TRAVEL GUIDE: MADRID, SPAIN
A while ago I promised to share with you my Madrid travel diary. I finally found the time to edit all my photos from my trip there, so voilà! Madrid is full of energy. It actually reminds me of my hometown which is also a very lively city, so in a way I felt right at home! Here are my top tips for those who are planning a trip to the Spanish capital; in case you have any questions feel free to ask away – I’m happy to help!
• There are plenty of sights to see in Madrid as a visitor. If you’re there just for a few days I’d suggest to start with the classics, like the Royal Palace (Palacio Real), the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. The palace is a baroque emblematic building of 2800 rooms, 50 of which are to the public. Don’t forget to pass by the Sabatini Gardens, a peaceful little park right behind the palace that I fell in love with.
• A couple of other must-see spots are the busy Puerta del Sol and the stunning Plaza Mayor with its exquisite frescoes. Walk along the Gran Vía, the grand boulevard with all the belle époque buildings from Plaza de España all the way up to Plaza de la Cibeles, where you can find Madrid’s Town Hall, the impressive Palacio de Comunicaciones.
• Follow the Paseo del Prado, a beautiful tree-lined boulevard that leads to Madrid’s ‘Golden Triangle’ of art: the Thyssen museum (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza), the Museo del Prado and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, where you can admire Picasso’s famous Guernica painting.
• I love parks in general, so it’s no surprise that my favourite spot in Madrid is the Retiro park (El Retiro). I happily spent half a day there just wandering around, eating ice cream on the lawn and took a very romantic boat ride at the lake next to the marble Monument to Alfonso XII.
• Food markets are a great place to discover and taste a city’s local delicacies, so a visit to the Mercado de San Miguel is mandatory! The oldest market in Madrid, which has been recently renovated, has numerous stalls selling tapas, fresh fruits, jamón and Spanish wine. Make sure you leave room for dessert and head to Chocolatería San Ginés, only a short walk away, for churros and hot chocolate.
• Another gem I discovered while I was in Madrid was Poncelet Cheese Bar, a stylish café-restaurant lunch perfect for breakfast, dinner tapas or after work drinks. As the name implies, Poncelet Cheese Bar offers a great variety of cheese, available to buy at their cheese shop. The concept reminded me of a modern modern version of La Fromagerie in London.
• Le Cabrera, a slick tapas restaurant, also comes highly recommended for lunch or dinner and drinks. Here you’ll taste traditional Spanish tapas with a twist (just look at this). One of the best meals I’ve had in Madrid!
My first recommendation for drinks would be the gorgeous rooftop bar of Hotel ME Madrid Reina Victoria that overlooks the Plaza de Santa Ana (a little preview here). An equally stylish alternative where you can enjoy the notorious cocktails of mixologist Diego Cabrera is the bar at the lower ground floor of Le Cabrera.
Apart from the obvious non-food related shopping (yeap, Zara is indeed a bit cheaper over there!) there are tons of foodie temptations around. You know how much I love food markets anyhow but the Mercado de San Miguel stole my heart. The building is beautiful, the atmosphere lively and it’s open until late in the evening.