The Madrid experience is much more than visiting the Prado Museum. It is necessary to bear in mind that a vast majority of the people who currently live in the city were not born in Madrid. The city is so open minded that visitors really never feel as such. You are not born in Madrid, but you can easily become a Madrilenian in a record time. As some people think, getting into the spirit of things in Madrid is dangerously easy.
If you want to live the Madrid experience the way madrilenians do, this map shows some places that can solve some little daily needs with gusto near VillaJardines. Experience Madrid like a local and enjoy its good part.
1. SUPERMARKET. El Corte Ingles. 3 Preciados St.
El Corte Ingles is Spain’s biggest department store and hosts a very good supermarket. It has a great variety of food and household products, organized into aisles. It used to be regarded as very expensive but, miracles of the crisis, now is regarded as very competitive in terms of price and quality.
It opens from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm everyday of the week. Perfect for buying the basics, either food, cleaning or personal hygiene products. Their private brand is Aliada and is much cheaper than other brands, with almost the same quality. There are two El Corte Ingles supermarkets in the neighborhood. The one in Sol (3 Preciados St) is bigger than the one in Callao (2 Plaza del Callao), but also more crowded. Try their new gastronomic space in Callao, called the Gourmet Experience.
For a quick cheap shopping of basic food and cleaning products, go to Dia (21, Infantas St). Dia Supermarket came in the neighborhood in 1993. It offers a wide variety of basic food and household products, organized into aisles. It is larger in size and has a wider selection than a traditional grocery store, but this is a small supermarket. Perfect for buying the basics, both for food, for cleaning and for personal hygiene. Dia opens from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, from Monday to Saturday. It opens on Sunday morning (10:00 am to 2:00 pm). Best time to go shopping: in the morning.
2. BAKERY. El Horno de San Onofre. 9 Hortaleza St.
In the neighborhood since 1972, this bakery is also a very popular pastry shop. Their tiny cupcakes are delicate and delicious. A bit of sweetness without exaggeration sounds perfect for putting the finishing touch to a special day in Madrid.
Locals’ favorites are the so called tocinillos of heaven, or caramelized egg yolk, and the madroño cupcakes, which are both very Madrilenian. Colorful pastries fill the windows of this bakery, a must for every visitor to Madrid.
If you like delicate pastries, try also Horno La Santiaguesa (73 Mayor St, 5 minutes from VillaJardines) and the Tahona de San Onofre (San Marcos St, 5 minutes from VillaJardines).
They belong to the same chain and are also worth a visit. Prices depend on what you want to buy, though they are not generally cheap. Because of La Santiaguesa, the smell of pastries almost fills Mayor St, but not only because of them, but also their 800 varieties of delicious bread. A great attraction is the (always sweet) original decor in the shop window.
3. PASTRY. Celicioso. 3 Hortaleza St.
If you are in the center of Madrid wishing you could find a little healthy snack, you can go to this gluten-free bakery. Celicioso offers beautiful gluten-free cupcakes, pastries and the occasional sandwich with coffee, or even gluten-free beer to go with them. It is owned by an English speaking Spaniard. If you’re in town for a few days, pick up a loaf of homemade bread. They also sell baker’s yeast and special flours. Do not forget to ask for a mini pizza or try a tea and a banana cake.
Very appreciated are the tiramisu, the chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter and the delightful apple cinnamon bites.
Small and cozy, Pomme Sucre bakery can turn you into a chocoholic with coulants, brownies, cakes, chocolates and cookies.
Very high quality, great raw materials, modern craftsmanship with the latest trends and natural treatment without preservatives. Subtle creativity, spectacular performances and carefully designed presentation boxes.
Don’t leave without the millefeuille cream and meringue, or the Opera cup with chocolate mousse, or a namelaka coffee. They serve Nespresso coffee, but it is not a coffee shop. Open from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.
4. FRUIT SHOP. Mercado de San Miguel. Plaza de San Miguel.
You can buy fruit in supermarkets, grocery shops and fruit shops. Oranges are popular among locals, as it is a Spanish typical product. If you crave for a very specific piece of tropical fruit, you can find it in El Corte Ingles’ supermarket, both in Callao or Sol. Nevertheless, it is a pleasure to buy some fresh fruit at the Mercado de San Miguel. It opens Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 12:00 am. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 10:00 am to 02:00 am.
The Mercado de San Miguel is a premium food provider and it is not for everybody´s wallet.
It is an excellent place to get a bite if you are around the neighborhood. It is completely crowded on peak hours and during weekends. It is located at the Plaza de San Miguel, closest to the east side of the Plaza Mayor.
For a less expensive fruit buy, try the small fruit shops run by oriental attendants. They do not invest in decoration, but the fruit is healthy and cheap. There are several within a 15 minutes walk. Try the one in Infantas St, almost in front of the Dia Supermarket.
5. GROCERY SHOP. Rincon del Iberico. 23 Jardines St.
Because many European cities (Madrid, for example) are already so dense in population and buildings, large supermarkets, in the American sense, have not replaced the neighborhood grocery store.
As a small grocery store in competition with larger supermarkets in the area, this grocery store has created a niche market by selling pork products from Extremadura, a Spanish area close to Portugal. Here you will find pork derivates like specific hams and sausages, plus cheese, wines & cavas and different types of oils for cooking. Some of the pork derivatives are not at all expensive and are not easily found in supermarkets.
You can buy some products at the shop and eat them at the bar, which is some 100 meters away, in the same street.
6. FISH SHOP. San Anton Market. 24 Augusto Figueroa St.
The Mercado de San Anton is a popular gourmet food market located in the Chueca area.
The first market, built in 1945, was fully renovated in 2011. The new building features a three-story square. In a total space is 7,500 square meters, the ground floor hosts a traditional market, in the middle floor there are deli food shops and a restaurant and lounging terrace on the top floor.
There is a great variety of food, from ox mini burgers to sushi. There is also an art exhibition area in the middle floor. You can enjoy a drink on the terrace while enjoying the 19th century roof tops.
7. GOURMET SHOP: Felix. 15 Hortaleza St.
At about 100 meters from Gran Via, this gourmet shop is large enough to allow a large variety of products.
It is worth tasting their self-produced exquisite soups. They have a wonderful bakery with a large range of crunchy breads with all kind of seeds at very reasonable prices. They also have a wine cellar with plenty of references, from the cheapest to the most expensive. In general terms, prices are reasonable, considering the relationship between quality and price.
A delight to the palate. Open from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm.
8. FLOWER SHOP. Las Flores de Raquel. Victor Hugo St.
In this small flower shop they offer all kinds of flowers from Spain and other countries to make colorful flower arrangements. You can also find different plants, distinct and original ideas. They are known not only by their extensive experience but more for the enthusiasm they put into their work, as well as for the careful treatment of flowers. Do not expect a fancy flower shop with high prices for special occasions, but rather a shop where locals regularly buy at very reasonable prices.
9. DRUGSTORE. 11 Jardines St.
10. MUSIC SHOP. FNAC. 1 Callao Sq.
This five-storey megastore has a terrific range of musical offer, ranging from flamenco and world music to classical, as well as electronic equipment and books in several languages. There is a large children’s section on the 4th floor. FNAC has created a whole little world of cultural activities in the building. Exhibitions, book presentations, concerts and conferences have made it 0ne of locals’ favorite stores.
It is a place to spend hours searching and listening records, reading books, etc. There is also a cafe to rest after so much intellectual over-enjoyment. Cultural and performing activities, such as concerts and conferences are free and seldom interesting.
11. BOOK SHOP. La Central. 8 Postigo de San Martín St.
Located in a 19th century mansion, the bookstore La Central in Callao houses over 70,000 books specialized in philosophy, history, art literature and social sciences in different languages.
You can also find a cool cafe-restaurant, called The Bistro, and a cocktail bar, El garito, where you can check the varied program of cultural activities along with a relaxing drink.
The library is very pleasant to walk around, to take a look at different books, to attend a cultural event, to see some curiosities and to have something to drink. If we look for small publishers other libraries are better, but still the amount of offer at La Central is interesting.
La Central is located in a typical mid 19th century noble building. Please check how the first floor used to be the social area of the building, so now some books are placed in the old ballroom, the old chapel and the various rooms where gentry used to spend their domestic time.
It is open from Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 22:00 pm, and Sundays from 10:00 am to 10:00 am. El Garito opens from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am.
Panta Rhei is one of the best bookshops in Madrid in specialized books. It is located in number 7 of Hernan Cortes street, in the Chueca neighborhood, 5 minutes away from VillaJardines.
This cute book shop sells amazing editions on photography, design, advertising, illustration, fashion, urban art, architecture, music, crafts, fascinating comics, interesting books of poetry and essays, graphic novels, a children’s dream section and a small selection of great books that always surprise.
For book gourmets. Open from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and in the afternoon, open until 9:00 pm.
12. HAIR SALOON. Juan Por Dios. 3 Perez Galdos St.
Juan Por Dios (literally For God’s sake, Juan) is one of the best known hairdressers in the city. Regular clients feel that their tresses are attended at the coolest place in Chueca.
The interiors at Juan Por Dios are stone-flagged flooring, white-washed walls and lots of exposed ceiling beams. The decor follows the Feng Shui philosophy, and in no way resembles a conventional hairdresser.
The space has circular, lit mirrors suspended from the ceiling and retro barbers chairs with orange leather seats. It has become in a short time as one of the ‘in’ hairdressers in the city.
13. RELAX. Hammam Al Andalus. 14 Atocha St.
On a centenary well in the old neighborhood of Almudaina, the Arab baths in Madrid are a great option to combat daily stress while getting to know the millenary essence of Arab-Andalusian culture.
Just a couple of blocks from the Plaza Mayor you step into another world. You can bathe in the beautiful centenary pools (hot, tepid and cold), sit in the sauna, have a massage and even eat middle-eastern food in their restaurant when you are done. It is all good.
They give you the towels you need, but it is recommended that you take your bathing suit with you. Ask for a four hand massage.
14. PRIMARY CARE. Public Health Centre. 32 Carrera de San Jeronimo.
A Health Centre in Madrid (Centro de Salud) is basically a Public Primary Care center (or simply family doctors) and aims to cure minor injuries or divert patients to a specialist. Specialty Care in Madrid is done in Hospitals. It opens from Monday to Friday, from 8.00 am to 9.00 pm.
There is an online appointment system for a family physician, pediatrician or nursing professional. Should you require a specialist doctor, you’ll be diverted by the primary care physician to the appropriate hospital. Should you need any further information regarding health issues, please dial 012.
This Health Centre is located in a building that proves that Madrid was a pioneer city in cinema.
In 1896 newspapers announced an event that created the highest of expectations. On May 13, a press pass was a success. All spread the news about “the wonder of the century”.
Two days later, it opened to the public, projecting ten films of firemen working, people getting out of church and more. In twenty minutes sessions, they included smashing titles like “The watered sprinkler”, “The arrival of a train” and “End of work in the Lumière’s factory”.
The event had a great social acceptance.
15. BIKE RENTAL. Trixie. 12 Jardines St.
The Town Hall has just started to bet for the bike in Madrid. Specific paths for bicycles have been created in the city center to motivate locals. Not much success yet, though there is an increasing number.
A bike tour allows you to discover the places, the monuments and the people of Madrid in a calm healthy way. Madrid´s good climate allows to tour around Madrid almost all year round.
Trixi counts with a long experience organizing all sorts of activities on wheels for visitors and families. Closed in January.
16. CAFE. Oita Café. 30 Hortaleza St.
In this cozy space you can have breakfast, a coffee with friends, a snack or a drink at night. It is a popular cafe among locals.
It is a calm beautiful place with a marble counter and a few tables and chairs with rustic-chic look. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and drinks, along with pastries and salty snacks. Try their croissant and spectacular strudel. At noon, there is a lunch menu for 8.50 euros (a plate, a salad and a piece of cake).
Open Monday to Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm. Fridays and Saturdays, from 9:00 am to 2:00 am. Sundays from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.
17. HABERDASHERY. Comercial Amparo. 5 Marques Viudo de Pontejos St.
Comercial Amparo was founded in 1861 and is very popular among locals in search of specific cotton threads, strange buttons, laces, ribbons, trimmings, needles, threads, specific scissors for sewing, or any other item related to sewing.
The shop maintains all the charm of those former times. One of the hidden jewels of the old traditional Madrid.
Haberdasheries have almost disapeared from the center of Madrid. Nowadays, most of them concentrate around Pontejos St, close to Sol, near the numerous fabric shops in the nearby streets.
18. HERBAL SHOP. The Organic Shop. 30 Infantas St.
The Organic Shop was founded in 2007 in Chueca. Their goal is to respond to an increasingly pressing need: truly natural food, from agriculture and stockbreeding in contributing to sustainable transform not only our health, but our entire way of life. This shop opens from Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Home delivery service. Highly recommended are the ready-to-eat salads, rice dishes or pastas and fresh squeezed juices, which help to fill the organic void. They also sell oranges from Andalusia, apples from Catalonia and other organic produce from other communities of Spain. Very popular.
19. GYM. Palacio de Santa Ana. Plaza del Angel.
The Palacio de Santa Ana is a place to feel great in an emblematic area of Madrid, located next to the Hotel Me. This sports and wellness center in Madrid downtown has a small fitness room with the latest in sports equipment, a wellness area to enjoy different circuits and an exclusive Beauty Centre club for the finest treatments.
This gym is hosted in a building constructed in 1810 and also features a SPA to immerse oneself in relaxing wellness. There is also a Beauty Center, for relaxation with the most complete body treatments, functional recovery and other services. It is a small gym and at peak times it feels overcrowded.
20. CINEMA. Renoir. 12 Martín de los Heros.
In Spain, films are dubbed by law since 1941, a way to control “foreign toxicity” during Franco’s dictatorship. Seventy years later, Spaniards are used to see James Bond speaking in a fluent Spanish, same as Mickey Mouse or the Godfather.
This is found enormously irritating for some people who demand to watch films in their original version (in Spanish, VOS). These feel that films are no worse, as Spanish dubbing actors are probably among the best in the world, but just different.
Renoir Cinema is close to Plaza de España, a very convenient area to have something to drink after watching a movie.
21. CHURCH. Royal Oratory of Caballero de Gracia. 3 Caballero de Gracia St.
If you want to go to mass, the Royal Oratory of the Caballero de Gracia is a Catholic church and a great hidden treasure in the center of Madrid. An important architectural work of Juan de Villanueva, its purely neoclassical style is reminiscent of a small Roman basilica. It was built in 1789 on the place of a church from the 16th Century, which was in very poor conditions.
Among the wonders inside, features the image of the Holy Christ of the Agony, a seventeenth-century work, known as one of the best carvings of Christ on the cross.
The Blessed Sacrament is exposed throughout the day, except when mass is celebrated.
22. TOWN HALL POLICE. Police station. 16 Montera St.
The Town Hall Police is located in Montera Street. It is available to citizens who wish to make suggestions, ask for information or file complaints about safety, for assessment or intervention of law enforcement.
The police presence in Montera makes visitors feel safer after it gets dark, though Madrid is not a dangerous city. Town Hall policemen are in navy and white. Please note that this police station does not deal with major coexistence issues, like crimes. For major problems, you should go to the National Police station in Calle de la Luna. In any case, if you need help, go there.
23. NATIONAL POLICE. Police station. 19 Leganitos St.
If you suffer a robbery or an attack you should report the incident as soon as possible to the Police Station (in Spanish, Comisaría) in Leganitos St, and make an official statement (in Spanish, denuncia).
All the police stations are open 24 hours a day and have a multilingual service. Considering the service they provide and the kind of people they deal with, do not expect a charming process. Waiting to be attended can be long, tiresome and the police facilities are rather old and unfriendly. Nevertheless, once it is your turn to make the official statement, you shall find helpful policemen.
Madrid is not a dangerous city, but visitors should always be aware of ploys that distract their attention. Madrilenians are friendly, but be cautious of anyone invading your personal space or someone who keeps offering to help you. Thieves usually work in group or pairs.
You must be careful with Romanian teenagers, as the crime law does not affect minors in Spain, and they know it. Emergency telephones:
- Emergencies: 112
- National Police (crimes): 091
- Town Hall Police (minor crimes): 092
24. DEPARTMENT STORE. El Corte Ingles Sol. 3 Preciados St.
In this department store you can virtually find everything. There is a customer service area with interpreters who speak English, French, Chinese, etc.
This enormous department store is close to the Puerta del Sol and is one of the oldest of this Spanish chain. Special Discounts (10%) for tourists on all purchases and VAT refunded on all purchases, which already implies a good saving.
El Corte Ingles used to be considered the best buying experience by quite a few, though an increasing number feels that customer service is old and not very helpful. Open all days from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm.
All the above information simply intends to inform about the center of Madrid, Spain. Please let me know if any of this information is inappropriate or outdated.
The Madrid experience by VillaJardines is licensed under Creative Commons Reconocimiento – No Comercial – Compartir Igual 3.0 Unported License.