Madrid is pretty awesome, so there are few things that I would recommend simply not doing. But maybe certain activities could be improved, so here is what not to do in Madrid that makes your time in Spain’s capital even better.
DON’T sample the paella
I know it’s tempting – after all, paella has become synonymous with Spanish cuisine (and rightfully so, because it’s amazing) — but, for the most part, paella just isn’t a noteworthy dish in Madrid. This is because paella in fact originates from the region of Valencia and, as any Valencian will tell you, the dish just can’t be the same anywhere else. For this reason, paella isn’t commonly eaten in the Spanish capital, save for at a handful of exceptional restaurants, such as Samm and St. James. So, if you must, indulge at an establishment that truly specializes in the dish, otherwise save the paella-fest for a trip to Valencia.
DON’T miss the artwork at San Francisco El Grande
While the Almudena Cathedral may be the largest and most important church in Madrid, you may want to skip the six-euro entrance fee and instead head down the street. Why? Well, unless you’re a historian or a cathedral buff, you might not find what you expect, as the modern interior is oddly out of place given the church’s baroque exterior. If you’re interested in seeing a more classical church interior, head just a few minutes down the road to the Basílica de San Francisco El Grande, where you’ll get your dose of colorful, gold-gilded and mural-covered walls, minus the entrance free.
DON’T forget to maximize your market experience
OK, so El Mercado de San Miguel – situated right behind Plaza Mayor – is a pretty sweet spot, but it’s also positively packed with tourists. Avoid the foreign crowds and head instead to the Chueca neighborhood’s recently renovated Mercado de San Antón. In the spacious multi-story complex, you’ll find a mix of market kiosks, tapas bars and even a fancy rooftop terrace where you can dine or get drinks. What you won’t find? Boat loads of tourists.