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Cameron Smith / Her Campus
Life > Experiences

Your Unofficial Guide to Madrid, Spain

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

I’ve spent the last two months in Madrid, Spain for my internship abroad trip, and my journey was comparable to a rollercoaster. There were lots of ups and downs, but I feel excited and refreshed now that I’m at the end. I’m ready to go back home, but before I travel back, here are some of the best, some of the worst, and some of the most noteworthy places and things to see and do in Madrid, Spain.


The Best Cafe: Ceci’s Bakery

I can’t sing enough praises about this bakery. Owned by Carlos and Cecilio, the two kindest men in Madrid, this cafe has super delicious cakes, cookies, tarts, coffees, tea, and sorbets. It is the best place in Madrid to read a book and drink some coffee. This is a must-visit!

Best Casual Dining: VIPS

You can consider VIPS the Spanish version of Chili’s. They have all types of burgers, salads, desserts, and many yummy appetizers. You need to try their take on patatas bravas. If you go to the Quevedo location, tell them Aditi sent you.

Best International Dining: Udaipur Indian Restaurant

I am biased on this one, but this place does Indian food so well. The food is flavorful and packed with spices; the mocktails are adorable, and the decor is beautiful. This is a great place to go for dinner with friends. 

Most Overrated Place to Eat: San Gines

Before all the madrileños come after me, hear me out. The line is long, seating is limited, and the churros are underwhelming. Go for the experience, but no need to go twice.

Most Underrated Place to Eat: Yasemin&Tuncel Cafe

I stumbled upon this cafe by accident. When you go into this Swedish cafe, you find a minimalist space with seating, Wi-Fi, coffee, and food. Without a doubt in my mind, this cafe had the best tosta in Madrid. This is a wonderful place to relax, and I highly recommend more people visit this cafe. 

Best Ice Cream: Töto Ice Cream

I love this ice cream shop so much. Every ice cream flavor is natural and super delicious. My favorite flavor is white chocolate and lime, a surprising but satisfying combination. They also have milkshakes and desserts. Make sure you try the ice cream with one of their warm chocolate chip cookies.

Places to visit

Best Market: Mercado de San Miguel

This market is famous for its variety of offerings and delicious tastes. I enjoyed my visit here and I highly recommend budgeting enough time to explore the market’s delicacies. It will probably be crowded when you visit, so keep an eye out for pickpocketers. 

Most Overrated Market: El Rastro

El Rastro is a very interesting outdoor market. All the stalls are squished together for miles, but I will admit that I found many cool items here. There are artisan gifts, clothing, jewelry, and much more. The only issue for me was the crowd. I recommend going earlier in the morning to avoid as much of the crowds as you can. 

Best Weekend Trip: Cercedilla

Most websites will tell you to visit Toledo because of its proximity to Madrid and its vibrant history, but I highly recommend Cercedilla. Nestled in the Sierra de Guadarrama, this small town is known for its great hiking. Also, if you can stay the night here, look up. You’ll find a clear night sky full of stars. 

Best Place to Relax: El Retiro

El Retiro is a giant park right in the middle of Madrid. It is the perfect place to relax, have a picnic, or just walk around. You’ll forget that you are in the middle of a big city when you’re surrounded by all the greenery. 

Things to do

Getting a Tattoo: Dark Horse Tattoo

If you’re like me and love tattoos, then I recommend Dark Horse Tattoo. They are great communicators and are very professional. It’s a clean studio with plenty of talent. 

See a Flamenco Show: La Cueva De Lola

This is a great place to go see a flamenco show. It’s a unique space with great drinks and snacks. The show itself is fascinating and a must-do when you visit Madrid. Try to get one of the top tables in the back because the view is much better.

Aditi’s Favorite: Row a Boat in Retiro

This was something super unique, and I loved my experience. In El Retiro, you can rent a boat for an hour and sit with your friends and family. 

I hope this encourages you to come to visit Madrid! It’s a great city with lots of history. There are lots of hidden gems to find. Let me know where you visit!

A Michigan State University student by day, an 8-hour sleeper by night Aditi would best describe herself as a "rather simple enigma." As she embarks on her college journey, Aditi cherishes the simple things in life: a cup of coffee, some pastel post-it notes, and her ever-growing succulent.