After college, I moved to Spain with two bags, a job teaching English, and dreams of eating all of the tapas I could ever want. I lived in a very small town in western Spain for three years (less than 20,000 people), then I got the itch for big city life. When I moved to Madrid, I was already very familiar with it from my monthly (*ahem* weekly) trips to visit my then boyfriend, Juan. Already knowing the city pretty well meant that I knew exactly where to go to eat the best tapas and what places fell under the “Madrid tourism” blanket.
When a place is labeled as a “tourist trap,” there is usually a reason people flock to it. Although overpriced, many of the best “tourist traps” of Madrid are actually entirely worth a visit. Whenever friends or family came to visit me in Madrid, I brought them to the best tourist spots (to check them off of their list), then to the non-tourist, hidden gem alternatives. Both types of places have their appeal and if you are going to Madrid, go to both! Here are my favorite spots in Madrid, including the well-known touristy spots, and where to go to see less foreigners and spend less money. Pro tip: The more littered with napkins the floor of a bar is in Spain, the more legit and delicious it probably is!
To Eat Something Sweet
Tourist Trap: Chocolatería San Ginés (1)
Hidden Gem: Mamá Framboise (2)
To Sip Sangria
Tourist Trap: Las Cuevas de Sésamo (3)
Hidden Gem: Ojalá (4)
To Devour Tapas
Tourist Trap: El Tigre (5)
Hidden Gem: Juana la Loca (6)
To Munch on Snacks
Tourist Trap: 100 Montaditos (7)
Hidden Gem: Lateral (8)
To Buy Fruit (and much more)
Tourist Trap: Mercado San Miguel (9)
Hidden Gem: Mercado San Antón (10)
To See Green
Tourist Trap: Parque de Buen Retiro (11)
Hidden Gem: Parque de El Capricho (12)
To Take Pictures
Tourist Trap: Plaza Mayor (13)
Hidden Gem: Templo de Debod (14)
Insane props to my genius engineer husband for creating this map!