Peninsula. The best months to go are April, May, June, September and October. In Madrid there are hidden parks and gardens, isolated retreats surrounded by heavy traffic, different art itineraries and emblematic buildings to get lost from the masses. Nature in Madrid can be found in places as the Retiro Park, the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Vistillas Gardens and many more.
Madrid has not a cuisine of its own, it has developed under the influence of immigrants, products and people from the rest of Spain. Typical strong stews are the “cocido madrileño” and “callos a la madrileña”. Also renowned are the “tortilla de patatas” – Spanish thick fried potato omelette- the garlic soup –consisting of garlic, bread, oil and paprika-, the “torrijas” –slices of stale bread dipped in milk and beaten egg and then fried- and the traditional “tapas”.
Eating hours in Madrid are different from those of the rest of Europe. Breakfast is often taken twice, at 8a.m. and at 11 a.m. Lunch takes a long time, between 2p.m.and 4p.m. Then comes dinner, a serious matter, not before 9p.m., and may last till midnight. Tapas are always welcome.
Madrid has a wine region of its own, young wines including whites, roses and reds. There is only one D.O. in Madrid, “Vinos de Madrid”. Best wines are those of Cellar Ricardo Benito, Vinos Jeromín, and Tagonius. Wine is always part of the meal, but as madrilians (and Spanish people in general) love to drink anywhere and anytime, you may find yourself at 10a.m. asking for a “caña” (beer) or a “clara” (beer mixed with soda), or a “sangria” at 3p.m. or may be a “cubata” (rhum and coke) or a gin and tonic just after dinner, followed by a “chupito” (shot).
Sightseeing buses hop on hop off tours Madrid Vision
Free entry to museums and monuments Madrid Card
Guide to week’s events, shows, free concerts. Guia del Ocio
Discount metro ticket, unlimited travel on metro. Metro Madrid
ARRIVAL IN MADRID
If you arrive by plane, check these websites for airport information. Madrid’s Airport of Barajas is 13km from the city centre.
From the airport to Madrid you can go
- By bus, which run from 5.20 a.m to 11.30p.m. to the bus station at Avenida de America, tickets cost 1 Euro. There is also a 24-hour bus service to the Puerta de Atocha railway station, teh Airport Express service, with stops in the Plaza de Cibeles square and Calle O’Donnell. Tickets cost €2 and are purchased at the bus itself.. Runs once every 15 minutes during the day and every 35 minutes at night. There is also a free shuttle service connecting the four airport terminals.
- By shared or private transportation Airport Shuttle
- By car. You can access Madrid by taking Exit 2 towards E90/A2 Madrid. Go on the A2 and take ekit 4B to the M-30, directions A3/Valencia/Calle de Alcala
- Taxi, probably the most expensive option because the rate depends on the traffic conditions. There is now no charge for luggage.
- By metro from Terminal T4 and T2.
If you are arriving by road, Madrid has six main highways entering and leaving the city, from the A1 to the A6, and three major ring roads.
By train you will arrive either to the railway station of Atocha or Chamartin station and from there you may take a taxi or a bus. The Spanish national railway is RENFE
Barajas Airport By rjjm
HOTELS BY NEIGHBOURHOOD
From redesigned small palaces to modern buildings in a New York style, almost every hotel offers modern devices such as Wi Fi, CD menu, satellite TV, gourmet restaurants.
NEAR THE MUSEUM TRIANGLE
Urban. This five star hotel is a pleasure for art lovers. Besides its location, the hotel itself is an example of architecture and design.
AC Retiro. Located in the heart of Madrid, in a small palace built in 1908, this impressive, extravagant and elegant five star hotel faces the Parque del Retiro, la Puerta de Alcala is only two blocks away, behind, el Paseo del Prado and the Royal Botanic Garden. Excellent decoration and facilities.
PLAZA SANTA ANA
Hotel ME Madrid. The ultimate sophisticated experience, if you can afford it, book a room at one of The Level suites, (The Tower the best!!!!). Enjoy a romantic dinner at the roof-top terrace and then join the crowds and have a drink at the many terrace bars around Plaza Santa Ana.
Hesperia Hermosilla. A three star boutique hotel in the middle of Salamanca neighourhood, good value for your money
The NH Lagasca Do not expect a room with a view, but this is a modern hotel, comfortable and the loveliest strategic location in the Salamanca neighborhood, a shopping paradise. From Columela St. to Goya St. the ambience is very much alike the Rive Gauche in Paris or Upper East side in Manhattan. Also there are many small restaurants and nearby cafes to take a break. The nearest metro station is Serrano (5 minutes walking distance) and the historic city centre may be reached in a few minutes walk or by bus.
PUERTA DEL SOL
QUO Puerta del Sol. Modern and reasonably priced. Located just a few blocks away from the Plaza Mayor and the Gran Via.
Casa de Madrid Barroque style
SOUTH OF CHUECA
Hotel de las Letras. Warm rooms and creative cuisine, a spa with a “hammam”, (arab bath). Rooms Nº 413 and 313 etc. are bigger. The building is old in the otside but modern in the inside.
Hotel Petit Palace Posada del Peine. The oldest pension in the city almost 400 years old, was refurbished by the High Tech hotel chain.
Hotel de las Letras By shaggyshoo
Breakfast in the hotel is a good choice, but nothing new, a variety of breads, coffee or tea, several juices etc. To try something different, enjoy socializing with local people and learn local habits, breakfast at either a bar or cafeteria of the neighbourhood is a better choice. Some people ask for just a coffee and move on, other sit down, ask for the newspaper, coffee and a toast, a baked slice of white bread with butter or jam. Almost every worker takes a break around 10 in the morning to have a snack. A lot of chitchat, another cup of white coffee (with milk), or chocolate, “bolleria” (pastries), “churros”, or huge “bocatas”, (fresh bread sandwiches with ham, cheese, tomato or every other ingredient that suits your imagination), accompanied with a glass of wine or a “caña” (glass of beer).
The Pasteleria Mallorca, a renowned gourmet food shop offers a delicious breakfast, coffee and ensaimadas, besides many other options displayed at the counter as prepared dishes to take away, tapas, cheeses, pastries, chocolates and the best of Spanish wines
If you are staying in Chueca neighbourhood, don’t miss a great breakfast at “Diurno” café,on the corner of San Marcos and Libertad, a gourmet video club and trendy coffee shop and meeting point, where you can have breakfast, lunch or a drink in the evening.
Spanish gastronomy has always been simple and strong. There is nothing more simple and gourmet than jamon Serrano or Pata Negra and a piece of bread. Legs of ham can be seen hanging from the ceiling of delicatessen shops, restaurants, and bars. Museo del Jamon.
There is nothing more strong and simple than garlic –“ajo”, an essential ingredient in Spanish food, and nothing more simple than olive oil, and tasty, and strong.These are three basic ingredients of Spanish cuisine.
You must stop by Frutas Vazquez, Calle Ayala 11, in Salamanca neighborhood, simply to admire and enjoy the magnificent view of fruits and vegetables. The scented and red strawberries share the manicured setting with glorious pineapples, rounded and juicy watermelons, fresh asparagus and bright tomatoes. Such a delight cannot be missed. It is said that the Queen, Sofia, loves cherries while the King, Juan Carlos adores apricots.
Frutas Vazquez By Adri H
Pasteleria Embassy, Paseo de la Castellana, 12, is one of the favourites of the Royal House. The chocolate cake, the raspberry soufflé and the tarts deserve a visit.
Madrilians are great lovers of fish, though the city is relatively far from the ocean it receives fish and seafood from nearly every harbour in Spain. Pescaderías Coruñesas, Calle Juan Montalvo, 14has been supplying the Royal House for years.
Another gastronomic marvel hardly to be missed in Madrid is El Mercado de La Paz, in the heart of Salamanca. It is a real pleasure to wander about the flawless stalls, if you happen to be there around Christmas the setting is nothing but spectacular. This wonderful market is all about food, a feast for every sense. El Mercado de San Miguel is one of the oldest covered markets of Madrid and has been recently refurbished. The historic building is located near the Plaza Mayor.
“Chocolate con churros” in a winter afternoon. Stop at Chocolateria San Gines, Pasadizo de San Gines, 5, one of the great Madrid traditions. For gourmet delights, the Gold Gourmet, Calle Ortega y Gasset 85-87, and El Club del Gourmet del Corte Ingles are a must.
For those who love tradition and excellence.
Lhardy, Carrera de San Jerònimo, 8. The self- service of consommé from the silver samovar is a tradition since 1885. The deli and take out shop is located at the ground floor, the restaurant on the second floor. The menu has a French origin and though fish and poultry are among its specialties, also there are some dishes that have remained the same for years, as the typical Madrid stew, “cocido madrileño”, and the tripe Madrid style, “callos a la madrileña”. Eating here is like being part of history.
El Botin, calle Cuchilleros 17, Metro Opera / Sol. Founded in 1725, is the oldest restaurant in Madrid. Traditional Madrid cuisine, specialties are suckling pig and lamb roasted.
For those lovers of cinema atmosphere and typical spanish food.
La Bardemcilla, calle Augusto Figueroa, 47. Metro: Chueca.
For those who enjoy luxury and extraordinary dishes. Jockey, Calle Amador de los Rios, 6. . A meeting point of diplomats, heads of state and celebrities. This restaurant dates from 1945 and its menu remains formal and traditional, using the best ingredients which results in an exquisite cuisine. Men must wear jacket and tie. They were also responsible for the banquet of the Royal Wedding of the Prince and Princess of Asturias.
For those who love elegance, outstanding decor and haute cuisine. Zalacain, Calle Alvarez de Baena, 4. World class service and a superb gastronomic experience. The wine cellar contains more than 35.000 bottles. Men must wear jacket and tie.
For lovers of classicism and tradition. Café de Oriente, Plaza de Oriente, 2. In summer the terrace overlooks the Palacio Real and the Plaza de Oriente, in winter, the red velvet couches provide the warmth for a relaxed moment. It has a restaurant but the best hours are those before lunch or dinner.
For the romantic reminiscent of the belle époque. Terrace and gardens of The Ritz, In summer the terrace is open to the public, an oasis away from the noisy Paseo del Prado. White wicker armchairs with blue cushions, marble tables, a small pond with water lilies, luxury vehicles and an uniformed doorman welcoming international personalities are part of the scene. You may enjoy the hotel menu, or simply ask for a glass of champagne and an appetizer.
For those who love concept stores. Isolee, Infantas, 19, Chueca. Fashion, food and lifestyle. A multifunctional and original spot to eat, buy clothes, gifts and delicatessen. A place to see and be seen.
For italian food lovers. Pulcinella Trattoria, Calle Regueros, 7, Chueca. An lively italian restaurant. Spaghetti aglio e olio, pizza margherita or formaggio and a lemoncello is a good choice.
For those who love Thai food and exotic decoration. Thai Gardens, Calle de Jorge Juan 5, Salamanca, Metro: Serrano, is the right place. All dishes blend with different sauces and you may ask for a tasting menu if you are not an expert. The intimate and peaceful setting and the small lush garden will do the rest.
For shopping breaks. Madrid is full of restaurants and bars and in every neighborhood there is a favorite. In Salamanca, the “Callejon de Puigcerda”, next to the “Callejon de Jorge Juan”, is a nice place for a shopping break. Matilda and the trendy El Paraguas are good for lunch. In Lagasca street, also in Salamanca, there are many tapas bars and restaurants, O’Caldiño will indulge you with great traditional Galician food, Calle Lagasca, 74. A typical tapas bar and restaurant, the Lateral, Velazquez, 57, is not very expensive, has great food and gathers nice people, my favorites are the “pimientos de piquillo” and “croquetas”. LOFT 39, c/Velazquez 39. A very nice place, modern, with classic and excellent food. Around Chueca Neighbourhood and Fuencarral Street, Maison Blanche, c/Piamonte, 6, probably the best gourmet store in Madrid. It also has a small restaurant, the favorite of designers, actors and writers. Burguer Chic, c/San Marcos, 26, is a new slowfood restaurant. Hespen & Suarez, calle Barcelo, 15 is a modern supermarket of international delicatessen. You may eat on the spot or takeout.
Lhardy By ma_ab
MOUTH-WATERING TAPAS AND MORE
PLAZA SANTA ANA Evening or night (taxi). A five minute walk from the Puerta del Sol, in the Barrio de las Letras. Full of “terraces” and tapas bars to eat and drink and have a good time. The ME Hotel Penthouse, is very fashion spot for a drink at sunset and see Madrid from the above.
LA LATINA La Latina is the meeting point and is always crowded. La Latina is located in Madrid Antiguo, in the neighbourhood called Madrid de los Austrias. From the the Plaza Mayor go through the Arco de Cuchilleros and stroll along the Calle del Almendro to the Cava Baja towards La Latina. The best tapas bars and restaurants are centered in the Plaza de la Cebada, Plaza de la Paja, Plaza Puerta de Moros and Plaza del Humilladero. You must arrive to La Latina not earlier than 9 p.m., and stay all night long. Start a long itinerary roaming in and out from the many tapas bars, the noisiest, the best. To begin with, stop at Juana la Loca, Plaza Puerta de Moros, 4, and taste the best “pinchos” (small scale tapas) ever, don’t miss the “chivito” and the “tortilla de patatas”, the best of Madrid. Then move on to “El Bonanno”, a small and trendy bar, always crowded, at Plaza del Humilladero, 4 and/or “Cervecería Los Pinchos”, Plaza del Humilladero, 1. Then you may choose to continue with the “tapeo” or to sit down to have dinner in one of the many restaurants of the area. I recommend Casa Lucio, Cava Baja, 35, (reservations needed), to simply eat the famous “huevos estrellados”, thick potatoes fried in olive oil with broken eggs on top. Opposite Casa Lucio, the “Viejo Madrid”, Cava Baja, 32, offers also very good meals in case Casa Lucio is over booked. . After dinner, move on to the roof deck of “El Viajero”, Plaza de la Cebada, 11, to admire the magnificent views of the Basilica San Francisco el Grande, order some drinks and party for a while.
The exotic VaoVa, Plaza del Humilladero,6, is an exclusive bar that turns into a decorating store during the day. The door is locked and you must knock to ask the doorman to come in, sometimes he asks for a password. A very special place to have a drink and listen to chill out and trance music, in an exotic and magic moroccan atmosphere.
MARCHA AND LATE DRINKS
Fortuny, 34 Fortuny, Alonso. A hip, classy and cool restaurant, bar and nightclub. It opens at 2p.m. till 4a.m. You may have dinner “early”, 11p.m. and then ask for a table downstairs. Otherwise, do not show up until 1a.m. The garden terrace is beautiful on summer nights.
Pacha, Calle Barcelo, 11. An amazing night club, it is one of Madrid top nightspots. Dress smart and join the crowd outside. It would be better to make reservations or to go with someone who knows the rules, it is necessary a special VIP card to access to El Cielo in the third floor, the best place of the nightclub. It opens from Wednesday to Saturday.
Salamanca neighbourhood is still the best shopping area in Madrid. Popular streets for shopping in this area are Serrano, Hermosilla, Lagasca, Claudio Coelho, Ayala, Velázquez and Goya. Exclusive shops are located in Ortega y Gasset street -well known and expensive names as Versace, Armani, Tiffany, Spanish designer Adolfo Dominguez, Hermes, Channel, Dolce & Gabbana. Between Columela Street and Goya Street, there is a square formed by Lagasca St., Claudio Coello St., “callejon” of Jorge Juan, Goya St. and Ortega y Gasset St. The shops: H&M –where you can find great clothes for an affordable price- ZARA, El Corte Ingles, Massimo Dutti, Max Mara, Just One etc. This website will be a valuable help to plan your shopping itinerary.
To explore Madrid fashion scenes begin with Fuencarral Street, along to Chueca neighborhood starting in Gran Via. There is no better place in Madrid for alternative designers and grunge fashion than Chueca, Huertas and Malasaña areas, and the Mercado de Fuencarral. This is the new Madrid’s Soho.
Biscuit Calle Divino Pastor, 15, is a chic vintage and multibrand store, enjoy their clothes and accessories from all over the world. Other stores in Fuencarral Street as Homeless, c/Fuencarral, 16 and the renowned Custo Barcelona, c/Fuencarral, 29, are a must. The Fuencarral Market has 56 stores, and is a singular place where to buy non-conventional accessories and clothes at good prices. The parallel Calle Hortaleza is also a good option for nice shopping, check the hip designs at HAND (Have a Nice Day), Hortaleza, 26. The adjacent Calle Augusto Figueroa is the shoe lover’s paradise. From outlet stores to chic and special.
Chueca is a small lively neighborhood, also known as the gay-bohemian area of Madrid. Stroll along Santa Barbara square, while exploring the adjacent streets, c/Almirante, c/Prim and c/Barquillo, to name some.
The chic outlet option for fashion victims is Las Rozas Village, A-6, Exit 19, You should dedicate the whole day (or afternoon) to loose yourself in this enormous shopping mall, but it is worthwhile. Make a phone call to the 11824 for information about opening hours and transportation. Forty exclusive stores offering the best outlet shopping deserve a visit. Look for Hoss Intropia, a favorite one. www.hossintropia.com
Las Salesas. This is the newest shopping area in Madrid. A good place to begin is in the Cafe Gijon at the Paseo de los Recoletos, and then explore the neighbour streets of Almirante, Piamonte, Conde de Xiquena and Barbara de Braganza until you reach the Plaza de las Salesas.
Manolo Blahnik store By Turismo Madrid
Cities have dehumanized all through the centuries, but there are many intimate places yet to be found. The Prado Museum, the Descalzas Reales Museum, the Museo Nacional Reina Sofia, the Royal Palace, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Templo de Debod and many other tourist attractions and landmarks of Madrid are listed in every Tourist Guide and really worth a visit. However in Madrid there are also hidden parks and gardens, isolated retreats surrounded by heavy traffic, different art itineraries and emblematic buildings to get lost from the masses.
An oasis amidst the busy Paseo del Prado, is The Royal Botanic Garden, 2, Plaza de Murillo. The Garden, even in winter, has a spectacular beauty. There are beautiful paths among attractive landscaped gardens, small corners with small fountains, and stone benches strategically placed inviting for a rest, you will even hear the birds singing. Besides you may also learn about the 30.000 different species from the five continents, for they are all labeled with their Latin and Spanish names.
The best place to go for a run or a walk is the Parque del Buen Retiro, or simply El Retiro. Known as the “lungs of Madrid”, this magnificent park is filled with monuments, has three art galleries, a peaceful lake where to rent rowboats and is often a meeting point for madrilians and tourists. Once a private royal garden, the park is in a central location, surrounded by the city and on weekends and holidays hosts a variety of events and performers of all sorts. Look for the PALACIO DE CRISTAL, (Crystal Palace), a peculiar building in a beautiful setting amidst chestnut trees. Around the lake there are several bald cypresses which grow with their roots and part of the trunk underwater. This is a place to dream, quiet and romantic, an ideal shelter for summer afternoons (and mornings also).
A perfect place to catch a sunset and a great view of old Madrid is undoubtedly LAS VISTILLAS, still the best square of Madrid, between Calle Bailén, Calle Segovia and la Ronda de Bailén. Under the trees and surrounded by flowers the terrace of El Ventorrillo has a group of tables settled over the gravel of the park, where you can dine and enjoy the best sunset of Madrid.
Museo Cerralbo, Calle Ventura Rodriguez, 17,The former mansion of the 17th Marquis de Cerralbo is now a state owned house-museum, an aristocratic building with stone and brick façade, which will take you to back in time to the way of life of a late 19 century aristocratic family. Besides paintings, sculptures, glassware and furniture, you may also admire the romantic and spectacular garden.
SUMMER NIGHTS AT THE THYSSEN
One of the rewards of being in Madrid in summer is to enjoy the Summer Nights Season at the Thyssen Museum. Every night from July 1 to the end of August, the Museum holds temporary exhibits. The Mirador del Museo restaurant, -91 429 2732- located on the top floor of the new wing with privileged views to the Paseo del Prado, is open during the summer months offering a Mediterranean menu. To round off this magnificent combination of art and gastronomy, the coffee-shop and terrace in the entrance garden of the museum remain open until 1a.m. and the gift shop and bookstore until 11p.m.
Museo Cerralbo By Koji Yatani
ESCAPE TO PATONES DE ARRIBA
A short break on the weekends is the perfect choice to discover great routes and small towns not far from Madrid and enjoy peaceful places and great food. 60km away from Madrid, hidden in the Sierra Norte there is a town of legend that once had its own king and was forgotten for centuries, the small reign of Patones. Patones de Arriba I should say, for there are two Patones, Patones de Abajo (Lower Patones) and Patones de Arriba (Upper Patones). Patones de Arriba is a small, charming village of narrow and winding streets built in local slate and slate roofed stone houses, an exposure of what is called Black Architecture. According to a legend of the region, “The last day of Creation, when there was hardly light, God made these towns, for that reason the darkness”
The town has been tastefully recovered thanks to private initiative and now is a favourite getaway for people from Madrid and surroundings. We arrived to Patones de Arriba before lunch, so as to have enough time to wander around the slate covered streets of town surrounded by plenty of olive trees and flower fields. Each corner of Patones is a delight for every sense and there a lot of fine restaurants with terraces overlooking wonderful landscapes. We had lunch at El Poleo, a cozy restaurant with very good food and a terrace for romantic summer nights. Talking of romantic summer nights, it was a right decision to stay overnight at “El Tiempo Perdido”, a small, peaceful and charming hotel, the perfect place to make up for lost time.
Getting There. Drive up the N1 Burgos Highway, then exit the N-320 to Torrelaguna and finally the M-102 to Patones de Abajo and follow the signs to Patones de Arriba.
ESCAPE TO PEDRAZA
Pedraza is a charming walled medieval villa in the province of Segovia, half an hour away from Madrid, 126km. The first thing we see when approaching the village is its castle and the large park next to it, where visitors are asked to park in order to limit traffic in the cobbled streets of the village. The main square of Pedraza is known as the most beautiful squares in Castilla y Leon. I strongly recommend staying overnight to enjoy the tranquility of the night and walk around before dinner. Pedraza is also known for its famous roast lamb in wood oven, but there are also other gastronomic options as we found in “La Taberna de Antioquia”, La Florida, 3,The small and charming “posada”, “La Posada de Don Mariano”, , Calle Mayor, 14. has comfortable and well decorated rooms, breakfast not included. A good option is to buy some delicattessen for breakfast at “El Horno Artesano de Pan”,/ and spend the morning visiting the many decorating stores famous for its local artwork and traditional tin objects. The Candel Concerts (Noche de las Velas) is a sublime experience that cannot be missed if you happen to be in Madrid on July. On the first two Saturdays of July no electric lights are allowed and more than 35.000 candles illuminate the town. Evening classical-music concerts take place in privileged settings as the castle courtyard and the Plaza Mayor.
Patones de Arriba By Alberto Carrasco Casado