We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Place to chill out and watch

Arlington Heights...
Level Contributor
218 posts
37 reviews
Save Topic
Place to chill out and watch

Hi guys - I'll be in Madrid in early Feb with my best friend with benefits (AKA my wife), and I'm looking to find a good place to hang out late morning or early afternoon - morning time, I'd like to enjoy some chocolate con churros, early afternoon, some great Spanish wine and tapas. Along with those, the atmosphere is important - good people watching, decent neighborhood, busy, but not rushed.

Any suggestions?

Thanks!

Cairns, Australia
Level Contributor
613 posts
86 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Place to chill out and watch

You question has certainly brought back memories and got the old brain thinking back.

To start , head out to Mecado San Miguel in Calle Mayor, enjoy the walk in this beautiful old building , the quality of produce offered by the local vendors is truly amazing, it will get the saliva glands working and you will be well and truly ready for the most amazing churros and chocolate (coffee for me) just near the market entrance at "Eduardos". Sit there enjoy the Churros and whatever drink you enjoy and observe the wonderful local crowd as they go about what seems to be a normal routine .

When you are ready to move on head across the road through Plaza Mayor, the narrow road leading to the large open plaza will undoubtedly take you back in time to the horse and buggy days ( it did for me). Walk around enjoy the atmosphere and the lovely artwork on the buildings surrounding the square.

Exit the plaza at the opposite point from the entrance and at the first street turn left , it will take you to La Puerta Del Sol ( if you are lost ask for McDonalds, its across the road from Puerta Del Sol).

When you get to the square at Puerta Del Sol look for Calle Arenal there are many great places where you can sit al fresco, enjoy a great wine and just sit back and watch the crowd go by ..... wow I'm there and dreaming.

I hope you can share my great day in Madrid ! enjoy the churros , the vino and the great Madridellian lifestyle!

Arlington Heights...
Level Contributor
218 posts
37 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Place to chill out and watch

Eddie - thanks for the detailed response! We'll definitely do that!

Malaga, Spain
Destination Expert
for Malaga, Andalucia, Madrid, Zaragoza, Valencia, Seville
Level Contributor
61,284 posts
3,655 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Place to chill out and watch

timbo:

The Plaza Mayor is good for people watching. It has many outdoor restaurants.

Arlington Heights...
Level Contributor
218 posts
37 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Place to chill out and watch

Thanks Benny - it's also close to our hotel!

Barcelona, Spain
Destination Expert
for Barcelona
Level Contributor
9,242 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Place to chill out and watch

Hola! Plaza Mayor is a major tourist sight (for a reason) so be prepared to pay "touristy prices" and sometimes get "touristy sub-quality" if you decide to have there your relaxing café con leche...

A more real-life square I love is Plaza de la Paja, and for a quieter time the lovely garden of Principe de Anglona next to it... But shhhhhhhh, do not tell anyone..... ;-)

Arlington Heights...
Level Contributor
218 posts
37 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Place to chill out and watch

Thank you belsaita! I notice you're a Barcelona expert - we're spending our first few days of the trip there, at Hotel Arts, what would you suggest for the same experience in Barca?

Thanks again!

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
25,552 posts
81 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Place to chill out and watch

Mercado San Miquel, while once I am sure an authentic and charming market -- and certainly it takes nice pictures -- is now a tourist trap where tour groups of timid middle aged people are escorted to have their 'tapas experience' without actually walking down one of the more authentic tapas districts in Madrid of which there are several (e.g. Cava Baja for one example) The drinks are terrible, (at least the ones we obtained) compared to bars almost anywhere else -- they were the only bad drinks we had in Spain in 2.5 weeks) and the tapas are microwaved and lukewarm and mostly ordinary in the extreme. The lovely produce costs literally 10 times what you pay in an ordinary market. We actually noted the price of cherries and then bought some ourselves at a tenth the price at the covered market in La Latina. The paella my husband got at the San Miquel market was acceptable especially for a small tapas portion but it was the only thing we had that was not disappointing. They do have a lot of good looking small desserts at high cost -- lovely but we didn't try those. And truly, it is stuffed with tour groups.

Plaza Mayor struck us the same way. Ringed with tourist oriented clip joints and souvenir stands, the architecture is impressive but the experience not so much.

We had great luck just setting forth and walking until we found little cafes with terraces here and there away from tourist areas where we got tasty snacks and good drinks. Our strategy is to identify a destination away from tourist hell and then find that thing -- church or whatever -- and then stroll around the area. We have ended up every time, surrounded by locals in a pleasant cafe on a pleasant square.

Another good people watching spot filled with locals as well as tourists is the park near the Prado -- the Retiro. There are kiosks where typical park snacks can be obtained. Lots of locals with kids and picnics as well as tourists strolling through after visiting museums.

Arlington Heights...
Level Contributor
218 posts
37 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Place to chill out and watch

Thanks Janet - we'll definitely hit the Cava Baja - I also found the google map someone else put together for off the beaten path eats in La Latina - where is the covered market there?

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
25,552 posts
81 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Place to chill out and watch

the market is on Plaza Cebada but it is not picturesque -- a good place to buy food though, although many of the stalls are empty. there are lots of cafes along Cebada with fair food for a quick lunch

San Miquel is a beautiful structure but like Girrardeli Square in San Francisco or many of the beautiful tiled bakeries in Paris, it has now been repurposed as a 'tourist attraction' -- a sort of local Disneyland experience

If you are in La Latina don't miss San Francisco El Grande

…wordpress.com/2013/…

Edited: 28 December 2013, 18:40
Arlington Heights...
Level Contributor
218 posts
37 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Place to chill out and watch

Thanks again Janet - sounds like you're my kind of traveler...that being said, we are spending a little more than half our time in Barcelona, so really only 3 days in Madrid. We'll absolutely check out your easter egg, and I'm hoping to find that covered market to get some 'real' food