Every city has some secret gems that are typically found off the beaten track. In Madrid, the most valuable ones are often hidden in the busiest places. Brian, our local ambassador for Madrid, shares his city’s best-kept secrets.
1. Step into a fairy tale at El Jardín Secreto
Watch out for the tiger, admire the hot air balloons and mind the gap between reality and fairy tale when you enter El Jardin Secreto (“The Secret Garden”), located on a corner in the overlooked Conde Duque neighbourhood. It’s a place where dreams seem to come alive in a world of their own. You can chill out with a cup of coffee or go an exotic adventure just by reading the menu. It features so many creative details that one visit most certainly won’t be enough.
2. Enter the bohemian backyard of Federica & Co.
Salamanca – it even sounds expensive. Situated north of Parque del Retiro, this posh neighbourhood is where upscale restaurants and designer boutiques are lined up like cocktails in a VIP lounge. If you look closely, however, you might discover a bohemian atmosphere behind the right door. One such address is Calle de Hermosilla 26. Hidden behind the gates there’s a secret courtyard with a handful of neat little shops dedicated to interior design, clothing and wine. It’s free to look around and is a great source of inspiration.
3. Find peace in the hidden rooftop café above the Salvador Bachiller boutique
Situated high above the buzzing street of Calle de la Montera in the heart of Madrid, the secret rooftop garden of the Salvador Bachiller designer boutique is a romantic little spot where you can relax while enjoying a light lunch or a cold drink served by waitresses in beautiful red uniforms. And not to worry if it happens to be one of those rare rainy days in the Spanish capital – like a funky football stadium, it has a retractable roof and heaters. You also might want to browse the shop downstairs for a new handbag, or check out the classy Salon de Té.
4. Head underground for some Chinese treats
The scent of fried noodles and spring rolls might hit your nostrils as you walk past the magnificent Plaza de España, but no matter how hard you look, you won’t see any sign of Chinese treats. This is because the smell is coming from the underground car park beneath you. Here you’ll find a miniature Chinatown with a travel agency, a convenience store and the Jia Xiang Xiao Chi Chinese restaurant. This place is popular among locals and is therefore busy around Spanish dinner time, so grab your food to-go and enjoy it on the square above.
5. Admire the view from the Terraza Cibeles rooftop bar
The snow-white palace at Plaza de Cibeles is one of Madrid’s most beloved landmarks. Nowadays this former post office serves as the capital’s majestic town hall. Not only is it a place where big political decisions are made, but it also features restaurant, a viewing platform and free exhibitions. And that’s not all. Many people miss the trendy rooftop terrace hidden here. Let the lounge tunes lure you in for a cocktail and a view worthy of kings.
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Brian is a freelance writer from Odense, Denmark. He moved to sunny Madrid in 2014 to find new inspiration and experience his girlfriend’s hometown first-hand. He’s constantly working on new travel writing projects (you can check out his travel blog here) and dreams of one day making a career of it. He recently spent a year living in Cardiff, Wales, which holds a special place in his heart, but he’s now dedicated to the Spanish capital. Brian is a lover of both nature and city life.
All photos by Brian Schæfer Dreyer.