So you’ve decided to study abroad in order to learn Spanish? That’s awesome and congratulations! But now it’s time to decide where to go.
If you want a small town where you will get to know the locals and become fully integrated into their daily lives, then you should not go to Madrid. However, if you like the hustle and bustle of a major city and all of the options that go along with living in the biggest city in the nation, then Madrid is one of your best options! Another benefit of living in Madrid if you are learning Spanish is that they have a very pure accent that is easy to understand, which is somewhat rare in Spain.
Luckily, the accent isn’t the only thing that you should take advantage of if you decide to study abroad in Madrid, Spain. Here are some other fun things that you should do in order to make the most of your study abroad experience.
1. Visit the Official Home of the King of Spain. El Palacio Real is one of the most beautiful palaces that I have ever seen and it is the largest in Europe. Although the King and Queen do not actually live there now, it is very easy to get lost in legend and imagine that you are going to see them just around the corner. Construction of El Palacio Real started in 1738 and it is located on the site of an Arab fortress that was built in the 9th century. Today, it is a museum and features 2,800 rooms that contain various works of art, furniture, and other historical and cultural items. Make sure you walk across the plaza and see the gardens that surround the palace because they are definitely worth taking a look at.
2. Get addicted to montecado cookies. There is a very old convent in Madrid called the Convento de las Carboneras. This convent is closed, which means you cannot enter and the nuns who live there very rarely (if ever) leave. However, they are willing to pass out their delicious montecado cookies out through a grille. These cookies are mouth-watering and absolutely delicious! However, they are also chock-full of calories, so maybe a moderate addiction would be better than a full-blown one.
3. People watch in Parque del Retiro. This is the most popular park in Madrid, which makes it a great place to watch Spaniards going about their days or practice speaking Spanish with a local. There is a lake, El Estanque del Retiro, on the northern side of the park where people row boats and spend time just relaxing. This is one of my favorite places to have a picnic with friends.
4. Get to know Goya, El Greco, and Velazquez at El Prado. El Prado is widely considered to be one of the best art museums in Europe and is definitely the best museum to see Spanish art. The entire collection consists of more than 21,600 works of art, but only 1,300 are on display in the main buildings. My favorite artist at El Prado is Goya; I really encourage you to search out the room in El Prado where his Black Paintings hang if you want to see some creepier works of art. El Prado features art work from the 12th century to 19th century. For more modern art, you should head to the Reina Sofia Art Museum, which is conveniently in Madrid also.
5. Experience the nightlife. Madrid is famous for its nightlife and anywhere you go is going to be great. However, there is one place that sticks out in my mind as the best nightclub in Madrid: Club Kapital. This club has seven floors and each floor plays a different type of music. So whether you are in the mood to dance to salsa or R&B, or if you’d rather sing karaoke, you are going to have fun at Kapital. The club opens around midnight and stays open until 6:00AM, so you should probably visit a few other clubs before going here. Some valid options are Fortuny (for a classy start to the night) or Balcón de Rosales (for a more exciting start) to get your night off on the right foot.
Have you studied abroad in Madrid? Do you have any tips for other students who are planning on studying there? Share them with us in the comments section below.