Cervecería Santa Bárbara

The Cervecería Santa Bárbara in Madrid´s Plaza Santa Bárbara is one of Madrid´s more famous drinking establishments. The main beer on tap is a local lager called Mahou, you can also get a dark beer and alcohol-free lager from the same company. The bar was established in 1947 and is well-known for the huge range of shellfish and other fish which it sells. You won´t get tapas in this bar but can buy its delicious shellfish from a separate bar – cockles, prawns (shrimps), mussels and my favourite boquerones (white bait in vinegar).

Chocolate heaven at Cacao Sampaka

I’m not a great chocolate fan but even I was impressed by Cacao Sampaka. This establishment, just off the Plaza Santa Bárbara in c/ Orellana, combines a chocolate shop with a coffee shop. In the shop you can view all sorts of chocolate, from many different countries and of different types. The chocolate is displayed in glass cabinets, much like in a museum, and you can purchase boxes of it from the counter. Other items on display include recipe books and books on the history of chocolate, cooking utensils and even chocolate candles and incense!! The coffee shop sells thick cups of chocolate – a hot favourite (oops!) in Madrid at this time of year and various chocolate cakes and desserts.

Metro: Alonso Martínez

Café Gijón – an artist´s café

Café Gijón calls itself the “Gran Café de la historia de España” (the great Café of Spanish history). It first opened in 1888 and for well over 100 years it has been associated with artists, actors and writers, and many others artistic and political types. Places like Café de Gijón became very well known as establishments where people could, and still do, meet for ‘tertulias’ – informal chats about a range of topics. Café Gijón has hardly changed over the years and is a great place to meet up with friends and look out on to the busy Paseo de Recoletos. As you go in there is an interesting plaque above a cabinet (used to sell tobacco), which reads: “from here Alfonso, match seller and anarquist, sold tobacco and saw the world pass by” and it is dedicated to him by his friends at the Café. The nearest metro is probably Banco de España

Craft Fair – Paseo de Recoletos

On the Paseo de Recoletos the annual arts and crafts fair of the “Comunidad de Madrid” is currently being held. There are over 200 stalls, with a wide variety of arts and craft mainly from greater Madrid area. You will find everyting from leather purses, art deco mirrors, a wide range of pottery, wooden clocks to wonderful children´s toys and avrious paper products. It is well worth a visit and the prices are very reasonabe for such high quality goods. The fair runs until the 5th January and you can get to it by catching the Metro to Banco de España and walking 50 metres to the start of Paseo de Recoletos. Whilst there I would recommend going to Café de Gijón (Paseo de Recoletos 21).

Selection of Madrid Hotels

Here is a brief selection of Madrid Hotels, with links to them. May I also suggest that you take a look at what’s on offer at Expedia.com or Expedia.co.uk, Opodo, Lastminute.co.uk, Orbitz and Travelocity.

5 Star Hotels
Palace Hotel
Hotel Ritz
Park Hyatt Villa Magna
Miguel Ángel
Meliá Madrid Princesa

4 Star Hotels
Crowne Plaza Madrid
Gran Hotel Velázquez
Meliá Castilla
Meliá Galgos
Tryp Ambassador

3 Star Hotels
NH Embajada
Tryp Rex
Hotel Green El Prado
Carlos V Hotel

Casa Mingo

Casa Mingo is on Madrid’s Paseo de la Florida, a short walk from Prícipe Pio Metro. It is an old-style Asturian (from the region Asturias) bar/tavern which is famous for its cider, roast chicken and its chorizos. The place is popular with all sorts of people, many students frequent the bar, and the cider is brewed and bottled by them. The setting is very informal with large wooden tables and surrounded by bottles of cider. Casa Mingo is situated next door to the la Real Ermita de San Antonio, where you will find fresoes by Goya.

Metro: Prícipe Pio
Address: Paseo de la Florida, 34

See also: Madrid Restaurants

Círculo de Bellas Artes

Cafeteria pecera, MadridThe Círculo de Bellas Artes, built in 1919, on Madrid’s c/ Alcalá offers all kinds of cultural activities and exhibitions. Within this building is a very stylish café which looks out onto Madrid’s popular Alcalá street – well worth popping in for a coffee. The café makes you think that you’re in a time warp with its classic décor and traditional Madrid cafe chairs and tables and high ceilings. Check out the sculpture which sites in the middle of the floor and which appears as if the woman is coming out of the stone. I also love the very Madrileño waiters, dressed in their white jackets.

‘Cats’ – The Musical comes to Madrid


On December 17th, in Madrid’s Teatro Coliseum de Madrid, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical ‘Cats’ will open. The musical, a success from day one, has been shown in 300 cities and tranlsated into 10 languages. The last few months have seen a lot of activity in ‘Musical Land’ with We Will Rock You, Cabaret and now Cats opening in Madrid. Let’s hope that more will follow.

Tickets can be bought at the theatre itself or fromEl Corte Inglés, either on-line or at the ticket office in the store. Prices range from 25 to 60 euros
Address: Gran Vía, 78
Metro: Plaza de España

Spanish Jamón (Ham) at the Museo del Jamón


The Museo del Jamón is an institution in Madrid. The Museo del Jamón, like so many Spanish bars, has a huge numbers of hams dangling from its bars – and a wonderful selection it is – from the standard to the expensive (like Pata Negra) and from different provinces in Spain. They also offer good menus and tapas. For people who would like to know the process of curing the ham, take a look at their website (in the section ‘Proceso de Elaboración’). This site contains all their locations in Madrid and useful pictures (under ‘Menus’) to let you know what the dishes are.

Christmas fun at El Corté Inglés

Like every Christmas, the famous department store El Corté Inglés has decorated one side of its store in the Puerta del Sol, for the entertainment of children. You will find a number of different scenes with animated characters, loads of scenery and all accompanied by music. For many Madrileños, this has become an annual ritual, often followed by chocolate with churros in the Chocolatería San Ginés. Great fun for all!
The times are: 11 am, 12 pm, 1pm and 2pm and 6, 7, 8, 9 and 9.30 pm from Monday to Thursday and 12, 1, 2 and 3 pm followed by 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Metro: Sol.
Address: Calle del Maestro Vitoria (parralel to the main opening)

Classical Music at the Auditorio Nacional de Música

The Auditorio Nacional de Música was opened in 1988 and is the home of the National Orchestra and Choir of Spain. The Auditorio has a full programme all year round and for the month of December performances include: Minsk Symphony Orchestra and Choir (Haydn); the Madrid Symphony Orchestra (Bach and Stravinsky) and the English Chamber Orchestra (Handel’s Messiah).

Address: c/ Príncipe de Vergara, 146 28002 Madrid
Main Telephone: 91 337 01 39 | Box Office: 91 337 01 39

Station: Cruz del Rayo (line 9) or Prosperidad (line 4)

Lines: 1, 9, 16, 19, 29, 52, 73

Related Article
Classical Music, Zarzuela and Ballet in Madrid

Maps of Madrid

By reviewing my stats, I have noticed that a number of people have requested a map of Madrid. Well, here are a couple of suggestions that should keep most people happy:

Multimap – simply select Spain from the drop-down list, wait for the page to refresh and then type in you street name if you know it and city name. If you want to start from a central location, type in “Puerta del Sol”. You can easily move up, down and across to find other locations.

Maporama follows the same principle.

If you want a Metro Map, then take a look at the Madrid Metro site.

Read more