1. Experience Real Flamenco
Flamenco is often misunderstood as a joyful form of song and dancing when it is in fact representative of the suffering endured by the Andalucian gypsies, expressed in performance. The best place to find an authentic flamenco is at a tablao (restaurant with a stage) plenty of which can be found in Madrid. Be prepared to stay after midnight when the stars unleash their true passion.
2. Doing Vermouth
Famously known for their love of a good drink on a Sunday as part of their tapas culture there is a far less well known tradition called haciendo el vermut (doing vermouth). This involves the drinking of sweet white wine blended with herbs, flowers, fruit peel, seeds and plants to accompany their Sunday lunch or alongside tapas. Don’t be shocked when you realise everyone is drinking from the tap, it’s expected.
3. Fulfil Your Passion For Shoes
With the Valencia and Alicante areas being dominated by shoe factories it is no question that Madrid is a major producer of footwear. In the heart of Chueca serious shoppers will find Augusto Figueroa filled with outlets for factory samples. If you are looking for top quality leather goods head straight to Salamanca for the elite Loewe brand. Or if you’re looking for some espadrilles for your tired feet visit the wonderfully preserved, old fashioned Antigua Casa Crespo.
4. Dine In History
Anywhere billed as the world’s oldest restaurant is going to have the tourists beating a path to its crumbly portals, but El Sobrino de Botin is as famous for its roasts as for its longevity (300 years old and counting). That old Spanish favourite, cochinillo – suckling pig – is the dinner of choice for many, but others swear by the cordero (lamb). Celebrated past diners include King Alfonso XII’s sister in the 19th century, and more recently, Hemingway, of course.
5. Enjoy The Sights From Up High
Highly recommended is the hugely enjoyable teleferico Madrid, also known as the cable car, which will take you on a 2.5km trip above Casa de Campo. If you have no problem with heights try out the glass lift that travels 92m up the communications tower, giving the best views in the city. If you want to really hit the heights and the depths at the same time the rooftop pool and bar is not to be missed atop the Hotel Emperador, open to non residents for free.