Learn Spanish in Madrid
A metropolis of lush parks, long promenades and the occasional pomp of a royal capital, Madrid merges tradition and modernity to create one of Europe's most fail-proof destinations. Great food, top wine, and too much fun for just one weekend, you won't regret the decision to study Spanish in Madrid. Read on!
Where to be in Madrid!
As Europe's third largest city, Madrid has its bases covered. From its effortlessly cool cosmopolitan lifestyle to the regality of a capital that is home to the Spanish royal family, this city of three million is where it's at. Find out below where you need to be!
- History buffs – Lush gardens, crisp Cathedrals, majestic palaces that protrude far into the sky. The Austrias barrio in Madrid is a wonderland of monuments, museums and remnants of Spain's rich royalist past. The Royal Palace and adjacent gardens are a must-see, though you'll struggle to miss them, as is the classic Madrid tourist spot, Puerta de Sol.
- Hipsters – A city simply can't not have one – a bohemian barrio, or a couple in Madrid's case! You'll want to take note. The Malasaña neighbourhood with its second-hand stores, cafes and food market is also one of Madrid's top destinations for a solid Spanish night-out. And on that note, gay hub Chueca – a little more cosmo and chic – can't be overlooked for top food and shopping.
- Bookworms – Despite centuries having passed since the so-called Golden Age, Madrid has successfully managed to hold onto its literary history. The city even has its own literary neighbourhood, known as Barrio de Las Letras. Retrace the steps of Golden Age giants like Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Quevedo, taking in the neighbourhood's museums, monuments and architectural beauty.
- Sociologists – Step outside the tourist hubs and cosmopolitan bubbles of Madrid's funkiest barrios to find Lavapiés, the capital's melting pot of cultures. Once the Jewish quarter, the neighbourhood is home to the entire spectrum of Spain's migrant communities, from Asian, Arab, African and more. Great food and some spectacular streetscapes given its hilly location.
- Eurofreaks – For those of you arriving from the New World to study Spanish in Madrid, La Latina is the place to be. Near Austrias, La Latina is the capital's oldest area and features some of the best examples of Spanish medieval architecture. With its narrow streets, numerous plazas and historic sites, La Latina is, for lovers of all things Europe, unbeatable.
Don't stop there! The decision to study Spanish in Madrid means you'll be at the very heart of stunning Spain. Learn more in our Learn Spanish in Spain section!
Know your history!
Any smart visitor to Spain will want to know all they can about their new (albeit temporary) home. So when strolling the streets of Spain's capital, consider this:
- Bullfighting – Aside from the Canary Islands and Catalonia, bullfighting continues to be practiced across Spain, including in the capital. As a major tourist drawcard, Madrid's main bullfighting ring is coincidentally known as Las Ventas – or "the sales" for a literal translation in English – with events held throughout the year. Bullfighting was introduced to the Iberian peninsular in the 1700s. In Madrid, important landmarks like the Plaza Mayor were once used for bullfighting. Today, many Spaniards hold on dearly to the practice, considering part of the country's cultural heritage.
- Real football mad – If anything can compete with the bulls for attention in Spain, it's football! Home to Real Madrid FC, the Spanish capital is mad for the world's most popular sport. Real Madrid is considered by FIFA to be the world's most successful football team in the 20th century – just don't mention this to Barcelona fans. Founded in 1902, the team's Bernabeu Stadium hosts 85,000 people.
- A land of literature – By choosing to learn Spanish in Madrid, you'll be at the core of one of Spain's most vibrant cultural hubs, home also to some of the country's greatest literary legends. So important are Spain's writers that Madrid has an entire barrio dedicated to them. And it's here where one of the greatest ironies of the past lives on: staunch enemies, Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega haven't been able to escape each other. Lope de Vega's former house is located on Cervantes street, while Cervantes is buried on Lope de Vega street. Ouch!
Wanting more reasons to study the Spanish language? Let us tell you why you should!
Try the local grub!
You certainly won't go hungry when you learn Spanish in Madrid. With its international reputation for phenomenal cuisine, Madrid is at the forefront of Spain's food culture. Aside from the obvious – those tasty tapas – here's what you should try:
- The Madrileño way – Two very madrileño dishes stand out in the local gastronomic culture. Cocido madrileño, or cocido for short, refers to a simmering pork comprised of a broth of vegetables, chorizo, chickpeas and pork, cooked for around four hours. Callos a la madrileña, or callos for short, is yet another treat for the colder temperatures, comprised of strips of beef stomach, chorizo and blood sausage. Hungry yet?
- Churros – If something's good in Spain, one might choose to say ¡que churro! meaning “cool” in English. So, with that thinking, the delicious deep-fried dough covered in melted chocolate is naturally called… a churro. Churros have conquered the world over but they have been a special part of Madrid's street food culture for generations now. Great for breakfast or an afternoon snack!
- Oink, oink! – Pigs abound in Spanish gastronomy, making an authentic food experience in the capital difficult if you're a vegetarian – home-cooked meals and vegetarian tapas bars for you! For everybody else, consider trying one of the most exotic dishes – fried ears. Oreja a la plancha, yep, grilled pig ears! A little less confronting for outsiders is conchinillo. A mouth-full in name and nature, it refers to a full plate of suckling pig.
Save the date!
There's no single best time of the year to learn Spanish in Madrid, a capital bursting at the seems when it comes to art, culture and food. Around the clock and on every page of the calendar, the capital offers some of Europe's top festivals and events, including:
- Traditional – When you see a public holiday on the horizon in a country as old and rich in history as Spain, you should know it's for a good reason! The San Isidro Festival in May is Madrid's premiere cultural event, with everything from bullfighting to local cuisine cook-ups and traditional Spanish dress-ups. Much of the month of August is dedicated to the La Paloma festival, an extravagant and fun send-off to the warm summer months. Meanwhile, Dos de Mayo (May 2) is a commemorative event of Madrid's defeat of Napoleon in the 1800s, an all-round celebration of everything Madrileño, including – naturally – a military parade.
- Intelectual – One of Spain's oldest events, the Madrid Book Fair includes 200 stalls across Paseo de Carruajes in the Retiro neighborhood. For two weeks beginning May, the feria is your best way to make the most of your decision to learn Spanish in Madrid. Around the same dates, Festimad is one of the city's top events for young and old, serving up anything from rock concerts through to poetry and dance events. If you choose to learn Spanish in Madrid in summer time, the Los veranos de la villa festival is the event for you. From June through September, los madrileños hit the streets for fun or head to organized events including concerts, cinema, theater and opera.
- Tasty – Spanish cuisine has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in recent years, even gaining fans as far and wide as East Asia. Gastrofestival is the first major food-junky's event in the calendar year. Beginning later January, the event coincides with Madrid Fusión-International Gastronomic Summit in early February. Chic, exclusive, both events draw big names in the national gastronomic community with a smorgasbord of events to choose from. Meanwhile, as the year warms up in May, the Madreat festival takes food to the streets in one of the city's tastiest festivals.
Feel like getting ahead of yourself? Check out our tips for learning Spanish!
The best way to study Spanish in Madrid is to live your life the local way! Check out our insider tips on how:
- Public transport – While the city's public transport system is transitioning to a swipe-card system, it's important to know your options when it comes to moving around Madrid. The capital has 13 metro lines, close to 200 bus lines and 10 train lines that link to the outer suburbs. Basic tickets cost €1.50 and a number of multi-ticket options mean you can save even more on transport costs.
- Rug up or show some skin – Madrid is a capital of extremes. Closer to the sun at 2,000 feet, the city roasts in summer and chills over in winter. Bring warm clothing for the winter months and your lightest gear in summer. Otherwise, keep an eye out for some of the city's succulent clothing sales and all round good prices!
- Bike it – When Spanish-language study in Madrid is not on the cards, another great way to move about the city is by using the BiciMad system. Madrid operates an eco-friendly system of bicycles 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Electric-powered, the bikes cost as little at 0.50 euro cents per half hour.
Keen to dive into Spanish study in Madrid? Find out what your first day at our Spanish language school in Madrid entails here!