Where to go for the Best Tapas in Madrid

Madrid is a city fueled by coffee and cañas that never sleeps and never stops eating. 

Whatever brings you to Madrid, whether you are a tourist, an English teacher, a volunteer or a gap-yearer, you’ll soon get caught up in the wonderful world of tapas in Madrid.

See also: Unique Things to do in Madrid on a Sunday

Facade of traditional tapas bar on Gran Via in Madrid, Spain
Facade of traditional tapas bar on Gran Via in Madrid, Spain – depositphotos.com

Here are 5 of our favourite places to enjoy tapas in Madrid

Make sure to also check out our post on the best tapas bars in Barcelona!

Casa Labra – Croquetas de bacaloa

Stepping into Casa Labra is like stepping back in time. Order your delectable croquetas from the small counter to the right, then head to the bar to order a thimble-sized glass of beer or wine to accompany the oozy, creamy morsels.

Fatigas del querer – Patatas dos salsas

This tapas bar in Madrid is always buzzing with Spaniards and guiris alike. The free nibbles that arrive with your drinks are a delicious start. Then move on to the huge raciones of patatas dos salsas or gambas al ajillo and you won’t regret it. Brilliant, but often-chaotic service!

Fatigas del querer for tapas in Madrid
Fatigas del querer for tapas in Madrid

Lateral – Tortilla de patata

One portion of this melt in the mouth tortilla at Lateral is never enough; you’ll be back for more. The tortilla has a soft gooey middle of caramelized onions and is absolute heaven on a plate.

Taberna Txakolina – Pintxos

If you’re in to your pintxos you won’t be disappointed at Taberna Txakolina. The tapas bar in Madrid is lined with beautiful and delicious pintxos combining all sorts of good quality ingredients. A personal favourite is what we like to call the Salmon Tower.

Tapas at Taberna Txakolina in Madrid
Taberna Txakolina in Madrid

La musa – Tempura de langostinos y aguacate verde

This is such a personal favourite we almost didn’t want to share it! La musa has everything you could want in a restaurant including a delicious selection of BBQ tapas! Try the Tempura de langostinos y aguacate verde for a zingy appetizer.

El Tigre

At El Tigre, you order a glass of vino tinto (red wine) for two euros and then the Tapas God behind the counter hands you a plate piled high with tapas of every kind — tortilla, patatas bravas, jamon, queso … you name it — to accompany your drink. The best part is every time you order your cheap drink, you get another plate of deliciousness to soak up all that alcohol.

Mercado Plaza San Miguel

For a more varied experience, there is Mercado Plaza San Miguel near the Sol Metro. This gorgeous old building is PACKED with little stands featuring some of the freshest and tastiest food, including oysters, fruits and veggies, and tapas. Lots and lots of tapas.

Again, if you want to snag a seat, get there early. Otherwise, start practicing balancing a plate of tapas and a glass of vino tinto and eating/drinking at the same time.

For an explosion of wonderful sites and smells head to Mercado de San Anton in the buzzing neighbourhood of Chueca. On the lower floor there is a traditional market with fruit and veg, fish, hams and cheeses of the best quality. Floor 2 offers a great selection of international stalls where you can get anything from sushi to cured duck to ceviche. 

A personal favourite is the Greek stall offering delicious stuffed aubergines and warm pitas with home-made hummus. Head up to floor 3 for a drink on the roof-terrace with fantastic views over the city or a meal in the modern restaurant.

If you want to explore of Madrid’s markets, check out: El Rastro: The Most Popular Sunday Flea Market in Madrid

A Week in Spain: From Madrid to Barcelona

I’m sure time flies while traveling, but what to do with a week in Spain?

The answer to that is simple – try to come up with a comprehensive itinerary that best suits your needs and make sure to include the things that interest you most, even though one visit to the sunny destination will not be enough either way.

A great idea for your first sighting in (or a legendary comeback to) Spain is visiting two of the main hubs in the country in one go!

Here’s what to do with a week in Spain: From Madrid to Barcelona.

Traveling From Madrid to Barcelona  

Whether you start your adventure in Madrid and end in Barcelona or vice versa, one of the best ways of traveling between the two cities is by taking a train. You can make your way from Madrid to Barcelona by train in around three hours, all the while enjoying scenic views along the way and making use of modern onboard amenities, ensuring your comfort and safety. Check Rail.Ninja for more information on trains, timetables, and other train-travel-related information in Spain. Alternatively, you can hop on a bus or arrange yourself a private transfer to reach the destination, which can be slightly more time- or money-consuming.

For a scenic stop on your way from Madrid to Barcelona, hop off the train in Zaragoza, another lovely Spanish destination for you to explore. Home to some spectacular examples of Moorish architecture, it is the capital of the scenic Aragón region and the fifth-largest city in the country. While there, make sure to visit the spectacular Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, the imposing Palacio de la Aljafería, and Museo de Zaragoza, or simply set off wandering its charming streets as scenic views await you on its every corner.

Must-See Sights in Madrid

Let’s start with the bustling Spanish capital, Madrid; brimming with so many things to see and do, the city is a well of endless sightseeing opportunities.

One of the main visitor attractions in Madrid is undoubtedly the renowned Prado Museum, housing an exceptional collection of artwork, including but not limited to pieces by Velázquez, Ribera, and Zurbarán. Another crucial stop on the itinerary of any museum lover is the National Archaeological Museum telling the story of Spain’s past and its significant events. Another great way to get better acquainted with the country’s history is joining one of the comprehensive theme tours, such as the Madrid of the Bourbons Walking Tour or the Spanish Civil War Tour.

If museums are not something you enjoy, there are plenty of sightseeing opportunities and authentic activities to take part in, for instance, discovering the Golden Triangle of Art, joining a Tapas Cooking Class, taking a day trip to Toledo, enjoying a Flamenco Show, the list goes on!

Such activities allow you to familiarize yourself with the unparalleled fiery culture of Spain and to delve deeper into its flavorful world of gastronomy, popular all over the world.

With all the sightseeing tours to join, flamenco shows to watch, and tapas to taste in Madrid, three or four days pass by without you even noticing it!

Barcelona Attractions Not to Miss

After that, comes the time for you to get better acquainted with the jewels of Barcelona, starting with an unforgettable tour of Gaudi’s masterpieces. Scattered all over the bustling city, his works attract a number of visitors, from those lined by the Sagrada Familia to the ones leisurely strolling around Park Guell.

Other must-visit attractions on any Barcelona itinerary include the Cathedral de Barcelona, Las Ramblas, and the lively La Boqueria market, where you can sample local delicacies, buy fresh produce, or start souvenir hunting for the loved ones back at home.

Among the most popular sites, you can also find the Tibidabo Mountain providing picturesque views over the entire city and the Barceloneta beach, perfect for gazing at the sun slowly setting down in the evening. Don’t miss the chance also to visit the museums in the Montjuïc area and marvel at the dancing fountain nearby!

If you somehow still have a day to spare with the abundance of things to enjoy in Barcelona, don’t miss the chance to set off on a day tour! One of the most popular nearby attractions, perfect for a day-long getaway, is the postcard-like Montserrat Monastery, located just a short ride away, or a Game of Thrones tour in Girona, for those interested in the iconic TV series.

No matter which tours and activities you choose, there will always be so many more day tours to take part in, and sights and cities to visit in Spain, which will undoubtedly leave you wanting to come back.

What’s on your list for A Week in Spain?

El Rastro: The Most Popular Sunday Flea Market in Madrid

Born in the fifteenth century, El Rastro has been evolving and growing, while its existence has been regulated by the local government.

Today there is no travel guide about Madrid which doesn’t mention El Rastro, and its international reputation is comparable to other popular markets in several European cities like Waterlooplein in Amsterdam, the Portobello market in London or the Porta Portese in Rome. It’s most definitely the most popular Sunday flea market in Madrid.

So, if you spend a few days in the city, a visit to the El Rastro flea market in Madrid really is a must.

El Rastro: The Most Popular Sunday Flea Market in Madrid
El Rastro: The Most Popular Sunday Flea Market in Madrid

When & where is El Rastra held?

El Rastro takes place every Sunday and public holiday of the year, from 9 am to 3 pm, in the Embajadores neighbourhood.

A maximum of 3500 stalls cover the area from the Plaza de Cascorro, in the north, along the main thoroughfare of Ribera de Curtidores and adjoining streets to Calle Embajadores in the east and the Ronda de Toledo and Plaza del Campillo del Mundo Nuevo in the south.

Due to its size it can be reached from different metro stations: Line 3 (Embajadores, Lavapiés or Sol), Line 5 (La Latina, Puerta de Toledo or Acacias), Line 1 (Tirso de Molina or Sol) and Line 2 (Sol or Opera).

Why is El Rastra the most popular Sunday flea market in Madrid?

A different and heterogenic group of people meet here to have a look and find that bargain they can’t find anywhere else, it doesn’t matter if they’re hippie, punk, posh, old or young. In its stalls people can find a great variety of products, from second-hand clothing, antiques, crafts, books, records, furniture or even plugs. I think there’s nothing you can’t find at El Rastro.

In fact you will probably see things at this flea market in Madrid that you could have never imagined.

Navigating the different areas in El Rastra

Certain streets or areas within El Rastro are associated, either by tradition or by the gathering of specialist stalls, with particular wares.

– Calle Fray Ceferino Gonzales is known as “calle de los Pájaros” (‘street of the birds’) as it was where pedlars and travelling sellers used to sell domestic animals and birds. Since the municipal regulation of 2000 animals can only be sold in stores.

– Calle San Cayetano is also known as “calle de los Pintores” (‘street of the Painters’), as its permanent stalls sell paintings, drawings and art supplies.

– Calle Rodas, Plaza de General Vara del Rey and Plaza de Campillo del Mundo Nuevo specialise in buying and selling magazines, trading cards and stamps. Young children usually meet here to swap and trade cards with each other.

– Plaza del General Vara del Rey also offers a number of stalls selling clothes.

– Calle Carnero and calle Carlos Arniches are where you will find stalls selling old, rare and collectible books.

– Plaza de Cascorro specialises in selling funky clothing and accessories.

– Calle Mira el Sol sells films and related items from Andrei Tarkovsky to Almodobar.

– La Ronda de Toledo usually sells music and related items.

Food at the El Rastro flea market in Madrid

But one day in El Rastro is not complete without a stop to have some tapas.

In many of the bars and taverns in the neighbouring streets to El Rastro is possible to taste some of the specialties of Madrid’s gastronomy, accompanied by a glass of wine or a beer.

There are also very popular bars where you can have cheap bocadillos (sandwiches) such as the squid one (a Madrid’s specialty), but also others such chorizo, Spanish omelette, cheese, etc.

After this exhausting and popular day in the city you better be staying in one of the apartments in Madrid near El Rastro, because you’ll probably be loaded down with shopping!

Visiting Madrid? Check out these posts:

Unique Things to do in Madrid on a Sunday

Looking for a typical Sunday in Madrid? A Madrid Sunday is all about getting out onto the city streets, enjoying some delicious food, a good coffee, and taking in the sights and sounds of the city.

There is so much more to Madrid than El Prado and the bullfights – here are my top favourite things to do in Madrid on a Sunday.

Unique things to do in Madrid, Spain
El Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain

Unique Things to do in Madrid on a Sunday

1. Stroll through El Retiro park with thousands of Madrilenos, watching bands perform, boats on the pond, and clowns making balloon animals.

2. Visit the terrace lookout of the Circulo de Bellas Artes building for a view of the city skyline and the Gran Via, Madrid’s main street (admission to the rooftop is 1 Euro).

3. Enjoy tapas and beer at one of the sunny outdoor tapas cafés in the La Latina quarter.

4. Sip a beer under an incredibly blue Madrid sky at one of several restaurants with tables set up inside the Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s main square.

5. Dunk “churros” into a thick, sweet chocolate drink at La Chocolateria de San Gines, one of Madrid’s most popular chocolate bars just off the Calle Arenal pedestrian mall.

6. Take in the buskers and musicians along with thousands of Madrilenos on the Puerta del Sol plaza then join them as they amble along the Calle Arenal pedestrian mall towards the Opera House.

7. Savour a coffee and watch the elegantly dressed Madrilenos stroll by at the outdoor patio of Café Gijon a few blocks north of El Prado museum on the Passeo de Recoletos.

8. Take in the sunset view of Madrid while enjoying a light snack or a glass of wine at the glass enclosed rooftop restaurant on top of the department store El Corte Ingles on Gran Via near the Callao metro stop.

9. Stand shoulder to shoulder with the locals drinking draft beer and enjoying inexpensive tapas at the Almeria tapas bar in the La Latina quarter. (P.S. if you LOVE tapas and are heading to Barcelona any time soon, check out these cheap tapas bars in Barcelona).

10. Wander around the newly refurbished, glass enclosed Mercado de San Miguel, the oldest in Madrid, and visit the food stalls while sipping wine and sampling thin slivers of Spain’s famous Pata Negra ham.

Things to do in Madrid on a Sunday
Things to do in Madrid on a Sunday

Madrid Sunday Markets

Love exploring markets? Then why not spend your Sunday checking out these Madrid Sunday Markets.

El Rastro

El Rastro is one of the biggest outdoor markets in Spain and has been a weekly tradition for over 400 years. There are over 1,000 vendors offering everything from antiques to furniture, artwork and clothing.

Location: Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores, 28005 Madrid, Spain

Opening hours: it is open every Sunday in Madrid from 9am to 3pm.

Mercado de Motores

This beautiful vintage thrifting market is held every second weekend of the every month. It includes handmade clothing, live music and delicious food. What makes it even more special is that it’s located inside an old train station!

Location: Museo del Ferrocarril, Paseo de las Delicias, 61, 28045 Madrid, Spain

Opening hours: it is open every second Sunday in Madrid from 11am to 10pm (visit their website to confirm dates).

Madrid Sunday shopping hours

Sunday is generally the day of rest in Spain, with many shops remaining closed on a Sunday. However, as more foreigners move into the city you’ll find that there are a few shops open on a Sunday (though, with limited opening hours).

Supermarkets and department stores are usually open all day on Sundays, from 10am to 9pm. In the city centre, you’ll often find small food or souvenir shops open a Sunday.

Check out these other places to visit in Madrid.