Bienvenidos a Madrid! For whatever reason you decided to choose this city as your study abroad site, I hope you have an amazing time! Below, I’ve listed a few tips to get the most out of living in Spain, followed by a list of my favorite places in this incredible city!
Speak Spanish. I truly can’t emphasize this point enough. Whether it’s the first class you’re taking or you’re been fluent for years, speak as much as possible! Never be afraid to make mistakes; Spaniards are incredibly patient and friendly and will only appreciate your attempts to communicate with them. Sign up for an ‘intercambio’ with a university student – your verbal skills will improve dramatically and it’s one of the best ways to meet locals!
Travel around Spain. Spain is an incredibly diverse and stunningly beautiful country. Of course take the time to venture out to London, Brussels, Amsterdam and beyond, but don’t discount the multitude of amazing places to visit within the country! Only a few hours outside of Madrid, visit the Alhambra in Granada or lay on the beaches of Barcelona! Each of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions has incredible art, wine, and food!
Learn to appreciate the ‘Spanish lifestyle.’ Spain moves at a very different pace than New York; fundamentally, Madrid rises later, breaks around 2PM for a midday siesta, and tucks in for the night well past midnight. Spaniards place incredible value in developing strong personal relationships, so stopping to talk to their local butcher or grabbing coffee in the afternoon with a longtime friend is a crucial aspect of the day. Appreciate this slower pace; take the time to just sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and changing landscape around you.
-La Bicicleta Café: Popular spot for locals and ex-pats alike, Bici is an active workspace with amazing food and drinks! Also a great spot to meet with friends at night!
-Federal Café: Well-known for its delicious brunch options, Federal also offers an open space with great food and fast Wifi to study during the day.
-Panela & Co: A short walk to both the 9 and 1 metro lines, a delicious and organic café with free wifi and great music!
-100 Montaditos: With locations all over the city, a must for college students! Super cheap little bocadillos with 1 euro deals throughout the week!
-The Market Madrid: Located in the Viso neighborhood, a cozy restaurant with an incredible weekly rotating menu! The owners also speak English and love to chat with students living in Madrid!
-Takos al Pastore: For when the craving for Mexican food hits, a delicious place for tacos and margaritas!
-El Botín: The oldest restaurant in Europe! A delicious spot to visit with family – definitely on the fancier side. Recommendation: Suckling pig
To Relax and Explore:
-Prado Museum: An absolute must-see! Three floors of beautifully curated exhibitions and incredible pieces by artists such as Francisco de Goya, Diego Velasquez, El Grego, Robert Campin and Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.
-Parque Retiro: Property of the Spanish monarchy until the 19th century, Retiro is a place for studying, relaxation, exercise, picnics and more! Various exhibitions are on display for public viewing around the park, and visitors can rent little boats to row around a pond!
-Parque Oeste: Featuring an Egyptian temple donated to Spain at the beginning of the 20th century, Oeste is a beautiful park to relax and enjoy lush greenery!
Truthfully, even 3 months doesn’t do Madrid justice– this city is incredible in its offerings – a place of amazing art and music, food and wine! A beautiful place to call home, I’m so grateful to have been able to begin discovering Madrid.