26 Jan 24 Secret Spots In Madrid
Do you want to explore Madrid’s best-kept secrets? Stay with us on this amazing blog that we’ve prepared with the help of our local guides. Together we uncover 24 secret spots in Madrid!
Spain’s capital city is considered one of the most interesting and vibrant cities in Europe. It is often visited by those looking for culture, gastronomy and amazing nightlife. From urban architecture, street art to narrow cobblestone streets, historical buildings and authentic food experiences, Madrid has it all.
The list of must-see sites is quite large. You could not just leave Madrid without visiting the big icons such as the Prado Museum, the Royal Palace or the Retiro Park, to name just a few…However, this majestic city has much more to offer with surprising hidden gems ‘off the beaten path’ just waiting to be discovered! As unbelievable as it might sound, some of these places are unknown, even to many locals.
San Antonio de la Florida
A must for art lovers and Goya fans. This beautiful chapel is worth visiting for the treasure kept inside: stunning frescoes by the famous Spanish painter Francisco de Goya. Considered to include some of the artist’s finest works, the Chapel also serves as his burial place.
Address: Glorieta de San Antonio de la Florida, 5
San Antonio de los Alemanes
This small building goes unnoticed to most people who walk down Gran Via Avenue. The exterior is plain and very simple but the baroque interior is truly striking. The domed ceiling and the walls are richly decorated with spectacular frescoes, leading it to be dubbed “the Sistine Chapel of Madrid.”
Address: Calle de la Puebla, 22
Basílica San Francisco El Grande
Lording it over the southwestern corner of La Latina, this imposing baroque basilica is one of Madrid’s grandest old churches. Its extravagantly frescoed dome is the largest in Spain and the fourth largest in the world (56m high and 33m diameter). A series of corridors behind the high altar are lined with artworks from the 17th to 19th centuries; highlights include a painting by Francisco Zurbarán,
Next to the church you’ll find the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, another secret spot in the city. The gardens are also known as “la Dalieda de San Francisco”. Since 2007, the 4,200m2 space has been turned into a themed dahlia garden with a collection of over 700 varieties. The best time to admire them is early June, but the flowers bloom until Fall.
The location here is unbeatable with spectacular views over the west of the city. Tip: one of the best sunsets in Madrid.
Address: San Buenaventura, 1
Productores (Farmers Market)
Best place to meet the producers and farmers of the Madrid region on the last weekend of the month. A great place to discover, taste and buy local organic products.
Address: Matadero, Paseo de la Chopera 14
This fabulous traditional market is a hidden treasure right in the heart of the “golden mile”, which is the exclusive shopping and residential district of Salamanca. Like many markets in Madrid, La Paz market offers now a range of little restaurants that entice clients looking for really well-priced fixed menu lunch (Monday to Saturday). One of the classics and our favourite is “Casa Dani”. It claims to have the best tortilla (Spanish potato omelette) in Madrid.
If you want to shop (or just window shop) in this fashionable district, stop by Mercado de La Paz for a bite and a drink.
Address: Ayala, 28
A lot may have changed during the history of this market (over 140 years now), but this is still the best of the city. Since its last renovation in 2013, the market’s old-school fruit, fish and meat vendors are now joined by fashion stalls, eco shops and wine bars. It’s this harmonious contrast between old and new that gives the mercado its unique, eclectic vibe. It’s the perfect place to simply hang out, eat and drink. During the week, locals do their grocery shopping or get a traditional “menu del día” for lunch (menu of the day). Students also stop for a quick beer. But, when the weekend comes, the market turns into a no-frills food court. You won’t want to miss the vibrant atmosphere here!
Address: Plaza de la Cebada
MUSEUMS & ART GALLERIES
Joaquín Sorolla (born in Valencia) was a true proponent of American Luminism, the celebration of light. Recently restored, the small and lovely Sorolla museum is located in the mansion that the artist had built in 1910. He could spend here the last part of his life. Today, 250 works are on exhibit in his former studio on the main floor. The living room, dining room and breakfast area maintain their original decor so you can admire Sorolla’s eclectic decorative influence. One of the biggest draws is the garden. With Muslim inspiration and featuring an Italian-style pergola, the garden provides a peaceful oasis of calm when you want a break from exploring the big city.
Address: Paseo del General Martínez Campos 37
In short you could call it an art museum. But that doesn’t quite capture all that gives this space the enchanting twist you expect from Madrid. Once upon a time a tobacco factory, the building is nowadays a space where the inspiration of modern art can be freely enjoyed by all. From a huge variety of modern street art, to empowering workshops and presentations (most of which are entirely free of charge!) this generous and stimulating community space is one of the more alternative things to do in Madrid. Open from Tuesday to Friday (12 – 8pm) CSA La Tabacalera also hosts concerts, dance classes, and photography courses. Be sure to keep an eye out online for upcoming events!
Address: Embajadores, 51
Real Fábrica de Tapices
This Madrid-based textile factory has been expertly weaving luxury rugs, tapestries, and Coats of Arms by Royal decree since 1721. Now the factory aims to keep old traditions alive through conservation and education.
A guided tour of the Royal Tapestry Factory is really niche. It probably is the less touristy thing you could ever do in Madrid and certainly a secret spot!
Address: Fuenterrabía, 2
Located in the centre of the Buen Retiro Park in central Madrid, this building is an imposing palace in the shape of a Greek cross. Made almost entirely of glass and set in an iron framework on a brick base, decorated with ceramics. It was built in 1887 to house exotic flora and fauna as part of an exhibition of the Philippines (still a Spanish colony). The exhibition spilled out into the park itself, and included a reconstruction of a native Philippino village. The palace is used today for contemporary art exhibitions organised through the Reina Sofia Museum. The Palace is surrounded by the large artificial lake of the Retiro Park. It is indeed a very picturesque setting in the heart of Spain’s capital city.
Address: Paseo de Cuba, 4
One of the most notable landmarks in the city and formally known as the Palace of Communication. In 2011 it became the seat of Madrid City Council.
The palace opens to the public then and now visitors can enjoy drinks or dinner with a view on the eight-floor terrace. There’s a space for exhibitions, a grand hall for events, a library and a cultural area on the ground floor. Locals and tourists alike can stop and use the couches, tables and free wifi. Can’t think of a better place to escape the heat or cold. It is also the perfect spot to simply take a little break to read the newspaper or surf the web.
Address: Plaza de Cibeles
One of the most important private homes in Madrid, with one of the world’s foremost private art collections. It was built between 1767 and 1785 on the orders of the third Duke of Berwick and Liria, Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart y Colón.
In November 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, the building was gutted by several fires that left just the four outer walls standing. While this was a tragedy and the losses were staggering, most of the art collection was rescued and put away safely in various locations around Madrid such as the British Embassy, the Prado Museum and the Bank of Spain.
The task to rebuilt the palace was undertaken by the 17th Duke of Alba, Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart, and finished by the 18th Duchess, Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart and her consort, Luis Martínez de Irujo. Today the palace is the residence of the 19th Duke of Alba, Carlos Fitz-James Stuart, and headquarters of the Casa de Alba Foundation.
Visits are available as part of small audio guided tours which include the 14 main rooms of the house.
Address: La Princesa, 20
PARKS, GARDENS & OUTDOORS GEMS
Parque El Capricho
If you love open green spaces such as Madrid’s popular Buen Retiro Park, El Capricho is a fairytale garden you can’t miss. This historic park was built between 1787 and 1838 to be the retreat of the Duchess of Osuna. Capricho translates to “craving” in Spanish. We agree it’s the ideal name for this captivating park which is full of impeccably manicured trees and bushes. Tucked away in the outskirts of Madrid, a wander through El Capricho is the perfect way to while away an afternoon in Madrid.
Address: Paseo de la Alameda de Osuna, 25
La Quinta de los Molinos
Towards the end of C/Alcalá, you will find the hidden Farm Mills Park. This is one of Madrid’s lesser known parks, so deserted in fact, that you will probably find you are the only visitor for miles around. Itis more of a wide-open space dotted with woodland rather than one of the more careful styled and maintained parks you’ll find in the historical centre of Madrid. The park has paved walkways and dirt paths, perfect for cycling. The main attraction of this park must be the almond trees. If you happen to visit during the months of February and March, make sure you don’t miss the spectacle of the senses when the trees are in full bloom. Shades of beautiful pinks and whites paint the garden and intoxicating aromas float all around the park.
Address: Alcalá, 527
Templo de Debod
A piece of ancient Egypt in Madrid? Absolutely!
This ancient Egyptian temple was built in the 2nd Century BC and given to Spain in 1968 as a token of gratitude for the Spanish help in relocating the Abu Simble temple before the construction of the Aswan dam. The temple was taken apart in the village of Devod and sent block by block to be reconstructed in Madrid. This amazing sight is one of the few substantial examples of ancient Egyptian architecture rebuilt outside of Egypt and the only one in Spain. The stunning setting here offers great photo opportunities with panoramic views of Madrid. Direct views down to the Royal Palace is also another added bonus.
Address: Ferraz, 1
BARS & RESTAURANTS
Hemingway Bar (Casa Suecia)
Ernest Hemingway had a lifelong love affair with Madrid. The heavyweight of American literature visited Spain many times from the 1920s and throughout the 1930s, when he covered the Spanish Civil War, to his final visit in 1960. He returned again and again to write, drink and watch his beloved bullfights, he also set several short stories and novels in Madrid, which he called ‘the most Spanish of all cities’.
In honor of the famous author and inspired by the times of Prohibition, the beautifully renovated Casa Suecia hotel (where Hemingway used to stay) features one of the most exclusive underground cocktail bars in Madrid. Its secret access, known only by a handful, reveals a space where time seems to have stood still. Here, you’ll be mesmerized by the Art Deco lamps, vintage mirrors on both walls and tables, red velvet armchairs, animal print carpet and a sturdy wooden bar counter imported directly from an 18th-century Parisian church. If you want to go clandestine in Madrid, this is defiantly the place to be.
Address: Marqués de Casa Riera, 4
Who said Madrid has no beach? Spending summer in Madrid might be a bit tough but there are some real fresh and innovative options that bring a piece of the Mediterranean to the city. This is the case of Ojalá (if only, in Spanish) in the heart of the Malasaña district. This is the closest feeling of having dinner at a nice chiringuito (beach bar) on the beach. The floor is covered with white sand (no shoes allowed), low tables and cozy sofas along with the chillout music in the background. All go to make this unique spot THE idyllic place for a cool summer night, any time of the year.
Address: San Andres, 1
Yugo The Bunker
This exclusive Japanese restaurant is located in a very unique setting: a reproduction of a Japanese World War II bunker in the Barrio de las Letras (the Literature district). Its decoration reminds you of traditional Japanese Izakaya tavern. The chef, Julián Mármol uses only the best ingredients to make traditional Japanese dishes that have already seduced the Michelin Guide critics that awarded him with a star in 2019. The restaurant offers two tasting menus and a la carte dishes accompanied by the best sakes, wines and champagne.
Address: San Blas, 4
Secret Eden of Salvador Bachiller
Amongs the flood of tourists and gold buyers in the contentious Montera street, central Madrid, you will find Salvador Bachiller bags and complements boutique shop. So far nothing to be surprised by, considering you are just in the core of Madrids shopping area of Gran Via Avenue. But here is our tip: go to the top floor and you’ll discover a hidden oasis where you can unwind from the hustle and bustle of the city. Have a coffee or a snack at this little secret terrace perfectly adapted to summer and winter days as it’s open all year long.
Address: Montera, 37
Romanticism Museum Café
This is literally the hidden café spot in Madrid. Located inside the Museum of Romanticism, this lovely cafeteria and tearoom features a small garden with very few tables outside, lots of plants and trees, marble sculptures and a central fountain. It is almost like a secret garden. Being part of the museum makes it a very special and romantic spot to escape from Madrid’s summer heat.
Address: San Mateo 13
Having been the first café to brew and one of the first to roast specialty coffee in Madrid, Toma is no longer a best-kept secret! It has been around since 2012 and enjoys the stable reputation of being a hípster hangout in Malasaña. But what has not quite spread yet is that Toma opened up a second location in Chamberí district close to Plaza de Olavide! If you love coffee, you absolutely have to try the warriors love coffee from “TOMA”.
Address: Santa Feliciana, 5
Madrid is a city defined by its craftsmanship. Hidden down cobblestone streets, traditional artisans and expert purveyors continue to flaunt their wares. From century-old alpargaterías (espadrille vendors) to boutiques selling locally-made ceramics and gourmet emporiums slicing the best jamón you can buy.
These are just three examples of the oldest places to buy unique products in Madrid. Our favourite secret spots where you’ll find genuine souvenirs with a sense of place.
You may know that a typical ‘cocido’ (stew) is Madrid’s signature dish, and churros with chocolate is the most traditional breakfast. But did you know that violet candies are the hallmark sweet of the city? Made with the essence of the flower and shaped into five purple petals, there’s only one place in Madrid to buy the most authentic of these sweets: La Violeta. This small shop with a wooden façade that’s easily passed by has been selling these candies since 1915. They’re so good that, according to legend, King Alfonso XIII gave them as gifts to his wife and his lovers…
Address: Plaza de Canalejas, 6
It does n’t matter if it’s breakfast time or supper… every hour is pastry time in Madrid. La Duquesita is one of ‘those’ pastry shops in Madrid that deserves a visit! Open since 1914, the building has kept the same charm and singularity and the new owner, the Catalan pastry chef Oriol Balaguer has also managed to maintain the traditional essence of the shop since he took over in 2015. Long life to such iconic places in Madrid!
Address: Fernando VI, 2
Casa de Diego
Casa de Diego has been outfitting Madrid’s gentry with umbrellas, canes, combs, shawls, and fans since 1823, which is when Manuel de Diego opened this corner shop, just off the Puerta del Sol. Today, De Diego’s descendants continue to preside over the business, where the hand-painted fans, bearing floral motifs, polka dots, nature scenes, and more, steal the show. Casa de Diego uses only the finest silk and still embroiders everything by hand.
Address: Puerta del Sol, 12
If you are dreaming of travelling to Spain, now is the time to start planning and we highly suggest to include Madrid in your itinerary. Checkout some of our exciting itineraries where you can find great ideas for inspiration. We also invite you to read a previous post with our 9 favourite hotels in the city.