Want to explore the best places to eat, drink, and relax? Whilst the Plaza Mayor is a great tourist attraction, I have made a list of other plazas in Madrid where I prefer to spend my free time!
La Plaza de Santa Ana
This is one of the plazas in Madrid, famous for its history of attracting actors, authors, and artists, apparently becoming a favourite of Ernest Hemingway! You can also find the statue to commemorate the life and works of Federico García Lorca. Featuring the city´s oldest theatre, el Teatro Español, this lively plaza has become a hub for socialising, eating and drinking in the city centre. There is also a flamenco bar (or tablao) called Villa Rosa tucked away at one corner of the square, which is the oldest flamenco stage in Madrid and promises regular shows from some of Spain’s favourite performers. If music is more your ‘thing’, check out the jazz bar, Central, which is on the road into the plaza, where the best of Madrid´s jazz scene play every night.
La Plaza de Olavide
Fancy a moment away from the hustle and bustle of city life? This is one of my favourite plazas in Madrid and a hit with the locals for a cheap drink or to relax by the fountain. There are terraces that line the edge of the plaza which are popular for good food and drink. If you would rather just enjoy the sunshine, there are plenty of park benches in the greenery! Whether you are looking for tapas, sangría, or a dance, this plaza is guaranteed to give you a great evening.
La Plaza de la Paja
Located in La Latina, this is the oldest plaza in Madrid, so it is a must-see for history and culture lovers! It is known as the “straw-square” from its old market days, and will transport you to an old Spanish village. It is also neighboured by the Jardines de Príncipe de Anglona, which is a very pretty and secluded garden, perfect for taking a break from sight-seeing. Lined with picturesque terraces, this plaza is especially popular on Sundays. So, if you´re looking for a good atmosphere to enjoy some traditional culture at the end of the week, we recommend checking out the Plaza de la Paja. But good luck finding an empty seat!
La Plaza de la Villa
This plaza in Madrid is home to the old Townhall, Casa de la Villa, not far from the Plaza Mayor and the Almudena Cathedral, making it ideal for some landmark hunting. Despite being a medieval plaza, those with a keen eye will notice something different about it… Architecture lovers can rejoice because it uniquely features buildings of many different styles and eras, such as Gothic and Plateresque, which make it incredibly picturesque. The square also features the statue of the famous Spanish sculptor, Mariano Benlliure – you might recognise his work from the bronze equestrian statue of Alfonso XII of Spain in Buen Retiro Park!
La Plaza Oriente
Our final recommendation is the Plaza Oriente! This plaza in Madrid has a beautiful garden and the breath-taking backdrop of the Royal Palace, El Palacio Real de Madrid. This makes it the perfect spot to take in some of the vibrant Spanish heritage and take some great photos! The location of this plaza is also ideal for sight-seeing, as Madrid´s opera house, el Teatro Real, and the women´s convent, the Royal Monastery of Incarnation, are very close by. Spanish opera is a spectacle that should not be missed, and if you are organised tickets start from about €30. However, they always sell out so be quick!
So, if you’re visiting Madrid and wondering what to see… Well, the spanish way to enjoy the city and its great weather is going to the plazas and its terraces. And, since spring is around the corner, I’ll be back next week with more open air recommendations!