When you live in Scotland, you will know, that once winter sets in, which is approximately the middle of summer 😉 your body starts craving some warmth and a blue sky, not a cover of cloud.
So one place that is top of TLE’s favourites list for a winter break is Spain’s capital Madrid. There is nowhere quite like the city – I went a few years ago and instantly feel in love with it. A cliché to say the least, but there really is something for everyone – great shops, and I mean great shops, from sprawling department stores, to individual boutiques and a luxury shopping district that could give Mayfair a run for it’s money.
If you like culture, then there are museums on par with the Louvre in Paris and let’s not forget the wine! You will find that virtually every bar and cafe in the whole city serves top quality wine for rock bottom prices; pair it up with tapas and you have the formula for a great weekend! And least but not least the weather! I was there at the end of November and it was like a British summers day. Have I sold it to you yet??!
I was here for three nights, so I can’t say I am an expert on the city, but I have pulled out a few things I liked which will help with your research if you are planning on visiting this fabulous city.
Most of Madrid’s shopping takes place in and around Gran Via which is the main road that carves the city centre in two. Here you will find all the main high street favourites mixed in with some Spanish favourites and European brands you won’t find in the UK.
If you are looking for boutique shops, then I recommend you head to Chueca, the streets in and around this area are packed with boutique shops and another good street in the area for shops is Calle Fuencarral.
If you head in the opposite direction to Chueca and cross Gran Via then you will reach the Plaza of Sol (you will know you are in Sol when you see the Tio Pepe sign). Most of the pedestrian streets off the this plaza feature shops and Spain’s famous department store El Corte Ingles is a few minutes walk from the plaza. Also remember in Spain, nothing really kicks off until last evening/night you will see in the pic below how busy the shopping streets were in the evening and with most shops open well into the night you really are in shopping heaven.
High end luxury shops are found in the areas of Salamanca and Recoletos next to Retiro Park.
Eating & Drinking
I like to eat as I explore on a holiday so there was no set agenda on where we ate in Madrid. We did discover the Market De San Miguel and I recommend any visitor to the city to try it out. It appeared to be busy all day and night, but it really came into it’s element in the evening. We spent a few hours there sampling tapas and pairing it up with wine, each individual stall offered a different style of tapas. I would highly recommend it!
If you want to eat like a local the area around Calle de la Cruz close to Sol is where most of the tapas bars are. We went on the Sunday for lunch and the tapas restaurants are alive with the clatter of cutlery and high volume Spanish chatter. If you do sample some tapas you can’t leave the city without eating Patatas Bravas and Pimentos de Padron and most places sell cured Spanish ham which is also extremely popular.
A little gem for an afternoon drink in the sun is Azotea Roofbar. It is at the top of Circulo de Bellas Artes which is on Gran Via. There is an entrance fee to the bar, which is worth every penny as it offers uninterrupted views across the entire city and is a complete sun trap.
And for a coffee fix we enjoyed Toma Cafe which is quite close to Noviciado metro station.
Madrid is awash with culture you just need to walk around the city to soak it up as people go about their daily business.
But if you want an immersive experience then head to the Prado Museum which can easily fill an entire day to see and explore fully.
For a stroll in a park no trip to the city is complete without visiting Retiro Park.
I had planned to go but ran out of time, but Matadero a contemporary gallery space which was a former slaughter-house is supposed to be a great place to visit, I am saving that for my next visit.