Kiwi.com Top 10 – Madrid

Here at Kiwi.com, we love exploring new places, but we also know that sometimes you want to go back to somewhere you’ve already been. Here’s our guide to some of the most popular destinations that Kiwi.com customers fly in and out of.

City – Madrid

Airport – Barajas

If you’ve never been …

… You’ll find a metropolis that’s elegant and stately during the day but knows how to let its hair down in the evening. The Spanish capital is the third-largest city in the European Union and is a world leader in politics, art, technology and sport, among other things. Managing to maintain the character and air of many of its historic neighbourhoods while still having a 21st-century infrastructure in place means that it’s a great spot to live and work at, or to just spend a weekend getting the flavour of it.

Stride through the centre

Quite a few shops on Gran Vía found their base in former cinemas. For unknown reason - KikoStock / Shutterstock
Quite a few shops on Gran Vía street found their base in former cinemas – KikoStock / Shutterstock

Located slap-bang in the middle of the city, Gran Vía is indeed a very grand street. From the Church of San Jose at its eastern end, it runs for over a kilometre to the Plaza de España at the other. A wide, elegant boulevard, bustling with people, some of the shops are, oddly, located inside old cinemas that haven’t shown a film for years.

Get the view

View from a huge patio near Círculo de Bellas Artes gives you one the best scenery in all Spain - Shutterstock
The view from a huge patio near Círculo de Bellas Artes gives you some the best scenery in all of Spain – Shutterstock

But if seeing the city purely at ground level isn’t enough, there are many places to ascend and see the skyline. If you head up the Círculo de Bellas Artes, there’s a huge patio from which you can look over one of the most attractive views in Spain. For even more of a bird’s eye view, you can ride on the Teleférico, a 2.5km cable car ride that will take you over the Casa de Campo and the Parque del Oeste, giving beautiful sightlines to the Royal Palace.

See some sporting heritage

Real Madrid has won 63 trophies so far and hosts one of the most well paid Players of all time, Christiano Ronaldo -  Yuri Turkov / Shutterstock Madrid
Real Madrid has won 63 trophies so far, and hosts one of the most well-paid players of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo – Yuri Turkov / Shutterstock

Real Madrid is one of the world’s most famous sporting institutions, and with good reason. At the time of writing, the club has won 63 major trophies and is home to preening, strutting brand-merchant and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. Tours of their Santiago Bernabéu Stadium take around 90 minutes (but of course) and cost €25. This includes a visit a section entitled “The Best Club in History”, just another example of the humility and self-effacement that’s made them so universally respected and adored. The alternative is Atletico Madrid, or you could do the right thing and go and watch Rayo Vallecano instead.

Go green

El Retiro is huge place of greenery filled with 19th-century architecture and sculptures - shutterstock
El Retiro is a huge place of greenery filled with 19th-century architecture and sculptures – Shutterstock

Like London, for all its traffic and hurry, Madrid is a remarkably green city. The Casa de Campo park is five times bigger than Central Park in New York City and includes within its boundaries the Madrid Zoo, a boating lake and various sports facilities. Outside the central district, you can’t walk very far without encountering some parkland. El Retiro, for example, is a handsome, sculpted park, rich in 19th-century elegance and graceful architecture. No matter where you go, you’ll find something to suit your taste.

Hunt for lost treasures

A flea market El Rastro gives a great place for digging up so hidden treasures. Going there early in the morning pays off - Pedro Rufo / Shutterstock Madrid
A flea market El Rastro is a great place for digging up hidden treasures. Going early in the morning pays off – Pedro Rufo / Shutterstock

El Rastro is a sprawling flea market in the Embajadores neighbourhood and is one of the most famous things to do in the city. You’ll have to get up early, mind you, if you don’t want to be sucked along in the tidal wave of locals, tourists, and vendors of all types. If it all gets a bit too much, there are a number of bars and cafes nearby to duck into, and the roads around are full of antique and second-hand shops as well.

If you’ve already been and feel like going back, what about these?

Pamper yourself

Relax in the Arabic baths is exactly what one needs after walking aronud Madrid's sights - Wimedia Commons
Relaxing in the Arabic baths is exactly what one needs after walking around Madrid’s sights – Wikimedia Commons

The Hammam Al Ándalus baths feature different temperature pools, steam rooms and massage to help you unwind for a few hours after tramping through the city. Mostly frequented by locals, they’re decorated in an Arabic style and full of the scent of aromatherapy oils. Have a cup of herbal tea and let your worries wash away.

The ghost of a station

The unused metro station of Chamberí looks like from 1919 - Leticia Ayuso / Flickr Madrid
The unused metro station of Chamberí still looks as it did when it was opened in 1919 –  Leticia Ayuso / Flickr

The Chamberí Metro station was closed in 1966 and fell somewhat into disrepair, but trains were never rerouted, so passengers got a glimpse of ripped, fluttering posters and a grimy platform as they were whisked to their destination. But in 2006 the station was reopened as a museum to the history of the Metro. It would have looked when it opened in 1919, complete with vintage posters and mosaic tiles. And, of course, every couple of minutes, a train still passes through!

Shopping and trains

Museo del Ferrocarril is not only a train museum, it is also home to a market with various other goods, such as furniture, antiques or food - Wikimedia Commons Madrid
Museo del Ferrocarril is not only a train museum, it is also home to a market with various other goods, such as furniture, antiques or food – Wikimedia Commons

More trains, as it happens, and not two things that necessarily go together, but Mercado de los Motores is a market for antiques, furniture, clothes, jewellery and food that’s located, unusually, in Madrid’s railway museum, the Museo del Ferrocarril. Could it be any more hipster?

Improve your language … And your general knowledge!

In La Morena you can embarrass yourself while learning something new. A drink from pne of 40 types of tequila might help as well - Shutterstock
In La Morena you can embarrass yourself while learning something new. A drink from one of 40 types of tequila might help as well – Shutterstock

Every Thursday evening, La Morena Cantina bar hosts a bilingual pub quiz called “Beerlingual”. The bar itself is a good enough reason to go – it has over 40 types of tequila, for a start – but why not put together a team and have a crack at the quiz as well? It’s a great reason to have a drink and meet people while sort-of humiliating yourself. What could be more fun than that?!

Invisible nun cakes

To receive a free cake from invisible nuns, you have to know on the door under this statue - Wikimedia Commons Madrid
To receive a free cake from the invisible nuns, you have to buzz on the door under this statue – Wikimedia Commons

Now those are three words I never thought I’d type together, but at the Monasterio del Corpus Christi, there is a large door marked with the number eight. Ring the buzzer and ask “tienes galletas?” If they have cakes, the door will open and you walk down a corridor to a table with a menu on it. If you ask the wall for your order, a voice from the other side (of the wall, not of the conscious realm) will confirm your order, and the cakes will appear on a turntable in front of you. You won’t ever see the nuns who bake them.