Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Madrid Madrid Guide

Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Madrid

No matter what city you go to, whether you investigate before travelling or just let things flow spontaneously, you will always find places and activities that are promoted as “emblematic”, “obligatory”, “must-see”, etc. That’s cool, as those things are usually famous for a reason. But what happens if you have already been in the place for long enough to have seen all of them? Or if you are the type of traveller who would rather skip the mainstream attractions overrun with other tourists and discover less known, more local spots?

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Fret not, Madrid has something in it for everyone, regardless of their tastes and preferences. Here are 6 different types of places/activities you will want to check out even though you might not find them on the “Madrid in 24 hours” or “Madrid’s top 10” lists.

1. Art

Everybody knows about Reina Sofia and Prado Museum: some of the most important and biggest museums in Europe with their collections of modern and classical arts, respectively. But there are also many other cultural centers with temporary exhibitions that are perfect for more alternative tastes. Just in front of Prado there is Caixa Forum which displays art, photography, architecture, etc.; it’s quite easily recognisable by the vertical garden in front of it. There are also La Casa Encendida and El Matadero with their cinema, theater and arts agendas. You need to check their schedule to see what is currently going on but also keep in mind that it is mostly directed to spanish- speaking audiences. Another option is La Tabacalera with its concerts, art expos and workshops, mostly for free.

2. Cinemas

If you would like to take your cultural experience even farther and enjoy a movie in a cozy and local atmosphere, there are a couple places for you. One of them is Cine D’Ore: the oldest movie theater in the city dating back to 1912. The building is a gem in itself and it also plays movies you will not get to see in mainstream cinemas.

Just a few minutes’ walk away there is another noteworthy place called Sala Equis. An old porn cinema previously known as Sala X, nowadays remodeled and turned into an alternative theatre. Both of the above play movies in their original language with spanish subtitles.

3. Parks

It is quite common that if the weather is good, you will be recommended to go to the Retiro Park as soon as you arrive in Madrid: it is the second largest and the most famous park of the city. As gorgeous and fun as it is though, it can get quite crowded. There are other, less famous options to go and relax or exercise at: Casa de Campo (the biggest park with a zoo, cableway, a theme park, a public swimming pool and just lots and lots of space), Campo del Moro (placed at the feet of the Royal Palace, lets you chill among pretty fountains and peacocks) and Madrid Río (a 22 km- long park running along both sides of the river Manzanares).

4. Live Music

Many visitors ask about places with live music, as somehow they are not promoted much. There are plenty of places around the city and honestly, if you stay for a while, it’s best to just go out and explore on your own but here are some recommendations to get you started:

If you like Jazz, you will definitely want to visit Cafe Central. The atmosphere of the place is great, just as much as the live concerts and the drinks served. You can eat there as well. Were you to prefer something more spontaneous, there are places like El Junco and La Coquette that organize jam sessions, providing great energy and sometimes fantastic surprises.

5. Rooftops

If you’d like to see the city from a different perspective, the rooftops are always a great option. We have the very famous terrace of Círculo de Bellas Artes but if you want to shy away from the crowds, I recommend another one, just a 5-minutes-walk away. It is located in the main City Hall building in the square of Cibeles, also known as Palacio de Comunicaciones. The building hosts lots of expos and events, but its viewing spot at 90 m height is the highlight, providing beautiful views over the city while you enjoy a drink.

On a side note, a slightly more exclusive option for the clients of Cat’s Hostel: there is a private rooftop you can use in Mad Hostel (the sister hostel of Cat’s). It’s a great spot in the center of the city where you can see the rooftops of the old town and experience some amazing sunsets.

6. Walk Around

Having done all of the above (or if you don’t have the time to see any of them) there is only one thing left to do in Madrid: have a walk. The big advantage of the city is that all emblematic parts are quite close to one another, making public transportation only necessary if you have to go farther away from the center. Naturally, you will have heard or read about all the “must see” places like the palace, the museums, etc. and you should probably check them out but if you just want to get lost in the culture and history on your own, go to Barrio de las Letras (The District of the Letters). It was the bohemian district where all main writers and poets of the country lived at some point in their lives. You can get “lost” among the streets of Cervantes, Lope de Vega, etc. The highlight of the are is its main street: Calle de las Huertas. It is a charming and vivid place with old buildings and lots of bars and restaurants, which also has something curious about it: there are quotes from spanish literature engraved in the pavement. The Huertas street represents the Spanish mix of culture and entertainment, making it a great place to visit.

If you want to know more about Madrid, read our Madrid Ultimate Guide with local tips and events! Feel the pulse of Madrid and party wild at Cat’s Hostel.  Ca’s Hostels in Madrid is located in the heart of the city, in an 18th century palace 

 

 

Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Madrid
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