6 Hidden Gems in Madrid

Madrid is Spain’s vibrant and lively capital city. It is full of wonderful sights, an incredibly active night life and some of the top gastronomic destinations in the world. Moreover, it offers cultural experiences, from cinema to classical dance, and beyond. But it also has so much more to offer than the traditional tourist sites. When traveling through the city, be sure to check out off-the-beaten-path spots. Here are our picks for the six best hidden gems Madrid has to offer.

1. Madrid City Skyline

One of the best hidden gems in Madrid is the view of the skyline from Saint Blas Shrine.

Madrid is a beautiful city with ancient buildings adjacent to magnificent modern ones. And there’s no better way to gasp this contrast than observing the peculiar city skyline from a distance.

And for that, there’s just a perfect place: the Saint Blas shrine (Ermita de San Blas).  Located in the Guadarrama Hills (Sierra de Guadarrama), the site allows a good view of the hills and forest, several charming villages, plus Madrid in the background with its modern towers (CTBA, Kio Tower and Picasso Tower). This spot offers both the advantages taking in the city as well as its natural surroundings.

2. Quinta de los Molinos Park

Be sure to stop by Quinta de los Molinos park to see the almond trees and lilacs in bloom.

There’s no better way to hide from the never-ending busyness of the city than catching a breather at a serene park. In Madrid, there is a variety of parks to choose from, beyond the highly renowned El Retiro. One must-visit park is Quinta de los Molinos. Just outside the nuclear central neighborhood of the Madrid, in the San Blas zone, this park is particularly outstanding in February and March — when the almond trees are in bloom, offering a dreamlike scenery. It also has plenty of lilacs, so the lilac blooming season in late spring is another great time to visit it.

3. The British Cemetery

Fun fact: this 19th-century graveyard is technically British territory. It is located in the Carabanchel district, and it was built to host graves for non-Catholic English citizens. The charm of visiting this site is in its stark difference in style from all Spanish architecture. While a lot of other buildings contrast with Spanish style (like the Debod Temple, an Egyptian shrine), this cemetery is more off-the-beaten path, and is worth visiting.

4. Saint Joseph Hospital

Image courtesy of vidsana.org

This hospital, which is known in Spanish as Instituto Homeopático-Hospital San José, was built in the 19th century under the instruction of the royal physician, Doctor José Núñez Pernía. It was built with capital arriving from all the Americas and Europe. Doctor Núñez was known for giving free consultations twice per week, on top of being the Queen Isabel II’s personal doctor.

The building seen a lot of wear and tear since its construction, but since 1997, has been partially restored. Its veranda and some of the original tiles in the chapel are still there. This is a great place to visit for history buffs, architecture lovers, and those who want to experience this monument towards medicine and charity. 

5. El Capricho Park

This is another charming little green space in the middle of the city. But it’s a window to another time. This small garden is built following the wild wishes of the Duchess of Osuna, a smart and cultured woman who lived during the 18th century. The garden is called “Capricho”– the Spanish word for caprice or impulse. The park hosts so many different species of flora, giving birth to a very different garden every four months.

It also has several architectonic jewels, like some promenades, fountains, French shrubberies, mazes, and even Asian style pagodas. No doubt, a hidden corner of Madrid, perfect for resting, thinking or meditating.

6. El Rastro Neighborhood

Image courtesy of Ana Maria Munoz / Flickr

Take an alternative Madrid city tour through the neighborhood of El Rastro, which boasts the city’s most popular open air flea market. On this tour, you’ll discover local history, legends, and traditions — as well attractions like a corrala that has even been transformed into a historic museum. At the end of the tour, stop by a popular local bar for a beer and tapas. And when booked through Visit.org, 100% of the host revenue will be reinvested into the local community.

The next time you’re in Madrid, take a break from the usual tourist traps and let yourself wander through charming alleys, parks, gardens, and neighborhood. You’ll never know what hidden gems are tucked away in each corner!