7 unique things to do in Madrid like a local

Tips from locals to enjoy the Spanish capital

There are many reasons why the Madrid locals (“Madrileños”) are special. Madrid is the capital of Spain and there are people from all over Spain living in this cosmopolitan city. Some of them came because of their jobs, while others were born in Madrid and live there for generations.

Madrid is an artificial city that initially emerged as a small town known as the “La Villa de Madrid”. It was King Felipe II who decided to establish the capital of Spain there to take advantage of its central geographic location. Nowadays, it is still a meeting point between national inhabitants, foreigners, tourists and students, and everyone who goes through the city and wants to visit it.

To feel the essence of Madrid city, you should know how locals enjoy their daily life. For your next visit to the city, we’ve prepared a list of 7 things to do in Madrid like a local, those unique Madrid activities that inhabitants do and enjoy that will give you the chance to live this experience as a real Madrileño.

How to enjoy Madrid like a local?

Taste the squid sandwich

The squid sandwich is very popular in Madrid. On one hand, the Madrileño is very fond of fish in general, and the city is one of the main places for selling fish throughout Europe. On the other hand, religious festivals meant that during long periods of the year it was not allowed to eat meat, so fish and seafood gained prominence. The influence of the Andalusian culture and its fondness for this type of dishes also has great importance. El Brillante has years of history and there you can eat the best squid sandwich in Madrid (“bocata de calamares” if you want to ask for it in Spanish). There are several bars El Brillante throughout the city, but the most authentic is the one located in front of the Atocha train station. It costs € 6 and it is one of the more exclusive things that can be done in Madrid.

Enjoy a live concert

Madrid is a city that loves music, either because of the number of concerts held in the city every year, the international festivals that choose Madrid as their venue or simply the singers that you can listen to in almost every corner. But if you want to enjoy live music like a local, you must go to some of the city concert halls. In concert halls such as La Riviera, located next to the Manzanares river, you can enjoy the best concerts of international mainstream bands. In a concert hall like Galileo Galilei you find variety shows, stand-up comedy and, of course, live music. But if you want to know the best concert hall in Madrid, you must visit “El Sol”, one of the most popular on times of the eighties “movida” and the place where you will find concerts of all kinds.

Take a walk along La Gran Vía

La Gran Vía is one of Madrid main avenues, where many benchmarks and some of the most emblematic monuments are located. In the same street you can find alternative fashion stores, major brands and all kinds of restaurants where you can have lunch while enjoying what is considered the most famous (and expensive) street in Spain. In La Gran Vía there are also multiple theaters and concert halls where you can catch a show, musical and all kinds of theatre plays. Whether you want to go shopping, window-shopping or simply take a walk, La Gran Vía is one of the most visited routes by the authentic Madrileños.

Have tapas in La Latina area

In Madrid there are many different areas where you can have some tapas, all of them of great quality. But if you want to be an authentic Madrileño, you must have some tapas in one of the most typical areas of Madrid, La Latina neighborhood. This area is part of the well-known Madrid de los Austrias, Madrid historic ​downtown. Its architecture will make you feel that you have traveled back to the past, to the times when Madrid was only the Villa de Madrid. In its streets you will find traditional taverns where you can taste everything, from the most original and daring tasting tapas to the most classic. Nothing will make you feel more like a local from the eighteenth century as a red wine and a tapa of Manchego cheese sitting on a terrace in the neighborhood of La Latina.

Enjoy a cocktail from the heights

There are many points in Madrid from where we can see the skyline of the city and enjoy incredible views. The Almudena cathedral tower, the Palacio de la Cibeles rooftop or the lighthouse of Moncloa are some good examples. But the best of all is on the Fine Arts Circle rooftop for several reasons. The first is that everybody can access, within their schedule. The second is that the view you get is from the Gran Vía district, one of the most beautiful and typical of the entire city. On the roof there is a bar where we can have a drink while enjoying the panoramic views of Madrid. A unique activity in Madrid that locals have at their fingertips (and now you too).

Join some of the Retiro park sport activities

The Retiro Park is a meeting point for a lot of locals to do some sports or activities. The idea is that fans of any sport (running, soccer, yoga, skates, etc.) connect through social networks or text messages, meet in specific areas of the park and play sports together. There are open and mixed groups that enjoy exercising in company, chatting and meeting people. You can search these groups on the internet or social networks and integrate yourself in them very easily. These are known as “hangouts”. If you want to join the skaters, you can also rent your skates inside the park.

Go to a football match

Madrid loves football, to the point that it is the Spanish region with the most teams in the National football first division: Real Madrid, Atlético de Madrid, Leganés and Getafe. But it does not end there, because in the second division there are still more teams: Rayo Vallecano, Alcorcón, Algete, etc. If you are an elite football fan, the best plan would be to go to the Real Madrid or Atlético de Madrid stadiums and watch a Liga or Copa del Rey game. However, if you want to enjoy Madrid like a local, we would recommend you to go to a small field and watch a game of the lesser known teams. You will surely feel the passion and enthusiasm of all fans inside of you. In addition, the tickets to these matches are much more affordable than those of the first division.


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