Self Guided Walking Tour of Madrid are Free and Fun.

Travel Diary

Day 1-5: 

We all of a sudden had some free time on our hands because both of our temp jobs ended so we decided to go to Madrid. We had been considering going to Madrid for a while since the flights are fairly cheap out of Birmingham airport and we had heard lots of great things. On top of that, we had met some bloggers 'Alternative Travelers' online that were living in Madrid so they were saying we could meet up if we came to Madrid. They gave us a hand in planning our trip with their 'Short guide to Madrid!' Check out their guide to Madrid for main sights that are free and cheap. 

We headed to Birmingham airport which is a short train ride away and we started to wonder why we ever fly out of London. If only there were more flights out of Birmingham.

Be sure to check out our guide if you are planning a trip to Madrid! 

We had some comments asking us why we stopped doing Vlogs so we decided to do a vlog again and see how it goes. The flight was only about 2 hours and before we knew it we were in Spain. There is a 24h airport express bus that goes from the airport to the city centre of Madrid for €5. We could have taken a bus and the metro to our hotel for cheaper but it was less direct and then we would have to transfer. We decided to go with the express bus.
The bus dropped us off at Atocha station which was really close to our hotel the Sleep'n Atocha.
 The Sleep'N Atocha looks brand new and has fun decor. The room we had was really small but economical with space. There was a shelf and a coat rack. I'm not sure where you would fit a big suitcase in there. Luckily we just had back packs with us. The bathroom has a frosted glass door so not a lot of privacy. The shower is pretty spacious and has excellent water pressure from a rainfall shower head. You have to pay €1 each time you lock the room safe so we didn't bother.


We found the location to be very convenient being close to the Art museums, Retiro park and about a 25 minute walk from the centre of the city. The staff helped us with all of our questions. When we checked out we got charged €5 for something at the bar but they didn't make us pay it when we explained that we didn't get anything from the bar.

We were pretty hungry when we got there so we wanted to find some food to eat. First we got settled in to our hotel. The WiFi really sucked at first but we got it sorted out. We looked on Happy Cow and found a great looking place called Botanique in Mercado de Antón Martín which was nearby. It ended up being closed as I think we were trying to find food at the worst time. It was 4pm or something which is when a lot of restaurants shut down. We weren't aware of this.

How it works is that restaurants are open from around 12:00-4:00 and then from 8:00-Midnight.We ended up going to Urban Orchard which had some excellent smoothies and vegan cakes but unfortunately not much in the way of substantial lunch food. They did have a couscous salad.

The smoothie we each had was called Walking on Sunshine. There was pineapple in there!
We had some delicious avocado cheesecake.
We got some snacks at the grocery store to eat later. In the grocery store we found vegan paella so there is vegan take out meals available in grocery stores. We didn't get it as we didn't have anything to heat it up with.

The next day we headed out to explore the city. There doesn't seem to be a lot of breakfast places so we decided to just get a snack somewhere. We aren't huge breakfast eaters and breakfast doesn't seem to be a big thing in Spain. We went to Planeta Vegano to see what they have. They have a good selection of fridge and freezer food and stuff. We got some muffins there that were honestly pretty disgusting but they tided us over breakfast wise. We figured we'd get food later when we met up with Alternative Travellers at this gluten free bakery that has vegan stuff.





We looked around town guided by the tourist map that our hotel gave us. The front desk circled some of the sights we might want to see.

We saw the centre of the city Puerta del Sol where there were some guy pretending to be statues. Imagine waking up each day to stand perfectly still dressed as a statue and waiting for people to pay you.
Another famous place we saw was the Plaza Mayor. There were these dudes selling stuff illegally in the Plaza. They had all their goods laid out on a blanket and the blanket had ropes attached to it so when the cops came they could just lift all their stuff like a gigantic bindle and run. We did see them getting chased by the security on mopeds. It was kinda entertaining.





We were told that the markets are a thing to see in Madrid so we stopped by one close by to take a look inside. It was a beautiful looking market with glass walls called Mercado de San Miguel.
Not surprisingly there was not a lot in the way of vegan stuff inside. I think there was some olives, vegetable, fruit and drinks as far as vegan options. There was vegetable paella but I don't know if it was vegan or not.
We used our hotel tourist map but also google maps since we downloaded the offline map and starred some of the places we wanted to see.

Gran Via is the big shopping street in Madrid and you could tell since there was a lot more people there and more tourists.
We found the bakery Celicioso. We are not gluten free but this place has vegan stuff and we were meeting alternative travellers there.
We had some coffee and waited for our fellow bloggers to arrive. We wish we could speak Spanish as it would make ordering stuff a lot easier but one girl spoke some English. We were planning on eating once Alternative Travelers arrived. We had some coffee and then we ended up going to a Chinese place close by called Shi-Shang which was all you can eat for €8.95 which is a steal.
Everything was vegan there aside from some of the deserts. We made this our main meal of the day and got multiple plates full. What a great deal it was.
After meeting Alternative Travelers we parted ways and went to the Temple of Debod which we were told is best to see at sunset.


We made it to the Temple just in time to get some great pictures of the light reflecting off the water around the temple. It was busy with other tourists. All of a sudden everyone around us was speaking English with America accents. I don't think we heard one British accent the whole time we were in Madrid, all the tourists were from Canada or the US.

We took a picture of the view from the hill. The temple is up on a hill.

This one guy was getting a memento the hard way and drawing the view. There were many people hanging out in the surrounding park. A group of guys were slack lining so we stopped to watch them for a little while.
The Royal Palace of Madrid was close by and walking through the surrounding garden was very scenic. The weather was great for being in the middle of winter. It felt like spring time. There were a few other people walking around getting pictures.



Madrid looks great at night as well when all the lights come out. Unfortunately our pictures at night never turn out that great so you are just going to have to go to Madrid yourself to see.

The next day we went to explore the massive park nearby our hotel. Retiro park would take us 2-3 hours to explore we were told so we decided to make a day of it. You can read our post on our park visit here. Afterwards we made our way to the Reina Sofia Museum.

The following morning, we had some coffee and tea and oranges for breakfast and then got ready to go out on the town. We headed in the direction of Rayen Vegano to see if we could get a table. It was 1:15 by the time we got there. We would recommend that you make a reservation for lunch rather than just showing up. Luckily enough Rayen Vegano had enough room for us and we both got the Menu del Dia which is a multi course Lunch they do at all restaurants in Madrid.



We both got the pumpkin soup. One of us got the cheesecake and the other got a tempeh dish. For dessert one of us got a muffin and the other got a coffee. All the food there was delicious. It has to be one of the best vegan restaurants we've been to.


Off of Gran Via there is a big department store with the Gourmet Experience on the top. It has a bunch of restaurants and bars and also a fantastic view of the city. You can see this view for free!

We had a bit of a mishap where we tried going to the Cable Car as it said it was open online. When we got there it was shut down. The cable car was only running on weekends. Why was this not listed online? We decided to wander around the Malasaña/Universidad neighbourhoods which have a lot of character.
Sometimes we look at signs to figure out where the hell we are exactly. It can be easy to loose track if your tourist map doesn't show all the street names.
We heard that it was the hipster part of town which felt right once we started seeing vintage clothing, record stores and tattoo parlours.

We saw Plaza Dos de Mayo and walked through the small streets to window shop. There is a lot of cool looking stores in this area. We try not to shop unless we need something so window shopping is pretty much all we do. We don't want to clutter our lives with useless stuff but I have to admit there is a lot of cool useless stuff out there.


We had a bit of a siesta to get in the spirit of Madrid. Also we were pretty wiped out after wandering around for hours. We still had to meet up with Alternative Travelers later for dinner.

We went to B13 Bar to meet them for dinner. We tried some Torilla, Calamares, Patatas Bravas with Meat Balls, and the Doble Hamberguesa.

It was cool meeting up with them and hearing about their experience living in Madrid and their insight on the local culture as well as their time living in NYC where they are from. They spoke Spanish which helped make ordering go a bit more smoothly than if we did it. There is an English menu there though.
We ended up going to a small bar somewhere to see some more of the unique Madrid night spots and then calling it a night early since we had to catch a flight early the next day.

We had to get a nice picture together before saying goodbye. Our hotel front desk guy was happy to take the photo for us. The decorations in our hotel are pretty bizarre. I think they are trying to compete with the Reina Sofia museum next door. Nice try guys.
Our Madrid trip was planned last minute but it didn't seem like it. Everything went really smoothly especially once we figured out was the correct time to eat lunch and dinner in Spain. There is plenty to see in Madrid for free so we didn't have to spend a lot of money on entertainment. Strangely enough it was cheaper to go Monday to Friday like we did than it was to go for for 3 or 4 days. It would be fun to go back during warmer weather but we really can't complain about the fantastic weather we had. Without a doubt head to Madrid when you have a chance.

We also made a little vlog while on our trip in Madrid:

Thank you for reading. If you would like to read more on Spain check out our post:  "Exploring Cartagena by Foot"

Comments

  1. I spent a weekend in Madrid last year and loved it. And yes, just wandering around is great, it's such a beautiful city!

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  2. Madrid is one very very beautiful place high on my bucket list. And I have totally agree with your take on the self guided walking tour, especially when in Europe. It's the best way to experience the places. I am planning to do the same for my upcoming Europe trip

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    1. Awesome! Can't wait to read about your adventures.

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  3. Spain is making all the right kind of news off late. Indians are interested to know more about it especially after a Bollywood movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was shot here. I am a vegetarian (not a vegan yet) and loved how you mention the vegan food in your blog all the time.

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    1. Spain is wonderful. Haha, yeah we mention all our food to spread the word of all the amazing vegan food we can find.

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  4. I always love it when cities have a self guide walking tour. Walking is really good to see things for budget travelers and travelers in general. I've been to a few free walking tours, where you only need to pay for the tip to your guide. All were really nice experiences!

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    1. Walking is the best way to explore a city.

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  5. Madrid looks like an amazing place, you have captured it so well with your pictures. We love self guided tours and you have shown us a great one!

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    1. Thank you. Madrid is just a beautiful city. Hard to capture a bad photo there.

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  6. I was in Madrid years ago and would love to go back and do some more exploring. They have the statue guys in San Fran. It's always a little weird to see them. I can't imagine staying as still as they do. The food shots look tasty!

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    1. I would imagine it would be very boring to stay still for hours. I wonder what they think of to pass the time?

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  7. Your trip to Madrid sounds very spontaneous and spectacular. I really love the deco on your hotel wall. I'd love to know the prices of the food stuffs you had out there? Quick question: Why do you put dis similar sized photographs next to each other?

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    1. To give you some examples of prices the double burger from B13 was €6.50, the all you can each Chinese buffet at Shi-Sheng was €8.95 and the menu del dia at Rayen Vegano was €13.50. We put dissimilar sized photos next to each other to save space because blogger won't allow us to put two medium sized photos side by side. One of them has to be small to fit it next the other.

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  8. Madrid is truly awesome and your post is very good and informative. It is on my list and will definitely take some points from your post.

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  9. I've been to Madrid several times in work assignments but with close to no free time at all, so I'm planning a visit for walk around the city. Can really use some tips from your article for planning.

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  10. A walk down memory lane.. :) I once spent almost a month in this gorgeous city! Can't wait to go back there this year!

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  11. I have been to Spain a few times now, but never made it to Madrid :(! I hope I'll be able to go soon, because your photos are lovely! Feels like this post would be a great guide for when I finally get there!

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  12. Oh, Madrid! I have been to Spain once, but only in Barcelona and I love it there! Nice to see beautiful photos of Madrid. I am happy to see that it seems easy traveling as a vegan in many cities and countries. I wish it could be the same here in Asia.

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    1. Yeah Spain is awesome. We'll see how difficult it is for vegans in Asia once we make it there.

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  13. I have read a few of your earlier posts and now that I am trying to turn Vegan, I absolutely love the blog niche you have. It is really helpful for vegetarians and vegans. Madrid looks lovely. I hope to see it soon.

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    1. Thanks. That's great to hear you are trying to turn vegan. Just let us know if you need any help and we can point you in the right direction.

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  14. I just spent a week in Madrid. Such a great walking city :-) Wish I had seen this first!

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  15. Another magnficent city and another one I expected not to be vegan friendly, lol. I always wanted to visit Spain but not sure when teh dreams will come true. Some time I envy people living in countries that belong to EU or ex-EU ;)

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    1. Spain is definitely not known for vegan food so it surprised us as well. I know how you feel, we are travelling as much as we can while our UK visa lasts. When we were back in Canada going to Spain would have been a lot more expensive for us.

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  16. Madrid is such a beautiful place! Glad to know that the city is vegan friendly. The food looks delish! :-)

    Joy | fatmoments.com

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    1. It is beautiful. We tried to get the best food pics possible. :)

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  18. I've never actually dome a walking tour anywhere. I feel weird haha. This one looks pretty fun though. I missed about 90% of this stuff when I was there which by looking at the photos I am highly regretting.

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    1. No worries. There is so much to see that I'm sure we missed tons as well.

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  19. Saw your vlog and madrid looks like a beautiful place to visit. Would definitely take your recco and take up the walking tour for sure. Glad it is vegan friendly as well. :)

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