Three Can’t Miss Summer Spots in Madrid

Come June, July and August and travelers that crave sun, quality food and good drink flock to Spain and the great majority of them head to the coast to relax on the gorgeous Spanish beaches of the Mediterranean.  Due to the coastal region’s popularity, Madrid sometimes gets overlooked as a top notch holiday destination but don’t make the mistake of disregarding the Spanish capital.  There are plenty of very enjoyable and memorable things to do and see in Madrid that will quickly make you forget about the beach.  Check out these three spots if you’re looking for the perfect way to spend a summer day in Madrid.

Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid Photo: LWY of Flickr

Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid

Mercado se San Miguel

The first place you’ll want to visit is the Mercado de San Miguel.  Located on Calle Mayor near Plaza Mayor, you will find yourself in one of Madrid’s most touristy areas.  However, don’t allow this to put you off, as the Mercado de San Miguel might be considered Madrid’s showcase of contemporary, high quality gastronomy.  Any foodie’s trip to Spain is incomplete without a visit to a local market. Before terms like “slow food” were invented, all the food available food in Spain was slow food.  The 33 vendors at Mercado de San Miguel offer the best in organic produce, fresh fish and seafood, Spanish ham, artisanal cheese and any other Spanish craft food you can imagine.

The market suffered from a state of disrepair for many years until renovated in 2009.  Now the Beaux Arts building proudly stands as a monument to Madrid’s culinary excellence.  Earlier in the day you will be just as likely to cross paths with a tourist, as you will be to bump elbows with a gruff Spanish grandmother on a mission to buy her vegetables for dinner.  The building has no air conditioning, rather opting to employ an air spritzing system that occasionally fills the air with water droplets; quite a different and refreshing sensation for a market during the summer.  As evening falls, after the serious shopping crowd has dissipated the market turns into a trendy and upscale food court.  Comfortably seat yourself at the bar and sip on a glass of red wine, as you watch the vendors prepare their delicious dishes in open kitchens.  Do as the locals do and try a small bite or tapa at each vendor, and enjoy the sophistication of a different eating style.

Tapas at Mercado de San Miguel Photo:  sincretic on Flickr

Try the Tapas at Mercado de San Miguel

La Latina

La Latina Photo: chusoart of Flickr

La Latina

If the heat of the day gets to you, take a cue from the locals and have a siesta.  After your nap, head over to La Latina.  La Latina is cozy neighborhood in the center of Madrid that features a plethora of bars and restaurants and strikes a good balance between classy and blue collar.  You can just as easily spot a well-dressed Spanish couple going for dinner, as you will see a group of young people sitting in the plaza drinking beer they bought down the street.  Check out Cervecería de San Andres,located right next to the Plaza de San Andres.

You can sit outside on the terrace and nosh on tasty Spanish food while you people watch until your heart is content.  Also consider stopping by El Viajero just down the block.  El Viajero is another well-known spot to eat and drink, with a small street level terrace.  Get there early and try and snag a table on the rooftop terrace to guarantee the best seating.  The lush plants and flowers on the roof take your mind off the urban setting as you gaze into the Spanish night sky and ponder the possibilities for the evening.

Café de Atenas

One of those possibilities might be a visit to Café de Atenas.  Café de Atenas is one of the most popular, outdoor terraces in all of Madrid.  Situated in Parque de Atenas near metro Príncipe Pío, this bar serves up some of the stiffest and most refreshing drinks in the city.  Although open during the day, the best time is to go during the evening or late night, when the crowd begins to pick up and the DJ gets to work.  The ambiance at night is unique and the bar begins to glow like a spaceship that just landed.  There’s nothing alien however about hanging out with your best friends at a table soaking up some drinks, or slinking off to a quiet spot in the grass to spend some intimate time with that special someone.  Either way, Café de Atenas is a quintessential Madrid nightlife hotspot that makes everyone feel irresistibly sexy and cosmopolitan.

This article is brought to you by Private Jets Charter, where travel is tailor made.

Photo credits: Mercado de San Miguel by LWY, Mercado de San Miguel by  sincretic, and La Latina by chusoart.

More Spanish sunshine

Where to find truly great tapas in Barcelona
Good history, good eating and great living in Galicia
The Moorish charms of the Alhambra in Granada – Spain

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  • Reply
    Gary Bembridge
    June 16, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Thanks for these tips.

    On our last trip we went to the Mercado San Miguel – and agree with you that it is not only a stunning looking place, but is buzzing with a great mix of people and great food. It is one place I also recommend people go to when they visit.

    Here is my thoughts and posting on Madrid that hope adds to your review and recommendations: http://www.tipsfortravellers.com/2011/05/madrid-spain-my-top-travel-tips-for.html
    Gary Bembridge´s last blog post ..Sudeley Castle England. History, Drama, Royalty and Stunning Gardens. Should you visit?

    • Reply
      June 17, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      @Gary Thanks for the comment – I remember listening to your podcast on Madrid recently – eating Tapas in Spain must be one of its great pleasures, we enjoyed something similar in the central market in Valencia. I think a lot of visitors don’t realise that they can not only look at all the mounthwatering foods in these covered markets but there are usually cafes and tapas bars there as well.

  • Reply
    Daniel McBane
    June 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I lived in Madrid for a year and definitely second your recommendation to check out the local markets. I never went to the one you suggested (which looks amazing from the picture, by the way), but I bought all of my produce, meats and cheeses at a similar, but much smaller market near Anton Martin station on the blue line. It really doesn’t get much fresher, although the fish smell was sometimes hard to take early in the morning after a long night out.
    Daniel McBane´s last blog post ..What to do Before Entering a Public Pool in Japan

    • Reply
      June 24, 2012 at 10:34 am

      @Daniel – I quite see that fish might not be quite the thing after a late night/early morning – I heard that the Spanish favourite in the that situation was churros and hot chocolate

  • Reply
    Daniel McBane
    June 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    The Spaniards do love their churros, but I couldn’t handle them. I’m not a huge fan of sweet things in general and these things take sweet to a new level–you’re basically dipping a deep fried stick of really sweet dough into a cup of ultra sweet liquid chocolate.
    Daniel McBane´s last blog post ..Japanese Car Elevator

    • Reply
      June 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      @Daniel Well, I do have a sweet tooth so not a problem for me

  • Reply
    June 27, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    I loved Madrid, but as it was only a stopover, I had just one day to see it. I was training for a marathon at the time so I thought why not kill two birds with one stone and run everywhere! Sadly I couldn’t really stop and look around places of interest, but I saw a lot of pretty parks and interesting architecture. I also made it to Casa Patas for a late lunch and some flamenco dancing (highly recommended) and the Prado for an evening tour. Fantastic city!
    Arianwen´s last blog post ..London south bank: a farewell to remember

    • Reply
      June 28, 2012 at 8:41 am

      @Ariawen Sounds like you managed to see a lot in one day even if it was on the run

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