There are a thousand stereotypes about Spain and the Spanish people. Many Erasmus students coming to Madrid haven’t even landed and they’re already sure of what awaits them. It’s only appropriate then that no city like Madrid has the power to surprise you if you know how and where to look! All you have to do is leave the main touristic spots and check out the wonderful, random world of Madrid off the beaten path.
Eat at Mercado San Fernando
It’s the non-tourist version of the packed Mercado San Miguel. This smaller market is located in the neighbourhood of Lavapiés, and is normally filled with families and friends who prefer a quieter setting. Taste a craft beer or a local wine, and snack on tasty tapas from one of the many cafés, pubs and restaurants throughout the market.
Roam Calle del Pez
A small street that is boiling with life. It’s quirky and a little crazy, but you’ll find a lot of really great spots here if you look around. Try the enormous hamburger with Jack Daniels barbecue sauce at Pontepez, for example! It’s the tiny, friendly bar at number 18. The age-groups may be a little bit closer to 30 than they are to 20, but the staff is friendly, the music is always great, and the atmosphere is unbeatable. True Madrid off the beaten path.
Catch the Matiné at Cine Ideal
The early shows on Saturday and Sunday are cheaper in this quintessential movie theatre with stained-glass windows and 13 rooms. All movies are shown in their original version — which means the only films in Spanish you’ll have to watch is the films that are actually spoken in Spanish. All in all, a very student-friendly experience if you want to catch a good movie. No dubbing here!
Ping pong in a bar
At La Musa, in the vaulted cellar bar, there’s a ping pong table you can play on. This is a cool tapas bar on one of old Madrid’s nicest squares in Malasaña. It’s all very recycled-cool, and there are tables outside under the trees you can sit down on during this summer’s warm nights. Remember when we said tapas are an absolute must for students in Spain? La Musa is a great spot for tapas; maybe one of our personal favourites.
See a fallen angel
One for those of us out there with a bit of a goth streak. Lucipher, the Morning Star, popularly (mis-)known as Satan or the Devil, has his own statue right in the middle of the Retiro Garden. Built in 1877, an urban legend says this bronze statue is at exactly 666m above sea level. Surprising for a mainly Catholic city, right?
There’s a lot more to explore in Madrid off the beaten path: there’s the ghost station in Chamberi, an abandoned metro station open to visitors Friday to Sunday, or the flea market literally inside the Railway Museum on the second weekend of every month. The list goes on and on!
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What other alternative things do you like to do and see in Madrid? Let us know in the comments. And remember: if you need student accommodation, you’ll find the perfect student home on Uniplaces. We have rooms in Madrid!