Kids in Madrid: The Train Museum (Adults Too!)

In: Kids Madrid, Madrid Museums

by Ben Curtis

Train Ride, Madrid Train Museum - Museo del Ferrocarril Delicias

The train museum, tucked away in an old station building to the south of Atocha, right next to Delicias Cercanias and Metro stations, is a fantastic way to spend a morning.

On Saturdays from 11.30 until lunchtime they have the mini trains running around a great little landscaped track at the back – it’s amazing how these replica mini steam and electric trains can happily pull about 8 adults with kids on their knees.

I’m not sure who enjoys it more, the kids of the adults, both the train rides, the vast model railways, and the wonderful old locomotives and trains from the past century and a half.

More information at the Madrid Train Museum/Museo del Ferrocarril webstie:

101 Things to Do in Madrid (Before you Die…?!)

In: How To's / Where To's, Weird : Quirky : Fun

by Ben Curtis

I’m not sure you need to worry about the ‘before you die’ bit, but has put together an interesting list of what you should get up to in the city…

Click here to go to the list in Spanish

If you want the hit and miss Google translate version (for example, no. 5 Riding a bike in the Retiro, becomes “Riding a Bike for Retirement” according to Google, click here to see it in English!

We’re not sure about no. “43. Empezar un pelea de bolas de nieve con un desconocido” – Start a snowball fight with a stranger. There are strangers a plenty in Madrid, but only a day or two every few years of snow!

What would you add to a ‘must do in Madrid’ list?

Las Ventas

In: Culture, Travel tips

by Marina Diez

ventas250.jpgDespite being completely against bull fighting I have to admit that Las Ventas bullring is an impressive construction. Luckily it has other uses apart from the obvious one.

For example, from June through October it is used as a pop & rock concert venue, and in my opinion it is one of the best places to listen to live music in Madrid.

It is big enough to hold several thousand people (23,798 seated, to be precise) yet being completely round makes it much more compact and atmospheric than any stadium that I’ve been to for a concert. I’ve been lucky enough to see international bands there like Radiohead, and Spanish artists like Joaquin Sabina. Definitely worth checking out if you see one of your favourite bands on the list for this unique venue.

Metro: Ventas Address: C/Alcalá, 237. See map below: Read more »

El Rastro

In: Eating out & Madrid Restaurants, La Latina, Rastro, Shopping in Madrid, Travel tips

by Marina Diez

organillorastro.jpgThis famous Sunday morning flea market, located next to La Latina, one of the oldest quarters of Madrid, has everything from clothes, bags and other paraphernalia, to the funny stalls dedicated to just one single thing: there is one, for example, that sells nothing but various shapes and sizes of elastic bands!

One specific side street is dedicated to pets, with real pet shops on either side of the road, and a few people outside selling their own puppies out of cardboard boxes and sports bags. The main street, c/ Ribera de Curtidores, is the place to head to if you’d like to see antique shops in Madrid, most of which open every day of the week.

There are two extra reasons for visiting the Rastro on a Sunday morning: the first is the live music, from the organ grinder playing Chotis, a popular music and dance from Madrid, to a complete Jazz band if you’re lucky.

The second reason is food: finish your Rastro visit with either the traditional bocadillo de calamares, a battered squid baguette sold in one of the many bars lining the main Rastro strip, or head towards the atmospheric heart of La Latina for lunch in one of the many tapas bars around Plaza de la Cebada and Cava Baja.

TIPS: Go early, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., to avoid the masses. Be careful with your wallet, camera and other possessions, as this is a favourite spot for pickpockets.

Metro: La Latina / Tirso de Molina. The Rastro is on Calle Ribera de Curtidores and surrounds. See map below: Read more »

An Eye for the Random

In: Weird : Quirky : Fun

by Ben Curtis

Recuerdos a Olvidar is an interesting Madrid blog full of photos of the bizarre details that we pass subconsciously on our daily trips across the city. Worth a look…

An Evening on the Terrazas

In: Bars and Cafes, Eating out & Madrid Restaurants, Retiro

by Amy Menchhofer


The weather in Madrid has taken a turn towards summer and streets throughout the city have sprouted terrazas. You can surely find a sunny spot for a drink and a snack near your apartment or hotel, but there are two streets in Madrid that truly are prime for dining and drinking al fresco.

Starting at Calle Menendez Pelayo (on the eastern perimeter of Retiro), calles Ibiza and Alcalde Sainz de Baranda are proper boulevards whose wide, paved medians are dotted with newsstands, benches, and, April through October, a non-stop parade of terrazas.

Along these roughly 10 blocks you’ll find all manner of food and drink and almost no tourists. Located in the heart of the Retiro district (located east of the park and south of the Salamanca neighborhood), the area is favored by the locals and the prices are set accordingly. You’ll obviously pay more for dining outside than for having a drink at the bar, but the prices are below those found in more touristy areas. And FAR below those found at the terrazas in the nearby Retiro.

Head over that way in the early evening and pick a place which looks nice — or, more likely, one that has an open table. In the warmest months, the terrazas fill up starting around 7:30 and stay busy until 1 or 2am. If you get there at the right time and can take your pick of the locales, try one of these favorites: Read more »

Where to Do Yoga in Madrid

In: How To's / Where To's

by Katie Goldstein

City YogaYoga is a great way to get a workout, relax, and focus on things you easily forget in the hubbub of city life. The offering of yoga classes in Madrid is quite diverse, both in terms of styles and centers. Centers run the gamut from one-room studios with small classes to multi-room New York-style centers with all the requisite amenities. Where you decide to practice yoga in this city will depend on what you’re looking for, be it a studio close to your house, a particular style, or the right class schedule. Most centers will let you do a trial class either for free or for a nominal fee.

City Yoga is one of the bigger (and posher) studios in the city, and offers everything from a variety of styles of yoga to pilates, as well as various massages and therapies. Schedules are very accommodating, as there are classes available all day during the week and Saturday mornings. Yoga class size can reach a maximum of 20 students.

Metro: Cuatro Caminos Address: C/ Artistas, 43 Phone: 91 553 4751.

Yoga Flow is a small studio where the experienced instructor, Oscar Montero, teaches Iyengar Yoga. Schedules are more limited than a place like City Yoga, but classes are smaller (eight tends to be the maximum), prices are slightly less expensive, and the attention is very personalized.

Metro: Islas Filipinas Address: C/ Cea Bermudez, 66 5A3 Phone: 91 442 3288. Read more »

Great Madrid Bits from the Web

In: Culture, Weird : Quirky : Fun

by Katie Goldstein

I’ve got a couple of Madrid-related things here that have caught my eye recently.

1. Madrid Me Mata has provided us with a great resource: a map of all free WiFi hotspots in Madrid. Obviously the guys at MMM need our help, so if you know of a place with free WiFi, you can add it to the map following the instructions (in Spanish) here. Happy (free) surfing!

2. I’ve been meaning to write a post about where to see live music in Madrid. This week the New York Times has published a write-up of great spots to hear live music all over town, and it’s definitely worth checking out. Any places you, dear readers, can add?

10 (or more!) Things to Do During a Weekend in Madrid

In: Travel tips

by Ben Curtis

This post originally appeared on our sister site

Recommendations for 10 things to do in Madrid

1. The Do or Die Arty No-Brainer
Visit at least one of the big three art museums, the Prado, the Reina Sofia or the Thyssen. If in doubt pick the Reina Sofia and see Guernica.

2. Tapas Grazing
Start on Cava Baja, stopping at will on this bar-packed street, then head into the depths of La Latina for more.

3. Something Different
Take a trip on the Teleférico, out into the depths of the Casa de Campo.

4. A Walk
Go to Plaza de la Villa and take one of the small alleys on the left-hand side or at the back of the square. Wander aimlessly, follow your nose, change course at will, check out the churches – it’s the best way to see Madrid de los Austrias, the ancient city centre.

5. Everyone misses
Malasaña – a really charming barrio centered around Plaza Dos de Mayo. Check out the lovely tiled shop fronts, ignore the graffiti, and have a drink at Manuela Café, on Calle San Vicente Ferrer 29.

6. A Park
The Retiro: for people-watching, romance, rowing, and relative peace and quiet.

7. A Shop
Antigua Casa Talavera, an incredible ceramics shop on Calle Isabel la Católica, 2.

8. A trip out of the city
El Escorial or Toledo. It’s a toss up as to which is best. If you really can’t decide, try Chinchón instead.

9. A reasonable restaurant
Taberna Miranda, at Plaza del Conde Miranda, 4, is local, cheap, has amazing food, and is generally very Spanish. Our favourite in Madrid. Arrive 9ish at weekends if you don’t have a reservation. Otherwise do snacks at the lively bar.

10. Hidden Culture
El Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, at Plaza de las Descalzas Reales, 3. A closed order of nuns still live in the private quarters of this monastery. Amazing treasures lie within.

10+1. Last thing at night
Ward off a hangover with chocolate con churros at Chocolatería San Ginés, on Pasadizo de San Ginés. Things liven up after 3 a.m., when locals gather to dip thick battery churros sticks into gloopy hot chocolate.

Add more Madrid recommendations in the comments below!

See map below for places mentioned above: Read more »

You Can Get it for Free (in Madrid)

In: Weird : Quirky : Fun

by Julie Espinosa


There are tons of free things to take advantage of in Madrid, but this post goes beyond the normal standbys of parks, museums during certain hours and public healthcare. If you are hunting down frugal activities in the city, be on the lookout for the phrase, “entrada libre hasta completar el aforo,” free entrance until full. Search various event listings and check out the resources listed (in Spanish) here.

1. Art: For hip and fresh art spaces I recommend a visit to the Matadero and NFM’s perennial favorite, La Casa Encendida.

2. Clothes: Sincoste is an experimental “store” where the ropa is all free. It’s located in a sort of hippie-collective building that, according to a friend, calls to mind both Berlin and the U.S. Food Not Bombs movement. The name is an anti-capitalist riff on the Lacoste brand.

3. Books: Madrid’s library system offers a network of municipal libraries plus metro-based mini-libraries. To qualify for a borrower’s card, present your Spanish ID or passport, if a foreigner. Some English-language reading material and plenty of versión original DVDs available.

4. Tapas: OK, technically you do have to shell out for your drink to qualify for this offer, but several bars—like El Tigre—do a great job attracting clients with this freebie.

5. What would you choose as the best free thing in Madrid? Add your comments below!

See map below for locations mentioned above: Read more »

When and Where to Eat Cocido Madrileño

In: Eating out & Madrid Restaurants, How To's / Where To's, Traditional

by Marina Diez


Cocido is a very filling stew, especially recommended for cold winter days, or for when you have been toiling away in the open air and need to get some of your energies back.

It is usually served in two stages. The first consists of a broth, straight from a large pan where all the stew’s meat has been slowly simmering all morning. The second course is usually presented in a tray placed in the middle of the table containing chickpeas, cabagge, potato, carrot, and all the meat: beef, chicken, ham, chorizo and sometimes morcilla (black pudding).

In the late forties and most of the fifties, when Spain was quite poor, this dish was served in many houses in Madrid six days a week. The exception was Sundays, when something special, like roast chicken, would be prepared.

Where can I have cocido?

• In Madrid, it’s very common to find cocido on Tuesday’s menú del día. It usually appears as two dishes on the menu: the soup as sopa de cocido, and the rest as segundo de cocido.

Taberna Daniela: Metro: Goya, Velázquez, Príncipe de Vergara Address: C/ General Pardiñas, 21 Phone: 91 575 23 29 Hours: Daily 12-17:30 and 20:00-24:00 (to 1:00 Fridays and Saturdays).

See map below for location: Read more »

How to Get a Job Teaching English in Madrid

In: How To's / Where To's

by Katie Goldstein

The easiest way for an English-speaking expat to earn a living in this city is to teach English. There’s always demand for teachers—it’s up to you how you decide to market yourself.

There are two main routes you can take to becoming an English teacher: freelancing, where you pick your classes and schedule, or working in academies or language schools, where you’re guaranteed a certain amount of job (and income) stability.

If you choose to go freelance, put an ad up on Loquo (pick “classes” and then “languages”) and don’t forget to mention that you’re a native. You can also investigate the classifieds in InMadrid or any other English-language publication. Finally, it wouldn’t hurt to put up an ad in any of the English-language bookshops around town. As for rates: aim high, but keep with the going rate. Ask around to get a feel for how much people are charging.

If you go the academy/language schools route, Madrid Teacher is a great resource. There’s a list of many of the city’s academies and then pretty reliable reviews of some of them. The site is full of resources for teachers (freelance, too!), so definitely spend a while looking around.

If you’re North American, there’s one more option for teaching English in Madrid: the auxiliar program. Here you’re not a full-time teacher, instead you work in the public schools helping the English teachers. And since you only work part-time as an auxiliar, you’ll have plenty of free time to pick up some private classes and earn yourself some more money!

To See: Palacio Real, To Avoid: Palacio Real Guided Tour

In: Culture, Travel tips

by Amy Menchhofer

Palacio Real

Para gustos hay colores.” This common Spanish phrase, meaning more or less that there are as many preferences as there are colors, sums up the state of affairs when discussing the famous Palacio Real in Madrid.

The royal palace is clearly a gem among the city’s numerous historical spots. But, when it comes to the tour of the Palacio, I see red. As in a big red X. Avoid it. Don’t be swept away by the romantic idea of a grandiose palace with sweeping staircases, royal jewels, and hidden mysteries. Not that they don’t exist, but you aren’t likely to hear any details on the standard, very run-of-the-mill tour. This is no Tower of London. And these are no Beefeaters. The unenthusiastic guides barely manage to provide an adequate introduction to the numerous clocks, mirrors, and chandeliers throughout the palace. And the sheer number of rooms visited (and the time spent describing said clocks) can put you in a trance.

Although the guided tour will set you back just 2€ more than the unguided admission, I recommend saving those euros for a caña. Wandering through the palace on your own allows you the time to gaze out the windows, bypass the slow-moving tour groups, and dedicate more time to the highlights of the palace including the throne room and the numerous masterpieces by some of the Spanish greats. And if you find yourself craving more information on a particular room, you can always slyly dawdle around one of the groups.

One must-see on your palace visit is the exterior. The best parts of the compound are the incredible palace façade and the extensive Sabatini gardens to the north. Admission for the gardens is free and there you can wander through the greenery, indulging yourself in the romantic fantasies that went unfulfilled during the tour.

(Ed. note: Other highlights are the room with the quintet of Stradivarius stringed instruments, the royal armory, and the gorgeous Campo del Moro, the park below the western façade of the palace.)

Metro: Ópera Address: Calle Bailén at the Plaza de Oriente Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30-17:00 (winter), 9:00-18:00 (summer); Sundays 9:00-14:00 (winter) and 9:00-15:00 (summer). Read more »

Day Trip to Alcalá: Literary Roots

In: Beyond Madrid

by Julie Espinosa


Alcalá de Henares, 25 km east of Madrid, is a charming UNESCO world heritage city worth a day trip. Its claim to fame is being the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quijote de la Mancha.

1. Museo-Casa Cervantes: Learn here about Cervantes’ life and get a glimpse of life in the 17th century and copies of Don Quijote on display. Free admission.

2. Universidad de Alcalá: Tour the university campus, spread through the city center, which boasts very old buildings and a particularly impressive main façade. You can also see the city’s native stork population roosting overhead.

3. Plaza de Cervantes: Stroll the main plaza of the city, anchored by a statue of its namesake. Nearby is the city tourist office and an art exhibition space in the Capilla de Oidor. Alacalaínos love to congregate here, especially around sunset.

4. Calle Mayor: Explore this pedestrian-only cobblestone street to the north of Plaza de Cervantes, with its shops and cafés.

5. Semana Cervantina: If you can visit for Cervantes’ birthday celebration (October 9), you’ll be in for a week-long medieval festival and other events paying homage to the author.

You can get to Alcalá in about 40 minutes via Cercanías lines C-1, C-2 or C-7, departing from Atocha in Madrid.

See map below for locations mentioned above: Read more »

Speaking Like a True Madrileño!

In: Weird : Quirky : Fun

by Ben Curtis

How would you like to speak Spanish just like the local Madrileños next time you are in town?

Well, over at we’ve been collecting the real Spanish phrases used on a day to day basis by the inhabitants of this fine city, and at last we’ve sifted, ordered, compiled and recorded them so that you too can sound like an honorary Madrileño!

Get the full rundown here:

The Real Spanish Phrase Book and Audio Guide