Scholarship Series: Kylie’s guide to food and fun on a budget in Madrid
I came to Madrid pretty blind. I had done very little research. I didn’t have a bucket list of things to do. Everywhere I went was on the suggestions of others in Madrid or by stumbling upon them. There is just so much to do that it is a daunting task to try to sort through the pages and pages of TripAdvisor suggestions or travel blogs. While this is just another travel blog, essentially starting with one from The Intern Group is a pretty good starting place. I actually found recommendations from a previous intern’s blog so, hopefully, you can find something useful from this. This is my abridged list of places to eat, and things to do in Madrid. Since I lived on Gran Via, most of these places are in that area.
Places to Eat (All for under 20 euro!)
1. El Bruo: Best place to go with large groups
El Bruo has two buildings right across the street from each other so there is a lot of room to accommodate groups. However, the real reason this is the best place for large groups is because their tortillas are bigger than your head. The first time we went in we thought we would all order our own tortilla but were quickly denied our request by our waitress. She said their portions were too big for that. We were pretty skeptical since most of the portion sizes we had in Spain were pretty small. Consequently, we agreed on 2 tortillas between 4 of us. Again, we were denied so we compromised on one tortilla. Never has there been a bigger case of “I told you so” than when this 5 lb tortilla came out. We hadn’t eaten all day and it was 8 pm and this was the only thing we ordered. We could still barely finish it. Even better, a tortilla is only about 11 euro and their other food is equally delicious.
2. Ramen Kagura: Best noodles
I’m so sad that I only found this place my last week in Madrid (and I still managed to go twice). It is very possibly the best noodle place I have been to outside of Asia. While they don’t have a large ramen menu (only about 6 dishes), it is absolutely delicious. They have both wet and dry options and each ramen has a vegetarian counterpart. There is generally a line but it’s worth the wait.
3. Juicy Avenue: A great quick lunch or dinner place
Spain is amazing for long lunches and rich foods but sometimes you need a break from all of that. Juicy Avenue has a range of healthy salads, crepes, bagels, smoothies, and wraps. I’m not a big salad eater but I fell in love with their goat cheese salad. Each item is about 5-6 euros so it’s also good for your wallet.
4. Takos: The best 1 euro tacos you will ever eat
Really enough said. Oh, also 4 euro margaritas. Word of warning though, during normal meal times the line can be around the block.
5. Vesuvio: My go to pizza place
It has both amazing pizza and pasta. There really aren’t any bad choices here. What makes it cooler is that you can watch the guys spin out the dough and make your pizza. While I never tried the pasta, I’ve heard it’s amazing and the rigatoni is apparently their specialty. The pizzas range in price from about 5.50 to 10 euros and are made for one person.
Places to Go
One of Madrid’s many museums makes this list for its sheer size and impressive list of artists. My high school art class came in handy here. I was excited to see the paintings I had learned about in school from artists like Velasquez, Goya, and El Greco. Be warned though, Prado is huge and will take a while to get through. I recommend picking up the map at the info desk because it lists all the most famous works in each room. It definitely helps guide your visit. Pro-tip: If you have a student ID you can get in for free ANYTIME. Prado is free after 6 but you will run into long lines. So, definitely, go in the morning or early afternoon.
2. National Museum of Archeology
This four floor museum tells the history from the beginning of humanity to medieval times. We were there for three hours and only managed to get through the first 2 floors. One of the coolest things about this museum is their use of VR to show different aspects of history.
3. Retiro: The perfect place to have a picnic, sunbathe or exercise
We spent a lot of afternoons after work there. There are a lot of hidden gems among the park. There is a flower garden, the glass palace, and my personal favorite, the rowboats. There is a small pond in the middle of the park where you can rent rowboats. They fit 4 people and only cost 6 euros in total. You can always tell who is learning to row the first time by whose boat is going backward!
4. Templo Debod: The best place to watch sunset
Templo Debod is a gift to Spain from Egypt. While the temple itself is striking, the view from the outlook is even more impressive.
Inspired by Kylie’s list of things to do in Madrid? Learn more about our international internship program in Madrid.
Content and photos by Kylie Lan Tumiatti