Alternative Madrid: Guide to Madrid Secrets

We all know the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia one, the Puerta del Sol and the Royal Palace. But there's more in Madrid! Read below to discover Madrid's best-kept secrets!

Travel tips

botero hand madrid

Madrid, the capital of Spain, proud of its imperial past, is a wonderful place to explore. Two of the best-known museums in Europe, and maybe in the world, are here and its historical center is full of monuments and history. But you all know this. You are here to discover what more Madrid can offer. And we are here to answer you!

This is our list of 10 alternative things to do in Madrid.

casa botin

1) Try the oldest restaurant in the world.

Yes, what is acknowledged as the oldest restaurant in the world is right here in Madrid. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Sobrino de Botín is the oldest continuously-operating restaurant in the world. Founded in 1725 under the name of Casa Botín, it has almost three centuries of history and is mentioned in one of Hemingway’s earliest works. The specialties here are the cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig) and the sopa de ajo (an egg, poached in chicken broth, and laced with sherry and garlic).


2) Roam around the Mercado de Motores

Mercado de Motores takes place during the second weekend of every month at the Museo del Ferrocarril, a couple of metro stops away from Reina Sofia Museum. The Mercado de Motores is a delightful vintage market, offering music, food, entertainment, and shopping. It is held inside an old train station, a charming setting which is part of the experience. If you enjoy vintage markets, you can't miss Mercado de Motores.

thyssen museum

3) Visit the beautiful Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Most people know both the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum. Fewer tourists are aware of Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, even if it forms the so-called "Golden Triangle of Art" along with the two aforementioned museums. It was born as a private collection of Baron Thyssen, and at the time was the second-largest private collection in the world after the British Royal Collection. The Thyssen Museum collection fills the historical gap in its counterparts' collections. Here you will find Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo masterpieces, but also contemporary artists such as Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, Willem De Kooning, and Francis Bacon.

You can book the ticket on Globol here.  

flamenco spain

4) Enjoy a Flamenco night

Visiting Spain without exploring one of its most iconic traditions would be a waste. Since 2010, Flamenco has been declared by UNESCO one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Its origins are uncertain; we know it was born in Andalusia, the southern region of Spain, around the 19th century but everything else is debatable. In Madrid there are many bars that keep the tradition alive, putting on live shows on a regular basis.
You can book one here on Globol.

5) Spend some hours at the Garden of Prince Anglona

There is another way to travel back in time: stepping into this wonderful secluded 18th-century garden with a Neoclassical layout. The name comes from Pedro de Alcántara Téllez-Girón y Alfonso-Pimentel, the prince of Anglona who lived in the attached royal residence during the nineteenth century. This is a perfect example of aristocratic garden, and it has an unusual atmosphere: a peaceful place suspended in time but located in the very heart of bustling Madrid.

garden aragona

6) Admire the street art at Tabacalera

If you love street art, Madrid has several places you can't miss. There is the popular district of Malasaña, known for its nightlife and the vivacity of its people, or the Cebeda Market, in La Latina district: its exterior is quickly becoming one large mural! But maybe the best choice is to visit the Tabacalera. La Tabacalera de Lavapies is a CSA, Centro Social Autogestionado, Autonomous Social Center, located in the heart of the city inside an ex tobacco factory. Its exteriors are full of great street art but we suggest stepping inside and participating in one of their events, like concerts and exhibitions.

tabacalera madrid street art

7) Find the Three Botero Statues

There's another kind of street art you can't miss: that by a world-renowned auteur. Fernando Botero, a living legend, considered the most recognized and quoted artist alive hailing from Latina America, placed three sculptures in the streets of Madrid. The world-famous Colombian artist is mostly known for his paintings but he is a sculptor too and you will surely recognize his aesthetic in these statues. In Plaza de Colón you will find La Mujer del Espejo, in Plaza the San Juan there is the famous La Mano and the last one is El Rapto de Europa in Terminal 1 of the Madrid Barajas airport.

botero hand madrid

8) Admire the weird wall of grass

Another lesser-known natural beauty in Madrid is the so-called wall of grass. Located next to Caixa Forum, near the Parque de El Retiro, in the very heart of the city, the Wall of Grass is literally... a wall of grass. Its technical name is "vertical garden" and it was designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc.
The effect is strange. This 4-story-high wall seems like a living building and some people find it uncanny, other beautiful. Come here and discover how you feel about it.

wall of grass madrid

9) Dining on the beach in Madrid?

Maybe you weren't the top of the geography class in school but you should know: Madrid is not on the sea. So, what are we talking about? Where are the beaches? Well, a restaurant called Ojalá chose to change the situation. Located in Malasaña, the youthful and popular district of Madrid, Ojalá gives its guests a little man-made beach oasis in the middle of the city! The floor is fully covered in sand and it’s a really fun place to visit, popular among visitors and locals. After a long walking tour around the historical center, kick off your shoes and enjoy a refreshing cocktail!

beach maldive dinner

10) Leave Madrid!

Yes, the last alternative things you can do in Madrid is to leave it! Many tourists act as they are stuck in the city they choose as a destination. There are a lot of places worthy of a visit around Madrid. You can spend half-a-day in Toledo, discover the charming Valley Of The Fallen and the imposing Monastery of El Escorial or explore the medieval beauties of Avila and Segovia.
You can book a fully organized guided tour on Globol here.