Madrid: Travel Tips and Inspiration For The Spanish Capital!

Palacio de Cibeles |

Planning a trip to Madrid? You’re in luck!

Madrid Inspiration and Travel Tips

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.

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 Madrid |

Palacio Real de Madrid or the Royal Palace

Madrid Signs |

Madrid signage

Plaza Mayor - Madrid |

Plaza Mayor

Puerta Del Sol Madrid |

Puerta Del Sol

Gran Via Madrid |

The Spanish streets

El Retiro Park Madrid |

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.

Spanish jamon in Madrid |

I randomly came across a ham festival, yes it’s true (Feria de Jamon Iberico)

Jamon Iberico Madrid |

Mega jamon

Mercado de San Miguel Madrid |

Mercado de San Miguel, a must visit in Madrid

Croquetas in Madrid |

Who doesn’t love breaded fried goodness? Croquetas!

Tinto Verano Madrid Spain |

 Sangria jug at Mercado de San Miguel

Tinto Verano Madrid Spain |

Mmm sangria

Meatball Tapas in Madrid |


Sobrino de Botin Madrid |

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!

Mercado de San Anton Madrid |

Another great market to visit, Mercado de San Anton

Seafood at Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid Spain |

Seafood at the market

Goya Statue at Prado Madrid |

Outside the Prado Museum

Palace Hotel Madrid |

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!


Madrid Travel Tips And Inspiration |

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