My Favorite Places in Madrid

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Eeshta Bhatt
January 4, 2024

As I approach the conclusion of my study abroad experience, I've realized that I've spent more time exploring the outskirts of the city than actually within its heart. It's about time I dedicate a piece solely to my time in Madrid. So, here's a collection and reflection, of course, on some of my favorite spots in this vibrant city. Well, "favorite" might be a bit of a stretch, but these are certainly the places where I've chosen to spend my time.


The college experience seems to have a transformative effect on working habits. Somehow, I've been convinced that the ideal way to work is at a cramped table in a coffee shop. Maybe it's the easily accessible caffeine or the buzz of chatter around me—the harried college students, it all spurs me into action (all of these have free Wi-Fi).

  • Santagloria: A chain in Madrid; I practically spent every Monday at the outlet on Calle de la Princesa. It's within walking distance of a Starbucks and a five-floored Zara, El Corte Ingles at Arguelles, making it a bustling part of the city with many eateries for short breaks. It's also conveniently located, just a short 10-minute bus ride or two stops on Line 6 of the metro from my dorm. While I wish they offered iced lattes, the café's basement, with cushy sofas, chairs, and ambient lighting, makes it specifically designed as a workspace. Come December, it was packed with university students, making it hard to spot a regular customer.
  • Panaria: Technically, in Leganes, but since I was forced to be there from Monday to Thursday, it seems valid. (The IES Abroad Engineering center and the UC3M engineering campus are both located in Leganes, about 40 minutes by metro from central Madrid) Panaria happens to be right next to the building IES is located in, which is why it pretty much became a constant hangout spot for study abroad kids. It started becoming increasingly hard to find an unoccupied table, especially in the afternoons. They did serve up some of the best frappuccinos, specialty coffees, and croissants.
  • Corne: This became a bit of an inside joke with my little group in one of my UC3M classes. Some of my Spanish friends found it frankly hilarious that we were spending hours on end in Corne. But this happened to be the only café in Leganes serving a variety of iced lattes, iced coffees, and a variety of smoothies, and desserts—pretty much a sweet treat paradise. It's also right next to the metro on the walk from the station to the UC3M campus, which means that I pick up a 1-euro chocolate croissant just about every morning.

El Rastro:

A local flea market that takes place every Sunday morning, Rastro sprawls all over central Madrid, with hordes of people gathering to peruse the alleys. It manages to display everything from vintage homewares to imitation jewelry, cloth jackets, leather, and clothes. To my eternal surprise, however, the very first time I squeezed into the crowds, all the dresses and brightly patterned skirts had been imported from India. I hadn't expected to discover a tiny part of the home within the market, but it was kind of a fascinating discovery. Mumbai has its own flea markets, of course, although they're permanent exhibits, but honestly, the crowds at Rastro I saw every time I visited could give them a run for their money, and that's saying something. The dresses and skirts are quite pretty with every floral pattern you can dream up in a wide variety of shades and hues, but I don't think I could ever summon the motivation to purchase any.

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

I am not much of a sports fan. Although I have recently discovered a passion for the world of Formula One during my time in Spain, I have rarely sat through an entire sporting event without some sort of background activity to occupy myself with. Even then, it is a bit of a task. I do like football more than most other sports. However, maybe it's been passed on from my dad's careful following of the English Premier League. With Madrid being home to two of the best teams in the Spanish La Liga, however, I knew I absolutely had to watch a game in Real Madrid's home stadium, Santiago Bernabeu , if only to maybe hear fans serenade star player Bellingham with a "Hey Jude" performance. The stadium is absolutely massive and stunning in person. Being there in person was extremely surreal. Even if I did have the worst possible seats in the entire stadium (the last seat in the last row of the last section), which is why I was resolutely focused on not moving around and leaning over my seat, lest I take a tumble down the 100 feet below. It was kind of like being on a little plane. Unfortunately, there weren't blow-up screens magnifying player movements, so maybe I should have brought a pair of binoculars. It was enjoyable making guesses with my best friend about which player did end up scoring. But even then, watching the stadium and the fans come to life with roaring cheers was quite incredible, and if I ever were to become an avid football enthusiast, being in the stadiums would most definitely do it.

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Eeshta Bhatt headshot

Eeshta Bhatt

My name is Eeshta Bhatt and I'm originally from Mumbai, India. An avid reader, writer, and dancer; you are most likely to find me sipping coffee with a fantasy fiction novel, watching a murder mystery or charting out new runnining trails.

2023 Fall
Home University:
Duke University
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