Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night. ~ Rupert Brooke
Whatever time of year you choose to visit Madrid, you’ll run into the same problem: Having to decide what to do first from all the fun and artsy activities available there.
Spaniards, you see, are sociable people and those who live in its capital truly enJoy going out with friends, so there’s always something for a creative person to get into in Madrid, day or night.
First off, Madrid is an art lovers dream. From performance art like flamenco to painting and other visual arts, the city has much to offer. Yet, as a visitor, your time there is limited. So below is a list of venues, specifically curated with you and your interests as a creative in mind. Using it will help ensure you make the most of the time you do have in the Spanish capital.
Included in the list are bookstores where you can find creative inspiration in multiple languages and even attend cooking classes. Finally, you’ll also find some eateries serving specialties that well represent the art that is Spanish cuisine.
So, shall we begin?
Madrid is oozing with them.
But no worries about wearing yourself out in trying to visit them all. These top museums are within walking distance of each other. You don’t have to miss a thing.
- Museo del Prado. Spain’s national museum of art is among the world’s best. Here you can roam hall after hall of European art spanning from the 12th through the 19th century, and the best collection of Spanish masters anywhere, including court painters Diego Velazquez and Francisco Goya.
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. For modern and contemporary art, including Guernica, Pablo Picasso’s commentary on the brutality of war.
3. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Displays 13th through 20th-century works by American as well as European artists.
4. CaixaForum Madrid. The cultural center houses a wide mix of contemporary, modern, and historic art including multimedia and a vertical garden.
Taverns with terrific tapas (& pinchos).
5. Bodega de la Ardosa. This bar serving pinchos has been making what some call the tastiest potato tortillas in the city for more than 125 years.
6. Casa Alberto. Madrid-style cooking with warm service and traditional ambiance since 1827, serving some of the heartiest tapas ever.
7. La Berenjena. This gem with capacity for about only 40 people stays crowded, but the food is worth the wait. Whatever you order . . . skirt steak, mini-hamburgers, or pinchos, it will rock your taste buds.
What, exactly, are pinchos?
Bookstores with a twist.
8. A Punto. A school and bookstore with thousands of Spanish AND English language books dedicated to cooking and the enjoyment of food. Now, how perfect is that? Attend a cooking class with local chefs (available in English on occasion), a food or wine tasting, or one of the weekly culinary tours.
9. Librería Desnivel. Dedicated to the adventure-seekers among us, this bookstore sells maps, videos, novels, and other travel-related books including English and bilingual (Spanish/English) travel guides.
An exceptional venue for groceries and gifts:
10) Anton Martin Traditional Market. Everything you could want in the way of fresh meat, fish, poultry, as well as fruit and veg, is on sale here. Each vendor is as knowledgeable and individual as the next. You’ll also find shops selling handmade soaps, crafts, and clothing, including flamenco dancewear that could make the perfect gift for your friend who has everything.
BONUS: MORE CREATIVE THINGS TO DO IN MADRID
- In case you decide to binge on nothing but art in Madrid, and old masters are your thing, don’t miss the Museo Carlos de Amberes. This boutique museum tends to highlight works by Peter Paul Rubens, among other pre-1800 artists, in its quest to promote cultural exchange between Spain and Belgium, Luxembourg, Northern France, and the Netherlands.
- If you’ll be in Madrid on a Sunday or a holiday, do visit the Rastro: the city’s largest outdoor flea market. All manner of artful merchandise will be on offer from vintage furniture and antique books to jewelry and paintings.
As you can see, Madrid is one of the most exciting cities in the world. You’ll never run out of worthwhile things to do. Even now, with this list in hand, you may be wondering how to fit it all in.
But not to worry: All ten of the museums, eateries, and shopping venues on our list have evening hours, 4-7 days a week. And at least two of the eateries will be there for you until well after midnight if you need a late-night snack.
Indeed, once the sun sets, Madrid is just getting started.
Featured image, Madrid by Jose Maria Cuellar; Picasso’s Guernica via Wikipedia; El pensador-Rodin-Caixaforum-2 by Carlos Delgado via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr; Pinchovasco 1 by juantiagues via Flickr; and Flamenco in Sevilla 01 de Schnobby via Wikimedia.