You know in U2GUIDE we’re all about traveling locally, getting to know the actual culture of your destination and immersing into the everyday routine as much as you can! It’s pretty easy to do if you have an open mind and traveler soul! Today’s turn is Madrid, our beloved Spanish capital, which offers so many opportunities, especially if you join some “madrileños”, who are so fun to discover the city with!
1. Have a Spanish Breakfast in an Old-School Cafeteria
I’m going to give you two options, for all tastes: one infamous place you can head to (especially during winter) is Chocolateria San Gines, the most typical place to have some warm chocolate with oily churros (in the most delicious way!). The other option is to have some cafe con leche and a couple of toasts with smashed tomato and olive oil. Really tasty and pretty healthy! I’d recommend a place like HanSo cafe in Malasaña (avoid overly crowded places like Gran Vía or La Plaza Mayor, you’ll be calmer!).
2. Visit the coolest exhibitions at “El Matadero”
El Museo del Prado or Museo Reina Sofia are not the only cultural places you can visit in Madrid. “Matadero” literally means “slaughterhouse”. Nowadays, this is one of the most entertaining art plans you can in the capital, since they always have such nice exhibitions in Matadero: decor, music, photography, abstract and modern art… You can really find anything you want and it’s actually a place that locals visit a lot. At least to me, that does mean something!
3. Surround Yourself With Nature in El Parque Del Capricho
Who doesn’t want a good dose of colourful flowers, plants and trees even during the coldest months? You can take a beautiful walk around el Parque del Capricho, a lovely green place that’s not as crowded as other ones like El Retiro and will delight you with a fresh lake and friendly swans and ducks swimming around. I know, adorable! You also have big bushed and (kind of) labyrinths where you can run or quietly walk.
4. Have Your Coffee at Cafe Del Jardin
This is not a garden itself, it’s the cafeteria of “El Museo del Romanticismo”, which is a lovely place to have your coffee at, brunch, lunch or just to read for a while. (Yes, I truly believe in taking your time when traveling!) A nice small fountain will be your background and you’ll be surrounded by plants of all kinds in this perfect environment. One of the best things is that menus are pretty affordable here and their homemade pastries and cakes are delicious!
5. Dance Your Heart Out at Joy Eslava and Mondo
These two are maybe the best-known and visited discos in the city. Mostly young madrileños come here on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to end the party when the sun is rising along with live music. Yes, Spanish people in general, no matter where they come from, are party animals, you’ll love that about them! You can get to see many performances on weekends and infamous DJs come here to make the most out of your nights.
6. Make Manzanares River Your Running Track
For practising some sport and feeling like an authentic local, you have to visit Manzanares River. You’ll have for yourself a good 10K miles of greenery and even some enormous fountains spilling water everywhere! It’s allowed to get in during the summer, although you could freeze in winter, so be careful! This place doesn't usually make it into the Spanish spots that are out of the beaten path, but I can tell you that it’s a pretty important part of the city as well!
7. Enjoy Nature in the Core of Madrid in the Botanical Garden
This one of the places I’ve enjoyed the most in Madrid. It’s located five minutes away from Retiro Park, but it’s not as visited. You can get to see here so many different plants, trees, colourful flowers… Each one with its own description and explanation. You’ll enjoy it even if you’re not a nature expert. And one of the coolest things is that you can get in its greenhouse, which is pretty amazing. It’s like entering a parallel bubble!
So this is it for the places to enjoy Madrid like a local! I hope you’ve liked them and visit them in the future! Always do it with respect for the environment and the people who are welcoming you, just as you’d like others to treat your city. I can’t stress that enough, no matter where you travel, we can become local anywhere! Try to pick the most sustainable options, whether it being transportation, food or accommodation! It’s up to you!