I decided to take on Madrid as my first official solo travelling experience for two reasons. 1) I was under the (extremely misguided) impression that my Spanish is far better than it actually is and 2) I missed out visiting Madrid on my last trip to Spain, which I know is practically a SIN that needed to be rectified immediately. In saying that, Barcelona is in my top 5 best cities in the world (that I’ve been to) and Madrid needed to seriously wow me to rival it in taking the top city in Spain. It may not have taken that top spot (Barcelona has my heart) however, it certainly tried its darnest!
Where To Stay
Checking into The Hat Hostel Madrid was a very good start to make my trip amazing. It is by far the best hostel I have stayed in. Although it is still a hostel with share rooms and six bed mixed dorms alike, they do cater to families and have larger rooms with double beds and single beds. The location is central, right near the Plaza de Mayor (big tick), the styling is extremely trendy and the rooftop bar was pretty fantastic.
I’d be lying if I said that the rooftop bar with incredible view over Madrid wasn’t my main reason for booking this hostel.
As a girl in her 20’s travelling alone, this was the perfect choice to stay as every other person in my 5 bed dorm was also a solo female traveller. Meeting people was extremely easy as all of the girls were happy to chat and wanted someone to see the sites with. There was one night (coincidentally International Women’s Day!) where there were four of us together, all from completely different continents (North America, South America, Europe and Australia).
What To See
I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about Madrid. There are so many amazing places to visit in Madrid, however, here are the places that absolutely cannot be missed when visiting.
Buen Retiro Parque
If you go to any popular spot in Madrid, go to Parque Retiro. The name literally means “Park of the Pleasant Retreat” so you know a swell time is to be had. It’s a gorgeous large park with a pretty lake where you can even hire a row boat and row romantically down the stream.
Palacio De Cristal
Inside the Buen Retiro Parque you can find this little magical Crystal Palace. It’s made of clear glass and is feels like you’re inside your own human menagerie.
Plaza Mayor is the classic old town main square that you can find in practically every European city. However, this one does have a bit of extra charm to it. There are a bunch of restaurants and kitchy tourist shops lining the square to keep you happily occupied for an entire afternoon if you so desire.
Palacio Real de Madrid & Gardens
I do love a good castle, and Madrid has a particularly lovely one. So lovely in fact that it needed its own post. Read about my love of Palacio Real de Madrid and the surrounding gardens here.
Right next to the Madrid Castle is Amundena Cathedral. While quite pretty from the outside, its the ceilings of this cathedral that really are mesmerising. Just look at all that colour. Next to castles (and palaces with crown jewels) beautiful intricate cathedrals are my favourite buildings to see when I travel. Amundena Cathedral has gold plated everything and just a pre-warning – your neck may get a crick from trying to admire every inch of it.
Eats & Drinks
Marcado de San Miguel
Marcado de San Miguel is an indoor food market with a main focus on seafood, wine & cheese. I would recommend going for dinner and definitely try a good selection of amazing cheeses while sipping a few too many white wines (I’ve tried and tested this extremely unheard of combination and have to say I recommend).
Cafe de La Luz
I stumbled on to this adorable bar/ cafe/ restaurant, Cafe de La Luz. Perfect for a few drinks late at night or a good latte and brunch in the morning. Of course I chose the Sangria.
I was lucky enough to go to two amazing rooftop bars in Madrid. My hostel The Hat Madrid has a beautiful little bar with an incredible view. However, no matter how pretty it was, as far as I’m concerned, there was no rooftop in the whole of Madrid that was more pretty than the Circulo des Bellas Artes Rooftop. Read about how I found the best rooftop bar in Madrid (in my opinion!)