Top 5: Natasha

El viajero

This is one of my favourite rooftop terraces. It is perfect for a sunny weekend lunch or drinks in the evening after work, in the lively neighbourhood of La Latina. It´s a great place to go and relax after a hectic time in El Rastro market. While it may not have a panoramic view of the city, it still has a cool view of La Latina and a great atmosphere.

Caixa forum

Caixa forum is a cultural center on Paseo del Prado that hosts temporary exhibitions. It always has some kind of interesting and exciting social work exhibition on. One I went to was a really thought-provoking photographic exhibition on different humanitarian crises. It is definitely worth a visit and once you´re done, you can head to the café for a nice sit down and a cup of coffee. Don´t forget to look at the vertical garden! 

Casa de Campo

If you want to escape the buzzing cosmopolitan life, then this is as close as you´ll get without having to leave the city! It is a huge park in Madrid, and one of the biggest in Europe too, with lots of woodland, making it feel like you are in the countryside. You can get there either by cable car (El Teleférico) or by metro. There is also a public pool open in summer, a big lake with restaurants alongside it and even a theme park!

Pez tortilla

Malasaña is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Madrid and one of my favourite streets is called Calle de la Pez. On this street you´ll find one of the best tortilla places in Madrid! You can choose from a range of unique and exciting flavours of both tortilla and croquettes. To top it off, they offer a selection of artisanal beers that go rather nicely with your meal. It´s always very busy so if you don´t have luck there, then try the other Pez Tortilla in La Latina.

Pantano de San Juan

With Madrid being in the centre of Spain, there is a lack of places to go to cool yourself down when it gets too hot! This hidden gem is a man-made beach, at San Juan reservoir and is just an hour´s coach ride away (and free if you have the youth transport card). Here you can pay to do watersports, or just simply relax on the beach and have a swim in the reservoir. There is a cafe there if you´re in need of an ice cream or else bring a picnic with you as it’s an idyllic setting!

Traditional festivals in Madrid

If you´re looking for an authentic experience in Madrid, the August fiestas (6th-18th August 2019), could be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the city´s traditions alongside the locals. Each summer, the streets come alive with three of the city´s most famous festivals – read on to find out how to get involved.

The celebrations begin with the Fiestas de San Cayetano (from 6th August, Embajadores). Events will include open-air concerts, dances, parades and games. In the evening you can enjoy a DJ session with a drink from one of the local bars which will be setting up in the street for the occasion.

The party continues with the Fiestas de San Lorenzo (10th-13th August, Lavapiés). Once you´ve worked up an appetite from dancing, why not go on a tapas tour of the local bars and try something new!

Fiesta Virgen de la Paloma

The Fiestas de la Virgen de la Paloma (12th-18th August, La Latina), are undoubtedly the highlight of the celebrations; if you only go to one of the three fiestas, this one is not to be missed. The festival reaches its climax on 15th August, which happens to be a public holiday in Madrid, so you won´t have to skip work to join in! On this day, alongside more events such as workshops and food tastings, the firefighters of Madrid take part in a procession and make an offering to their patron saint.

You can find more information and the official programme here:

https://www.esmadrid.com/fiestas-agosto-madrid-san-cayetano-san-lorenzo-virgen-la-paloma

Best summer plans in Madrid

It may be hot outside, but that shouldn´t stop you from having a great time! Here are some of our favourite things to do in Madrid in the summer.

Casa de Campo Lake

It´s hard to believe that this oasis is just a few metro stops away from the centre of Madrid; you could say it´s an escape from the city, within the city. Sitting by the lake is a lovely way to spend the afternoon, but if you fancy something more energetic, why not hire a boat? The lake even has a fountain in the middle to cool you down!

Metro: Lago (L10), Puerta del Ángel (L6)

When: Mon-Sun, 08:30-sunset

Price: Mon-Fri 6 €, Sat-Sun 8 € (45 min)

Veranos de la Villa 2019

This annual festival lasts all summer (28th June – 1st September) and fills every corner of the city with cultural activities. It´s a great way to enjoy a cultural experience outside of the typical indoor setting, as the events are held outdoors in parks, swimming pools, cultural centres and squares. Even better, 90% of the activities are free!

See the full programme: https://veranosdelavilla.madrid.es/es/programa

Veranos de la Villa

Open-air cinema

What better way to spend a summer evening than to sit back, relax and enjoy a film under the night sky?  Two of our favourites are Cine de Verano Conde Duque and Cibeles de Cine, which offer a wide variety of films, and all at a reasonable price.

Conde Duque:

When: 22:00, Mon-Sat until 7th September

Ticket price: 6 € / 3 € on Wednesday

See the full programme: https://www.condeduquemadrid.es/actividades/cine-de-verano-conde-duque-0

Cibeles de Cine:

When: 22:00, Mon-Sun until 12th September (closed 6th & 7th July)

Ticket price: 6 €

See the full programme: https://www.mk2sunsetcinema.es/film_category/cibeles-de-cine/

Swimming pools

In Madrid we may not have a beach, but we do have swimming pools! If the heat is just too much, you can always cool off in one of the 20 municipal swimming pools which are open until 22nd September.  One of our favourites is the Centro Deportivo Municipal Vicente del Bosque, which features two 50m pools as well as a children´s pool. Prepare yourself for a shock when you jump in, though, as the water is freezing!

Centro Deportivo Municipal Vicente del Bosque:

Metro: Barrio del Pilar (L9), Begoña (L10)

When: Mon-Sun 11:00-21:00

For more information on outdoor pools in Madrid: https://www.esmadrid.com/piscinas-de-verano-en-madrid

Swimming pools in Madrid

Feria del Libro, Madrid (Book Fair)

Want to learn a language quickly? Get reading! Take advantage of Madrid´s 78th Feria del Libro (Book Fair) in El Retiro. With over 300 book stalls around the city, the guest country this year is the Dominican Republic, with the event´s slogan ´´A story at every step´´ (Una historia a cado paso). From the 31st May- 16th June, wander around the city´s many stalls and immerse yourself in the literary culture.

Here´s a summary of our top 4 best hidden gems around the city for literature and free activities:

  • La Casquería Antigua

Feria del libro Madrid

Love a good bargain? Here, you pay for the weight of your books, meaning that a whole kilo only comes to only 10 euros. (Nearest metro stop: Embajadores, 41)

2) Tuuulibreria

Books and culture Madrid

The only place where you can actually choose the price of your book. The idea is that everyone has access to literature. The company also sends books to developing countries. (Covarrubias 38, Bilbao)

  • La Casa Encendida or Casa del Libro

More well-known than the two previous places, you can take part in book signings, readings, and free exhibitions.

  • Ever heard of a Poetry Slam?

Poetry Slam Madrid

Try something a bit different and join this Facebook group´s poetry/ rap-style competition to challenge your poetry skills on the spot.

Keep a look out for: The lady with the typewriter outside Opera. Give her a subject and she can type up a poem for you on the spot!

Finally, don’t forget that Inhispania runs a book exchange on the second floor with plenty of novels, tourist magazines and autobiographies!

Fiestas de San Isidro

Key places: Plaza Mayor, Las Vistillas and Pradera de San Isidro

Dates: 10th – 15th May 2019

This week, Madrileños celebrate their patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, so it will be a week filled with concerts, shows and other cultural activities. With locals dressed in ´chulapos´, dancing ´el Chotis´. 

Here are our top three things to take part in during the Day of San Isidro Labrador:

Pasacalles de Gigantes y Cabezudos

Labelled the quirkiest and ´most instagrammable´ event of this week, this parade consists of locals sporting giant heads characterizing the four ruling couples of Asia, Africa, Europe and America.

The parade takes place along:
Plaza de Santo Domingo, Plaza de Callao, Calle Preciados, Puerta del Sol, Calle Mayor and Plaza de la Villa on Sunday 12th (18:00pm) and Monday 13th (12:00pm)

Fireworks and Music

Parque de Retiro is the go-to place for sunbathing and offers beautiful views all year round, but on the 14th and 15th, the gardens will host a spectacular fireworks show (22:00pm) with music events from around 20:30.

Top Tip! Try out the many variations of rosquillas; tiny sugared doughnuts found in stalls down every street.

Click here to download the 2019 programme.