As the cheers of Spanish football fans only now start to fade, there possibly couldn’t be a better time to visit the country’s colourful and character-full capital. Of course, there’s the Spanish history, the culture and the cuisine we all know and love but here are ten other more unusual reasons to visit Madrid and join in the fiesta!
1. Drink some cider Who knew that Northern Spain’s Asturia region was famous for its cider? Well, this is very much known and celebrated down in Madrid in the form of its numerous sidrerías, cider houses, which are traditional Asturian bars proudly pouring out cheap and sweet tasting cider.
2. Marvel at a Vertical Garden French artist-botanist Patrick Blanc has created a 460m2 garden on the side of Madrid’s CaixaForum, a modern art gallery. Despite many worrying that Madrid’s climate would kill off many of the 15,000 plants on show, the garden is still growing strong.
3. Try Galician food. Unsure what food from the Galicia area of Northern Spain tastes like? Madrid is a good place to find out. Authentic restaurants like El Cisne Azil on Calle de Gravina and Mesón A Ría de Noia near Puerta del Angel Metro station serve up delicious dishes, which though they differ considerably from traditional Spanish tapas, they certainly do not disappoint.
4. Find treasures at a flea market. The flea market in Madrid’s El Rastro is regularly as one of Europe’s best and biggest markets savvy bargain, vintage and antique hunters. This huge market is one of the only reasons you will see anyone under the age of 30 awake on a Sunday morning.
5. Go to the circus. Circuses are not usually permanent fixtures in cities, however Circo Price has been performing in Madrid on and off since 1847 and in 2007 it gave its name to its own theatre and permanent home, Teatro Circo Price.
6. Enjoy a drink with a big view. Often included in lists of the top ten roof-top bars in the world, The Roof atop Hotel ME serves killer cocktails with a killer view over Plaza Santa Ana. Open until 3am, here you can watch the sun go down and the stars, both celebrities and the ones in the sky, come out.
7 Ham it up. Madrid is often overlooked by its distant Catalan cousin Barcelona as a centre of fine dining and delicacies, however a quick tour around El Museo de Jamòn should make even the most serious of foodies rethink this while also stirring up their appetite.
8. A Green City. Despite it’s noisy traffic and the constant hustle and bustle of people by day and by night, Madrid has long been recognized as one of the Greenest cities in the world, because of the number of parks that Madrid boasts like El Retiro or El Capricho. It’s actually a little known fact that Madrid has more trees per capita than any other city in Europe. These offer locals and visitors alike a retreat from the noise, while a jungle to be found inside Madrid’s Atocha railway station needs to be seen to be believed.
9. Take a dip Madrid has many open-air pools which understandably become very popular with Madrileños during Madrid’s long, hot summers. Head down to Club Deportivo Canal de Isabel II near the Canal Metro stop for an afternoon cooling off. Unlike public pools in many other countries, you will find refreshments on sale poolside include ice-cold beers!
10. Wander down Spain’s own Walk of Fame Like you can in LA, in Madrid you can admire a Paseo de la Fama of stars dedicated to some of the stars of Spanish Cinema, found on Martín de los Heros near Plaza de España. Among the names you may recognise are those who have also done well in Hollywood like Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodóvar.
Viva Madrid and Viva España!
Photo credits: JasonParis, Mallol, Javier Lastras, Jose Maria Cuellar, Bjørn Giesenbauer, Javier Corbo, Pollobarba, Darren Krape, Felipe Gabaldón, Fred Gosselin, DDanzig, Sylvain Bourdos, Hans Dinkelberg, Dirk huijssoon.