Madrid

Check out all the hidden things to do in Madrid

1) Museums: you are well acquainted with the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia (at least you should be). But don’t – at no cost – miss these two gems: the National Archaeological Museum and the Museo de America.

The National Archaeological Museum is a pedagogical masterpiece, where every single stage of the human evolution is recorded and explained via a multimedia experience.

Fact that blew my mind: prehistory is 99% of human time on the earth.

The Museo de America is not as central as the other museums, but it will definitely be worth a trip. It embraces so many cultures that at a certain point it will be a little challenging to keep up, but if you make it through the end you will be rewarded with Inca and Maya treasures impossible to see anywhere else.

Fact that blew my mind: how did I not know all this time that Peru is one of the most interesting countries history-wise?

2) Gardens: given the obvious lack of vegetables they have in any of their dishes (reminder – potato is not a vegetable), you may be surprised to hear that Madrid has the most amazing parks I’ve seen in my life. Let’s start with the obvious Parque del Retiro, continue with the Parque del Capricho and end with the Amazing Quinta de Molinos.

3) Hammam: you are not in an Arab country and you are not in Andalusia, but during my two month stay I found it hard not to pay a weekly visit to the Hammam. During the winter months they offer selected discounts on massages, so really no reason not to go.

4) Flamenco: Again, may not be as awesome as in Andalusia, but some of the flamenco shows here are really worth your time. I especially enjoyed this one. I went with a little prejudice, as the reviews on tripadvisor are not that good, but I had to change my mind completely. Best dancing I’ve ever seen live and all the flamenco videos you can find on youtube will pale in comparison.

5) San Antonio de la Florida Chapel: coming from Rome, I can’t say that churches in Madrid are a must, however Goya’s “angels” are indeed a must-see.

6) Chamberi’s Ghost station: you need to know this exists in order to find it, because it’s quite tricky to understand it and its visiting hours are a bit odd (hello 5 hour siesta??). Although once you find it, it’s just you and the locals. You’ll get to watch a super interesting documentary and wander through the ghost station itself. You’ll get to stare at normal metro passengers in the carriages, without them noticing you, because nobody expects to be observed from a ghost station. Priceless experience with no entry fee.

7) Chamomile: Do you like chamomile? Let’s go drink some chamomile. Ok!!! Turns out Chamomile (Mazanilla) is also a type of sherry here. Very tasty. And one of the most typical places where to drink it is here. The reviews are true, the staff is a little unfriendly and photos are not allowed, but that’s how it should be in a proper old men’s pub of the south.

8) Excursions: Segovia for its aqueduct, Toledo for its architecture and El Escorial for its mausoleum and calm atmosphere. I recommend using the RENFE fast train for all these destinations, it’s easy, clean, comfortable and the quickest mean of transportation.