To celebrate my sister’s 21st birthday we headed over to Madrid during early August 2019 and were pleasantly surprised by what Madrid has to offer – a perfect combination of culture, food, fiestas & fun!
We had landed in Madrid by 10.30am, and needed to kill some time before we got the keys for our apartment at 3pm. The weather was cool and we had our bags so we opted for a Five Guys and Escape Room – may as well have stayed in Milton Keynes at this point!
We headed to Fox in a Box, a quirky escape room company in Madrid who have recently opened up in London too. The escape room was a great pastime and had a lot more of a role-play input from the staff than those I have previously visited. If you visit Monday-Thursday before 16:15 you can receive 10% off. However, the lady nearly forgot it was midweek because the “partying” had started the night before. Turns out August is a big month for Fiestas in Madrid and considering we were there to celebrate, this was fantastic news!
Soon came 3pm and we picked up our keys from Friendly Rentals and headed to our apartment in the La Latina district of Madrid – for a well needed siesta before a quiet dinner in the City.
Visiting Madrid with my two younger sisters, we were cautious about budget and therefore drew out our own tourist route, which took us from the west to the east of the City Centre. I’ve mapped out the route below – starting at the Catedral de la Almudena, which is free to enter. The route took us straight through the centre, stopping at Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol – the main tourist areas of the city. For food, I would recommend avoiding these areas as the restaurants are quite honest about adding at least 10% to your cheque for sitting outside in the sun. We walked 10 minutes from Puerta del Sol and found a restaurant for lunch, that served first & second course, drink and a coffee for 12.50 Euros.
We finished our tour with a walk through the Real Jardin Botanica, which was 2 Euros each (aged 18-25 & specifying you only wish to see the gardens). It was worth the 2 Euros, but if I was to visit again I would spend my time visiting the Parque de El Retiro & Palacio de Cristal instead.
We got a taxi back to the apartment and got ready to take advantage of the street festivals outside of the Plaza de Cascorro – forming part of the San Cayetano festivities. The restaurants in the area had all turned into street facing bars, there was street food being served all night, and beautiful Spanish people were dancing flawlessly in the roads. Call me ignorant, but I didn’t think my generation of people actually knew how to dance?! I thought I had stepped into a Step Up movie all of a sudden. Considering the festivities were completely free to access, I will without a doubt be back to celebrate in the future! The festivities carry on throughout the month of August, more info can be found here.
Day 3 was a bright and early start as we needed to catch the 10.30am bus to Parque Warner. Sadly before this holiday I never knew that Parque Warner existed, but it is by far the best theme park I have ever visited. This cost 38 Euros per person including a return bus journey from Atocha train station.
I can’t claim to be a theme park expert, but I have visited a fair few. I am due to visit Universal Studios (Florida) for the 3rd time next month and to be quite honest – I think Parque Warner puts it to shame! The roller coasters were absolutely mind-boggling, and we had such a great time in a nostalgic setting. The food was reasonably priced whilst in the park also, so it didn’t feel like a rip off like a lot of theme parks can.
The only disadvantage here is that as a non-Spanish speaker, you miss all of the shows. However, the queues for the rides remained short throughout the day and the park is open 11.30am-12am.
After walking over 13km at Parque Warner, we treated ourselves to a well-deserved lie in on the last day. The rest of the day was filled with a lot of coffee stops, food and clothes shopping. Madrid is great for high street friendly shops and prices – plus there were some good sales on (early August).
On reflection, 4 days was the perfect amount of time to spend in Madrid. There are of course more things to see, but it was a very active few days and we were exhausted upon our return. I even commented towards the end of the trip that Madrid would be the perfect place for a hen-do. Parque Warner is a highlight for the thrill-seekers out there, the August fiestas will satisfy the party-goers, the shopping is great and the architecture and culture are there for the explorers amongst us. I don’t think that Madrid receives the reputation it should amongst it’s southern European counterparts such as Rome, Barcelona and Lisbon. It is equally as quaint as these other locations, with a big heart and an endless amount of Tinto de Verano!
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