27 Hidden Gems in Madrid To Have an Authentic Experience

If you want to visit the Spanish capital like a local and experience the best-hidden gems in Madrid so you don’t waste your time doing too much “touristy” stuff, you’re in the right place!

While Madrid has tons of famous “tourist” sites – Royal Palace and Cathedral, we’re looking at you – Caleb and I love that there are so many cool things to do in Madrid that you wouldn’t know about without visiting the city in-depth. Lucky for you, we’ve been there almost 10 times, so we’ve had lots of time to do the exploring for you!

In this guide, we’re sharing the stuff that we think is worth your time (we’re not going to recommend 5 tiny museums since, if you’re a couple like us, you’re not into that.) Some of our favorite non touristy things to do in Madrid are a popup seafood party, wine at Casa Gonzalez, and eating cookies from cloistered nuns!

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In this guide, we’ll tell you why and share 24 more options…so let’s get into it!

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From the author: we’ve compiled all our favorite, unique experiences from visiting the city almost 10 times in this post! If you have questions about any of them, leave a comment and we’ll get back to you quickly!

A couple sitting peacefully at dusk by the Templo de Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple in the heart of Madrid.

1.Temple of Debod

An Egyptian temple in Madrid? Yeah, it’s pretty weird, but it’s also one of Caleb’s and my favorite places to watch the sunset. You’ll find this ancient temple in Parque del Oeste, a gift from Egypt as a “thanks” for helping them save another temple from flooding.

We think that it’s a pretty romantic spot to watch the sunset despite all the people because of the combo of Spanish surroundings with the Egyptian design! Just a heads up: policemen were getting on people for walking ON the temple platform when we were there.

We found the best viewpoint (and photo spot) is sitting alongside the rim of the temple anyway, so don’t get yourself in trouble with the law, okay? We did that once when we flew a drone in Spain, and it was horrible.

If you stick around for sunset, DO NOT watch it at the main lookout as it gets super “people-y” and not romantic. Walk a smidge down the path, where we got photos like this:

Epic views. Less humans. You’re welcome.

2. Hemingway Bar

If you’re a fan of speakeasy bars, you’re in the right corner of the internet because Caleb and I are, too! Not many people know about the hidden bar in the NH Suecia Hotel (where Hemingway allegedly stayed) because you have to use a door in the bathrooms to get in!

When you enter, you will both be like, “Did we travel back in time?” because the whole vibe is totally prohibition with the animal print carpet, vintage mirrors, and velvet everything. It’s not super bumping, which we like because a. We’re not 21, b.it makes it more romantic, and c. you can actually talk to each other.

If you wanna go, just Google Maps “Clandestino Cocktail bar.” We love that they do custom cocktails based on your preferences, which is our favorite. But we want you to know what to expect, so this “uniqueness” makes them more expensive than other bars around.

Word of advice: If you’re just looking for a simple cocktail (think: gin and tonic, mojito, glass of wine, etc), save your money and go elsewhere.

3. El Rastro

This flea market claims to be one of the biggest and best in ALL of Europe. It’s a pretty bold claim, don’t you guys think? Either way, if you want to find some unique souvenirs from Spain at a bargain, then check out this massive outdoor flea market in our favorite La Latina neighborhood on Sunday mornings.

After that, do what we like to do: head over to nearby Calle Cava Baja and use the money you saved on your bargain-hunting extravaganza to share a cozy lunch at a tapas bar. 

We recommend Taberna Tempranillo, on of our fave tapas bars in Madrid. As you expect, the wine list is extensive – Caleb had the best tempranillo of his life – and we both still dream of the calamari toast we shared.

A seafood stall displays fresh anchovies in vinegar and succulent langoustines with prices labeled, providing a colorful and appetizing glimpse into the culinary delights offered at a Spanish market

4. Mercado de La Cebada Seafood Party

When you’re looking at other hidden gems in Madrid, you probably see little-known museums like the Sorolla Museum or the Museum of Romanticism, but you know we’re a couple who aren’t “museum” people.

The best way to experience the culture of a country is by eating and drinking it, duh!

Since you’re a foodie couple like we are, we cannot write a travel guide without telling you that you guys literally CANNOT miss the Saturday “seafood” party at Mercado de La Cebada! On Saturdays from 12-2:30pm (ishhhh), you’ll find all the fishmongers on the first floor start selling all their catches by weight, along with your choice of beer or wine.

Then, everyone just kinda stands around with their seafood and drinks. Caleb and I were a little overwhelmed with the craziness of it when we went but in a fun way? We recommend getting the octopus and washing it down with a glass of cheap white wine.

Just don’t expect much from the wine, okay? It’s cheap, and we didn’t think it was very good, but it’s part of the whole experience!

5. Ojalas Beach Bar

It wouldn’t be a weekend in Madrid without getting our favorite Iberico and tomato toast at Ojala Cafe in Malasana…but did you know they also have a BEACH BAR in the basement? Probably not… that’s why it’s one of your hidden gems in Madrid!

The “beach” downstairs has a sand floor and “tropical” cocktails.

Our only gripe here is that the tables and chairs are basically on the ground. Caleb and I aren’t getting any younger, so getting up and sitting down was a little challenging…., especially after a couple cocktails, you know?

Insider tip: don’t miss the bathrooms. They’re very…unique?

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A charcuterie plate and 2 glasses of wine sit on a table

6. Wine at Casa Gonazalez 

This wine shop is advertised as a deli, so you would have no idea it was there. There’s a small bar in the back where Caleb and I had the BEST plate of Spanish cheese and meat here!

It also used to be a meeting point for Madrid’s anti-fascist rebels back in the day!

Don’t worry, if you don’t know which wine to buy, just tell the waiter what you like, and they’ll select some wine for you. They nailed the choices for both Caleb and me!

a craft cocktail in the shape of a flower at Salmon Guru in Madrid

7. Have a Cocktail At One of The World’s Best Bars

We’re always looking for the best cocktail bars, and Salmon Guru makes it onto the list of 50 best cocktail bars in the world every year!

The cups are pretty insane – like the dragon-shaped cup or this crazy flower/hand cup, and the flavors are pretty original.

It’s pretty wild and loud inside, so it’s not the palace to go to if you’re looking for a chill, romantic night, but we love it for a fun night out!

Just make a reservation, or getting it might be tough!

Gilda de Boquerón and traditional skewered Gilda and Matrimonio appetizers submerged in olive oil, priced at 1.30€ and 1.80€ respectively, displayed in a Spanish tapas bar

8. Mercado De San Anton Martin

Oh man, we love this Market SO much more than the overly touristy Mercado de San Miguel. It’s in the Lavapies area, the international area, so you’ll find so many different little restaurants on the ground floor. 

We saw everything from Peruvian to Sushi, and our favorite was La Consentida De Dore, which serves the freshest gilda (a skewer of olives, pickled pepper, and some kind of cured fish, meat, or cheese) with about a million flavors. Get some to go and then wander around the Market, making sure to go upstairs for the fresh goods.

Insider tip: if you get lost, just look UP – there are little flags on the ceiling with pictures of what section of the Market you’re in (seafood, meat, restaurant area, etc.)

9. El Botin

While El Botin isn’t particularly “hidden,” you might not know that it holds the record for the oldest continuously running restaurant in the entire world!

It’s been open since 1725, and famous people like Hemingway have visited. If you get a chance to get in, try the house-speciality suckling pig.

But, don’t expect to get in if you don’t make a reso A LONG time in advance. Here’s the link to make a reservation. We don’t want you to miss out!

If you are a “museum couple” and plan to hit the Prado, we recommend getting this tour of the Prado with a Botin lunch. This way you see the best of the Prado and ensure you don’t miss out on getting into Botin!

Vibrant red lounge area with contemporary decor, featuring a line of tables and chairs along a corridor leading to a stage with a digital display, creating an inviting modern space for socializing.

10. People watch at Gilda Haus.

There’s a grandma dancing with a blonde-haired man dressed like a Viking on a dance floor with a DJ at 1pm on Wednesday – welcome to Gilda House! We can’t make this up, folks, Caleb and I saw that actually happen, and it wasn’t Vermouth Goggles.

This makes our list of hidden gems in Madrid because there isn’t even a sign outside – just on the window. This entirely-orange room is literally one of the weirdest experiences we’ve ever had, so we have to recommend it just in case you want something to laugh about together after you leave Madrid, too.

Interior of Casa Camacho showcasing a rustic bar with an array of tapas and vermouth offerings, surrounded by shelves filled with wine and spirits bottles, and a menu board listing various Spanish snacks

11. Visit Casa Camacho for a Yayo

Casa Camacho has been an establishment in Madrid since the dawn of time (a slight exaggeration) )and their house-special drink, “the Yayo,” is made with vermouth, gin, and sweet soda and it’s a must-try in Madrid.

It’s so popular that the bartender just asked, “How many Yayos” when I walked to the bar. I really liked it, but Caleb prefers plain vermouth. 

Go try both, and then tell us which you prefer!

Insider tip: make sure to go UNDER the bar to use the bathroom. It’s an experience itself!

Woman observing zebras in an outdoor wildlife park enclosure, with the city skyline visible in the background during golden hour, illustrating a harmonious blend of urban and natural environments

12.Visit Casa De Campo

If you think Retiro is big, just wait until you guys see Casa De Campo – it’s 5 times the size of Central Park in NYC! It’s right in the center of Madrid, but Caleb and I somehow didn’t stumble on it until our 5th time in the city!

It has a pretty lake in the middle with a nice walking path and a lake with cute little cafes where you guys can grab lunch or a glass of wine. The vibe felt really chill, and we saw mostly locals hanging out.

We also explored a lot of hiking paths, and there’s an amusement park and an AWESOME ZOO where you can get close to zebras and giraffes!!

We spent almost an entire day here -there’s a lot to do and see! In the summer, you can even go for a swim!

13. Eat a Porra at San Gines

Chocolateria San Gines is also not a “hidden gem” – it IS the most famous place to get churros and chocolate in Madrid! 

However, let us tell you a secret: everyone goes there for churros, but no one orders Porras! Porras are like churros but wider and doughier. We find them a little greasier because the thickness absorbs more oil, and we love it.

We find the churros at San Gines to not be all that great, either. Perhaps it’s because we’re used to our American churros with cinnamon and sugar, and the churros here are just plain? 

You can order Porras at San Gines by two, so they’re also perfect for sharing as a couple!

An empty wine glass sits on a wooden table in a wine shop in Madrid

14. Explore the World of Vermouth at Madrid & Darracott

While you probably think of wine when you think of Spain, we’re HUGE fans of the vermouth! If you’re not sure where to start your entry into the world of vermouth, we 10/10 recommend doing a tasting at Madrid and Darracott!

We got to try 4 unique vermouth flavors that were each very different and so good we brought two bottles home.

This was one of our favorite hidden gems in Madrid! Just make sure you eat before – we didn’t eat enough, and they don’t provide food other than crackers.

A person holds a box of 'Mantecados de Erez' from Monasterio del Corpus Christi, showcasing the convent's traditional Spanish cookies, with the name 'Madres Jerónimas' inscribed, offering a taste of local religious artisanal baking.

15. Hidden Nun Cookies

Why no other sites are telling you to do this, we don’t know because it’s one of the most unique things to do in Madrid!

Head over to the Monasterio Del Corpus Christi (it’s right by the Mercado San Miguel) and look for the big, wooden door with the “Ventas de Dulces” sign and ring the buzzer that says “Monjas.”

You’ll then be let into the monastery and be able to buy COOKIES from the cloistered nuns. You don’t see them – just talk to them.

We bought a box of the Sherry flavored cookies (the irony) and ate the whole ½ kg box in 3 days, they’re that good. Definitely add this one to your list of Madrid hidden gems!

16. Plaza de la Paja

This cute little plaza is in the La Latina district and is known to host a lot of local festivals and cultural events during the year. We recommend taking a quick stop during your La Latina tapas bar crawl or after El Rastro to see if there is anything going on!

Don’t miss the corner garden – it’s easy to miss behind the brick wall! One of Spain’s princes used to wander around here, and it’s a super peaceful area to go for a walk together if you need a break from the busyness of Madrid!

17. Cafe Ziryab

Please trust us when we tell you to avoid all the people giving out little cards to try to get you into a big Flamenco theatre downtown. Those Flamenco shows are truly for tourists, and you’ll miss out on the passion that traditional Flamenco has.

We visited this tiny Flamenco restaurant, cafe Ziryab, on the outskirts of Madrid, and we loved it. Caleb and I sat in the front row, and we could feel the passion of the dancers – both male and female. 

The inside is also candlelit and pretty, making the experience pretty romantic. Oh lala!

18. Visit Salon De Fleurs

You can have tea, coffee, a smoothie, and the best dessert at the most beautiful cafe you’ll ever go to -Caleb and I thought it was prettier than any, even in Paris.

The inside feels like an old Victorian garden, and their desserts are huge and delicious – I still dream of the lemon pie with shortbread crust we had. We recommend this spot for breakfast because you’re on vacay and it’s okay to have pie for breakfast.

Pro tip: make a reservation, or you WILL NOT get in. We got lucky, and someone didn’t show up for their spot, so we got in by default.

19. Royal Botanical Garden

While we love Retiro Park, it sure as heck ain’t hidden, so we’re giving it a miss on this list. How-EV-er, very close to Retiro, you’ll find some botanical gardens, one of the prettiest hidden gems in Madrid. Caleb and I always take a stroll to see what’s new when we visit.

There are over 5000 species of plants here and some really cool greenhouses that all have different themes. I personally was a huge fan of the exotic plants section, although it is pretty hot and humid inside!

20. Tapas Crawl on Calle Ponzano

Since you’re reading this post, we imagine you want the most authentic foodie experiences, which means a Ponzano tapas crawl is a must on your bucket list in Madrid.

Some locals that we met told us that this street, in the Chamberi district, is where the locals go, so you know we had to. It did NOT disappoint!

Warning: this is TRULY a local experience, and we did not find much English spoken or any English menus. Embrace it; that’s what’ll make it a memorable experience that you guys will talk about for years.

Our must-visit spots are Arima, 4 Latas, and La Sistreria

21. El Caprichio Park and Rose Garden

If you need to walk off some of the tapas, head to the outskirts of Madrid and wander around El Caprichio Park! While Caleb and I LOVE Retiro Park, there isn’t anything very “hidden-gemy” about it since everyone and their dog (literally) visits.

We think Parque El Caprichio feels much more local! Since it’s outside the city center, tourists don’t usually make it out that far, and you can walk through the rose garden hand-in-hand cause #romance and stuff, you know?

While the park is *always* beautiful, we’ll give you this insider tip: try to visit in the spring, the best time to visit the city, when the almond trees are blooming!

Sunset view of the Crystal Palace in Madrid's Retiro Park, with the sun casting a soft glow over the structure and reflecting on the calm pond surrounded by lush greenery.

22. Palacio de Cristal 

This one is famous but also hidden at the same time. The Crystal Palace used to be a greenhouse for the royals, and you’ll find it in the middle of El Retiro Park.  

The entire sides are made of glass, and they used to display art inside – however, the last time Caleb and I saw this was in 2018. Every year we’ve visited since, the inside is empty and locked.

It’s easy to miss if you stick to the outskirts of the park, so make sure to venture in!

Twilight over Plaza de la Villa, one of the hidden gems in Madrid, featuring historic buildings adorned with Spanish flags under a clear sky.

23. Visit the oldest plaza in Madrid.

In the city center, you’ll find Plaza de la Villa, which is a beautiful historical square that still has some of the oldest buildings in Madrid.

You don’t need to wait long to see it, but make sure you walk around the side streets in the area, as they are some of my personal favorite streets.

And we recommend visiting at dusk. When the lights go on, the square is really pretty and quiet!

24. La Tabacalera and La Latina/Lavapies street art

This abandoned tobacco factory is now a trendy cultural center for alternative art, allowing local artists to display their stuff. The walls are covered in street art, which is pretty cool!

Caleb and I also love walking around Lavapies and La Latina (they kind of blend together, honestly) and seeing the street art everywhere.

25. Atocha Station Tropical Garden

I know, I know – a train station sounds boring. But the Atocha train station isn’t what you would expect from other train stations!

Inside, you will find a tropical garden with a little habitat where you can find small turtles! 

Fairy lights and blooming flowers decorate an enchanting courtyard of a secret garden restaurant, a hidden gem tucked away in Madrid.

26. Secreto Rooftop Bar 

Instead of going to the overly touristy rooftop on Circulare de Belles Artes, we think you should go to the Secret Rooftop Garden!

It’s hard to find because you have to go THROUGH the store called “Salvador Bachiller” and then go up ALL the escalators to the rooftop and walk THROUGH the restaurant. You would never have known it was there if we hadn’t told you!

It’s decked out like a gorgeous tropical and has a fun, lively vibe. 

PRO TIP: skip the cocktails here: they are expensive and super sugary. It’s a spot to go for a glass of wine or cider in a fun, unique atmosphere.

27. Sunset on El Corte Ingles

Take the elevator to the top of the Corte Ingles shopping mall and walk through the “Gourmet experience” section and you’ll come across a rooftop bar that is mostly frequented by locals! You can order some gourmet products to try, get a glass of wine, and watch the sunset from an off-the-beaten path Madrid location.

It was SUPER busy when we were there on a Saturday night, so get there nice and early!

Let’s Wrap This Up: Hidden Gems in Madrid

While Madrid is known for the Royal Palace or the Cathedral, those are only a small part of the best things to see in the Spanish capital. Spending some more time in Madrid will allow you guys to have some of these off-the-beaten-path adventures and authentic Spanish experiences that make Madrid worth visiting.

These are some of the hidden gems in Madrid that made Caleb and I fall in love with the capital, so much so that we keep coming back and plan to move there someday!

If you’re not sure how to put some of these things together for your trip to Madrid, we can fix that! We’ve been together a 4-day itinerary for Madrid to save you the time of planning your trip yourself!

Which of these hidden gems do you want to do first?

Other Helpful Posts to Plan Your Trip to Madrid:

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A couple stands embracing while looking at the Almudena Cathedral during sunset in Madrid, with the grand architecture and clear skies in the background

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