Madrid is the city I first flew into when I came to Spain last year, and it was exactly what I pictured. It was the perfect embodiment of European city life.
Of course, all that changed once I left for northern Spain. I didn’t get to see or do much while I was there the first time, but we visited the capital city twice since September. The first, my roommate and I tried to cram in all the site-seeing, realizing too late that Madrid could not be rushed or squeezed into a mere 3-4 days.
No, we knew we had to come back. We went on an actual tour the third time around, and unlike the second visit, actually made it out to some nightlife. We also paid for a pub crawl to bring us there, but hey, it’s a good way to meet people when you’re in a city of strangers.
After living in Spain over four months now, I can tell you that Madrid is definitely not overrated–you should visit. Below, I’ve compiled a few reasons as to why, from my experience.
- The international ambiance. It’s probably the most you’ll hear English, or any other non-native languages, while visiting Spain. Lots of other cities will leave you almost forgetting how English sounds–that is, unless you teach English and therefore can’t escape it. Like any major city, you’ll meet people from all over the world here, and you’ll hear many different tongues.
- The obvious–its architecture. It’s a beautiful city with history at literally every corner. I know, because our tour stopped at literally..every..corner. It was cold that day 🙂 You’ll learn about the many reconstructions of the Royal Palace, the Reigns of various kings and queens, their marks on history, and the things they built. Every statue has some colorful story behind it, one of which you can rub for luck in Puerta del Sol, but I won’t ruin the surprise!
- The food. Omg. I’m almost glad I wasn’t placed in Madrid because, although I’d be getting paid more, I also feel like I’d have a hard time controlling my appetite with all the food choices throughout the city, and therefore would spend more money! For example, in my city it’s difficult to find good Mexican, or Italian, or amazing pizza…especially not a Starbucks. Madrid has it all *heart eyes*.
- The nightlife. We only really experienced a few clubs that night, so I can act like an expert, but it definitely was a bigger party than what you’ll find in slightly more conservative Santander. It’s always nice to have options. (See my instagram for videos).
- The sites. I still haven’t even seen it all–I have to go back a fourth time before I leave Europe! We went to the Reina Sofia Art Museum but never made it to the Prado, which is a little more famous. Both have amazing exhibits–I was excited to see works from Picasso and Dali in the first. I still have to see the Temple of Debod (at sunset, at the recommendation of our tour guide) but we did see the immense Retiro Park, historical Plaza Mayor, walked around tapas-sampling and wine-tasting at the San Miguel Market, and watched some street performances at night in Puerta del Sol. I recommend all these things for your visit!
Madrid is a city rich with history, art, great food, and modern city life. Although I’d definitely recommend waiting til it warms up a bit, it’s a travel destination not to be missed.