48 hours in Madrid

¡Hola mi amigos!

In 2014, I was lucky enough to spend 2 months in Europe. I spent my first month studying Italian in Rome at Scuola Leonardo Da Vinci – 10/10 would recommend if you’re keen on learning Italian. During the second month I went on a Contiki tour with my friend – visiting Spain, France, Monaco and Italy.

One thing that surprised me was how I absolutely fell in love with Spain. It’s a country rich with culture, amazing architecture and churros – seriously, the churros are so good that we went to the same churro shop twice in one day.

We began our Contiki in Madrid, the capital of Espagna – and what a way to start! We only had 48 hours in the Spanish capital, so here’s my guide on 5 the things you should tick off your list in Madrid.

1. Churros

Literally the first thing my friend and I did when we checked into the hotel was start the search for the best churros in Madrid – and wow, did we find them! Nestled in a seemingly sleepy alleyway, Chocolateria San Gines is one of the most famous churros vendors in Madrid. Inside, the shop is bustling with locals and tourists alike and the smell of churros cooking fills your lungs. The decor is simple but welcoming – the walls are adorned with black and white photos of celebrities who’ve visited over the years. Order the ‘Chocolate con churros’, which comes with enough churros for two and hot melted chocolate for dipping. If you’re feeling hungry, try the ‘Chocolate con porras.’ Porras are a thicker version of churros and taste just as good, if not better! I dare you not to visit this place more than once.

2. Mercado de San Miguel

I. love. markets.

In every town I visit, I scout out the local markets before anything else. Markets are a great way to experience the local produce and culture. I also use the markets as a way to learn the foreign words for food, this comes in handy especially when you’re dining out.  Mercado de San Miguel is a collection of tapas food, drinks, legumes and fresh produce. Be sure to have a lunch or dinner here and sample all the tapas plates on offer! It is open 10am – midnight on Sunday – Wednesday and 10am-2am Thursday – Friday. With opening hours like that, I’m sure you can squeeze in a quick visit.

3. Valle de los Caidos

Valle de los Caidos requires about a half a day trip from Madrid but believe me when I say, this place is worth the trip. Valle de los Caidos translates to ‘Valley of the Fallen’ and is an underground church and tomb carved into the hillside. It was built to commemorate the fallen on both sides of the Spanish Civil War. The size of the tunnel leading to the main basilica absolutely took my breath away and the huge cross that stands atop of the hollowed out cave is the largest in the world, standing at 150m high. It’s about a 45 minute bus ride from the centre of Madrid to Valle de los Caidos or you if your prefer, you can hire a car and drive there yourself.

4. Football

…or as us Australians say; soccer! Even if you’re not a soccer fan, it’s a fantastic experience attending a European football match. The passion and enthusiasm of the fans is second to none. Whilst we were only in Madrid for two nights, we were lucky enough to find a football game on the second night of our stay and lucky enough to see Ossasuna vs. Real Madrid – with the main attraction being Cristiano Ronaldo! Our seats were fairly high up in the grand stands but they were reasonably priced and we still had a great view of the game. Grab a beer, grab a team scarf and cheer on your team to victory or defeat!

5. Bar Mirador CentroCentro

Rooftop bars are another thing I love to keep an eye out for in a new city. I love the al fresco dining experience and watching the sunset over a new city with a drink in hand.¡Qué maravilloso!

We found Bar Mirador hidden away in the rooftop of Centro Centro – a museum and cultural space which begun life as the city’s postal service building in 1909. From the outside Centro Centro resembles a palace but inside it is a modern-day multi-purpose building with an impressive mixture of classical and contemporary architectural features. To reach the rooftop bar, take the lift to level 6 and exit around to the right. The bar is open until 2am most evenings, but I would suggest going up just before sunset to grab a drink and watch the city pass through life below you.

There you have it, my favourite places I visited in Madrid in 48 hours! What are the best places you’ve been to in Madrid? Do you know of any other great rooftop bars or churros shops? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

– so.