Things to do in Madrid

In the last few months we have had visits from a number of foreign friends, they have all asked for advise on what to do and where to go in Madrid. Normally you would recommend the typical: Museo del Prado, Retiro, Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor… but I wanted them to feel, see and enjoy the same city we love. When I visited London or Istanbul what I liked the most was being able to visit it like a local, enjoy the same places to eat, have a coffee and even shop. I tend to run away from touristic areas, I don’t really enjoy visiting cities surrounded by guides and segways.

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Here is what I told them they could do if they where going to be in Madrid for a couple of days:

– El Retiro, one of the nicest parks you’ll see anywhere. The place we always choose for an urban picnic. Don’t leave it without visiting El Palacio de Cristal, and Casa de Vacas, both inside the park.
– Take a walk and get lost in Malasaña. Just walk around and enjoy the nice little shops, cafes… While you are there go visit a small shop called Madrid al Cubo, is in Calle de la Cruz, 35, http://www.madridalcubo.com/, it’s a shop where you will find “souvenirs” from Madrid made by local artist.
– After Malasaña visit Chueca, really cool. A place to visit there is El Huerto de Lucas, http://elhuertodelucas.com/ An all organic market, and also Mercado de San Anton, http://www.mercadosananton.com/ for a quick lunch, dinner and even drinks at night.
– Palacio del Conde Duque, http://www.condeduquemadrid.es/, things are always going on here, shows, exhibitions, small markets… if you go, you can have something to eat in Federal Café, very close to it, in Plaza de las Comendadoras, 9 http://www.federalcafe.es/madrid/.
– Also, you have many museums, Prado, Reina Sofia, Thyssen, but also some really nice smaller ones, like Museo Sorolla in the district of Chamberí, http://museosorolla.mcu.es/, it was the house of Sorolla and his family, it is a great palace with a beautiful garden museum! And also the Fundacion Juan March, http://www.march.es/ in calle Castelló 77, it was built in the late 50’s and it still looks the same, if you are hungry they have a nice cafeteria in the basement that takes you right back to 1955!
What other places would you add?
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