Solo Traveler's Guide To Madrid - Things To Do Alone

By Silvia Roig : a lovable, sociable eco-warrior who’s passionate about animals, travel and any sport you can think of.

|Edited by Jess Wright

While I am not originally from here – having been brought up in Valencia and traveled abroad quite extensively – after living here for just one month I felt quite at home; accepted as one of Madrid’s own. The warmth of the climate extends to the friendly population, which is excellent news for travelers wanting to explore the city; specifically those who plan to do the journey solo! So for all the ins and outs to traveling alone through Spain’s capital here is my solo traveler's guide to Madrid, learned after my own time exploring this city alone.

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Tips for Madrid solo travel

There are so many wonderful aspects to traveling alone in Madrid (and, for that, matter anywhere!) – a feeling of liberation, the ability to really be present and soak it all in without distraction, and that wondrous sense of spontaneity – never really knowing who you might link up with and where the road might take you. Of course, with the sweet comes the sour and there are several dimensions to Madrid solo travel (any solo travel) that can be intimidating. One of the main concerns when travelling alone is security and you might find yourself wondering; is Madrid safe to travel alone? Luckily for the aspiring lone-travellers, it is! Madrid is a friendly city with a good measure of security. Overall, it’s very safe, but like any major city you it’s best to avoid dark unlit streets, and wise to keep your belongings where you can see (and feel) them because pickpockets and petty criminals exist, even in vibrant, sultry Madrid.

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Things to do alone in Madrid

Naturally, the most enticing part of any solo traveler's guide to Madrid is the part that covers all the exciting things to do! The first Madrid solo travel must-do is a visit to the UNESCO site Temple of Debod (or Templo de Debod in Spanish); one of my favorite things to do when I have a bit of me-time on my hands. I usually grab a coffee and a good book and head to the Parque del Oeste, near the Royal Palace of Madrid, to lounge about the Templo de Debod for a while and wait for the spectacular sunset view that can be seen from here. There is a powerful, awe-struck hush about the grounds of this ancient Egyptian temple that was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid. Surrounded by pools of water and tranquil park grounds, the temple is a peaceful breakaway from the city buzz and the history behind this 2000 year old monument is nothing short of fascinating. One of the many free things to do in Madrid there is no admission to the monument and photography is allowed, offering the opportunity for perfect sunset shots. Other not-be-missed sunsets include the one from Vistillas, Parquet Las Colinas del Parque de las Siete Tetas, Madrid Rio Park and Jardines Sabatini.

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More solo adventures

Now that you’re equipped with a list of low-key places to reconnect with your zen at sunset, it’s time for the places in the city where you are sure to get lost among the locals. Calle de Fuencarral for one is a street of wonders. Very expensive to live in, but happily free to explore, the leafy store-lined lane is full of character and is great – for those who don’t have the budget to splurge on all the goodies in these high-end boutiques – for crowd watching and window shopping! Then, for some yummy Spanish eats and the chance to connect with the local culture look no further than the closest food market in one of the many squares that dot the city. The food markets tend to be very mixed and are one of the fun things to do in Madrid at night, not just for the enticing dishes but for the chance to meet some locals. Find a spot on a terrace or in a bar, grab a drink and make friends. From the market in swanky Salamanca to Mercado San Fernando in hippie-loving Lavapiés, going out alone in Madrid is made easy by the many markets that bare the heart and soul of Madrid.

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Spots for food on the go

Of course, while the chance to make new friends is a great drawcard for one-man adventures, you might just be into the solo side of life because of the very simple benefit of not having to share your food! If new foodie sensations are the driver behind your travels, head to Mercado de San Anton, to the second floor where Spanish tapas and all manner of gastronomical delights are calling your name. Once you’ve eaten your fill you might venture up to the fancy cocktail bar overlooking Madrid’s skyline, or down to the ground floor for a spot of shopping. Alternatively, the Mercado de San Miguel market offers a more classical setting with equally inviting eats; an early-20th-century market, the glass walls and spacious arrangement make this one of Madrid’s oldest and most beautiful. With food bars serving the finer things in life from croissants and chocolate, to caviar and vermouth, here you will find everything you need for a thoroughly indulgent afternoon. Other markets worth a visit are Mercado de Maravillas, Mercado de la Paz and Mercado de Antón Martín.

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Where to eat alone in Madrid

If munching at markets isn’t on the menu, and a more formal sit-down affair is in order, I have some great suggestions. For a lunch of the finest seafood tapas in a friendly and vibrant atmosphere, seek out a seat at La Pescaderia where you simply must try the salmon tartar, octopus carpaccio, and the classic patatas bravas. On weekends you’ll get the extra treat of a lively ambiance with music and groups of friends out for the night. For a more subdued affair settle down for coffee at L'orangerie café where the crepes are delicious, and the appetizers are perfect for single dining. With fresh-squeezed orange-juice on tap and power outlets for your laptop, this is a great spot to catch up on some work or update your travel diary. Frida, a cool and casual eatery, is amazing simply because of the thoroughly local layout, with a space that is completely integrated with the surrounding plaza that feels like part of the neighborhood. If you visit in summer be sure to get a table outside where you are very likely to catch some of the neighborhood inhabitants lounging outside their homes, catching up with neighbors while you graze on Spanish specialties like gazpacho. 

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Where to stay for a solo trip to Madrid

When choosing from the best places to stay in Madrid for your solo trip, it really comes down to what you’re looking for. For an edgy dive into an avant-garde barrio full with technicolor street art, tattooed baristas and a sense of cheerful rebellion, look no further than Malasaña right in the heart of Madrid. One thing is certain, for solo travel in Madrid there may be no better place to call home, being as it is that in alternative Malasaña, everyone is welcome. In this unique and trendy area, you’ll be delighted by the creativity expressed in all realms; including those of gastronomy, art, culture, and entertainment. For an older (but not in the least bit less lively!), more historic part of town opt for La Latina which, built on the foundations of an Islamic Fort, boasts some of the oldest and most beautiful architecture. While dotted liberally with old churches, and narrow cobbled streets winding between 18th-century buildings, this neighborhood is one of the more vibrant and busy ones, with an abundance of things to do! Other excellent options include the maze-like, hilly and diverse streets of Lavapies, or the colorful Chueca; just a stone’s throw from one of the best places to go out in Madrid – Gran Vía. 

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