5 Essential Ideas for Madrid In Autumn
22 September, 2015
It never fails! In recent years, for one reason or another, I always seem to end up travelling to Madrid in autumn and the outcome has always been equally rewarding. The temperature is still pleasant for outdoor activities and, should the weather let you down, there is always a host of options to get you out of the rain and cold, with some incentives included. While this might sound overblown, the fact is that this city offers loads of ways of having a great time, leaving virtually no room for brooding. Here, then, are my basic recommendations for autumn in Madrid:
1. Go and see the leaves falling in one of the city’s numerous parks
Madrid has lots of parks where you can enjoy the good weather as it comes to a close, delighting in the scent of dry leaves and relishing the odd sunset. Among the great classics is El Retiro where, in addition to setting out in search of the popular statue known as the Ángel Caído (Fallen Angel), you can do sport, try to avoid getting wet in the Estanque Grande (Big Pond), see an exhibition at either the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace) or the Velázquez Palace, or even buy a book on the Cuesta de Moyano before going into the park. And all this just a stone’s throw from the city centre.
The Casa de Campo, Madrid’s great lung, is another good option. Apart from expanses where you can get some brisk exercise while enjoying nature, it also has an amusement park and a zoo, and a cable-car I would recommend you take up to see the views over the city.
As the last of the classics there is the Real Jardín Botánico (Royal Botanical Gardens), where you come face to face with some 5,000 different species of trees and plants, capable of transporting you anywhere on the planet.
For the swingers out there who seek a special, melancholic touch in your lives, the Jardín El Capricho is the spot for you. This romantic garden, built between 1787 and 1839, features lakes, boat jetties, a maze, sculpture groups and even the remains of a Civil War anti-aircraft shelter. It is located in the Alameda de Osuna and access is straightforward on the metro (L5, El Capricho station).
2. Bounce back from the early cold with a “cocido”
Hankering after a cocido? Autumn brings back a classic of Madrilenian cuisine – the cocido (stew), the best way of combating and guarding against the arrival of the cold in the city. Among my favourite eateries are the all-time greats like Lhardy (Carrera de San Jerónimo 8), Malacatín (Ruda 5) and La Bola (Bola 5). The cocido at the grass-roots Taberna J. Blanco (Tabernillas, 23) is a hit with me and my family on account of the original setting and the kindness of the owners.
3. Sweet things never made anyone bitter
There comes an afternoon when ice-cream suddenly cedes pride of place to pastries. That’s the moment to head for the Puerta del Sol, go into La Mallorquina and indulge in their huge variety of pastries. The standouts are their napolitana de crema and napolitana de chocolate. You could also stop by at the Horno de San Onofre to have some huesos de santo (saints’ bones) and buñuelos (fritters), the traditional confectionary at All Saints.
Croissant-lovers should not fail to try the ones to be had at Pomme Sucre, where success is guaranteed, aside from the touch of serving your coffee and hot chocolate in English porcelain cups. For those seeking new sensations there is the Moulin Chocolat, where they even dare to lavish French pastries with a flourish, and Mama Framboise, dedicated to gourmet patisserie in a modern, inviting setting.
And, of course, I couldn’t wind up this section without mentioning the popular chocolate con churros establishment, San Ginés, a must which has lost none of its shine and calories over the years.
4. Cultivating your mind
So, you’ve woken up to a rainy day? Now is the time to nourish your mind and soul on the city’s cultural offerings by dropping in on some of the host of scheduled exhibitions. This autumn, you can enjoy the work of Edvard Munch at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, steep yourself in the oeuvre of “The Divine (Luis de) Morales” and succumb to Ingres’ curvaceous Odalisque at the Prado. At the Museo Reina Sofía you get the chance to discover the work of Nasreen Mohamedi, one of the first Indian artists to embrace abstract art, while the Juan March Foundation is offering the first retrospective of the Swiss artist, Max Bill.
5. El Rastro – a Sunday outing up there with the best
A day at El Rastro is often the finishing touch to any Madrid tour. With the excuse of going bargain-hunting in the street stalls and shops, weeding out antiques, clothes, books, records and anything you can imagine, you are likely to end up just strolling around and being caught up in the prevailing atmosphere. The route usually comes to an end in one of the multiple de rigueur local bars, beer in hand, accompanied by a matching tapa. Among the many options, you should try the sardines at the Bar Santurce, the snails at Casa Amadeo, the tostas at Capricho Extremeño and the tapas at the Museo de la Radio.
Ready to take on autumn in Madrid? Book your Vueling here.
Text by Isabel Lucia | ISABELYLUIS Comunicación
22 September, 2015