After having spent 5 months in Madrid in 2005 as an Erasmus exchange student, I think it’s time that I share my experiences.
There is so much to do and see in Madrid, that maybe a weekend won’t be enough!
For cultural activities head to one of the 73 musea of the city. Along Paseo del Prado you will find three magnificent musea such as the Museo del Prado, with one of the most important art collections in the world, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, displaying an exhibition of more than 800 paintings, sculptures and tapestries, and Museo Reina Sofía for the contemporary Spanish art with master pieces of Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí and Juan Gris, amongst others.
The Paseo del Arte Card costs €14.40 and is valid for one year, this combined ticket allows one visit to the Museo del Prado, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. The Annual State Museums Card costs €36.06 and is valid for one year, this card allows unlimited visits to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Museo Nacional del Prado and all state-owned musea.
After your visit to the musea, go to Parque del Retiro, to have a picnic in the park, lounge in the sun or take a boat tour on the articifial lake. An other nice park to visit is the Templo de Debod overviewing the Royal Palace and Almuden Cathedral, with an ancient Egyptian temple.
If you are a shopping fanatic, Madrid is a great place to shop! I would recommend to visit El Rastro, an open-air flea market, where you can find a great variety of products (ranging from clothing to furniture). El Rastro is held only on Sundays and it’s located along Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores, between Calle Embajadores and the Ronda de Toledo. Also Calle de Fuencarral is worth visiting: one of a kind boutiques can be found one after the other. In this street the Mango outlet store is situated!
In the charming movie theater, Cine Doré (Filmoteca Española c/ Santa Isabel 3, metro Anton Martin), catch a classic movie for €2.50, for students it only costs €2. During summer time watch the movies on the rooftop terrace!
Everywhere charming bars and tavernes are inviting to hop in for a bite and drink. For the best tapas go to Casa de Toni (c/ de la Cruz 14, metro Puerta del sol)! I think I have tried everything on their menu, and the food is absolutely fabulous. A not very know place for tourists is the restaurant Casa de Granada (c/ Doctor Cortezo 17, metro Tirso de Molina), it’s the best rooftop terrace spots of Madrid with sweeping views of the city! Casa de Granada offers an extensive selection of delicious tapas at low prices! It’s easy to miss, as the restaurant is situated on the top floor of an apartment building. As the place is very popular, be there on time, otherwise you’ll have to queue!
Madrid is very well-known for its nightlife and nightclubs. The area of Puerta del Sol and Huertas are very popular night destinations amongst tourists. Every bar is offering some free chupitos. For a more alternative scene head to Malasaña area.