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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Best Ways for Solo Travellers to Experience Madrid Like a Local

We have put together a thorough guide with all the information you need about traveling alone in Madrid

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

MADRID: Travelling solo is no longer out of the ordinary. It’s a rising trend that can be experienced across the world, and Madrid is no exception. Spain’s capital, Madrid, is a safe destination for solo travelers—including female travelers—and has also been voted as one of Europe’s safest capitals by various newspapers and online sources.

The name Madrid originates from the term “Magerit,” which means “place of many streams.” The capital is bursting with art, culture, and architecture, and with its stunning boulevards, feisty culinary heritage, voluptuously planted green areas, and significant cultural influence, the sun-drenched city has cinematic quality in spades.

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Madrid, which holds many magnificent attractions for anyone travelling to Madrid, has a friendly buzz, and its laid-back lifestyle and inviting streets make it an absolute perfect spot to explore by yourself. And one of the best aspects of travelling alone is that you don’t have to adjust to anyone’s schedule. 

But you should do your research and plan ahead, though, to make the most of your trip. Otherwise, instead of soaking in thrive, you’ll be wasting your valuable time investigating while on the road.

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To make your job easier, we have put together a thorough guide with all the information you need about travelling alone in Madrid. From advice on tourist attractions to tips for travelling safely, here are some guidelines to help you have the best possible trip.

Learn about the city’s secret

Instead of trying to figure out Google Maps, use the city’s many visitor information centres. For instance, the Plaza Mayor outpost is accessible 24/7 and provides clever virtual tourist video assistance. 

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Having said that, nothing beats getting the lowdown from a real person (a local guide). Madrid for the first time? Begin with a guided tour around the historic centre of the city. Expand into bohemian neighbourhoods like student-heavy Malasaa, the LGBTQ-welcoming Chueca, or the Salesas, with their richness of architecture and indie boutiques.

Find your type of crowd

Madrilenos are sociable people, whether that be having drinks with friends after work, taking advantage of the city’s 40 green areas, or engaging in activities like “terraceo,” which involves moving from terraza to terraza, i.e., outdoor tables, which make perfect sense in a city blessed with 350 sunny days per year.

Get involved in fun or, if you have a full day of sightseeing ahead of you, attempt “tardeo” like the cool kids. The term, which stems from the word “tarde,” which means “afternoon” or “evening,” refers to the increasingly common practise of socialising without staying out all night.

Or, for a traditional Madrid experience without getting too buzzed, saunter along the chic, tree-lined Paseo del Prado and through the 125-hectare El Retiro Park. These verdant city pockets, which have recently been acknowledged as a component of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, have been favourite gathering spots for Madrilenos since the 16th century.

Pick your stay wisely

In Madrid, accommodations are wide, diverse, welcoming, and available for all budgets. For solo travellers, my recommendation will be to find a place to stay near the city centre so that you can easily reach the historic neighbourhood and main tourist attractions.

If you choose to stay in Madrid’s downtown, you’ll be in the middle of it all. The historic city center is inspiring, rich in culture, and cosmopolitan. If you are looking for fun areas, you must give a shot to Malasaña and Chueca; these places have plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops to offer.

If you finally plan to get your accommodation in the suburbs, at least be sure that there is a subway station nearby.

Enjoy local flavors

Madrid’s culinary heritage is such a significant part of life in the city that it deserves a separate tour to be fully explored. One should go to a traditional market to see how different and unique the city’s food and agriculture are.

Representational Image. Photo Credit: Pixabay/meinnerestetampe

From the opulent Mercado de San Miguel to regional favourites like Mercado de la Cebada, these locales offer a bit of everything. Visit during the day to experience the market culture of the city in full swing; you can also visit at night for supper and drinks. Immerse yourself fully in Madrileño culture by joining locals at the market.

Lose yourself in a city’s art

It’s a real treat to be able to see Madrid’s cultural side on your own. You can go at your own pace through the museums along Paseo del Arte (Art Walk) and find all the other galleries that are scattered around the city.

An art gallery of Paseo del Arte. Photo Credit: Instagram/paseodearte

A good spot to start is the Paseo del Prado, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you can explore the city’s top galleries: the Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, as well as the Royal Botanical Gardens, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Royal Spanish Academy, and the Royal Astronomical Observatory.

But don’t limit yourself to the big hitters. The Museum of Romanticism, as well as the lesser-known Lázaro Galdiano, Sorolla, and Lope de Vega “house museums,” are all worthwhile pit stops.

Take a bike ride 

Nothing can beat the freedom of riding through the city on a bike, and in Madrid, cycling is very convenient. One of the best things for people travelling alone to do is a well-known 3-hour guided bike tour. During this tour, you can witness many places; for instance, you will visit some of the city’s best parks and landmarks, like Retiro Park and Plaza Mayor.

If you want to go on a longer ride, we truly recommend Madrid Río parks and Casa de Campo. For one day, renting a bike will cost you around 15€/day but the thing is, you can also rent one on an hourly basis. Along the way, a native guide tells you historic tales, magic about the city’s art, and many more, making your ride quite interesting.

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Immerse yourself in books

Madrid’s Retiro Park is a wonderful spot to go for a stroll, see the Crystal Palace, enjoy the fountains, or just check out the library. Yes, a library is located right in the center of Retiro Park!

Crystal palace. Photo Credit: Instagram/rosewoodvillamagna

This park is special because it was a zoo named “The House of the Beasts” until 1972. After that, it was partly transformed into some lovely gardens that are still there, and a zoo building was converted into a library. Foreign-language books are also available there. There are also publications in other languages available.

If you prefer old bookstores, there is one on Cuesta Moyano Street, which has been operating for roughly 100 years and is open almost every day of the year, on the other side of Retiro Park. Along with Spanish, books are also available in French and English.

Go for vintage shopping

Everyone is aware that Madrid is a shopping lover’s paradise, with different neighbourhoods offering a variety of shopping options.

However, if you’d like to visit and stroll through distinctive, inventive, and lovely shops where you can simply enter, take a photo, or even just have a cup of coffee (yes, these shops frequently have a double life as a shop in the morning, a café in the afternoon, and a bar in the evening).

For high-end purchases, Milla de Ora, also known as Madrid’s “Golden Mile,” is a street where you can window shop for local designers like Alfredo Villalba and Señorita Martita as well as luxury brands like Tiffany’s.

For even more high-end luxury shopping, go to Grand Via or Salamanca’s leafy streets, which are lined with designer boutiques. Also, visit Cheuca, a buzzy neighbourhood where you can browse shops and eat lunch at one of the many sidewalk cafes.

Gaze sunset

Sunsets are not only for couples; travelling alone and simply gazing up at the beauty of the setting sun make you know yourself better, enabling you to make a deeper connection with the place you are visiting. The best places to watch the sun go down in Madrid are the lush Las Vistillas Gardens or the area around Oeste Park, which is filled with the history and mystery of the old Egyptian Temple of Debod.

Representational Image. Photo Credit: Pixabay/ andresbailo27

Also, after sunset, you can explore the area within the authentic neighbourhood of La Latina and have a drink in a pub where locals gather every evening.

Conclude your trip on a high note

There is no better place than one of Madrid’s rooftops to reflect your soul-stirring solo journey. Many restaurants offer delicious food and drinks, as well as a stunning view of the sky full of stars. Ginkgo Sky Bar on the 12th floor of the hotel, VP Plaza de España Design, and the oh-so rock ‘n’ roll rooftop at the Hard Rock Hotel are just a few of the city’s best spots.

While you’re up there, don’t forget to raise a glass to Madrid itself. Unquestionably, it is one of the most welcoming cities in the world. You might come alone, but there’s a good chance that you’ll leave with a bunch of new friends. A travellers’ spot that knows how to make solo travellers feel at home!

Also Read: Love Is in the Air: 5 Restaurants in Madrid to Dine in on Valentine’s Day


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