Going on Erasmus? Have you chosen to do your Erasmus in Madrid? No doubt there will be many things going around your head right now that you can’t get off your mind. Don’t worry, having doubts is normal, but don’t forget that the Spanish capital is totally cosmopolitan and that you will be welcomed with open arms, especially if you are a student who is interested in our city. Below, we have some useful advice about what not to miss if you’re spending or going to spend your Erasmus in Madrid:
1. Find accommodation in the centre on your Erasmus in Madrid
Madrid is a very big and well-connected city. The majority of its neighbourhoods in the outskirts will have much cheaper rent than in the centre, to which you will have quick access by the Metro and bus. However, if you still have time to search, our best advice is to look for rentals in the central district. Why? The advantages include having more availability to come and go from the house at whatever time you like (as you will not be surrounded by children), being in a zone in which everyone goes out and taking part in the vibrancy of Madrid in full action.
Neighbourhoods of interest for your Erasmus in Madrid:
– Malasaña. Perfect for hipsters, trendy people, lovers of everything vintage, alternative and young and dynamic life in a neighbourhood that is just next to the city centre, close to the university by public transport and entirely “on trend”. High prices.
– Chueca. Parallel to Malasaña. Similar prices. Very central and well connected to the university. This is known as the quintessential “gay” neighbourhood of Madrid, as well as a reflection of popular culture, music and the “movida madrileña” of the ‘80s. Ideal for dynamic and laid-back youths who love to party.
– La Latina. This neighbourhood is known for its beers, tapas, mojitos and terraces. On weekends it is almost impossible to find a free table at its crowded bars and restaurants. It is famous for its flea market on Sundays, where you’ll find some amazing things and of course, the Mercado de la Cebada (the Barley Market) is a must
– Barrio de Salamanca. The most luxury neighbourhood of the capital. Prices are very high, and the students who live there tend to go to private universities. We don’t recommend this for Erasmus students due to its relative distance from the party centre of Madrid.
– Moncloa/Argüelles. A nice area and the most student-friendly due to its proximity to the UCM (Universidad Complutense de Madrid). In this neighbourhood, the prices are low, the houses are full of students and the area is quiet throughout the day, yet lively at night. Its proximity to the centre is very good and its access to the university excellent.
2. Get cultured in museums
Madrid boasts one of the biggest art galleries in the world: El Museo de Prado. There, you can see famous works such as Las Meninas de Velázquez; and very close by is the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, where there is a magnificent collection of contemporary pictorial works.
You can also access other private galleries, like the Thyssen gallery, where the collections of contemporary paintings are a delight for art connoisseurs. Would you miss it?
3. Go out for tapas and beers in alternative neighbourhoods on your year abroad
Specifically: Malasaña, Chueca and the Barrio de las Letras.
Although we’ve already mentioned these, the first is known for being the most “on trend” neighbourhood in the capital, where drinking a beer or a coffee are the only way to spend your afternoons or evenings.
Chueca is called the city’s gay neighbourhood, where you will find people of all sexual orientations dancing to the rhythm of Madonna or Lady Gaga’s biggest hits.
El Barrio de las Letras is an area famous for housing the country’s most important literary geniuses. Nowadays, it is home to several drinks bars and the chicest pubs around.
Furthermore, don’t forget to visit the bars on Calle Ponanzo. This road is famous for being full of bars. Locals go out to drink wine and beers at these bars that are known for their top quality. You will have to wait to enter into many of these.
Some of the beer and tapas bars that you must visit during your Erasmus year and that you’ll never forget are:
- El Tigre
- Bar Lozano
- 100 Montaditos
- La sureña
- La Blanca Paloma
- La Llama
- Indalo tapas
- Entre Cáceres y Badajoz.
4. Go sightseeing on your study in Madrid
In Madrid there are many options for tourists, from having a picnic in the Retiro park to walking along Gran Vía, going shopping, dining out or going out for a drink in the centre. This is the tourism on offer in Madrid, however, as you’re not a visitor, rather a temporary resident, you might be more interested in discovering the city little by little. Don’t forget to make a list of everything that you want to do before the end of your stay, and include on this list landmarks such as the Templo de Debod. You mustn’t miss the Puerta de Alcalá either, nor the Cibeles, Neptuno, Opera, Plaza de España, Colón, Serrano, etc.
5. Cross the border
Because, despite everything that Madrid can offer, we have the mountains very close by where you can do snow sports and visit picturesque towns, like El Escorial, Alcalá de Henares, the big town of Toledo at only an hour and a half an hour away or Segovia at two hours away.
6. Enjoy the atmosphere and feel part of it
In order to achieve this, you need only go along to the multitude of regional celebrations that make Madrid so special, such as la Verbena de la Paloma, San Isidro, Gay Pride celebrations, Halloween, Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve) at Puerta del Sol… you can be sure that there is no festival that Madrid doesn’t celebrate!
7. Go out partying on your Erasmus in Madrid
There is something that characterises Madrid and its nights out. Madrid is the city that never sleeps and you can test this by going out into the streets and finding that there is always somewhere new to discover. There are places that are like temples for Erasmus and exchange students in general.
Calle Huertas and Plaza de Santa Ana and its surroundings are full of drinks bars where you will also be invited to drink sangria, beer or shots, if you go early.
All around the central zone in general (Sol, Gran Vía, Plaza de España etc.), you can find places full of people having a good time, from small bars to big nightclubs.
With these tips, we emphasise that you should not shut yourself away, but go out and experience Madrid. In doing so, you can make your Erasmus placement one of the most enriching years of your whole life.
Translated by Katy Burrows