Madrid is a great city to enjoy! The weather is usually nice at any time of the year, so walking through the streets is a pleasure. I recommend that you spend time wandering through Madrid, because discovering cute places by yourself is one of the best things to do when you’re travelling around.
These are some places that I go to in my spare time. I hope you like them too!!
Serrano, Ortega y Gasset and Velázquez - These three streets house Madrid’s most luxurious boutiques, with brands such as Hermès, Dolce & Gabanna, Chanel, Giorgio Armani or Loewe. There, you can also find the shopping centres ABC Serrano and El Jardín de Serrano. (Metro: Serrano, Colón and Velázquez).
Fuencarral street has been considered the gold mile of the capital. Fuencarral’s market, located on this street, is home to the most daring and original shops. Make sure to visit it! (Metro: Tribunal, Gran Vía and Chueca).
El Rastro flea market: this traditional street market takes place every Sunday morning. The Cascorro square and its surroundings is full of small stands in which you can find almost everything, from clothes and accessories, to antiques or traditional snacks. El Rastro is a must-see market for all tourists. (Metro: La Latina, Puerta de Toledo and Tirso de Molina)
Casa del libro (Gran Vía, 39): This is one of the biggest bookstores in Madrid. You can find any book you want, and if they don’t have it, you can ask and they’ll order it for you.
Cuesta Moyano: This is a popular and charming street market, with wooden stalls lined up along Claudio Moyano street. You can find second hand books and also new titles. Its location next to the Retiro Park means you can go and enjoy your book in one of Madrid’s best-known parks.
San Ginés Bookstore (Pasadizo de San Ginés, 2): With books outside the store, this is an old temple of books. It’s a little and charming place where you can find treasures at a good price. It’s located in a little alley near a café serving hot chocolate as a speciality, what else you can ask?
Cafés and Restaurants
Mercado de San Miguel (Plaza de San Miguel, 2): If you want a fast meal to continue visiting the city, this is your place. Built in 1916, this market is a temple to gastronomy. It’s home to 33 stalls selling mouth-watering products and select ingredients, and they offer food to take home or to consume right there on the premises.
Café Gijon (Paseo de Recoletos, 21): founded in 1888, you can have a coffee at the same place where spanish authors of the “generación de ’98″ and the “generación de ’27″ used to meet here for “tertulias” — intellectual roundtables.
Casa Lucio (Cava Baja, 35): Gastronomy has always played an important part in the life of Madrid, as can be seen from the number of restaurants in the city that have been serving traditional local dishes. Since 1974 Casa Lucio is one of those restaurants where you will always have a good meal. Don’t miss the scrambled eggs with fried potatoes, famous people all over the world come to eat this!
Puerta del Sol is a great point of reference for anyone visiting Madrid, since a number of important roads diverge here. Its location has made it a popular meeting point for hundreds of years, now with modern markers like the neon “Tío Pepe” sign and Madrid’s most emblematic statue, “El Oso y el Madroño” (the Bear & the Strawberry Tree). On New Year’s Eve, Puerta del Sol is the equivalent of New York’s Times Square. Thousands gather to count down to the chimes of the clock above Casa de Correos and eat a grape for every toll. Head westward on Calle Arenal and you’ll reach the Royal Theater & Palace.
Huertas is also known as “El Barrio de las Letras,” literary Madrid. This is where Spain’s most celebrated Golden Age authors – Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, Tirso de Molina – lived during the 17th century. The streets radiating off its core, Plaza de Santa Ana, are packed with tapas bars and disco-pubs, popular as much among Spaniards as with an international crowd. And of course, the Paseo del Prado holds the magnificent Prado Museum.
The Retiro Park & Salamanca neighborhood lie east of the city’s main north-south boulevard, the Paseo de la Castellana (Metro stops in this area: Banco de España, Colón, Velázquez, Goya, Retiro, Príncipe de Vergara, Atocha). East of the Paseo del Prado the green area of the Retiro, is perfect for practising some sport, rowing a boat or, simply, relaxing under a tree and reading your favourite book.
Written by Marisol Herrera, a librarian living in Madrid and working at the University Carlos III.