We kick-started our summer trip in Madrid, excited for sunny 28-degree days and sangrias. (Istanbul was resolutely 17-degrees when we left, reluctant to fully transition into summer.)
See: Free-to-visit sites like the Plaza de España and the Royal Palace were pleasant. We spent about an hour taking photos at the garden of the palace (we were not that interested in going in) before going shopping at the Gran Via. The Plaza Mayor was bustling – there was even a jazz band busking our second time there. I also love the San Ginés district that was rustic and picturesque.
Real Madrid’s stadium tour at Santiago Bernabéu was 24€/person so that’s a #budjetsetno. (We prefer to spend our budget on food, see below.) A #budjetsetGO option would be to visit the flagship Real Madrid store on Gran Via—at least there’s a cup on display. Just hold on to your euros and not buy the merch.
Eat: We had to have paella, after seeing it all over our friends’ Instagram stories. Be prepared to pay about 11€ (good for 2 people), any cheaper in the city centre guarantees you lousy microwaved paella.
Churros at San Ginés Chocolateria are a must-eat. I was never a fan of churros back in Singapore—I found them too hard and they cut the roof of my mouth. But San Gines made me a convert. I loved the way my teeth broke the crispy exterior to reach the chewy insides. It’s like a mini youtiao with ridges. A portion of 6 churros with dipping chocolate costs 4.5€.
Drink: Besides the obvious sangria recommendation, I’d like to give an honourable mention to Clara con Limon, which is basically a radler mixed using beer and lemon soda. I like a good malty beer and can appreciate hoppy pilsners, but for those who don’t there’s always Clara beer.
Chilled sangria is beautiful on a summer day. You can choose to have an 11€ jug at the plaza, or you could buy a 1.5l bottle this fruity booze from the supermarket for less than 2€.
I ordered a 3€ glass of horchata with my churros but it was disappointing – the only good thing about it was that it was cold.
Do: Watch a Real Madrid game at a local bar on game night. We were in town the night of the Champions League final against Juventus (miiiight have paid to watch it live at Santiago Bernabéu if the game was at the stadium – there was a screening, though) and people crowded our bar, standing to watch if they had to.
The bar owner’s family and friends also came to join the party. It was a really fun atmosphere to be a part of – at some point, tapas became on-the-house. It was even better when Real Madrid won. Everyone on the streets were celebrating!
Hasta pronto, Madrid!