While Madrid has plenty of tourist attractions, there are endless opportunities to have a more authentic experience during your stay. There are many chances to feel immersed in the culture, beauty and gastronomy of Madrid without feeling as if you’re disconnected from what actually goes on in the city. Having lived there for six months, with time I found myself slowly emerging from the more tourist-like areas and indulging in the many other things that the city had to offer. Here are five of my favorite places that are worth visiting when you’re in Madrid.
Biblioteca Escuela Pias and Gau Café
This library in the neighborhood of Lavapiés is one of the most enchanting spaces that I’ve ever been to. The old ruin turned anew is filled with books, gorgeous work spaces and all of the natural light you could ask for. More often than not, you’ll find it filled with students and scholars using the space to write, research and read —but there’s no denying that spending time there will inspire you to create.
Another highlight of this space has nothing to do with books. On the roof of the building is one of my favorite restaurants in all of Madrid. Gau&Café is the perfect place for delicious cuisine and a nice glass of wine while enjoying the Madrileño sun and a stunning rooftop view of the city.
El Matadero was once a large slaughterhouse but is now a space redesigned for “contemporary creation.” The programs they have are endless, from theater productions to movie screenings to art installations. It’s a wonderful place to explore, whether it’s to do one of the many scheduled activities or to just take time to wander around the expansive venue.
As beautiful as Parque del Retiro is, I really recommend exploring the expansive park of Madrid Rio that runs for about 10 kilometers along the banks of the Manzanares River. From its green spaces to make-shift beaches, the excitement of what you’ll find changes the farther you go. There’s something for everyone in this park and it’s a great way to explore a different side of Madrid.
Art Galleries by Calle De Monte Esquinza
The city is known for its museums and art spaces like El Prado, La Reina Sofia… the list goes on. Although these museums are wonderfully historic, there are so many other things happening with the Madrileño art scene. Unknown to many art lovers is the slew of independent galleries by Calle De Monte Esquinza. The streets are filled with many different art spaces, each one its own world, quaint yet filled with expression.
One of the greatest things about Madrid is its nightlife. With the endless clubs and bars in the city, it’s easy to be overwhelmed if you only have one night out on the town. If you want a dance space empty of inhibitions and filled with freedom, you should go to Mondo Disko. Mondo has the kind of music that will have your heart bumping along with the technicolored floor. It has an ambiance that really allows you to let loose, knowing that the people around you aren’t judging but just looking to dance the night away.
I’m such a fan that I spent my last night in Madrid at Mondo until 6 o’clock in the morning and found myself walking home, greeting the sunrise before I had to catch my flight later that day. It was a perfect goodbye to a beautiful city.
There’s a multitude of things to see in Madrid, and I’m sure your time there will leave you longing for more. What better reason do you need to start scheduling your next trip? ¡Disfrutalo!
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