Ten things to see in Madrid that only the locals know about

Ten things to see in Madrid that only the locals know about

Madrid is an enormous, bustling and cultural city that is visited by tourists from around the world.  If you thought that’s all there was to say about this incredible city, you’d be mistaken. Let me take you on a tour, so you can enjoy it as if you were a true madrileña like me. 

Historical Madrid

The city’s history is everywhere, which is why I like walking around its oldest area. When we think of historical Madrid, we automatically think of Los Asturias, a charming neighbourhood in the city centre.  Plaza de la Villa, the most medieval part of Madrid, is a must. Don’t miss out on the chance to visit this square, which contains some of the oldest buildings in the city, such as the Palacio de los Lujanes.

Plaza de la Villa, Madrid

Chamberí Station

The Madrid Metro isn’t just for travelling on! There’s also a really interesting, guided tour you can take around one of its old stations: Chamberí. Abandoned in 1966, the station has since been converted into a mysterious tourist attraction, beautifully adorned with posters, wall decorations, furniture, and ticket offices dating from the early 20th century. Also, they say ghosts can be spotted there… excited to see ‘Station Zero’, as the locals call it?

chamberi estacion madrid

Madrid for foodies

In Madrid, we love to eat, so there’s always something to tempt your tastebuds. One thing you have to try when you visit, and that’s the traditional restaurants and famous “cocido madrileño”. “Cocido” is Madrid’s most famous dish: it’s a chickpea stew with meat and vegetables. Have you heard of “cocido en tres vuelcos”? It’s the three different ways this stew can be served: as a noodle soup, chickpeas with vegetables, or a plate of stewed meats.

cocido madrileño

A wander around El Retiro

El Retiro is Madrid’s most famous historical park, and it’s right in the city centre. It’s often full of tourists, but it’s the perfect place to take a stroll, spend the afternoon in, or even play football and other games in its sports facilities. Check out its iconic sights, such as the lake or the Crystal Palace; just don’t forget its lesser-known locations, too, such as the Casita del Pescador or the Bosque del Recuerdo. And, of course, the latest thing to do in El Retiro is to climb up the lookout point located inside of the King Alfonso XII statue to get some amazing views.

palacio de cristal parque del retiro

Drinks in La Latina

La Latina is one of my favourite neighbourhoods to go for a drink, kick back on a terraza and enjoy Madrid’s famous, almost unfaltering great whether. In addition to being one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, like Los Asturias, it is also one of its most lively and upbeat. It’s full of bars, theatres, pubs, and plenty of outdoor seating, so it’s perfect for some drinks with friends as well as for strolling around afterwards. My favourite local bar is El Viajero, with its gorgeous terraza.

The sunset from Parque del Templo de Debod

What would an Egyptian temple from the 2nd century BCE be doing in the middle of Madrid? Well, it was a gift to Spain from the Egyptian government for helping to stop it disappearing under the Aswan Dam. Ever since, locals have enjoyed this magnificent temple, and it’s well worth a look. Of course, if you’re going to visit the Templo de Debod, I’d recommend going at the end of the day. Located in the Parque de la Montaña, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best views overlooking the madrileño sunset. Awe at the Madrid skyline as it takes on reddish hues at nightfall. 

templo de debod madrid

Madrid from above

Madrid is full of lookout points, some of which are tourist locations, trendy hotel terraces, and even parks. If you’re the type of person who enjoys seeing cities from high up, like me, I have a lot of suggestions for places to enjoy impressive views overlooking the city. Some of the locals’ favourite locations, often overlooked by tourists, include the Parque del Cerro del Tío Pío, a zone cut off from the centre where you can see the entire city. It’s the perfect place to sit down and enjoy the sunset. If you want to stick to the centre, you can opt for one of the terraces of historic buildings such as the Palacio de Cibeles, or the Círculo de Bellas Artes

vista desde palacio de cibeles madrid
View from the palacio de Cibeles

Historical parks and country houses

Madrid has continued to grow drastically over the centuries. It went from being a small medieval town to a city, then a court, and finally the capital of Spain. Back when Madrid was just a small city, many nobles had country houses to escape to in its outskirts. Over the centuries, these outskirts have been converted into urban areas, in a way that really respects their natural environment and history. This is where some of the most significant parks in the city came from: the historic parks and the Quintas, recreational areas for people to enjoy nowadays. The one I like and visit the most is the Parque del Capricho, a huge garden and magnificent palace dating back to the 18th century and a bunker from the Civil War.

parque del capricho

The Museo Arqueológico Nacional and the Museo Sorolla

Madrid is a city of art, full of must-visit museums such as the Prado, Reina Sofía, and Thyssen. However, there are two other museums that aren’t as well-known which you still have to visit. The Museo Arqueológico Nacional is my favourite, sporting some of the most important pieces of architecture, decorative arts, and more, from Spanish collections. There, you can find a unique reproduction of the prehistoric cave paintings from Altamira, and unique pieces such as the Dama de Elche and the Dama de Baza. The Museo Sorolla is also interesting for how much there is to see. On top of the collections of work people know about, you’ll also enter the author’s world by going from room to room of his house and studio, and then out into the garden. 

casa museo sorolla madrid

The Mercado de Motores and the Museo del Ferrocarril

One of my favourite places in Madrid is the Mercado de Motores, a place which combines history and transport with gourmet, craftwork, and decoration markets. The Mercado de Motores is held in the Museo del Ferrocarril (Railway Museum), or the former Delicias station, which is the same place. It’s been part of the Museos de España network for twelve years, and you can learn all about various different parts, miniatures, trains, and locomotives. This building, constructed in the 19th century, is built around a beautiful metal structure and has since become the ideal location for shooting famous series and films. 

What do you think about these lesser-known places to visit in Madrid? Get ready to learn all about them, and come and enjoy the atmosphere of a city full of hidden treasures – Madrid!

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