With the green light to travel again, we safely hopped on a plane with our partner Linda Tamm of World Palate Tours for a trip to visit the iconic wine regions of Spain! We kicked off our week-long tour to Ribera del Duero and Rioja with a departure from Madrid, one of Europe’s most fascinating cities.
There is so much to see and experience, amazing restaurants to enjoy, and a delightful late-night scene. Madrid is a city of small neighborhoods that are easier to explore by walking than to drive or use public transit. “Withlocals” and “Free Walking Tours” are two knowledgeable companies worth the search. With a guide, you’ll gain an invaluable sense of the history and architecture, tips for things to do, places to eat, and where to stay. Here’s what we whittled down while spending A Weekend in Madrid.
Attractions for the Avid Historian
The Prado Museum is one of the greats and visiting it is an unforgettable experience! It’s home to several amazing exhibitions, including works from Spanish masters like the famous portraitist El Greco and the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age, Velazquez. With COVID-19 restrictions, none of the museums or famous attractions are overly crowded which allowed for a more intimate experience.
The food in Madrid is incredible. Tapas bars are endless with a varied and imaginative selection available at each one. Our “Free Walking Tours” guide suggested looking for older locals in the tapas bars; it’s a sure sign that the offer is topnotch and great value! Our group used a fantastic article from Condé Nast magazine and mapped out a route to each tapas bar. You can check out our tapas crawl here. Every recommendation was just as delicious as the last, but La Tape stood out as the most exceptional. Another shining star on the route was La Carbonara, who’s owner was engaging and exceptionally knowledgeable about Spanish cheese.
The not to be missed San Miguel Market in the center of the Old City is a must for foodies. No longer a traditional market, it is still a wonderful spot for outstanding tapas offerings, wine bars, and coffee shops. The displays are truly captivating and with the market being open from late morning all the way to midnight, you can grab a bite here anytime. Restaurant hours can be a bit tricky with a 2pm start time for lunch and a 10pm dinner, and all meals taking at least two hours. If seeing as much as possible is a priority, stick to the markets and tapas bars for a quick grab and go.
Four Noteworthy Places to Stay in Madrid
Our group of 12 managed to enjoy a few different accommodations and we would recommend any of the following (beginning with the most expensive hotel to an impressive hostel):
- Heritage Hotel Madrid ($$$$$) – small intimate hotel with a Michelin recommended rooftop restaurant and attentive staff. Exceptional breakfast.
- URSO Hotel & Spa ($$$$) – bright airy rooms with an indoor therapeutic pool and steam room. Close to many vintage shops and the city’s most popular gay bars.
- Pestana Plaza Major ($$$$) – great location on Madrid’s famous square with a roof top bar and an indoor pool in a heritage building that has been completely restored.
- Hotel Regina Madrid ($$$) - a nice centrally located 3 Star hotel with large modern rooms.
- Sungate One ($$) – social, centrally-located, and fantastic value hostel in Madrid’s Old City centre.
Next year, our Spanish tour kicks off in Madrid on October 16th, 2022. For those wanting to arrive a few days early, we are booking rooms at Pestana Plaza Major in early 2022. Contact Linda Tamm at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and check out our website for complete trip details. ¡Salud!