If you’re planning on carefully budgeting your trip in Madrid, Spain, then this is probably not the best go-to guide for cheap eats. I’m here to tell you how to live a fulfilling day in Madrid, getting around, decadent food, and cultural admiration.
Being in a foreign land, it can be a little scary getting around, but I can assure you it’s a walk in the park! Despite Spanish existing as their primary language, it is no stranger that English is prevalently used as well. This is due to a never-ending growth in international tourism. Tourism is considered a main contributing factor of economic life in Spain, providing at least 11% in its GDP (economical output). – Source Though a little goes a long way, if you familiarize yourself with some Spanish words and phrases.
Basic Words & Phrases
Hello – Hola
Good Morning – Buenos días
Good Afternoon – Buenas tarde
Good Evening – Buenas noches
How are you? – Cómo estás?
I am good – Estoy bien
I am lost – Estoy perdido
Can you help me? – Me puedes ayudar? or Puedes ayudarme?
Where is the -insert place name-? – Dondé está el/la….?
At a Restaurant/Cafe
Menu – La Carta/Menú
Do you have an english menu? – Tienes un menú en inglés?
I want/would like – Quiero/Qiesiera
Please – Por Favor
Thank you – Gracias
with/without – con/sin
Water – Agua
Mineral Water/Sparkling Water – Agua mineral con gas/sin gas
Beer – Cerveza
I am full – Estoy lleno/a
It is very delicious – Muy delicioso/a
The bill please – La cuenta, por favor
Yes – Sí
No – No
How much is it? Cuánto cuesta?
I don’t understand – No entiendo
I don’t know – No sé
Can you repeat slower please? – Puedes repetir despacio, por favor?
Can you speak English? – Puedes hablar inglés?
The first day of travel is typically uneventful, finding your way around, your accommodation, and settling in . The airport, Madrid-Barajas Airport consists of both English and Spanish directions, making it easy to find your way to your desired mode of transport.
We decided to take the Madrid Train System; and purchased an unlimited tourist travel pass for 5 days. (Approx. Pricing – Source) Luckily with google maps, we found our way around the train mapping system fairly quickly.
We arrived at our Airbnb that was to the right of central Madrid, and was greeted by our lovely host. Since the place wasn’t quite ready yet, we dropped off our luggage and explored the neighborhood. The 7 hour flight had made us quite peckish (JFK –> MAD); our stomachs growled for the arrival of lunch!
Place to Eat: Cafe around the block.
Place to See: We were exhausted from the flight on our first day, and since we had more days to come, we decided to spend our afternoon taking a siesta!
Place to Eat: Taberna El Sur
A pleasant Mediterranean/Spanish tavern-like place with beautiful Spanish Seafood Paella, Pulpo a la brasa (Grilled octopus), and Patatas Bravas (Fried potato in sauce).
Place to See & Eat: The second day we decided to head into Plaza Mayor, the central plaza of Madrid that was built in 1617. From then, we went to San Miguel Market, a covered market area full of tapas and other delicious and fresh local delicacies.
Place to Eat: We also went to try a local cuisine favorite, Bocadillo de calamares (Fried squid sandwich), which can be found in most cafes at Plaza Mayor. Additionally, a next sweet-must-try was the Churros con Chocolate. The famous hot chocolate with churros was located at, Chocolateria San Gines.
Place to See: After filling our stomachs, we went to two museums to tickle our artistically cultural fancy, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (12 euros), which was full of art that spanned from the 13th century to late 20th century. The second museum, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (10 euros) consisted of European and American Impressionist and Expressionist art from the 20th century.
Tip: I’d advise you to go on the days that the museums are free to enter (some museums may not have this)
With an exhausting day of walking, we finished with an appetising european meal. The drink, Gin & Tonic, that was recommended by the waiter came in a plastic bag with a straw in a shopping cart–how different!
We had the Beef Tripe and Roasted Pork Shoulder–simply decadent.
We had wanted to take it easy on the third day, walking around central Madrid; letting our feet guide us. Though unintentionally, we made a side trip to the optometrist and orthodontist for contact lenses and cavities treatment.
- My partner’s lenses were lost in the shower, and he had no spare.
- It was far too expensive to treat cavities in the U.S, so Madrid was a good option to get it fixed (around 60 euros per cavity)
Place to See: Calle de Atocha
Without much of a plan for that day, we went around the area and took in more of the fascinating architecture of Madrid.
Place to Eat: La Casa Del Abuelo
A must eat recommended delicacy of Spain, Gambas de Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp in Olive oil); accompanied by an interesting side of Gazpacho soup, and refreshing Sangria.
Place to Eat (Fine Dining): Bodega de los Secretos
Wanting to be fancy-pantsy in Madrid, I booked a lovely table for intricate Mediterranean/Spanish food, with beautiful ambience, and unique decor. Although pricey (menu), our tastebuds danced with Grilled octopus with Pepper oil and foamed potato, MiniSteakTartar Trio with truffle, anchovy and wasabi, Monkfish Suquet with risolada potatos and crayfish, and Ox tail.
Place to Eat: La Barraca
What is the first thing that comes to mind about Spanish food? Paella! And that is what we aimed to hunt down. A hefty portion of seafood paella, and Sopa Castellana (Sizzling soup with Serrano jam, egg, garlic, paprika, and bread). Although the ambience may be a little sophisticated, the waiters/waitresses were very pleasant.
Place to See: Museo del Traje
After stuffing our faces once more, we explored our last museum of the trip. Though quite far off from the main city, the fashion museum is often overlooked. Dedicated with the history of fashion and costumes from ancient times to modern (3 euros).
The following day, consisted of packing our bags, having our breakfast at a nearby cafe, and catching our flight back to the States at 1pm.
Note: Drinking in the late evening is a big thing, and it is very cheap to drink wine, beer, or sangria. Tirso de Molina is a great area to have a relaxing drink.
Places to See:
Despite a fulfilling trip, it was inevitable that we missed two main tourist must sees. Our travelling motto is to not rush anything, and to go at your own pace. Yet, if you desire to pack everything in, I recommend going to Museo del Prado (15 euros) and Retiro Park
With the trip to an end, I bid you adios, and happy travels!
Where is your favorite hotspot?