Hungry for food and art in Madrid
Madrid is one of the best locations in Europe to spend a couple of days if you are a culture buff, a gourmand, or a bit of both. Here are our tips for a minibreak that feeds your soul as well as your body.
For art fans Madrid offers sights for more than just a few days. There are museums and galleries dotted around the city making it possible to explore just about every art movement.
Most visitors will start their cultural journey in the revered museums of Madrid. Prado is the one of the oldest art museums in Europe and – a reason to travel to the city. Prado offers an astounding array of art from European masters, such as Spain's own Velázquez and Goya.
The other major museums include Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, housing an impressive collection of modern art and Thyssen-Bornemisza, a vast collection of pieces from the 13th to 20th century.
Madrid also has a very good selection of museums that show more than just art. Museo del Romanticismo is dedicated to the entire historical period of romanticism and houses furniture and decor, as well as art. National Museum of Decorative Arts has a great collection of decorative arts including glassware and crockery, textiles, jewellery and furniture.
The gallery scene in Madrid is vibrant and seeing contemporary art easy. Start in one of the fanciest areas in Madrid, the Salamanca district. Head out to the neighbourhood around Calle Castelló, Calle Claudio Coello and Calle Lagasca to visit some high-quality galleries. For a slightly more bohemian vibe with up-and-coming artists go to Salesas. Galleries can be found within a triangular area bordered by the metro stations of Alonso Martínez, Tribunal and Chueca.
After a day of art, you might be in the mood for some live music. Many of the bars in Madrid have live performances several nights a week. Sala Clamores is a favourite venue, that used to host jazz nights but is now open to a variety of music styles. For Spanish indie rock try Moby Dick and to hear some soulful singer-songwriters make your way to Libertad 8.
Savoury and sweet
Anyone interested in local culinary culture and fresh produce will get excited at the many food markets of Madrid. The historic Mercado de San Miguel is one of the best spots in town for shopping as well as sampling tapas or local drinks. Even the glass ceilinged building itself is worth seeing.
If you are planning to eat - rather than cook - you should try Mercado de San Ildefonso. It sells street style food and drinks late into the night. The food options vary from traditional Spanish to Asian. You could even just pop in for a coffee. For a traditional market experience visit Mercado de la Paz with food stalls selling everything from vegetables to charcuterie.
You can't escape tapas in Madrid, and you simply must sample the classic tortillas, patatas bravas and pimientos at some point during your stay. If you want to have a feel for the history of the tapas tradition, make your way to Bodega de la Ardosa. It has been around since 1892 and both the atmosphere and food are authentic.
A slightly more adventurous tapas selection can be found at Los Chuchis. The menu keeps changing and you can often find a mix of traditional and innovative. Seafood lovers should make their way to Fide. The menu will make you salivate with everything from fresh sardines to traditional bacalao.
Madrileños are famous for having a sweet tooth so dessert fans will have a great time in the city. Everyone knows churros is the first option here. The traditional La Antigua Churrería will give you a taste of history. They also serve porras, a thicker and longer version of churros that is a Madrid specialty.
You should also try some of the bakeries in Madrid. Semilha Bakery makes great bread and pastries from classic to novel. If you want to try a bit of everything, get one of their breakfast boxes! For a traditional chocolate covered palmerita the locals flock to la Mallorquina. You might even want to stay for a sandwich, slice of cake and excellent coffee.