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 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.
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.
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