Madrid – The Weekend City
Madrid simply comes alive at the weekend. The cafes, bars and restaurants are all bustling with activity as I sit here in a beautiful, traditional Spanish square with live music.
There’s something about Spanish music that I find very relaxing, and puts me into “holiday mode” very quickly, it’s nice.
I’m currently cutting weight (for sports purposes), and this place is really testing my willpower. It’s difficult not to be tempted into ordering platefuls of food – the smells are incredible.
Tapas is pretty much thrown at you wherever you go; patatas bravas, paella, raciones, jamon (mouth-watering ham), quesos (cheese) and the list goes on.
Not to mention the ridiculously cheap wine here – all of this makes for a very enjoyable, but fattening experience! J Order a drink in a non-touristy spot and you have delicious food constantly coming your way.
Seeing The Sights
Okay, now you’re in Madrid, you want to see the sights, right?
Here are my favourites:
Plaza Mayor: The beautiful, famous square in the centre of Madrid, close to Puerta del Sol (the biggest square, precisely in the centre of the city). Stroll around the streets here and you will encounter a taste of traditional Spain, with some amazing (although expensive) restaurants.
Templo de Debod: Located just a ten minute walk west of Plaza Mayor, this place is beautiful at sunset, and I’ve enjoyed many a drink here on a Saturday evening (I’m normally too hungover to go out properly). There’s also a great Mexican place for those of you who are into Mexican food. It seems to be a real hit with the Americans J
Bella Artes rooftop bar: The award for the best view in Madrid has to go to this rooftop bar. Very stylish, it’s a great place to take a date, and boasts not only the incredible architecture that’s typical of Madrid, but also the most stunning views, particularly at sunset (noticing the pattern here?) 😉
So those were some examples are calmer, quieter weekends for you. However, sometimes you’re going to want to let off some steam, and I’ve had some wild weekends whilst I’ve been here.
The Bernabeu + Clubbing: Some of the best weekends I’ve had in Madrid have involved watching Real Madrid thump some team in La Liga with my friends either from the UK (visiting), or living here in Madrid too. Following this, on an emotional high, we always decided it would be rude not to end the night in a bar or a club. It’s always a great night. Another variation of this, which is very popular among my English friends who keep flying over, is a bullfight, accompanied by lots of food and beer. Then clubbing. So fun!
Toledo + Clubbing: Toledo was incredibly interesting – a gorgeous town, probably the most aesthetically pleasing place I have seen in Spain yet. It’s located just south of Madrid, and is easily accessible via bus. With so many nice little restaurants and cafes there, we would stop off at many as they looked so enticing. Of course, you have to have a vino tinto in each one don’t you? Yes you do in case you’re wondering. Inevitably enough, this sets you up for a crazy night in Madrid when you return.
Pool parties: The great thing about living in an apartment with several other people is that one of them is likely going to be an Erasmus student. The great thing about Erasmus students is that they get you into all kinds of student events, often involving free bars, free champagne or maybe even pool parties. The pool party I went to was absolutely incredible. Great fun. It’s difficult to say for definite, but if I was to pick one weekend, I would say this weekend was the best. Lots of great people, fun activities, sun, fun and a pool (as you would expect). We were split into different teams, and competed in a games tournament, which was of course won by my team 😉 And the prize? A free bar. Heaven.
How To Get The Best Out Of Madrid In Your Free Time
My advice is definitely to avoid the tourist spots. Once you’ve seen the major sights, stick to authentic Spanish places; they’re cheaper, and they have nicer food that is literally handed out for free.
If you’re on a budget, there’s always 100 Montaditos and Takos. These places offer one Euro tapas portions and one Euro tacos respectively. It’s not bad either, and you can eat a load of food here for little money.
Finally, learn Spanish, and make Spanish friends. Date a Spanish girl/guy, and this will provide even further incentives to learn the language.
And always remember to enjoy the sun, fun and tapas!
Alex teaches English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in Madrid! He's been enjoying the city since September 2017.
To see the TEFL Heaven program Alex chose to start his adventure, see the Teach English in Spain Program