A Guide to Madrid

jana meerman madrid (1)

After a long, slow month spent at home in Salzburg, I listened to my itchy feet and headed off for a month of adventures. I spent the first week in Brussels, after which I hopped on a direct flight to Madrid for eight days.

I spent three delightful months living in Spain last year, but focused my travels on the south, including a month each in Sevilla, Valencia and Barcelona, plus many weekend trips to the various surrounding cities, as well as longer trips to the Balearic Islands. Later in the year, I met a family from Madrid while on our boat cruise through the Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador and they insisted that I come and visit them in Madrid soon. I was thrilled to finally make that a reality on this trip.

Before I met up with Carmen and her family though, I was able to squeeze in a five-night stay at a hostel in town with Emma and Hayden. I went to university with Emma back in Canada, and went to their wedding in 2018, and hadn't seem them in the nearly five years since! Getting to reunite with them in Madrid - they're currently based in Portugal for six months - was an absolute joy, and we spent hours wandering the streets of Madrid, dancing, catching up and eating yummy food.


How to Get To and Around Madrid

I flew direct from Brussels into Madrid's International Airport, from where direct metro lines go straight into the city. I suggest picking up a 10-trip metro card as it's significantly cheaper than a stack of single trips each time you want to use the metro. The Madrid metro is very straight forward, with different coloured and numbered lines taking you to each part of the city. I do highly recommend walking as much as you can though so you can soak up the city and the sunshine.


Where to Stay in Madrid

During the first part of my time in Madrid, I stayed at the 2060 Newton Hostel with Emma and Hayden and we all loved it. The location is perfect, just a few minutes from the Tirso de Molina metro station, and within ten minutes of loads of restaurants and some of the best spots to go dancing in the city. They offer comfy beds with curtains, and free churros, tea and coffee all day in the communal kitchen. Plus, if you book directly with them instead of through HostelWorld, you can have late checkout till 2pm!


Where to Eat Vegan Food in Madrid

Madrid has a thriving food scene, with tons of yummy local Spanish delicacies to find, as well as a buzzing vegan scene. We tried and recommend:

  • Las Muns - handmade empanadas, including a delicious vegan option
  • Gyoza Go! - a tiny little hole in the wall with just a few fried and steamed dumpling options and it's always packed because it's delicious
  • Kung Fu Restaurante - a Bruce Lee-themed Asian fusion restaurant offering mouthwatering noodles and deep fried tofu
  • Mad Mad Vegan - offering a big list of comfort food, everything in here is delicious, especially the Toronto Wraptor

Best Things to Do in Madrid

Let me just start by saying that when you're in Madrid (or anywhere in Spain), you absolutely must spend a night or two out in a Reggaeton club and dance all night to the best music on the planet. I can highly recommend both La Reserva Club and Cuenca Club.

1. Wander the streets

First thing in any new city that I love to do most is just to wander the streets of the city, getting acquainted with my surroundings and figuring out which pretty streets and fun neighbourhoods are worth exploring.

jana meerman madrid (1)
jana meerman madrid (1)
jana meerman madrid (1)
jana meerman madrid (1)
jana meerman madrid (1)
jana meerman madrid (1)
jana meerman madrid (1)

2. Cuesta de Moyano

This gorgeous open air book market features stall upon stall of secondhand books in idyllic little wooden structures waiting for you to peruse and spend a while.

jana meerman madrid book market (1)
jana meerman madrid book market (1)
jana meerman madrid book market (1)

3. Parque de El Retiro

The most popular park in Madrid, this sprawling green space is a haven for walkers, runners, and picnickers with the many spots to laze about, enjoy the sun, go for a walk, run or bike ride, or even go for a paddle across the pond.

jana meerman Parque de El Retiro madrid (1)
jana meerman Parque de El Retiro madrid (1)
jana meerman Parque de El Retiro madrid (1)
jana meerman Parque de El Retiro madrid (1)
jana meerman Parque de El Retiro madrid (1)

4. Madrid City Hall

Perhaps one of the most iconic buildings in the whole city, this dominant white structure sits proudly on Cibeles Square, Spanish flags fluttering in the wind.

jana meerman madrid city hall (1)
jana meerman madrid city hall (1)
jana meerman madrid city hall (3)

5. View from Plaza de la Armeria

At the end of the walkway between the Palacio Real de Madrid and the Catedral de Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena, you can find a panoramic view across the city and beyond to the mountains.

jana meerman madrid (9)
jana meerman madrid (9)

6. Walk along the Madrid Río Park

What was once a busy highway through the city has been transformed into a long river with plenty of green space, cafes, space to run and walk, shops and architectural bridges, now the largest green space in all of Madrid.

jana meerman madrid rio

7. Enjoy the light in the gorgeous Palacio de Cristal

We spent an hour here just taking photos, laughing the sunlight and enjoying the exquisite light filtering through the beautiful glass greenhouse-like structure in the heart of the Retiro.

jana meerman palacio de cristal madrid (1)
jana meerman palacio de cristal madrid (1)
jana meerman palacio de cristal madrid (1)
jana meerman palacio de cristal madrid (1)
jana meerman palacio de cristal madrid (1)
jana meerman palacio de cristal madrid (1)
jana meerman palacio de cristal madrid (1)
jana meerman palacio de cristal madrid (1)
jana meerman palacio de cristal madrid (1)

8. Spot the Fallen Angel

Said to be the world's only statue of the devil, this monument is in the Retiro and is beautifully lit up at golden hour.

jana meerman fallen angel madrid retiro

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Jana Meerman

Hi! I’m Jana, a British-Dutch-Canadian with a dream of seeing every country in the world. I am a storyteller, photographer and adventurer passionate about documenting and sharing my travels.

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