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One of the stops on our European trip in March 2016 was Madrid. After just a few hours, it quickly became one of our favorite European cities! We were only there for 2 days, but managed to see a lot of the city. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, it was in the high 70s the entire time we were there, a drastic change from the dreary and wet Paris and London! We stayed at the Westin Palace Madrid, which I booked using points from my Chase Sapphire Reserve. The property is beautiful, and in an awesome location. We were able to walk to so many places from here. I highly recommend it, especially if it’s free! We had a king size bed with a rollaway bed for Milana, and it was perfect.
Less than a 20 minute walk from the hotel is Plaza Mayor, one of the most famous plazas in all of Madrid. Beautiful place to walk around and great for photo ops!
Just behind the plaza is one of the best markets you will ever go to, Mercado de San Miguel. There, you will find many vendors selling different tapas. You can walk around the market and sample many different dishes. Milana loved the cheese vendor and of course the desserts! We tried many things and everything was delicious.
I grew up in Poland and moved to the US when I was 9. My best friend from Poland moved to Madrid a few years after that, and we were reunited in Madrid. It’s been nearly 20 years since we last saw each other! She took Friday off from work and showed us around her beautiful city. We walked around for 9 hours, exploring so many beautiful neighborhoods. I highly recommend walking in Madrid, you will see so much more stuff!
Of course, you can’t walk everywhere so the next best thing is the Metro. Very clean and fairly easy to navigate, it’s a great option for visitors.
For the best views of the city, head to Tartan Roof. You pay 4 Euros to go up and there on the rooftop are some of the best views of Madrid. There’s a restaurant up there as well, where you can enjoy some cocktails or tapas while you take in the beautiful views.
No trip to Madrid is complete without a walk through El Retiro Park. There is a nice playground for the kids, a small lake where you can rent rowboats and plenty of photo ops. Don’t miss this gem!
And of course tapas! We travel for food and love tapas. Madrid had no shortage of tapas restaurants, much to our delight. Since we were only there for 2 days, we didn’t get to try as many as we wanted to, but the ones we did try were really good! I recommend heading to the market I mentioned above if you want to sample lots of different things, but sitting on the patio at local restaurants was great too!
One place we went to was Meson Rincon de la Cava. It was half a block from the market and about a 2 minute walk from Plaza Mayor. Milana loved the garlic shrimp and mushrooms, and probably ate her weight in manchego while in Madrid!
Another place we tried was Pizkolabi, in the Latina district of Madrid. We had paella, aioli potatoes, pork skins, sausages and a traditional egg/ham/potato dish. Everything was really good, though I don’t recommend ordering this much food!
Churros are really popular in Madrid, and many places specialize in making them fresh when you order. We chose Valor and followed the lead of the locals by ordering 6 freshly baked churros with some chocolate for dipping. I’ll be honest, not the best churros we’ve had! I definitely think the ones here in SoCal are much better. This place is really popular, so be sure to try some if you end up in Madrid. Besides churros, there were lots of other desserts on the menu too.
We had a great time in Madrid and wish we could have stayed more than just 2 days! We hope to go back and explore Madrid some more, as well as the surrounding cities. It’s a great place for families with young kids! The only downside was the amount of smokers in the city. You couldn’t walk or sit at a restaurant patio without being exposed to a ton of cigarette smoke. Coming from a place where barely anyone smokes, it was very noticeable and took away from being able to enjoy a meal or walk without feeling like you’re suffocating in smoke. I actually found it funny that people mention Vegas casinos being filled with smoke and not kid friendly, but this was a lot worse and way more noticeable.