I’m not a big fan of cities, but Madrid was almost love at first sight. Maybe because it was just the start of spring, or maybe because the city is just that beautiful! I spent most of my time by the River Manzanares in Madrid, strolling along the parks and squares of Madrid, exploring Madrid’s markets and cafes, and discovering its quirky neighborhoods. In this photo essay, I share a roundup of some of the best unusual things to see and do in Madrid, including local hangouts and relatively secret places, that are sure to make you fall in love with this Spanish city too.
1. STROLL ALONG THE MADRID RIVER
called Manzanares, under the shade of cherry blossoms, watching the locals fish from the fishing decks and nodding at the evening walkers. The closest metro station to get here is Principe Pio.
2. PEOPLE WATCH AT THE CHARMING SQUARES
that Madrid is known for. These little squares are meeting points, most with a tiny cafe or restaurant lurking around the corner. Unlike Barcelona, I found the locals of Madrid more easy going, and much easier to strike up a conversation with.
3. VISIT AN ANTIQUE BOOKS MARKET
down the road from Paseo del Prado, the only one of its kind in Madrid. Most of the books are in Spanish, but there’s something just so romantic about browsing through their old, worn out pages whose stains speak their own stories.
4. EAT AT A COSY NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE
or bar, that might not necessarily be a Tapas bar. These tend to be less busy and more intimate, giving you a chance to get to interact with the owner and the others at the cafe. I loved sampling Mexican food at the colorful Tacos Chipotludos bar, and chatting up Juan, its friendly owner.
5. OBSERVE THE CULTURAL CURIOSITIES
of a city as diverse as Madrid. I spotted on the streets, under the cherry blossoms, this march in solidarity for Slovenia.
6. WELCOME SPRING AT THE PARKS
of Madrid, which are wide open spaces, often with lakes and mini forests within them. Unlike most parks I’ve visited, they hardly feel landscaped or curated. From what I gathered, parks in lesser known neighborhoods, like Parque El Capricho, also seem to be favorite hangouts among the locals of Madrid.
7. FIND VIEWS THAT MUST’VE INSPIRED HEMINGWAY
though he would probably flip seeing a laptop replace the good old pen and paper! I stumbled upon this gorgeous view at Dalieda de San Francisco, while having lost my way in the city.
8. READ BY THE RIVER
because it’s just so gorgeous, you can’t get enough of it. Madrid might not have a beach, but what better place to read, or contemplate life than this “By the river Piedra I sat down and wept” sort of setting?
9. EXPLORE MADRID’S QUIRKY NEIGHBORHOODS
like Malasaña, off the Tribunal Metro, which is an alternative neighborhood with funky graffiti and quirky stores, and seemingly the hangout of choice among the city’s hipsters.
10. PHOTOGRAPH MOMENTS
that you wouldn’t expect to spot in big cities!
My trip to Madrid was in partnership with the Tourism Office of Spain. Opinions, as always, are my own.