Best insider tips for Madrid part 2
I’m often asked for tips in Madrid and I always try to do my best and share the things I think are worth to visit, see or try. Now, I’ve put together my best tips while in Madrid and I’ll share them with you in two different articles. In the first part I focused on how to move around in the city, what to see and what kind of day trip options there are. In this second part I’ll tell you more about food and eating out, rooftop terraces and shopping.
First of all, I recommend downloading an application called El Tenedor (also known as “Fork”). This app is similar to commonly known TripAdvisor, but El Tenedor focuses on restaurants and is more popular among locals. TripAdvisor, though, bought it a couple of years ago, but has let it live its own life and evolve in the direction it desires. And that’s good because it’s really helpful when you’re trying to find good dining places, and for most of them you can even make a reservation directly via the app.
In Madrid you should avoid eating in the heart of city center (Read: Near Gran Vía). Portions, in most cases, are more expensive than if you walk a little bit further and the food really isn’t anything special. Of course, exception proves the rule, but I still recommend going a little further away, unless you’ve got some bullet proof restaurant tip. already about a kilometer in any direction, the price-quality ratio is already improving considerably.
From numerous parts of Madrid, I recommend visiting at least area called La Latina, located just south of the Plaza Mayor. Although this area is still close to the center, it’s more genuine and authentic feeling Madrid. From there you’ll find dozens small restaurants and eateries right next to each other, and the area is famous of its tapas places. In La Latin you should visit at least place called Txirimiri where we have always eaten very delicious and a bit different kind of tapas.
There is also another area in the city center, La Chueca, that is worth of visiting. For some reason, there are really good dining places in this area. Places worth of mentioning are at least: Kuoco 360, Skull St Food and Aloha Poke. At least the first two can be found from El Tenedor and you can easily make a reservation via app. If you are a wine lover and if especially Italian wines are calling your name, then you should head straight away to restaurant called Propaganda. They bring their own wines from Italy and the place is really nice. Also Mercado San Anton which is located right next to Plaza Chueca is definitely worth to visit.
Other food and restaurant related things:
There is right next to Plaza Mayor a market place called “Mercado San Miguel”, that is full of delicious small food/ tapas places. I highly recommend this place, if you want to try a little bit of everything. Also, right next to market place there is a restaurant called “Amicis”, which is very cosy and the food is excellent. Choose anything from the list and you will for sure love this place!
If you are looking after breakfast, brunch or lunch, I would recommend heading to a place called Federal Cafe. They have two cafe-restaurants in Madrid: one near Plaza de España and Gran Via (the main street) and one in La Latina. Try at least eggs in some form as well as pancakes or chia pudding!
Restaurante Viva Burger is, in turn, an insanely good vegan restaurant in La Latina, from where you’ll find something to every taste for sure! The best burgers in Madrid can be found in Goiko Grill. Even though it’s a chain restaurant and they have many places in Madrid, do not be scared. Every hamburger fan will fall in love with this place!
If food and restaurants are priority during your stay in Madrid, Ocafu restaurant is the place for you. My husband used to have an office right next door, and we ate there quite often. Excellent for both lunch and dinner, but perhaps a bit more expensive compared to the other places mentioned above. They have few restaurants around Madrid.
For all the cake and pastry lovers I would recommend Mama Framboise. There you will find crepes, pastries, cakes and lot more for every taste.
N.B. Remember the opening hours of the restaurants in Spain and especially in Madrid restaurants! In general, food is available during the day from 13:00 to 16:30 and then again in the evening between 20:00/ 20:30 – 24:00. Of course, if that restaurant is open in the morning, breakfast is usually available. However, usually breakfast means toasted bread covered with olive oil and fresh tomato sauce. As an alternative there might also be a sugar or chocolate glazed donut. Outside of the times mentioned above, restaurants are mainly serving some tapas, chips etc.
There are many nice rooftop terraces in Madrid, but many of them are located on the roofs of different hotels. Most of them are open for everyone, but they really aren’t advertising themselves and you just have to know the right ones. Often you have to visit first the hotel reception and ask them to let you in an elevator and up the terrace. Here are a few of our favorite places:
Most of the rooftop terraces are open only in the evening (after about 19), but there are some exceptions. Tartan Roof (Azotea del Circulo) is, however, open from the morning and has a great view over Madrid. The entrance may be a bit hidden, it can be found around the corner from the entrance to the gallery. Get up the stairs, buy 3€ ticket from the machine and take an elevator up to the terrace. They also have restaurant side for all the hungry people, but it’s also a worthwhile place just to have drinks over the roofs of Madrid.
There are a lot of shops and boutiques in Gran via and its vicinity. For example, Zara has their largest flagship store in the world by size in Gran Via and it’s certainly worth a visit. Also, Primark has opened a huge store there, which you almost have to see even though you aren’t in the mood of shopping. Primark is an Irish low-cost chain that has spread over Europe and USA in recent years, with great popularity.
All the side streets starting from the Gran Via are also full of small boutiques, where you can make very good bargains. I recommend walking through at least the streets called Calle Fuencarral, Calle Del Carmen and Calle de Preciados.
If designer boutiques are calling your name, you’ll find most of them from the area called Salamanca. From Calle Serrano for example, you’ll find Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. Salamanca is the most expensive area in Madrid, which also means that it’s really well kept and clean. So go there and just walk around enjoying all the luxury, if you do not mind that your afternoon coffee might be a bit more expensive 😉 .
Outside of Madrid city center there are plenty of Outlet store places, of which the most famous is certainly Las Rozas Village located in Las Rozas. This place belongs to my own favorites and is perfect for anyone who likes American style shopping places with seasonal decorations and flower arrangements. Take direct bus from the center of Madrid or choose the train, which comes quite near. Take the train for example from the Principe Pio and don’t forget to check its small shopping center while you already are there.
Read more about Las Rozas Village from here.
Right next to Las Rozas Village you’ll find also another outlet place called “Style Outlets”. Find Nike, Adidas and Puma stores there as well as other basic clothing stores.
If you get hungry while shopping in Las Rozas Village, I recommend visiting Heron City which is across the street. Heron City is basically full of different restaurants, but there is also a big movie theatre and gym with its outdoor dancing lessons. Very nice place to eat and spend time with friends and family.
There are many smaller and larger shopping malls around the center, such as the “Centro Comercial Principe Pio” in Principe Pio’s train station and “Plaza Rio 2”, located right next to a large river crossing Madrid to the south of the city center. In addition to these, the El Corte Ingles, next to the Nuevos Ministerios metro / train station, is the largest in Spain, and it is also an interesting place to visit, especially at the time of discount sales.
If you need a break from shopping, you should visit Madrid Rio (rio = river), especially when it’s beautiful weather, and if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. Madrid Rio is a big area, but especially the place where Plaza Rio 2 is located and to the west from there is a very nice area. The rooftop terrace of that shopping center also has great views of Madrid’s city center.
Outside of the center of Madrid you can find several very large shopping malls. These include the Gran Plaza 2 in Majadahonda, just couple of minutes from Las Rosas Village. In addition, worth of mentioning is Madrid Xanadu, which is one of Europe’s largest shopping centers, that also has inside of it the ski center. Yes, you can have winter fun and ski in Madrid even in the summer.
So, here you have in summary my main tips related to food and eating out, best rooftop terraces and tips for shopping. If you still have something to ask, please leave a comment below!
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