Madrid: Travel Tips and Inspiration For The Spanish Capital!
Planning a trip to Madrid? You’re in luck!
In 2011, I flew to Madrid which was the starting point of the European leg of my round the world trip. At the time my friend Jay was living there and doing his master’s degree, so I stayed with him. I was only planning about 5 days in Madrid but on my 4th day I ended up in the hospital. I was diagnosed with a lung infection and this put a damper on my plans. I remember crying and wanting to quit my RTW trip and go home. I called my brother and he told me to chill out and see how I felt in a few days. I was supposed to go to Barcelona and stay in a hostel so I decided to stay longer in Madrid and recuperate at Jay’s apartment. While I was there I stayed mostly indoors but also managed to visit a few markets, a couple of museums, rest, and eat a lot of jamon.
AWESOME PRODUCTS THAT I USE ON EVERY TRIP!
Here are some photos from my stay in 2011:
Rather than walk around aimlessly, I found a walking tour by Sandemans that guided me around some of the major attractions around the city. The tours often advertise as free but you should always remember that these nice guides work on tips. Solo traveler tip: I always meet nice people on day tours. After this Madrid tour, I went for beers with a couple of other travelers.
Palacio Real de Madrid or the Royal Palace
Puerta Del Sol
The Spanish streets
I would often sit in El Retiro Park and just people watch
When in Spain, you eat a lot of jamon (ham). Bummer time for all of my vegan and vegetarian friends but awesome for my meat-eating buddies like myself. You will be over jamon by the time you leave Spain but then you jamon once you leave.
I randomly came across a ham festival, yes it’s true (Feria de Jamon Iberico)
Mercado de San Miguel, a must visit in Madrid
Who doesn’t love breaded fried goodness? Croquetas!
Sangria jug at Mercado de San Miguel
Restaurante Botin, the oldest running restaurant in the world
Chocolateria San Gines: if you are a chocolate lover, you must go here
Chocolate y churros!
Another great market to visit, Mercado de San Anton
Seafood at the market
Outside the Prado Museum
Palace Hotel at night
Must dos in Madrid
- Mercado de San Miguel
- Mercado de San Anton
- Parque del Buen Retiro
- Plaza Mayor
- Puerta del Sol
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (omg Guernica by Picasso!)
- Museo Nacional del Prado
- CaixaForum Madrid
- El Rastro – flea market on Sundays
Some handy Madrid tips
- I took the Metro to and from Barajas Airport which cost me 5 Euros. It’s super easy and cheaper than a taxi. I took out some cash from an ATM so that I could get on the train. Click here for some foreign banking tips!
- I needed to communicate with my local friend in Madrid so I got a prepaid mobile plan with Yoigo. I believe it was about 20 Euros and it gives you 20 Euros in credit or about 1 G of data for a month (2011). It worked out well because I was able to use it all over Spain and Google Maps gives transportation times for buses and metro. Please note they make a photocopy of your passport when you buy a sim card with them. Now I have a T-Mobile account in the US which gives me unlimited data worldwide. Click here to see more about the best phone plan for travelers.
- I am not much help for accommodations for Madrid since I stayed with my friend Jay. I also cooked a fair bit since I was sick with a lung infection so I would visit the Eroski nearby and buy groceries.
- Take a walking tour. Most of them are free. I took the one by Sandemans in several European cities. A great way to get a little bit of a history lesson, a guided walk to the site, a great way to meet other travelers if you’re solo, and meet a local (guide) who knows the ins and outs of the city. Don’t forget to tip them well!!!
- I went to the Hospital La Princesa. I had travel insurance which was great but it actually was not expensive if I were to pay cash. Treatment was just like any hospital I had ever been to minus my lack of Spanish skills. The hospital gave me an inhaler for free (I know that Advair costs $150 at Costco in the US with co-pay) and prescriptions cough syrup and antibiotics were only 8 Euros at the farmacia. Insane!! I remember buying some antibiotics at Costco in Indiana and they were $150.
- Since I was sick and feeling under the weather, I would must up some energy and wander around different neighborhoods each day. Some days I would sit in a coffee shop and drink cafe con leche and just people watch.
Don’t forget that Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is just over an hour away and easy day trip by bus. See below for more helpful tips and destination guides!
FOR MORE HELPFUL POSTS AND LINKS:
- Toledo: A Super Easy Day Trip From Madrid
- A 24 Hour Itinerary For Madrid
- 12 Free Things To Do In Madrid
- Guides And Travel Tips For Spain And Other Destinations
- Support my blog by using this link to book your accommodations
- Use this link to research your flights
- Get $35 off your first stay with Air Bnb by using this link
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