Madrid may be the capital of Spain, and the center of the country’s business and tourism, but it somehow manages to magically maintain a relaxed vibe. This makes it a little too easy to fall for the laid-back lifestyle.
Here are 12 things you’ll get addicted to in Madrid.
Let’s start with an obvious one: the tapas. Although some areas are better known for their tapa game (I’m looking at you, Barcelona), Madrid offers some really hip and tasty places. It takes some practice to master the custom, but soon enough you’ll have a long list of go-to’s where the drinks are cheap and the free tapas are never-ending.
Beer is served ice cold. The taps are dewey with condensation and as order your cañas, watch your server pour through the foam for the perfect glass. Don’t be surprised if the beer is spilling all over the place as you take your first sips. Embrace it, as it’s all a part of the experience.
The majority of Spain lies west of the Prime Meridian, yet it hangs out in the central time zone. This means that, even in the winter, Spain gets extra long days. And with about 350 sunny days a year in Madrid, that’s a lot of vitamin D.
4. Late nights.
And with all that light, plus the many bars and discos, the nightlife is some of the best in Europe. It’s no wonder people in Madrid are sometimes referred to as los gatos (the cats), as they roam the city until the wee hours of the morning.
Is this a real thing? Yes and no. Maybe the entire city doesn’t fall into a slumber in the afternoon, but we do take a break. You’ll notice some restaurants and shops closing around 2 in the afternoon, and reopening later in the evening.
There is always something going on in the city of Madrid, or the greater community. Each little pueblo around the capital has its own festival day(s) throughout the year. You can easily take a bus, metro, or train to these little communities and take part in their celebrations.
7. Free Museums
If you’re not picky about when you visit a museum, you can often go for free. Some offer free admission on specific days, while others open their doors in the evenings, gratis. Depending on the time of year, they’re a little more crowded; but you can’t beat free when it comes to hanging out at the Prado.
With so many different and distinct neighborhoods, there are many versions of Madrid, Madriles, to enjoy. If you’re feeling particularly fancy, you can head to Salamanca. If you’re in need of a boost of energy, check out Chueca. Feeling especially hipster? Malasaña is your best bet. Or, if you’re craving the vintage feel of the city, look no further than La Latina.
9. Traditional Spanish bars
As you enter, you’ll first notice the metal counter that wraps around the bar, sticky with spilt beer. Menus are either hidden in corners or nonexistent. Napkins litter the floor. Tiles line the walls and you feel like you’re back in the 19th century. All these things are signs of a great place. It’s perfectly simple, full of character, and distinctly Madrid.
10. Churros and chocolate
Seriously, you will crave these. You can get a small pile, thin and twisted, or just one giant churro. Your choice. After dipping them in thick, hot chocolate, there’s no going back. You may even start roaming the city in search of all the churrerias you can find. And there are many.
11. That accent
Madrid is home to that famous Spanish accent, with the softened c and z. If you feel like you know the language, get ready to be challenged. But eventually, you’ll adapt and enjoy using those little lisps to help your words flow like a native.
12. Lazy days at Retiro
Madrid has one of the most beautiful parks in the world: Parque de El Retiro. You will find every type of person enjoying this park, locals and tourist alike. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic, a stroll, a leisurely row on the lake, or even a nap.
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