Madrid is an inviting city where anyone who visits will quickly feel at home. In fact, the Madrileños say that if you spend 24 hours in Madrid, you become a Madrileño, too. Nevertheless, today we’re offering a list of 10 things you should do if you want to feel like a local in Madrid.
Spaniards are an effusive, passionate people, and this shows in the way they talk. As a general rule, Madrileños talk loudly, gesticulate often and stand close to the person they’re talking to.
Drink “cañas” and eat “tapas”
Madrileños love to frequent bars and drink cañas (a small glass of beer). Every evening, coworkers, friends and family get together and have a good time. Without a doubt the most popular local beer in Madrid is “Mahou”. You can find it in any bar in the capital. Tradition dictates that a good beer should be accompanied by a tapa (a small portion of food to go with your drink). The variety of tapas is incredible, and can range from some olives or cured sausage to a sophisticated dish.
Although it doesn’t appear in many travel guides, offal (tripe, chicken livers, pig’s ear, etc.) is one of Madrid’s gastronomic specialties. If you aren’t too squeamish, we encourage you to try these local specialties. More information about these dishes and more in our post The Most Strange Foods to Try in Madrid
Visit a traditional market
In Madrid, you can still find markets like in the olden days. It truly makes for an interesting visit, as you can buy local products at really good prices in these markets, and also see how the Madrileños go about their day. We recommend the Mercado de Antón Martín (Calle Santa Isabel, 5) and Mercado Barceló (Calle Barceló, 6).
Become a football fan (soccer)
A trip to Madrid isn’t complete without experiencing a football game, Spain’s favorite sport. The two major teams in the city are Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, and there’s no love lost between their respective fans 🙂
Eat a squid sandwich in Plaza Mayor
Few things are more traditional in Madrid than chowing down on a fried squid sandwich. The best bars to eat this famous “bocadillo de calamares” are located around Plaza Mayor. We recommend two of our favorite bars: La Campana (Calle Botoneras, 6) and La Ideal (Calle Botoneras, 4).
Taste the famous hot chocolate with churros
When autumn arrives and the temperature cools down, a Madrileño’s favorite way to stay warm is by enjoying a cup of hot chocolate and some fresh churros. The oldest “Chocolatería” in Madrid (San Ginés) is just a few steps away from the Puerta del Sol.
Sundays at the flea market
If you love bargain hunting and don’t mind squeezing through a huge crowd, el Rastro is the place for you. This flea market is the most famous in the entire city, and in it you can find everything from clothes to vintage toys to antiques. When? Sundays and holidays in the morning in the Barrio de la Latina.
Drink the tap water
Madrid natives like to brag that they have some of the best tap water in Spain. The water comes directly from the mountain and it really is very good. It’s unusual for Madrileños to drink bottled water – they almost always drink from the tap.
Stroll through el Parque del Retiro
If there’s one place that Madrileños are proud of, it’s the Parque de Retiro (116 hectares or approximately 290 acres). On holidays, the locals come to take a walk, ride bikes and disconnect from the commotion of the city. Don’t miss the Palacio de Cristal, one of the most famous spots in the park.
If you want to see Madrid from a local’s point of view, book our Free Tour now and feel like a true Madrileño.
Hola! My name is Javier Redondo, tour guide in Madrid for more than 5 years. Me and my wife, Tatiana, opened OgoTours in 2013 to share our passion for our city. We wanted to show the Madrid you never knew and make you feel a local experience.