10 reasons to live in Madrid!

It always helps to know the local traditions when you arrive in a new country or city. Therefore, today I want to share the 10 things I have learnt about Madrid in the time I have been here. If you are thinking of visiting, this guide will help you to prepare for your trip, by […]

It always helps to know the local traditions when you arrive in a new country or city. Therefore, today I want to share the 10 things I have learnt about Madrid in the time I have been here. If you are thinking of visiting, this guide will help you to prepare for your trip, by explaining the traditions and customs of the city. I hope that with this information you will fall in love with Madrid like I did. Let’s start!

1: Madrid is the culture capital

This is a city of historical treasures and local traditions in Madrid date back for centuries. The traditions effortlessly combine with the cosmopolitan and modern feel of the city, which is why it has been named “European Capital of Culture” since 1992. There is a huge variety of cultural activities on offer for locals and tourists. There are not only things to see in the classic museums (Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen), but also in the thousands of galleries and cultural centres: El Matadero or La Casa Encendida, for example, are of my favourites. I recommend them to anyone who wants to know a more arty and alternative Madrid!

2: Madrid is the ideal university city

So many students live in Madrid; it has a great student community. It is one of the most popular cities for university students in Europe, as it has several very prestigious institutions. The youthful demographic makes Madrid a city that is always on the move, and so it is impossible to be bored here.

3: Madrid is a friendly, welcoming city

Despite being a city full of young people, family life in Madrid is very important. The balance between youth and family make this city a welcoming place for anyone. On weekends, the city is filled with the laughter of children playing with their parents and siblings: in the parks, streets, shops, cinemas, etc. Even when you go out to dinner, you will see many families with children having dinner until late at night. In addition, because the city is full of green spaces, everyone goes out to enjoy the fresh air and the warm weather. Locals tend to head to these parks: El Retiro, Casa de Campo, Madrid Río, Jardines de Sabatini, or Parque El Capricho, just to name a few.

Madrid parks

 

4: A city that never sleeps

In Madrid, people of all ages are very sociable and are always out and about the city. Sometimes, Madrid is even labelled the New York of Europe. Even in winter, all the bars and cafes are full of people chatting and enjoying each other’s company. There are many types of bars and restaurants in Madrid, from the most traditional ones to the most trendy, the nightlife is said to be one of the best in Europe. The night does not start until quite late: normally people go to discos or “garitos” after 2 or 3, and return home at 6 or 7 in the morning.

Madrid nightlife

 

5: Madrid local traditions: meal times

If we’re talking about local traditions in Madrid that I enjoy, I have to mention one of the best traditions in Madrid: breakfast twice. Yes! Twice! First, they have a light breakfast early, and around 11 they have a bigger, more substantial breakfast. It is normal to see people ordering coffee with milk next to a tortilla skewer at any time in the morning. Then lunch, around 3pm is the most important meal of the day. Later at 6pm, the Spanish usually have a snack, and at around 7pm, it is time for a refreshing drink. Dinner starts around 9-10pm, which could be postponed until after midnight during the hot summer months.

6: Tapas, my favourite reason to love the city

The tapas culture is one of the most well-known local traditions in Madrid. This is because locals dine very late here in comparison to other countries. One of the most typical customs is to meet friends for a drink in a bar when leaving work. And these drinks are always accompanied by tapas: most of the bars and restaurants serve a small plate of some typical Spanish food next to the drink: tortilla, croquettes, olives, patatas bravas, bruschetta, skewers, peppers, etc. In restaurants and bars, you can normally sit inside or on the terrace. It is generally cheaper to be inside the bar, and the popular terraces are usually more expensive. I will write a guide with my favourite tapa bars in another blog post!

Tapas

 

7: Madrid habits: the rules of rest, the ‘siesta’

The laws and habits of rest in Madrid are crucial! Therefore, the ‘siesta’ (an afternoon nap) is sacred. Most stores close after lunch, usually between 2 and 5pm. At 5pm, they open again until 8 or 9 pm. This schedule is due to people going to take a nap to divide their workday and recuperate.

8: In summer the city changes, but it is still full of life

In August, life in Madrid changes. Many locals leave Madrid to go to the beautiful beaches of Spain for their holidays. If you are here during the month of August, you can enjoy the wide cultural offering without the hustle and bustle of the usually hectic city. In addition, if you get hot, you can enjoy swimming in the municipal outdoor swimming pools, paying for a day pass at a very low cost. My favourite is the one in Acacias! The great thing about Madrid’s heat is that, although it reaches high temperatures, there is no humidity. And, there is always the option of making a trip to the Sierras by public transport, to get some fresh air. Finally, if you are in Madrid in August, you will enjoy one of the best ‘fiesta’ festivals of the summer: I recommend that you do not miss it.

Traditions in Madrid

 

9: The history is alive in your taste buds

Keeping culinary traditions alive and thriving, Madrid is home to the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness book of records. This is the restaurant “Sobrino de Botín”, on Calle Cuchilleros 17, which was founded in 1725 and is still open! Here, they serve typical Madrid cuisine. I still haven’t visited it, but I’m sure it won’t disappoint when I do. I cannot wait to taste their specialties: Castellan roasted lamb and pork!

10: Spanish traditions on greeting people

A final tip for you to remember when you greet someone: do not be surprised if people greet you with two kisses on the cheeks. This is normal here, and it is one of the most characteristic customs in Madrid.

That’s all for today. These 10 facts made Madrid feel like a real home for me. Adapting to living here was easy and quick, because Madrid is a very generous and welcoming city. As always, I recommend walking and getting lost in the streets of the city, as it allows you to discover all kinds of historical secrets.

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