I am absolutely in LOVE with this city, possible my favourite city in the world, although I still have A LOT to visit. If you enjoy a busy lifestyle, culture, fashion, partying, art, parks, nature, churros, people from all over the world, bars, tapas and an exciting lifestyle, Madrid has all this and more. So read further if you want to find out why I am so in love with this city…
Madrid has a much more changeable climate than Valencia or other parts of Spain. Yes it is lovely and hot in the summer, in fact often TOO hot and all the locals leave and flock to the beaches for their holidays because it’s difficult to stand the dry, long summer that we have here. But I was there last summer and I had a great time. So in contrast, winters can get very cold… going back to Madrid when I had moved to Valencia was a struggle as it was very cold and does occasionally see some snow too.
Way of Life
Madrid, for me was still a much cheaper city than most of the places I have been to in the UK, however it is one of the most expensive, but can you really blame it, it is the capital, after all. You can find a large room in a shared flat in the centre for between 300-400 euros depending on the area and your standards. Many of the rooms in the traditional buildings of Madrid are very large with wooden floors and high ceilings and personally, I think much nicer than the traditional flats in Valencia.
Madrid, like most cities in Spain, has a very big bar culture, is it completely normal to meet in the city for a beer/tapas/coffee or wine at most times during the day and there are many plazas with beautiful terraces all across the city. As I said before, during the summer, the city can get a little bit quiet (but it is still the capital and full of people) but maybe not so many locals around. For example from September until June is a great time to party with many students studying in one of the many universities all over the city (I have been one of them too, but we can talk about that in another post)
Things to do
You must be a dull person to ever manage to run out of things to do in Madrid. There is always something happening no matter what time of the year. Some of my favourites include… visiting Retiro which is a beautiful park in the centre.
I also love Casa de Campo, some people don’t understand why I like casa de campo but I like it because its more like a forest than a park, but still in the city and if you can hire a mountain bike and cycle around then its incredible! It’s nice to get a bit lost sometimes and leave the crowds, but then you can also find your fair share of drug dealers and prostitutes wandering around if you end up in the wrong area.
If you want some real nature, head out of the city on a bus and to La Pedriza for some lovely hiking (or handstands) in the mountains.
In the summer they have some lovely outdoor cinemas and then there’s the rooftop bars! But one of the most common things you’ll do, is to simply go to a lovely terrace and enjoy some tapas. My favourite neighbourhood is Malasaña and sometimes I feel like I neglect the other neighbourhoods because of that.
But Malasaña for a night out if perfect, I can compare it to Soho in London with the independent shops, retro style and quirky bars full of young people. Check out the beach bar Ojala for some tapas and drinks!
I also love to walk along the Madrid Rio which has been recently refurbished and there is also some lovely parks there.
Temple de Dedod is the best place to watch the sunset in the city (and of course, romantic).
Atocha area is where there are many museums which are often free on Sundays and evenings, my favourite is Reina Sofia as I’m not the best person in an art gallery, but I feel like I can connect with some of the art there rather than wonder why someone received 500.000.000 for vomiting on a canvas and mounting it to a wall.
Well for the first few months of living in Madrid, I normally used the metro all the time, it’s a very good system and not too expensive, well if you compare it to the underground its not. They run from 6am until 1.30am and a very fast and good service. However, during my stay in Madrid they launched the BiciMAD city bike system (can you tell I love these yet?) and guess what… They’re ELECTRIC! At first I thought that was cheating the whole point of a bike but if you ride up one of the main avenues with all those cars on a steep hill where you really need to keep up with the other traffic, you really appreciate that trusty motor. I have spent a lot of my time riding these bikes home after a night out, and of course had a drunken accident where I was riding on the back of my friends bike and I thought it would be a great idea to stick my foot in between the spokes of the wheel, to ‘get it out of his way’ this ended in a lot of screaming, shouting, hobbling and even managing to make a random girl cry. Well I won’t be doing that again. But these bikes are great, maybe no the cheapest but a good way to get around, especially because again, it can be dangerous to lock your bike up in the street here and the motor really helps.
If you want to travel to any part of Spain on the weekend ( I travelled a lot last summer) It is very easy to do so. Madrid is slap bang in the middle of Spain so its a starting point for most weekend city breaks. I would definitely recommend BlaBlaCar for this as its one of the cheapest ways to get around and very easy to use.
I met people through various methods in Madrid, when I arrived I luckily moved in with 4 Spanish guys and a French girl, who were all lovely and it felt a bit like my Erasmus all over again. I, of course, used my favourite website Couchsurfing to travel to their weekly meetings in Retiro park and they also have a night out where I made some good friends. There are plenty of Facebook groups like MADlife and language exchanges to meet other people and I would recommend all of these. If you’re ever worried about meeting people in a new place, just remember you have to go out to meet them, friends wont just knock on your front door (unfortunately) you have to really push yourself to go out there and meet people, but once you have done that it’s easier to relax with your close friends and less of an effort.
I personally am in love with roofs in general and Madrid is one of the best cities for rooftop bars. I can recommend you a few depending if you care more about price or luxury. Casa de Granada is nice because it’s not $$$$(I know they use euros in Spain but just for the effect) and I don’t feel like I have to dress to meet the queen here, but it is a little small and they also tried to renovate it which just ruined the authenticity. I have only been to one other one so I don’t want to ‘big up’ ones I’ve never visited because then I would be a liar. So the other one is the exact opposite, it is fairly expensive but if you only for for a drink or two that’s not a problem. Hotel Oscar ( it’s actually a ‘gay’ hotel) in Chueca has a pool, that apparently is just for show, although I can’t seem to get my head around that. This place is lovely and very relaxing with stunning views of Gran Via and the surrounding area. But sometimes its nice to visit the more traditional and less pretentious places, isn’t it?
If you have any other questions about living and travelling in Madrid, write a comment!
Remember this is my personal experience and I can only share my own knowledge, but if you have any other ideas or info you would like to do, please enlighten me!