Travel Tuesday: Top 5 Favorite Pastimes in Madrid

Kim Knott, an American Tripper currently teaching English in Malaga, Spain, reminisces about her favorite things to do in the city where she first fell in love with Spain: Madrid.

I’ll admit it, I love big cities.  I love big cities for many of the reasons that most people despise big cities.  They are crowded, everyone is always in a rush, and they never quiet down.  I was only 19 when I went to Madrid to study abroad for a semester, and I have to say, it was these exact characteristics that made me fall in love with that place. Despite the endless “rush” all big cities are prone to, I managed to find a few places where it was perfectly acceptable to slow down and hang out for as long as you’d like. Hence, my top 5 favorite pastimes in Madrid...

El Rastro
It’s #1 for a reason.  If your idea of fun isn’t being herded down a crowded street hunting for treasures in Europe’s largest flea market, I suggest you take a trip to Madrid right now to reevaluate everything you thought you knew about the word “fun”.  No, but really, Sundays in Madrid were the best days, if you ask me.  Set aside at least two hours, put your money in a safe spot, i.e. NOT in your back pocket, take the metro to La Latina and prepare yourself for the most interesting outdoor shopping experience of your life.  Looking for souvenirs? Underwear? Art? Birdcages? Superglue? Scarves?  It’s all right here, baby.

El Parque del Buen Retiro
This park may or may not have been my sanctuary while living in Madrid.  Besides being absolutely enormous, it is always full of kids, lovers, musicians, artists, dogs, you name it.  If you enjoy people watching, you will love this place!  Grab a blanket, a bottle of wine, and a book and spend the afternoon  (or the entire day?) basking in the sun...ahh, bliss.


 El Tigre

Are you craving cheap beers and plates piled high with authentic, delicious and *free* tapas?  If so, then I strongly suggest you find this little gem of a tapas bar while you are in Madrid.  You’ll be lucky to squeeze through the door during peak hours and even luckier if you find yourself some counter space- real estate can be hard to come by in this joint.  Definitely do like the locals and spend a couple of hours munching all of the delicious varieties of tapas.  Heck, it might even take that long to get a space at the me though, it’s worth it!


Gran Via
Sure, you could head to the nearby mountains or a national park, or you could hit the streets of Madrid and do a little “urban hiking”.  Gran Via is my favorite street in Madrid because it is always bustling, lined with absolutely beautiful architecture, and home to some seriously top notch shopping. Most of all though, I love that no matter which direction you are going, whether it be on Gran Via, or heading away from it, you’ll always find yourself somewhere special.

El Metro
This was another one of my favorite people watching places.  Maybe I'm abnormally obsessed by Madrid’s underground metro system, but when I think about Madrid, this is seriously one of the first things that comes to mind.  But how in the world can public transportation  be considered a pastime, you ask?  To explain, there is always something interesting happening on the metro, usually in the form of performers, but, truth be told, one can never really know what to expect.  I think it was this element of surprise that had me constantly looking forward to my next metro ride, and always wishing they lasted just a little bit longer. 

Kim Knott is a recent graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.  She is 22 years old and is currently living in Malaga, Spain where she is teaching English in an elementary school. After studying abroad during college, Kim knew she needed more time to learn Spanish and travel the world.  After graduation she packed her bags, started pursuing her dream, and hasn't looked back since. Learn more about Kim via her Tripping profile.