City Slicker: Madrid

Get the low-down on what to see and do in the Spanish capital, in the first of our new series of urban tours. By Ian McCurrach



Why visit?

Autumn is just the season to enjoy a city break. And few places deserve a visit as much as Madrid. For years the buzz has been all about its great Catalan rival, Barcelona. But the Spanish capital is proving to be just as much fun. This may be the sober seat of government, but Madrileños like to "vivir a tope" (live life to the full) with some determination. In fact, you are likely to see more people on the streets here at 3am than at 3pm, making the most of the lively bars, cafés, restaurants and club scene.

While watching the locals at play in the warm autumn weather is one of the most enjoyable pursuits in this party town, it's not all about soaking up the atmosphere. There's plenty of sightseeing on offer amid Madrid's broad boulevards, grand plazas and stately architecture, not least three of Europe's finest art galleries. Plus there are many new openings for returning visitors to explore.

Don't miss ...

... the spectacular city views from the Teleferico cable car (teleferico.com) in the Casa de Campo, a former royal hunting estate.

... the three great art galleries: the Reina Sofia (museoreinasofia.es); the Thyssen Bornemisza (museothyssen.org); and the Prado (museoprado.es).

... the elegant architecture of the Plaza Mayor, the hub of Madrid life for centuries.

... the vast 18th-century Royal Palace (patrimonionacional.es) with its soaring white façade.

... the Retiro, the city's most popular open space (think Hyde Park), where the whole of Madrid seems to congregate on a Sunday.

What's new?

Las Salesas

Madrid's Meat Packing District, bordering Chueca, is an up-and-coming hot spot. It is home to chic cafés, small sushi bars, the cult Italian trattoria Pulcinella, at calle Rugueros 7, and, for chocolate lovers, Cacao Sampaka, at calle Orellana 4. Don't miss Pescaderia Fernando VI, at calle Fernando VI 10, the city's famous fishmonger, where everyone comes early on Saturdays to buy fresh cod. Word has it that Marc Jacobs will open a boutique here soon near Benny Room, Mage and Tribeca boutiques.

Reina Sofia Museum

The original slab-sided building with glass and steel lifts was impressive enough, but now the museum has added an eye-catching rear by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The new glass and steel extension is arranged around a courtyard, providing an extra 332,000 square feet of space for temporary exhibitions, a library and auditorium. While you're there, don't miss one of the gallery's highlights: Picasso's 'Guernica'. There is also an excellent restaurant and museum store worth visiting.

Details: see above.

Sua

This restaurant in the heart of trendy Chueca serves tasty Basque fusion cuisine. And adding a curious twist, the unusual menu is structured according to the temperature at which the dishes are prepared – so 25C, 50C and 75C. Sua is owned by Madrid's favourite It boys: Rafa and Luis Medina. They've been on the 'Vanity Fair' best-dressed list for two years running, so expect to rub shoulders with a celebrity clientele. And, of course, booking is essential.

Details: sua.es.



Hotel Oscar

The latest addition to the chic Room Mate hotel chain, headed by Enrique Sarasola, Madrid's designer hotel guru. Hotel Oscar has 75 rooms with interiors by Tomas Alia; the design is modern minimalist with bold swathes of bright colour. Situated north of Gran Via, Oscar's restaurant and bar have become focal points for Madrid's cool set. Doubles from €140 (£112) per night.

Details: room-matehotels.com.

Yube

The hot fashionista pit stop. Yube has a wide selection of women's and menswear, including M Missoni, Paul & Joe, See by Chloé, the Olsen sisters' new clothing line and this winter's must-have chunky jewel necklaces by Spanish fashion newcomer Patricia Nicolas (left). Famous clients include actresses Penelope and Monica Cruz as well as Paz Vega and Mexican singer Paulina Rubio.

Details: calle Fernando VI 23; 00 34 91 3197673.



La Casa Encendida

This multidisciplinary space is housed within a large neo-Mudejar building. The focus is on cultural exchange and there are various spaces spread across the venue's four floors. The changing programme features shows from emerging young artists working across all disciplines, including cutting-edge performance art, music, dance and video. There is a shop selling Fairtrade products and a café, popular with young artists and thinkers.

Details: lacasaencendida.com.

How to get there

Easyjet (easyjet.com) flies to Madrid from Gatwick, Liverpool, Luton, Edinburgh from £47 return. Spanish Tourist Office (spain.info), Madrid Tourist Office (esmadrid.com).

Ana Ureña, freelance journalist and broadcaster

"Try my favourite place for merienda – the equivalent of afternoon tea. It's called Embassy and is one of the best patisseries in Madrid. Trays laden with delicious individual mini cakes are passed around the tables so you can pick out the ones you want to have with your café con leche – the Spanish latte."

Details: embassy.es.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?