Everything You Need To Know About Visiting Madrid For The Holidays

From the food to the street art, there’s so much to see beyond the ordinary during this special season.

Spain's capital is full of culinary adventures, old and new architecture, centenary shops, history, and some of the friendliest, lively people you'll encounter. Now is an amazing time to visit Madrid, as the mild, cooler temperatures are ideal for walking around and the Christmas markets are starting to open. If you're headed to Spain to see traditional and seasonal activities, here's how to make the most of this vacation.

Where to Stay

Built in the 1920s, Hotel Montera Madrid is a historical building in Madrid that not only has character but is luxurious as well. There's nothing quite like exploring the streets of Madrid all evening and coming back to a deep soaking tub to relax your muscles before bed. Throw on a cozy robe and kick back on the couch while snacking on some iberico ham from the market and a glass of wine. There's even ham and caviar in the mini fridge if you don't feel like leaving, but you want to splurge. The bed is incredibly comfortable, and if you're more of a shower person than a bath person, there's a huge rainfall shower in certain rooms.

The hotel is centrally located, walking distance from a bunch of Christmas markets, shops, restaurants, and more. Even taking the elevator is an experience. You can see beautiful murals and works of art by a local artist, Miguel Caravaca, as you ride the lift to your floor. Take in the views from the roof of the hotel to view the stunning skyline.

Certain hotel bars and restaurants have a reputation of being, for lack of a better way to put it, lame at times. Mediocre food, the same old drinks, and nothing really worthwhile. However, in this case, the hotel's La Braserí has some of the best food that I've enjoyed in Madrid. They celebrate local flavors and have a variety of tasting menus for guests to share or keep for themselves. The dishes are perfectly cooked, with options like the Tournedos and Foie Gras sprinkled with salt, silky chocolates in EVOO, confit tomatoes, and other fresh ingredients.

Of course, each dish should be paired with some local Spanish wine.

Holiday Markets

Just a 10-minute walk from the hotel is the Plaza Mayor Christmas Market, fun to walk around at night when everything is lit up. Browse through toys, trinkets, and nativity scene figures as you stroll. In addition to Plaza Mayor, keep an eye out for other markets sprinkled throughout the area, as well, selling a variety of knit goods, jewelry, chocolates, and other specialty items.

You simply can't visit Madrid without experiencing the chocolate and churros from Chocolatería San Ginés. If you're only going to have this treat once during your trip, this is the place. They opened in the 1890s and have been supplying Madrid and visitors from around the world with high-quality sipping chocolate and freshly fried churros for many years.

The City Center

You can book a private guide or explore Madrid on your own. A private guide is ideal, so you have someone to point out small details and describe the scenery, showing you specific places based on your individual interests. However, if you prefer to explore on your own the city is busy and walkable. Head towards the city center to view some of the shops, along with the Royal Palace of Madrid and the chapel. Inside the palace displays stunning art and decor.

Try the Local Food

When it comes to stopping for lunch, there are plenty of places around the city for authentic cuisine. If you're looking to try the traditional stew, Lhardy Restaurante is the ultimate destination, open since the late 1830s. The Madrileño stew consists of garbanzo beans, angel hair noodles, truffle sausage, cabbage, potato, black pudding, cow marrow, Iberian bacon, beef sausage, Iberian ham from Huelva, crispy Iberian ear, rib, and Lhardy brava sauce.

Other good spots for stew include Casa Carola and La Bola. Before leaving Madrid, you have to try the bocadillo de calamares, which is essentially a squid sandwich, and paella! Casa de Valencia had amazing seafood, paella, but just be aware that it's a minimum of two portions.

How to Have the Most Fun

As you walk around the city, keep your eyes open for urban art. There are plenty of murals, small and large, covering the buildings and doors throughout Madrid. The colorful works of art bring life to otherwise overlooked spaces. The Malasaña Neighbourhood is a great place to start.

If you're looking for a fun night out, enjoy dinner at Amazónico Jazz Club/The Jungle Jazz Club while listening to music, indulging in craft cocktails, desserts, and delicious dishes. On certain evenings, diners can hear jazz, flamenco, soul, and other genres, giving you a truly fulfilling experience. If you're looking to try a little bit of everything, the San Miguel Market is full of authentic, traditional foods and tapas. It was opened in the early 1900s as a food market and turned into the current version in the early 2000s.

Throughout the various stands at the market, you can choose from a wide range of seafood tapas. There is cheese mixed with jams, fresh fruit, and ham. The fresh mozzarella is phenomenal, especially with the salty prosciutto and sweet fig marmalade. The seafood tapas, like fresh octopus and cod tartare, are light bites, so you can try a few things without getting too full.