Thanks to its location slightly out of the city center, the Parque de El Capricho isn’t commonly visited by tourists. However, it’s one of the prettiest and most interesting parks in Madrid, thanks to its combination of French, Italian and English architectural styles. You’ll be able to spot Grecian columns and ruins, a large lake with black swans, a palace, a rose garden and a labyrinth formed out of impeccably manicured trees and bushes.
Parque de El Capricho, Paseo de la Alameda de Osuna, 25, Madrid +34 915 88 01 14
While most tourists are sitting outside having overpriced drinks at the Plaza Mayor, you can sit outdoors in a much more local square, Plaza de Olavide. Lined with bars and restaurants, you have your pick of spots to dine or drink at. There’s park areas for kids to play, fountains, and benches if you’d rather relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
Markets are the new way of dining in Madrid, and some are more popular with tourists than others. Among the most local is the Mercado de la Cebada in La Latina. Besides plenty of food stalls, there’s an outdoor area with street art. Locals love to hang out here. Don’t be surprised to see some impromptu theatre or music too.
Soak in a warm pool of water, sweat it out in the steam room or get a relaxing massage at the Hamman Al Andalus. Mostly frequented by locals, it’s fairly cheap to spend a couple of hours pampering yourself, especially after a long day touring the city. It’s best to check online and reserve in advance. Visit during off-peak hours to avoid the crowds.
Hammam Al Ándalus, Madrid Calle de Atocha, 14, 28012 Madrid +34 91 429 90 20
While many tourists are forking over major cash for a flamenco dinner show, Las Tablas, more like a tiny bar than a theatre, puts on an authentic show that won’t break your budget. The audience is a good mixture of locals and visitors, and you get a free drink.
Flamenco Las Tablas, Plaza de España, 9, 28008 Madrid +34 915 42 05 20
One of Madrid’s newer markets, MadrEAT is an outdoor food-truck festival where Madrid’s locals flock to eat, drink and hang out. The dates and location vary each month, so make sure to check out their website to see what’s on and where it’s at. You can sample all types of international foods and Spanish specialties. Visit when the weather’s good.
Matadero was once Madrid’s largest slaughterhouse, but is now a cultural center. These days, the center offers a multitude of different things to do, from art exhibitions to drawing workshops to photography contests. With both temporary exhibitions and activities and permanent collections, this place is slightly off the beaten track and nearly tourist-free.
Matadero Madrid, Paseo de la Chopera 14, Madrid +34 915 17 73 09
If you love vintage trains and shopping, then you shouldn’t miss the Mercado de los Motores. Frequented mainly by locals, the market features furniture, antiques, decor, second-hand clothes, jewelry, gourmet foods and more. Located in Madrid’s vintage train museum, the Museo del Ferrocarril, you can simultaneously shop, eat, drink and check out some of Spain’s oldest train cars.