Tips for Your First Sultry Siesta in Madrid

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I love Spain and Spanish culture has always intrigued me, particularly the importance residents place on siesta. Everyday, shops close down from about 2-5 and bars and restaurants roughly from  4-9.

This coveted nap time can definitely feel strange for first time travelers to Spain, which is why it’s best to make the most of your day before and after siesta so that you can fully embrace this local tradition.

5 Tips for First Time Travel to Madrid

1) Become a Local from the Start

While it’s always a good idea to research a destination before you arrive, it’s hard to find real local hubs from a guidebook mainly targeted toward tourists. A good first step in finding local bars and restaurants is to ask your hotel attendant. These people are here to help you so don’t be afraid to use them as a resource. Tell them the atmosphere you are looking for and they will steer you in the right direction.

2) Take Advantage or Free Tours

If you are looking for a brief overview of Madrid, check out the free or discount tours that many hostels offer daily. Not only will you meet other culturally curious travelers, but you will learn about Spain’s capital city straight from a local. If you are on the hunt for a specific tour, these are also offered and not terribly hard to track down. A variety of short breaks at a low cost are available through various tour operators.

3) Bike Your Way Through Town

Biking is a popular form of transportation throughout Europe and Madrid is no exception. It’s a fast and eco-friendly way to really experience a city. I recommend picking three to four neighborhoods that interest you and coming up with a route for that day. La Rosaleda garden and Parque del Buen Retiro ideal attractions to explore by bike.

4) Don’t Save Museums for a Rainy Day

If you are on a budget, a great way to experience global art and culture in Madrid is by taking advantage of the city’s many museums. Prices aren’t terribly expensive and if you are traveling during the hot summer months, you will need a break from the heat. The Museo del Prado is a good place to start because they have free entry on select evenings.

5) Get Your Siesta On

Finally, going back to the beginning of this post, partaking in a little siesta is the perfect way to live like a local. Most people in Madrid don’t have dinner until around 9 or 10pm, meaning the real partying goes well into the morning hours. The artsy triBall neighborhood is perfect for the bohemian traveler.

Planning a future trip to Madrid? Research holiday apartments and vacation rentals and start planning your trip!


Megan McDonough
Megan Eileen McDonough is writer, blogger and social media specialist based in New York City. She also runs Bohemian Trails, a lifestyle blog designed for the savvy and stylish traveler. Bohemian Trails aims to feature must-see places around the world, covering everything from revamped neighborhoods and vibrant street art to innovative tech hubs and everything in between. Her cultural escapades have taken her to Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Megan is also a freelance writer and social media specialist based in New York City. She contributes to various online and print publications in the travel and fashion industries and is an international correspondent for both Jetsetter and Northstar Travel Media.
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