Summer destination – 8 different things to see in Madrid

Spain is a beautiful country, and let me tell you its Capital city stands out for sure. Madrid really impressed me, dare I say… maybe even more than Barcelona. It is definitely one my of the top 3 Capital cities. From the architecture, to the beautiful Retiro Park, the delicious tapas and the hip quarters of Malasaña and La Latina, Madrid combines old and new in a spectacular way.

So, without further ado, I invite you to join me in a little adventure through the Spanish capital and discover 8 of its beautiful secrets – myths & legends, cool bars, an indoor beach, a tropical jungle and a stunning sunset.

1. The fallen angels of Madrid

I really found this first little secret fascinating… Did you know that Madrid has not one, but two fallen angels? The first one  you will discover on the alleys of the beautiful Retiro Park – Fuente de Ángel Caído. The statue was built by the Spanish sculptor Ricardo Bellver and apparently this is the only public depiction of Satan himself – Lucifer – the angel fallen from Heaven and the grace of God. Now this is great material for a scary story for the faint of heart, isn’t it? But, coincidence or not, the chilling fact is that the statue is located at exactly 666 m above the sea level.

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Fuente de Ángel Caído in Retiro Park, at 666 m above sea level.
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Snakes, lizards and gargoyle heads decorate the pedestal on which the statue is mounted.

The second “fallen angel” has a completely different story though. The statue entitled “Air Crash”, by Miguel Angel Ruiz, has nothing to do with angels or devils. It is actually an allegory to the fact that you know… shit happens. You are “flying” quietly through life, until something happens and you crash. You fall flat on your face. The important thing is to get up, dust off and carry on. This is some solid advice to take and comes at a time in my life I really need it.

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Air Crash, near Mercado San Miguel

2. Eat your heart out: Churros and Tapas

People who know me, know I’m a total foodie and more over, a total desert freak. So you can imagine how my face lit up when I entered in Mercado de San Miguel. You can feast your eyes and your mouth with hundreds of delicious tapas: sweet, savory, meaty, fishy, cheesy or veggie, you name it. Hands down, Mercado de San Miguel is a foodie’s Paradise.

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Mercado San Miguel – a foodie’s Paradise
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Colorful tapas in Mercado San Miguel

If you are interested in a more “seated” type of lunch/dinner setting, then you might as well go to the oldest restaurant in the world. According to Guinness Book of Records, Sobrino de Botín has been continuously running since 1725. But in order to get in, you should call in advance with a few days and book a table. Otherwise, you will be stuck in front of it, just like I was, dreaming of the suckling pig you’ll be having… next time you come to Madrid.

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According to the Guinness book of world records, Botin is the oldest restaurant in the world

And now for desert… My mouth is already watering just thinking about it. When in Madrid you HAVE to try the churros.  Ok. This is no secret, but THE place to go for this delicious treat is Chocolatería San Ginés. A few minutes walking distance form Plaza Mayor you will find the famous chocolateria that has been open since 1894. But be prepared for a long line of tourists. However, you can satisfy your sweet-tooth even in the middle of the night. This place is open 24/7!

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Best churros in Madrid and a place open 24/7 – Chocolateria San Gines
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Got to have some skills to carry that many churros

3. Fancy a drink?

What better place to enjoy a cool drink, the warm rays of the sun and a spectacular view of Madrid other than a rooftop terrace? The absolute best rooftop in Madrid is on the 7th floor of the Circulo de Bellas Artes. The access is 4€ but that is money well spent. It is definitely a place I recommend to try next time you’re in Madrid.

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Enjoy a drink on one of the best roof tops in Madrid

Another interesting place to go is actually below ground. So, from the top of the city let’s go to an actual indoor beach. Yes! They do have a beach in Madrid. Located in the heart of the hip Malasaña district, Ojala bar is the place where you can go and have a drink while digging your feet in the sand.

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Who said Madrid doesn’t have a beach? Did you try Ojala Bar?

4. Discover the indoor jungle at Atocha

Madrid does not only have an indoor beach, but also a tropical jungle. Atocha is the largest train station in Madrid (and in Spain) and it was build in 1851. After a fire almost completely destroyed it, the station was rebuilt and reopened in 1892. Responsible for the new vision and design, with cast iron and glass ceiling, was architect Alberto de Palacio Elissagne, pupil to non other than Gustave Eiffel. 100 years later, the old building was given a new destination. With cafes, shops and a 4,000 sq m tropical garden, Atocha became more than a train station. It became home to over 7,000 plants from 260 different species and sanctuary to over 300 turtles and fish.

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The oldest train station in Madrid has become an indoor jungle
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Atocha is home to hundreds of turtles and fish

5. Chamberi ghost station

Chamberi was part of the original 8 stations that represented the first metro line of Madrid back in 1919. With everything evolving quickly and trains getting bigger and faster, Chamberi was abandoned in 1966. However, the ghost station was brought back to life in 2008 and fully restored as a museum with old ticket offices, turnstiles and maps. The beauty of the station is however represented by the original ads, made from tiny little colored tiles, that cover the walls of the platform. The entrance to the museum is free, however, there is a limited number of people that can go in at once.

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Vintage ads on the walls of Chamberi ghost station
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Putting up ads required quite a lot of work back then

6. Discover the street art of Madrid

I love a good display of street art and even if Madrid is not that famous for it, I found some nice murals. You can find some amazing street art in the hip quarters like Malasaña, Lavapiés and La Latina Quarters. Coincidence or not, these quarters are not only vibrant with street art, but will offer also a colorful nightlife, with bars and cafés for every taste. In fact most of the street art is actually a representation of the local business.

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Ojos azules dicen, ámame o moriré / Ojos negros dicen, ámame o te mataré
“Blue eyes say, ‘Love me or I die’; black eyes say, ‘Love me or I kill thee’
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Street art in Malasaña
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Street art in Lavapiés
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Bikes and street art… they go so good together

7. Souvenir hunt

What is a trip without a cool souvenir to remember it by? I have my little stash of fridge magnets and key chains, however, finding a “little something” to bring home that is outside the box is much more challenging.

So what better place to find a souvenir other than a flea market? Probably the most famous one of all is El Rastro Flea Market, located in one of the oldest quarters of Madrid, La Latina, between Calle Embajadores and the Ronda de Toledo. You can find all kinds of knick-knacks, old and new, anything from clothing, jewelry, handbags and handmade things. With a little bit of patience you could actually find some hidden treasures. El Rastro is open every Sunday and public holiday form 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. so make sure you reach it in time. You should reach it before lunch and after a few hours of digging for treasures, you can enjoy some cervezas and tapas in La Latina.

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You can buy a little good luck… for just 5€

Another little secret of Madrid is ideal to bring back home as a souvenir. It’s unique, sweet and has a beautiful shade of purple. It can be found just off Puerta del Sol in the little elegant candy store called La Violeta. This charming souvenir shop has been open since 1915 and it offers these unique violet sweets in shape, color and essence of the flower that is part of the ingredients list. You cannot miss the shop since, in a sea of concrete, it has kept its original wooden façade.  This family-run business, now at its 3rd generation, makes all the sweets locally, so you can’t get more Madrid spirit back home than a little box of violets.

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The vibrant La Violeta candy store, near Puerta del Sol
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Get me some candy!

8. Catching the golden hour

Each sunset has its own unique beauty. And Madrid has this absolutely amazing “secret” spot for catching the golden hour – Tempolo de Debod. This is an actual ancient Egyptian temple, dating back early 2nd century BC, that was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid. Out of all the amazing sunsets that I have been privileged to witness and capture on camera, this has to be probably the top one. The way the light falls, the way it reflects in the water, the colors… everything creates a breathtaking scenery and the perfect closing to my Madrid experience.

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One of the most beautiful sunsets I had the privilege to see

Enjoyed it? Pin it! 🙂

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Jaunting tips

  • Airport transport to and form the city is really easy. You can check your options here, but I recommend taking the metro and avoiding traffic.
  • Get around the city with the Madrid travel card – valid on bus, metro and train – check out the prices here.
  • Rent a bike and enjoy the city on two wheels. Check out Donkey Republic, 15€ to rent a bike for one day.
  • Enjoy a drink and a spectacular view of Madrid on the terrace of Circulo de Bellas Artes. Entrance fee is 4€.
  • Treat yourself with some delicious chocolate and churros at Chocolateria San Gines.
  • Catch the breathtaking sunset at Debod Temple.

34 Replies to “Summer destination – 8 different things to see in Madrid”

  1. Great article! this is def a good alternative guide of Madrid! I am happy you enjoyed what i call today my city 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for the nice words! Means a lot coming from someone who lives there. It is an amazing city. Really fell in love with it!

  2. I love Madrid and have been several times with friends who live there! I haven’t been to the abandoned metro station though, it looks great! I also agree with you, I prefer Madrid to Barcelona!!

    1. Yeah, I would like to go again. I’m sure there are some many more things to discover. It would be a great city to also live in for sure.

  3. Mercado de San Miguel looks amazing! I love going to food markets around the world to try a bit o’ this and a bit o’ that – a great way to taste a bunch of different dishes. We were recently in Madrid for 1 night but didn’t get a chance to explore it properly – it looks like a trip back is much needed!

    1. Oh you should go for at least a couple of nights… ideal one week. I had about 4 days, but still that was not enough. I have to go again. There is so much more to explore.

  4. I’ve been to Barcelona a few times but never Madrid – this has really given me even more reason to finally go! The city looks amazing – mostly I want to see that second falling angel statue, haha 🙂

    1. If you get the chance to go and find a way to get closer to that that would be amazing hahaha. I only managed to get a tele shot.

  5. An interesting read. I’ve visited neither Madrid nor Barcelona so far. Mostly I hear much praise about Barcelona. Both cities attract me and I will see myself…. It was interesting to me that there is great street art and even station art in Madrid. This is something which makes cities great.

    1. Barcelona has its own charm and the architecture is amazing. The genius that Gaudi was, that is no question. It’s just a matter of feeling for me, I guess, regarding how much I enjoy one or the other. But both are worth a visit for sure!

  6. I haven’t been to Madrid in so long! This post brings back beautiful memories but also offers me the perfect chance to get back for more! Due to the lack of time I had to skip some of the places you suggested, and it’d be cool to show them to my husband too!

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed it! I also really have to get back and visit again. I feel it has so much more to offer.

  7. Great chockful of info post! I love Spain, it’s my second home, so seeing this was refreshing as you highlighted places that are not always known. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Especially with big cities I love to find the more hidden spots. I mean the main attractions are indeed beautiful, but finding extra special places is like a bonus.

  8. Thanks for the guide! Yogurt shot sounds perfect, I never heard about a thing like this!

  9. Great post ! I’ve not been to Madrid myself and I had no idea about this Egyptian temple where you captured the sunset ! I also didn’t know about the indoor jungle !it looks amazing ! Churros are one of my favourite deserts so I think I’d like it here.

    1. Like I said, it has to be one of the best, if not the best sunset I’ve ever caught on camera, or live for that matter.

  10. I want to visit Madrid soon, so your article is so useful! Love the street art! 🙂

    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  11. Cherene Saradar says: Reply

    Why didn’t I have this guide when I was there? ugh. LOL I will def go back. Foodie paradise! I really loved the pic of the guy carrying all the churros and chocolate. Serious skills! Saving this for my next trip:)

  12. Going to Madrid in a couple of weeks and this post is so helpful!!! Can’t wait to check all these places out. Oh and, how cool is that indoor jungle?! Great tips and makes me so excited for my trip!!

    1. Oh that is so great! I’m so happy that someone on their way got to read this 😀 I hope you enjoy it!

  13. My friend just got home from living in Madrid for 6 months. It looks like a truly beautiful city!

  14. Madrid is lovely. I might even say that one of my favourite cities. Well done on the post and happy travels.

  15. Not to be a massive hipster, but I was in Malasaña years ago and it was such a cool area with its rock bars then. I’d love to go back! Madrid remains one of my favorite cities!

  16. Oh my gosh, what an amazing city! Thanks for sharing the must-try’s, the food especially has me wishing I was there now! Lol

  17. What great and detailed post. I’ve been to Spain 3 times but never Madrid! Must do it asap.

    1. I am discovering it to be and amazing country. I have to plan a few more trips there myself!

  18. Wonderful guide to Madrid! I need to get back there one day, there’s so much I missed out on.

  19. […] Check it out here: 8 things to see and do in Madrid […]

  20. Hi Ana, nice post and some great ideas. I have shared it on my Europe travel map, check it out if you like – https://www.thetravelblogs.com/europe
    Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you Matt! This is such a nice news to start the week end 🙂

  21. Would love to see this gorgeous city, saved these in hopes i do 😊

    1. You have to go! It is a gorgeous city! I would go again myself 🙂

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