If you’re not already familiar with Spain, you should know they are on a different timezone to the rest of the world. They start work at 9:30/10am, have lunch from 2pm for at least two hours, and dinner is never before 10pm. It’s a lifestyle that I could grow very accustom to! Pintxos (pronounced ‘peenchos’) is a popular term Spaniards use for food, that literally means a ‘spike’ so it usually refers to tapas-style stuff

Madrid is one of the larger city centres in Europe, and whilst it’s super cool, and I really wanted to love it because some of my closest friends live there, I didn’t really get ‘it’. Don’t get me wrong, there are loads of  different neighbourhoods, or barrios, as they say en Espanol, each with their own flavour; and the city is bursting at the seams with art, museums and galleries, so there is a lot going on! I just didn’t get that ‘special’ feeling I was expecting to, like I did in Barcelona. I just couldn’t find Madrid’s soul.

But if art, food and wine are a few of your favourite things, then Madrid will be too.


Museums: El pradoEl reina Sofia for a fantastic Picasso exhibition; El ThyssenLa Casa Encendida is a social and cultural centre, so check what’s on before you go; Matadero Madrid is a former slaughterhouse in the Arganzuela district of Madrid (20min walk from Lavapiés), which has been converted to an arts centre;

Barrios: Salamanca (fancy pants part of town with beautiful residential buildings and small shops); Gran Via/Sol/Chueca (very touristy areas); Palacio Real (as the name suggests it’s the part of town around the Palace which is beautiful. Definitely walk around the gardens); La Latina (the latin quarter, full of cute streets, terraces and traditional tapas places); Santa Ana (awesome square with plenty of outdoor drinking spots and away from the usual tourist spots); El Retiro Park (a large, beautiful park in the city centre); Malasana (the hipster neighbourhood of Madrid with plenty of places to eat); Lavapies (the latest neghbouhood that has gone through gentrification)



Sala de Despiece The BEST tapas I’ve had in such a long time. A modern twist on traditional dishes, the vegetables, meats and fish are all incredibly fresh. Make sure you order the tomato. It’s just a tomato but it’s mind-blowing! It’s a very popular place and you can’t book, so head there around British lunchtimes in order to miss the Spanish queues!

El Mercado de San Miguel Massive, covered food market. The jamon and octopus stalls were absolutely delicious

Amazónico Outstanding, fun and full of flavours. They have everything delicious on the menu from Brazilian meats to Indian-spiced kofta, oh and a sushi bar. Super cool taxidermy and tropical decor with a jazz club in the basement. It’s on the more expensive side for a Madridian restaurant.

Txirimiri Awesome and understated tapas joint. The floor is covered with dirty napkins, but don’t let that put you off! The more napkins on the floor, the better the food.

Neither tried nor tested, but researched & recommended…

Toga Really nice for lunch/dinner, food is amazing, it’s in the Rastro area.

Tempranillo Tavern serving Spanish and Italian foods

Juana La Loca The best spot in Madrid for tortilla

Viña P Traditional taverna-style tapas

Me Hotel Rooftop Cool cocktail bar on a roof

Florida Retiro Nice terrace with live flamenco. They have a tapas bar and a restaurant – go for the latter. They close the terrace at night and turn it into a club

Lamucca de Pez Cosy restaurant with good cocktails

Ten Con Ten Awesome wine cellar vibes restaurant

El Escondite de Villanueva Killer looking modern tapas joint

El Columpio Quirky Mediterranean spot

Peyote San Funky Mexican fusion

La Primera Grab a ‘pincho de tortilla’ for brunch

Habanera Great lunch and dinner spot especially with booze

Marieta Cool brunch spot

La Bien Aparecida Good for dinner

Liberty Supper Club Awesome and fun looking food spot

Noname Bar Asian fusion food and cocktail bar

Casa Lucio The best huevos con patatas in Madrid

Lhardy One of the oldest and most classical restaurants in Madrid, serving typical Spanish food

Las Cuevas De Luis Candelas If you can handle the heat (or maybe save it for Winter), head to the caves for awesome Spanish goodies

Lateral Awesome tapas place with an outdoor seating area in Santa Ana square
Taberna Los Gallos Book a table on the roof and order the cod

Bar Santurce Go for the saltiest sardines

El Pescador Great for fish



Neither tried nor tested, but researched & recommended…

El Viajero Head to the rooftop bar for awesome views



Neither tried nor tested, but researched & recommended…

Teatro Barceló (the former Pacha)


La Via Lactea



The Dear Hotel Modern hotel in the centre of (the touristy part of) town. Nice rooms, dark bathrooms and a small but nice rooftop bar with a plunge pool. Their reception smells like an Abercrombie and Fitch store, but don’t let that put you off!

Neither tried nor tested, but researched & recommended…

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