Cocido madrileño. Called simply cocido by locals, this dish isn’t for you if you don’t like garbanzo beans! Along with the legumes (which are served with many popular dishes in Spain), this stew contains vegetables, meat, and potatoes.
Potato omelet. Sounds simple, but Spaniards take pride in making the perfect tortilla de patata. Made with thin potato slices cooked in olive oil, this omelet can be eaten for any meal of the day.
Churros. This sweet snack originated in Spain, and is typically star shaped, fried, and sprinkled with sugar. You can buy this snack from street vendors or order them in almost any restaurant. Most locals eat their churros with thick hot chocolate or coffee.
Sangria. Try this wine-based drink even if you’re not a fan of red wine. This fruity wine punch is made by mixing fermented and unfermented fruit (apples, pineapples, berries, oranges, and peaches) and ice and sometimes soda. It’s most popular during the hot summer but can bought any time during the year.
Carajillo. This rum and coffee drink is served hot and can be made with any type of black coffee and rum. Some restaurants mix in lemon or brandy as well.
The Royal Palace. If you can make it at night, the view of the outside makes for a great photo. Be sure to go back during the day for a tour, as the palace is partly open to the public. The Palace is the official residence of the King of Spain, even though he doesn’t actually live there. You can see the Imperial Ballroom, the Throne Room, and the 200+ guest bedchambers.
Madrid’s main park. Located in the middle of the city, the Parque del Buen Retiro has sculptures, a lake, and plenty of musicians who will serenade you (for a tip!) Wander around until you find the rose garden—it’s worth the walk.
The National Archaeological Museum. While the famous Prado Museum displays centuries-old paintings, the archaeological museum features ancient Egyptian art, along with Roman, Greek, and Medieval relics.
Velázquez’s Las Meninas
Walk around the Prado Museum until your feet hurt. The Museo del Prado boasts thousands of paintings, drawings, and sculptures, including Velázquez’s famous Las Meninas. Bring your student ID for a discount, or better yet, admission after 6 p.m. is free!
Ride the metro. Unless you want to pay an arm and a leg for taxis everywhere, the subway is really the only form of reliable transportation for tourists. Aside from pickpockets, the metro is the best way to see the whole city—it has 231 stations and 12 lines!