48 Hours in Madrid: Flying from Cardiff

48 Hours in Madrid: Flying from Cardiff

I’ve just returned from a fabulous weekend spent wandering the sunny streets of Madrid. If you’re looking for a mini break destination that offers great food, great weather and rooftop bars with views to die for, then you can add this chaotic and infectiously fast-paced city to the top of your to-do list.

Getting there

Our weekend away began with a very short drive to Cardiff Airport. I’ve flown from Cardiff before (to Amsterdam back in November, in fact) and I’ve got to say, I absolutely love the convenience of travelling from there. Saving on the hours of travelling and queuing associated with the bigger airports further afield is always appreciated, plus this time, we even had room for a couple of relaxing glasses of wine in the Executive Lounge before we boarded the plane, something I’ll definitely be making time for again the next time we fly!

Getting to Madrid from Cardiff is so quick and easy, and one short Iberian Express flight later we landed. The great thing about flying to the third largest city in Europe is that everything is super well-connected. It took us just minutes to grab a taxi from Madrid Airport (and cost us a very reasonable €30).

Thursday night

After getting into our centrally located Air BnB apartment, we dumped our bags and hit the streets in search of a rooftop bar. Being from Wales, drinking on rooftops is not something we get to do very often, and so this was to become a key theme of our weekend!

Streets of Madrid

Our first stop was super-trendy hostel The Hat Madrid. This fabulous, eco-friendly hostel was actually our first choice of accommodation but all of their €60-a-night private doubles were booked up for our dates – gutted! Apart from being seriously good-looking, The Hat is also the first hostel in Madrid to be powered exclusively by biomass, making it one of the most sustainable places to stay in the city.

The Hat Madrid

Though we weren’t staying at The Hat, we headed up to their  small but cosy rooftop bar for a relaxing glass of red and our first taste of open-air drinking in Madrid.

Friday morning

What do you do when spending time in one of the most modern and stylish cities in Europe? Book a segway tour, of course! Thanks to Pete’s brother Alex, this is how we spent our Saturday morning, and despite our initial nervousness (and embarrassment) it was actually really fun and a great way to see lots of the major sights and learn the way around.

We booked with Madrid2Weels  and an hour’s tour cost €20 each, but there are tour providers all over the city. If you fancy making yourself look as ridiculous as we do in the video at the bottom of this post, you won’t have any problems finding a local ready to take your money for the pleasure!

Friday afternoon

We spent our Friday afternoon exploring El Retiro park, one of the largest parks in the city. It belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century but now belongs to the public.

Madrid from Cardiff
My favorite part of the park was the beautiful ‘Palacio de Cristal’ – a metal and glass structure  built in the late 1800’s to exhibit flora and fauna from the Philippines. These days it’s empty but still totally gorgeous. I absolutely LOVE city parks and El Retiro was no exception. Definitely worth a wander!

Palacio de Cristal

Friday night

For dinner, we headed to the incredible Mercado do San Miguel –  I fell head over heels for it the minute I stepped inside. It’s chaotically busy, thick with the noise of plates clattering and people talking, and filled with the aromas of a hundred different foods, but I loved everything about it. 

Mercado de San Miguel
Originally built in 1916, the covered market was purchased by private investors in 2003 who renovated the iron structure and reopened it in 2009. It is now the most popular market in Madrid.

We spent a couple of hours wandering the stalls, ordering bite-sized servings of seafood, cheese and other tapas, and sipping on wines by the glass – I can’t recommend it enough!

Jane from HungryCityHippy in Madrid

Next it was time for another rooftop bar! This time, we chose the wonderful Azotea del Círculo – part of Círculo de Bellas Artes, a building filled with art, literature, movies, exhibitions and cultural workshops. There’s a €4 entrance fee for the rooftop but it is SO worth it.

Azotea del Círculo, Madrid

We stayed here drinking wine until it was dark and it was just lush – highly recommended.

Saturday morning

With thick fuzzy heads, we headed out for a naughty breakfast – chocolate con churros! The cute and quirky Chocolatería San Ginés cafe has been serving this to happy Spaniards since the late 1800’s and continues to do so 24 hours a day. Simply order at the bar, find a seat and prepare to tuck into a handful of the crispest churros you’ll ever eat.

Saturday afternoon

Next on the agenda was a visit to the Royal Palace of Madrid. Though this is the ‘official’ residence of the Spanish Royal Family, it is now only used for state ceremonies. Several rooms in the palace are regularly open to the public, but being the tree-hugger that I am, I was more interested in the gardens which are free for people to wander in whilst catching a bit of a tan.

Royal Palace of Madrid

Next it was time for another market – this time it was the turn of the Mercado de San Anton. A more modern – and less chaotic – experience than the Mercado de San Miguel, I wasn’t as taken with this one, but it does have a rooftop where you can sit and enjoy a beer – and by now you know, I love a rooftop!

Saturday night

Did you know that there’s an entire tapas restaurant in Madrid dedicated to the humble mushroom? When I found this out I knew we had to try it. Situated just metres from the Mercado de San Minguel, there’s room for about 20 seated diners in Meson del Champinon but we chose to eat the way the Spanish do – on our feet, clutching a drink. A plate of garlicky mushrooms and two bottles of beer will set you back about €14.

 Meson del Champiñon

As our flight home from Madrid was scheduled for 9am on Sunday morning, our final stop in Madrid was La Venencia, an old fashioned Sherry bar where a glass of Manzanilla will set you back a measly €1-2. At those prices, naturally we had about six. Each. There’s a strict no-photography rule and the bar staff can be pretty surly if you make no attempt to order in Spanish, but if I am honest, it all just adds to the charm!

Sunday morning

After a fantastic couple of days, we were ready to come back to reality, and with the airport just a 20 minute cab ride away, we managed to sleep in until the very last minute, too. In a nutshell – our Madrid adventure is one we are keen to repeat again, very, very soon!

  • Get 10% off flights to Madrid via Cardiff until 28th September by using this discount code 2017CWLMAD when you book! Fares start from just £43 one way – book here: https://goo.gl/UJsJb9.
  • Get £20 off your first Airbnb booking with this link.
  • Offset your carbon footprint each time you travel by visiting climatecare.org/calculator

A note about Millie the cat

My trip to Madrid was organised by Cardiff Airport, who were keen to showcase their direct routes to Madrid from Cardiff by working with a local blogger. I was super excited, but on the Thursday morning before we flew, we had to have our dear, sweet old cat Millie put to sleep. Millie was suffering with un-treatable mouth cancer and we had decided to have the vet come to the house to prevent her suffering. It was definitely the right thing to do, and our vet, Charlotte from Cowbridge Road Vets, was brilliant and made the whole process as easy as she could. But, it was still so upsetting and definitely not what you want to deal with the morning before you head off on holiday. 

The upset of having my lovely old cat put to sleep did make me think about how lucky we are in Cardiff to have an international airport right on our doorstep. As you can imagine I was pretty distraught for a good few hours after we said goodbye to her. If we’d been flying from somewhere further afield, I doubt we would have made it to the airport on time for our trip, as it took me a good while to pull myself (not to mention my luggage) together. 

I felt weird about writing this post without mentioning Mils and the events of Thursday morning. She is normally right beside me on the sofa whilst I am tapping away on my laptop, so here is a picture of me and the lovely Millie (aka Millbur) in our favourite spot.


RIP lovely girl. 

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8 Comments

  1. August 15, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    What a fun-packed city break! I’m definitely going to try the Azotea place next time I visit. Hope you enjoyed the churros. Can’t have too many!

    • HungryCityHippy
      August 15, 2017 / 2:58 pm

      It was jam packed – thank you so much for helping with suggestions I’m desperate to go back and try everything we missed! I heard the cable car was great and am sad to have missed that xx

  2. Simon Hughes
    August 15, 2017 / 6:29 pm

    Can I just ask what did Cardiff Airport pay for? How much would the lounge be to us mortals??

    • HungryCityHippy
      August 15, 2017 / 7:53 pm

      Hi Simon, Cardiff Airport provided me with the flights and access to the Exec Lounge which I believe is normally £20 for 3 hours access and that includes soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, snacks, newspapers etc. 😊 xx

  3. cathy chesham
    August 15, 2017 / 6:34 pm

    Sorry to read about your lovely Millie. Such heart break. I’m sure a trip away was the last think you felt like.
    It was a very lovely blog. As Madrid is one of my regular weekend destinations I was thrilled to read about your experience. The roof top bars are fabulous and I relish every opportunity spending my time taking in the atmosphere and city view. Madrid in December is also rather fabulous. Lunch and cocktails in the railway station is one of my favourite winter things. Botanical palm tree top views and good food & cocktails. I’ve just booked my return trip after following your tweets.

    • HungryCityHippy
      August 15, 2017 / 7:54 pm

      Thanks Cathy! So many people have shared other things to do with me that I’m quite sure I’m going to have to go again 😎 might take a couple of girl friends next time! Xx

  4. Stacey Snow
    August 19, 2017 / 8:56 am

    Sounds like you had an amazing time! X

    • HungryCityHippy
      August 19, 2017 / 9:35 am

      You should go with Jon, Stace ☺️ x

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