If you want to see all the Spanish capital of Madrid has to offer, you really need to explore the city like a local. Fortunately, even if you have never stepped foot in the city, you will find living like a local pretty simple. Consider dining al fresco at roadside cafes, and taking a leisurely stroll through the streets. Below you will find the ultimate guide to travelling like a local through the golden metropolis that is Madrid, so you can head straight to Expedia, find yourself a good deal on a hotel, and start enjoying the wonder that is the Spanish capital.
When travelling, you have to start the day right, and locals like to begin their day with a café con leche (coffee with milk), alongside some toast. Alternatively, if you are up for it, why not try the traditional churros and dipping chocolate. You should find many cafes offering this sweet treat wherever you are in the city. Breakfast is usually served until late into the morning, so don’t worry too much about having to get up early!
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A large popular tourist place in the city is El Rastro, a huge flea market that takes over much of the La Latina neighborhood every Sunday. Although you should be able to grab yourself some nice souvenirs, you won’t find too many locals around.
For quality Spanish handicrafts that reflect the Spanish tradition, you should head to Objetos de Arte Toledano, located on the Paseo del Prado. Here you will find intricate jewellery, ceramics, plates, and much more, all of which have been made in the traditional damascene style. This is a great place to get an insight into real Spanish culture.
Especially in the summer months, on their free days, locals like to do nothing more than relax in a local park and enjoy the sunshine. Why not take a picnic or grab a snack at one of the many outdoor cafes? The best park for this is the Parque del Buen Retiro, and is a great way to spend some time out of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Another park that is worth exploring is the Madrid Rio. It runs for about 10 km along the banks of Manzanares River, and even boasts some makeshift beaches, perfect for those extremely hot days. This is a great way to explore a very different side to Madrid.
Like most big cities, Madrid is home to some fantastic nightlife scenes. There are endless clubs and bars, it can be a little overwhelming picking which one to go to. With the almost mandatory siestas that happen every day after lunch, locals are always ready for a big night out on the town. Going out for one Drink after work often turns out to be a crazy adventure that doesn’t end until the early hours due to the very strong cocktails and the sheer volume of venues to choose from.
Many Madrilenos were born outside the city, which adds to the diversity of the scene, and are happy to share a drink and a chat with many tourists that have come to experience the Spanish lifestyle. What you wear doesn’t seem to matter too much, you’ll see people in trainers and jeans out with people dressed in their best.
The most bustling areas of town are Plaza de Santa Ana, Malasana, and La Latina, especially when night falls. Be aware, however, that many of the venues here are very small, with some even standing only. You’ll find some bars offer a free tapas dish with every beer that’s ordered. A few rounds and some tasty food is often enough to get everyone feeling festive.
Travelling in the city can be expensive if not done right. Using a cab to hop from site to site can soon start to add up. The most common form of transport for a local would be the Madrid Metro, which has been described as Europe’s most dependable, extensive and cheap underground subway stations. The trains cover the entire central Madrid, as well as the surrounding area, making it easy for you to visit all the major sites.
Socialising over drinks and food is one of the key aspects of Spanish culture, and often a simple meal can end up taking hours. This is especially true in Madrid, where dinner is a key part to the day. In the city there are several Tapas streets, where it is not uncommon for people to hop from one restaurant to the other, sampling different dishes and having a few drinks along the way. Some of the best streets for this are Calle de Ponzano and Calle Cava Baja, both of which you will find packed with tourists and locals.
Art and Music
The art and music scene in Madrid is energetic and varied. You will find tourists and locals enjoying the live jazz music that always plays at Café Central and Populart. In addition, the city has a burgeoning Indie rock scene with music being played in many local haunts such as Sala Sol and Sirocco.
Why not pay a visit to the 200 years old Prado Museum, which is home to some of the world’s most important paintings and sculptures? Alternatively, you will find many other free art exhibitions funded by the Spanish government.
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