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Trip List by HPETS312

Best of Madrid off the beaten path

1 May 2006  American living in Madrid
4.5 of 5 stars based on 17 votes

Less-touristy things to do in Madrid

  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Shopping, Never been before, Repeat visitors
  • Appeals to: Business travellers , Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Students, Budget travellers , Tourists
  • 1. Tapas: Casa Labra, C/ Tetuan 12

    Founded in 1860, this little cafe is just of the Puerta del Sol and is full of history--it's known as the place where Spain's socialist party was founded in 1879. Order "uno de cada" (one of each) at the register and you'll receive a little plate with a hunk of delicious tuna, a piece of battered and fried bacalao (salted cod) and a croqueta de bacalao. Take it to the bar and enjoy with a cana, ("can-ya") a small glass of beer; if there's no room feel free to take it outside.

  • 2. Restaurant: Corgui, C/ Rollo 8

    Madrid is full of fantastic and inexpensive "Spanish-fusion" restaurants with great food and a great atmosphere. The Chueca, Malasana, and La Latina areas are so choc-full of these that it's hard to pick just one. Corgui is tucked away off Calle Segovia in La Latina, and in addition to serving wonderful food (don't miss the goat-cheese croquetas with hot grapes or the solomillo with truffle oil and sea salt) it turns into a bar later and serves up a gamut of cocktails and mixed drinks. And if you flirt with Flo, one of the owners, you might just get some of your drinks on the house.

  • 3. Bar: El Jardin Secreto, C/ de Conde Duque 2

    This "Secret Garden" has a great atmosphere that can provoke long conversations.

  • 4. Nightlife: Cafe La Palma, C/ La Palma 62

    Avoid the overcrowded, expensive and full-of-tourist discos like Palacio, Pacha and Kapital and head instead to the uber-chill Cafe La Palma in Malasana. The front actually is a cafe but with a different DJ or live band every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night things can really heat up in the back room. Plus there's no cover charge and the drinks are priced the way they should be.

  • 5. Museum: Museo Thyssen, Paseo del Prado 8

    While the Prado and the Reina Sofia are not to be missed, I prefer the quieter Thyssen Museum. With a panoramic collection of works from Van Eyck and Fra Angelico to Lichtenstein and Dali, the Thyssen is the perfect place to sit and contemplate a favorite painting while shutting out the busy city outside.

  • 6. Shopping: C/ Fuencarral and C/ Augusto Figueroa

    For those not interested in chi-chi Calle Serrano or too-typical Gran Via, check out the hip and funky shops along Calle Fuencarral. Not only is the shopping good, but so is the people watching! And, from the Plaza de Fuencarral, walk down perpendicular Calle Augusto Figueroa for all the shoes you could ever want at very reasonable prices.

  • 7. Afternoon: Retiro Park

    No trip to Madrid is complete without a stroll through Retiro Park, especially if the weather is nice. You can rent rowboats on the pond for very little money, see a free art exhibition, have a drink at an outdoor cafe, or just relax in a grassy spot.

  • 8. Day trip: Cordoba

    It used to be that day-trippers were restricted to El Escorial and Toledo, but with the high-speed Ave train Andalusia is just a few hours away. Cordoba really only requires a day for exploring the Great Mosque and the Jewish quarter, so it can easily be done from Madrid.