The Vintage Guide: Madrid city break

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I have got a confession to make: I HATE city break guides.

Yes, I know. I can hear your thoughts from here – why in the name of God are you writing one then, huh?

Well, the point is I hate the kind of 48 hours city guides crammed with tourist traps and famous over-priced restaurants that feel more like a check-list marathon than a holiday. You know what I am speaking about, right? I mean the type you could easily think is a Lonely Planet appendix, and whose writer has rarely spent more than the aforementioned 48 hours in the given city, which makes the content… well… mostly superficial, to be honest.

Now, I am not suggesting you should be a total native to write a city guide at all, but I do believe visiting at least a bunch of times can provide you with a bit more of perspective when you are trying to provide assistance to others. As a blogs reader myself, it is not unusual for me to spend a few hours looking for content on the cities I am visiting before a weekend abroad. However, more frequently than not I only get disappointed by the tips I find.

Last month, I was searching for some cool recommendations for Madrid, a city I have visited quite a lot already but which I was expecting to wander around like a native for a change. All I could find nevertheless was classic basic advice like: visit El Prado, the city center street food markets and Gran Vía… No offense intended, but I think most writers could do better with a bit of will AND research.

So after visiting Madrid myself (and quite a bunch of times, as mentioned before) I thought I could share some favourites of mine: not the sort of tips you would get from most guides, but more like a personal approach on what to do if you wish to avoid the check-list marathon style and simply enjoy a couple of days living like a local. So if you are here looking for basics about what to see in Madrid, maybe you should keep looking, sorry. Instead, these are my favourite tips to enjoy the charming vintage vibes Madrid can offer.

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My favourite places to eat in Madrid

I do not consider myself a foodie, but I do like my food. So obviously, this is one of the top targets on my priority list when travelling. People will tell you Spanish food is wonderful (and in all honesty, it is) but you do not need to spend a small fortune on a five forks Michelin Guide restaurant to enjoy. So where do I enjoy my meals when in Madrid?

Tea time – Being a teatime and general snacks lover, it is not rare for me to try different tea rooms when visiting a new city. My favourite place in Madrid used to be The Ritz, but this year it is closed due to renovation works. In exchange, I recently discovered Le salon des Fleurs, a little tea room and flowers shop which offers the most tempting cake you can wish for. In my last trip, I tasted their homemade buttercream violets sponge cake and I can tell you it was delicious. Also, their shop is absolutely gorgeous, and a very grammable place if you ask me. If you have a craving for churros, please visit Maestro Churrero, you will want to come back.

International couisine restaurants – Many people are only interested to try the national couisine when travelling, and it is very understandable. However, I believe if the food is good, there is no reason to choose.

Being a Spaniard myself, I rarely take the chance to eat Spanish food when visiting Madrid, but I prefer to take advantage of the high-quality international offer. In my last trip, I discovered a couple of new fantastic places. Ginza is an authentic Japanese restaurant at the national congress neighborhood whose sushi Bentos are to die for and whose prices are truly reasonable. Greek and Shop has got both a wonderful Greek shop and restaurant in their little place at Malasaña neighborhood, all the food is homemade and they offer a delicious daily fixed menu for about 8 euros. If you are all about Brazilian food, you can visit Tapioca Chill in La Latina (do yourself a favor and order some coxinhas as a starter!) Do you fancy some Mexican? The tacos at Slow Mex are to die for!

Serrano merry go round

Madrid city break guide

My favourites places to shop in Madrid

If you are into fashion, Madrid has got a lot to offer. My personal favourites are vintage shops, but they are not the only ones. When having a walk at the golden mile in Serrano, I always make a stop at Guantes Varadé: a wonderful artisan shop based on gloves manufacture – you only understand what “to fit like a glove” really means when you try one of their pairs (no pun intended). Of course, I always take the chance to have a look at some of my Haute Couture places, including Miu Miu, Chanel, and Dolce and Gabbana, but they need no introduction, do they?

My favourite places to visit in Madrid

If you are around Serrano, as I previously said, there is a lot to see: block some time for window shopping and also to see the little Belle Epoque merry-go-round in the closest corner to Gucci shop.

If you have got a soft spot for art and history but you have already visited the biggest galleries, I can recommend a little and not that well-known museum: Museo Cerralbo was the official residence of the Marquise of Cerralbo (1845-1922) and keeps an exhaustive record of his private art collection. Also, the amazingly well-preserved nineteenth-century manor house deserves some credit by itself.

I would also definitely suggest to have a look to the Botanical Gardens (they are breathtaking during Autumn) and wander around El Paseo del Prado.

I promise you will not regret it.


Madrid is a city with a lot to offer not only to the ocassional visitor, but also to its locals. If you are spending some time there, please take the chance to wind down and enjoy its charms.

And have a very happy city break in Madrid!

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26 thoughts on “The Vintage Guide: Madrid city break

  1. I’ve always wanted to go to Madrid it looks amazing! I know what you mean about the checklist like posts, it’s almost like they’re there to brag! Loved yours x

    1. Thanks Chloe. Well, I am not sure whether it is about bragging or not, but I believe most tourists tend to run some sort of trip race and, as a consequence, part of the fun is missing. I think we all should try to wind down a bit and take a bit more time to enjoy the experience (myself included). Constantly taking pictures or looking at the phone for the next check point in the list can be stressful and spoil the fun.

  2. Love your guide. I think it is perfect for everyone who wants to see a bit more than just popular sights. And you are completely right, it is hard to write a guide if you only been there once for a few days. I always try to visit some popular places and some that are not on any travel guide list and those are the ones that really impress me. Your photos of this cafe are just stunning.

  3. I hope one day I can visit Madrid. You give a lot of good advice and I love your pictures. 💕 from FibroMomBlog

  4. I know exactly what you mean when it comes to city guides that just share the same information over and over. I think that’s why whenever I write about a new city I’ll opt for a food guide rather than a general guide because I know people can find general information anywhere! Great post and such gorgeous pictures x

    https://www.femaleoriginal.com

    1. Thank you very much. Food guides are my favourites too as long as the author is exploring a bit. It really annoys me when they talk about yet another universally famous restaurant you need to book six months in advance… I find it completely pointless.

  5. I will start by saying that I totally adore these pictures! They look great and I totally love the vintage scene. Whenever i visit vintage shops and places like that, they completely take me to a whole new era in my imagination lol.

  6. I love your pictures! They clearly show you’ve gone out of your way to find the charming and quirky. It’s lovely to see less typical sights of Madrid. Thanks for sharing them x

  7. I am so guilty of writing the 48 hr checklist guide. You have really opened my eyes about that. Thank you. You make very good points in your article. We are visiting Spain in March and will definitely consider some of these off the beaten path places!

  8. Beautiful guide! Such amazing photos & the best tips! I have always wanted to travel there & now I am definitely adding it to my Travel Bucket List! Thank you so much for sharing! Happy New Year!

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