Madrid For First-Timers: 7 Essential (And Muslim-Friendly!) Tips You Need To Know


Maryam Zainol •  Jan 22, 2019

Madrid is no doubt a buzzing hub blending arts, culture and opportunities – and we love every bit of it!

Credit: Giphy

But it can be quite intimidating (not to mention challenging) to venture into the unfamiliar ? Especially in a city as hectic and vibrant as Madrid.

Well with these essential tips, you’ll be navigating your way through the calles (streets) like a local. From Halal food, must-visits and shopping tips, you can travel with confidence in Madrid!

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1. Exploring Madrid’s must-visit attractions

There are so many attractions to uncover in Madrid. From observing the architecture to visiting the museums to exploring the beautiful parks, here’s a list of places you mustn’t miss!

Royal Palace of Madrid

The grand royal palace is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family but is only used for official ceremonies. This complex was built in the 18th century on the site of the former Moorish castle, the Alcazar fortress.

madrid palace

P.S. Did you know that King Carlos III has a collection of 721 clocks in this palace??

madrid palace interior

Photos and videos aren’t allowed in most rooms in the castle (except for this gorgeous foyer), but the beautiful paintings, sculptures and grand décor tells of Spain’s revolution – along with the artists who contributed to commemorating these occasions on the ceilings! Trust us, it’s something you have to see for yourself.

#HHWT Tip:Book tickets online to avoid queueing, especially in summer!

Opening Hours: 10am – 8pm daily (April to September), 10am – 6pm daily (October to March)

Entry Fee: €10

Direction: Take Metro to Opera (Line 2, 5)

Prado Museum

For the art enthusiasts, the Prado Museum should be on your bucket list! Though it may not look like much from the outside, the Prado Museum is considered one of the world’s greatest art museums ☺️

prado museum madrid

The museum houses the world’s finest collections of European art from the 12th century to early 20th century.

prado museum exhibit

Credit: @_sara_carrara_ on Instagram

With thousands of masterpieces from artists like Francisco Goya and Peter Paul Rubens, you surely wouldn’t want to miss this!

prado museum interior

Credit: @riicand on Instagram

#HHWT Tip: The museum has hundreds of visitors everyday so it’s best to secure tickets online to avoid the long queue.

Opening Hours: 10am – 8pm Monday to Saturday, 10am – 7pm Sunday and public holidays

Entry Fee: Adult €15, Children (up to 18 years) Free

Directions: Take Metro to Atocha (Line 1)

The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Ahh, the football fans must have been wondering “What about the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium?” Well of course this stadium that’s home to one of the richest football clubs in the world, Real Madrid CF, is on our list!

real madrid stadium

Relive their glories, get a panoramic view of the football pitch, visit the changing rooms, walk the tunnel and more.

real madrid stadium

What’s a visit to the stadium without bringing home some original merchandise? From jerseys to Adidas kicks, enamel pins and keychains, there’s something for everyone. You can also personalise the jerseys with your name and number!

real madrid stadium shop

#HHWT Tip: There are no tours on match days or event days. Call to check availability as they don’t reply to emails. The tickets are open tickets with a one-year validity period.

Opening Hours: 10am – 7pm Monday to Saturday. 10.30am – 6.30pm Sunday and Holidays

Entry Fee: Adult €25, €30 (with audioguide), Children (up to 14 years) €18

Direction: Take Metro to Santiago Bernabéu (Line 10)

Contact: +34 91 398 43 70

Templo de Debod

Want to breathe in fresh air and see an ancient monument at one go? At Oeste Park, you can! The beautiful park with quiet paths and flower gardens also houses this Egyptian temple from the 2nd century ?

oeste park madrid

Credit: @with.christy on Instagram

Fun fact: The temple was gifted to Spain by the Egyptian state in 1968. It was dismantled and rebuilt in Oeste Park!

Opening Hours: 10am – 2pm & 6pm – 8pm Tuesday to Friday. 9.30am – 8pm Saturday and Sunday. Closed on Mondays.

Direction: Take bus 74 to Pintor Rosales

Retiro Park

Yet another beautiful and iconic garden in Madrid is the Retiro Park. The endless canopy of green trees and the vast lake where you can jog, row or have a lovely picnic is perfect for a sunny day out!

retiro park madrid

Credit: @wandering_blues on Instagram

Inside the park is a building made of glass fittingly named the Crystal Palace. The beautiful architecture fronted by a pond is an absolutely gorgeous sight so get your camera ready!

crystal palace retiro park

Credit: Matt Kieffer on Flickr

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Madrid city and unwind at one of its many stunning parks. For a city that never rests, it sure does have its fair share of open green spaces ?

Opening Hours: 8am – 12am daily

Directions: Take bus 74 to Pintor Rosales

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2. Savouring the local (and Halal!) taste of Spain

Next on your agenda is to find some Muslim-friendly food for a chow down! Don’t worry, you won’t go hungry in Madrid because here’s a list of some of the eateries we visited while we were there ?

Sabor City

Located near the shopping streets of Sol and Gran Via, this Halal restaurant serves local food in a cosy diner setting.

squid ink paella sabor city

We ordered the black rice paella (squid ink seafood paella), Galician octopus (cooked octopus and boiled potatoes in olive oil and paprika dressing) and Roman style calamari (fried squid rings).

sabor city madrid

The octopus dish drenched in olive oil was quite different from anything we’ve tasted before. While it is common in Spain, this was the first Halal eatery we came across that serves this dish. The octopus is a little chewy, giving you a chance to really savour the dressing – it’s definitely worth a try!

Opening Hours: 8am – 2am daily (summer hours)

Direction: Take Metro to Sol (Line 1,2,3)

Contact: +34 620 86 61 67

Nemrut Doner Kebap

This is one of many Nemrut Doner Kebap’s outlets around Spain. Dishes are served in generous portions and are really yummy!

nemrut kebap madrid

Everything we ordered from the lamb kebab pizza to the mixed meat rice with fries was delicious and filling.

nemrut kebap food madrid

#HHWT Tip: If you’re not sure what to order, always ask the waiters for recommendations! You won’t regret it.

Opening Hours: 12pm – 12.30am Sunday to Thursday. 12pm – 2am Friday to Saturday. (summer hours)

Direction: Take Metro to Opera (Line 2,5)

Contact: +34 915 59 52 89

Yatiri Ecological Restaurant

If you’re feeling guilty over all the scrumptious meals you’ve been indulging in Madrid, head over to this vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant. Yatiri is known by locals and tourists alike for its delicious (and healthy!) renditions of western favourites!

yatiri restaurant vegetarian quiche

Credit: @veg_madrid on Instagram

Try this vegetarian quiche that’s not only filling but flavourful too. Who says healthy food needs to be boring?

yatiri restaurant madrid
Credit: @mo.healthyrestaurants on Instagram

It also doesn’t hurt that the food presentation is beautiful!

Note: Yatiri Ecological Restaurant serves vegetarian ingredients only. No alcohol is used in their cooking but alcohol is served at this restaurant so do dine at your own discretion.

Opening Hours: 1.30pm – 4.30pm & 8.30pm – 11.30pm daily (Summer hours), 1pm – 4.30pm & 8pm – 11pm daily (Winter hours).

Directions: Take Metro to Tirso de Molina (Line 1)

Contact: +34 911 15 16 64

Chocolateria San Gines

No trip to Madrid is complete without a visit to the oldest chocolate shop in the city – Chocolateria San Gines. Opened in 1894, this 24-hour cafe has been leaving a mark worldwide for their Spanish churros and chocolate!

san gines madrid

If you think “Oh it’s only churros”, well think again! There’s always a queue at the door, with customers vying to get a table outside on a sunny day.

san gines churros madrid

Light and crunchy churros dipped in their cup of melted house brand chocolate, they’ve been serving the same recipe for centuries. The chocolate is smooth with the right amount of sweetness. Take our word for it, this is a treat you cannot miss!

san gines madrid

Credit: @chocosangines on Instagram

P.S. There’s a store next to the café which sells souvenirs too with prices ranging from €6-25. Bring home milk chocolate coins, orange and chocolate discs, even mugs!

Opening Hours: Open 24 hours

Directions: Take Metro to Sol (Line 1, 2, 3)

3. Going on a shopping spree

Did you know that Madrid is the second best shopping capital in Europe? And they’re ahead of Paris too! So you know you’re in for a tough time keeping your wallets closed.

puerta del sol madrid

Credit: @fannyelizz on Instagram

Stretching from Puerta del Sol to Gran Via all the way to Plaza Mayor, you can walk the entire stretch if you’re up for some serious shopping!

P.S. This was one of the gates in the city wall back in the 15th century. It used to keep armies at bay! Now, it indicates the beginning of Puerta del Sol square.

plaza mayor

This stretch of pedestrian strip is considered one of the city’s best shopping areas because you can find a little bit of everything here! From high-street fashion to specialty shops, this is where locals and tourists spend their day browsing and window-shopping.

Fun fact: Did you know that popular fashion brands like Zara, Mango, Bershka, Bimba Y Lola and Loewe all originated from Spain? You’ll see many of these shops around – sometimes even 3 Zara outlets on the same street!

zara madrid

#HHWT Tip: Due to the high demand in Madrid, the fashion brand outlets here carry better selections and season collections – even the sale section!

Directions: Take Metro to Gran Via (Line 1, 5)

BUT if you want something truly Spanish, then look for Casa Hernanz for the finest espadrilles around!

Casa Hernanz

Specialising in espadrilles (popular Spanish summer sandals), Casa Hernanz has been in business for over a century! This family-owned shop produces hand-stitched espadrilles in various colours and styles.

casa hernanz madrid

With prices starting from €4, it’s no wonder you’ll see hundreds queueing to buy their espadrilles every day! After standing in line for so long, a pair just isn’t enough ;)

casa hernanz madrid

Credit: Claveirole on Flickr

Comfortable, stylish and perfect for our everlasting summer, these shoes will also make great souvenirs for your family and friends!

#HHWT Tip: While waiting in line, be prepared with photos of the ones you want to buy and some back up choices too. This way, you can show the sales assistant your choices when you reach the front of the line without delay!

Opening Hours: 9am – 1.30pm, Monday to Friday. 10am – 2pm on Saturdays. Closed on Sundays.

Directions: Take Metro to Tirso de Molina (Line 1) or La Latina (Line 5)


Now Primark may not be Spanish, but Madrid has the second biggest outlet (after Manchester, UK) in the world! Affordable clothes and home and lifestyle items – definitely worth a visit!

primark madrid

The 5-storey Madrid outlet is gigantic, with sections selling clothes, cosmetics, bags, footwear, candies, home accessories and so much more.

primark madrid

For the Potterheads, you would scream with joy at the sight of Primark’s second floor section that’s dedicated to Harry Potter goodies! From t-shirts and pyjamas to pillows and duffel bags, you’d want to show off your House pride!

Opening Hours: 9.30am – 10pm Sunday to Thursday. 9.30am – 10.30pm Friday to Saturday.

Directions: Take Metro to Gran Via (Line 1, 5)

El Rastro

Have time to do more shopping? Drop by Madrid’s popular historic flea market El Rastro that takes place every Sunday morning! Be prepared to press through the crowd though. It gets pretty crazy!

el rastro madrid

Credit: ctj71081 on Flickr

Here, you’ll find all sorts of knick-knacks and memorabilia – antiques, books, clothes, homeware, pashminas and more! It’s also an exciting place to hunt for souvenirs. You’ll never know what gems you might find.

Opening Hours: 9am – 3pm on Sundays

Directions: Take Metro to La Latina (Line 5)

El Corte Ingles

If you’re looking for more local produce to bless your kitchen with – like grade A extra virgin olive oil, chocolate or saffron – look out for El Corte Ingles supermarket. This Spain department store group is the biggest in Europe, where you’ll find their outlets at every major shopping area.

el corte ingles madrid

Credit: @atempviatja on Instagram

#HHWT Tip:Use Google Maps and save the locations of places you want to go so you’re able to access it offline!

Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm Monday to Saturday. 11am – 9pm on Sunday.

Directions: Take Metro to Sol (Line 1, 2, 3)

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4. Visiting the mosques

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Islam once had a stronghold in Spain because Muslims are a minority group in bustling Madrid. But once in a while comes a moment – as you sit in the sun enjoying your churros, the waiter comes up to you with a Salam and it warms your heart and you exchange genuine smiles.

It’s moments like this that we live for – to be reminded that Islam is everywhere, that we are connected to each other, no matter how obscure it seemed.

Credit: Giphy

While you’re in Madrid, you’ll find fewer public prayer spaces than back home. But don’t be disheartened! These places are worth visiting even though it’s a little further from the city :)

Islamic Cultural Center of Madrid (M-30 Mosque)

The Islamic Cultural Center of Madrid is one of the largest mosques in Europe. The building’s modern design, with stripes of white marble and minarets is a sight to behold.

M-30 mosque madrid

Credit: @necipemreyilmaz on Instagram

This mosque is also the biggest Islamic institution in Spain! It has amenities like classrooms, halls, library and cafes on site. The marble columns inside the prayer hall as well as the mihrab was inspired by the Alhambra fortress in Granada, Spain.

Opening Hours: Open 24 hours

Directions: Take Metro to Parque de Las Avenidas (Line 7)

Abu Bakr Mosque (Central Mosque)

Madrid Central Mosque also known as the Straits Mosque is the first mosque in the capital since the end of the Islamic ruling in the 10th century. It is built on a waqf land and it took donations from many sources for it to be completed in 1988. There are plenty of Middle Eastern restaurants in the area as the vibrant Arab community resides here.

abu bakr mosque madrid

Credit: Noraini Ishak on Facebook

The 4-storey mosque also houses offices, a nursery, a religious school, an auditorium and library. Cultural and social events also take place here, and this is where Madrid’s Muslim community would gather for celebrations.

Opening Hours: 5am – 1am daily

Directions: Take Metro to Estrecho (Line 1)

Madrid-Barajas Airport

If you’re already at the airport waiting for your flight to whisk you home, Madrid-Barajas Airport has 2 prayer rooms in Terminal 1 (level 2) and 4 (level 1).

madrid airport musollah

Credit: Madrid-Barajas Airport

Even though there is no wudhu area (you would have to take wudhu in the restroom), the prayer room is new and clean albeit a bit small. But it’s the perfect place for you to squeeze in a bit of rest and reflection ;)

5. Getting around

If you’re wondering whether it’ll be easy to get around, wonder no more! Because the city is well connected with its extensive public transport network.


madrid metro

The best way to get around this massive city is by taking the Metro. If you’re headed to the city from the airport, take the Metro from Terminal 2 or 4.

Get the reloadable Metrocard for €2.50 and top-up at any Metro station. If you plan to take the Metro everywhere, buy the tourist day pass for €8.40 or the 7-day pass for longer trips. It is available from the ticketing machine at any Metro station and can be used on all Metro network and buses.

madrid train card

You can also opt for a Multicard for €2.50 (plus top-ups) if you’re travelling with other people! A single Multicard will allow a maximum of 10 individuals to travel together. Buying a Metrocard from the machines can be confusing so when in doubt, approach one of the officers for help!

#HHWT Tip:Download the Metro de Madrid app and map your Metro journey so you’ll know which station and which line will get you to your destination!


Taxis are also widely available if you’re travelling with heavy luggage (or if you have shopping bags weighing you down). Have your destination address ready on your phone as it’s easier to show the driver where you need to go. Look out for the white taxis and make sure the meter is on. For your reference, 1km distance is less than €5 and every following km is about €1.20 which isn’t too expensive especially if you’re travelling with others!

Staying online

madrid airport wifi

WiFi hotspots are hard to come by, even in Madrid. If you think you need Internet to navigate your way around town, order online at Wifivox for a portable WiFi with unlimited Internet before your travels and you can opt to collect it or have it delivered to you! It only costs about €7 per day.

6. Staying at Muslim-friendly accommodations

The best area to stay is at Sol-Gran Via stretch as it’s walking distance to major attractions and has quite a number of Halal restaurants around. But Madrid is generally well-connected by its public transport network so any accommodation near a station is convenient.

To help you get started, here are our best picks for a Muslim-friendly stay!

Hotel Miguel Angel

Located in the Salamanca neighbourhood, Hotel Miguel Angel is a 4-star hotel with an in-house Halal restaurant! With a Metro station next door and Halal meals throughout, you’re guaranteed a welcoming and comfortable stay here.

hotel miguel angel madrid

Credit: Hotel Miguel Angel by BlueBay on Facebook

Price: from €95

Address: Calle Miguel Ángel, 29-31, 28010 Madrid

Directions: Take Metro to Gregorio Maranon (Line 7, 10)

Hotel Hesperia Madrid

Hotel Hesperia Madrid is also located in the same neighbourhood. Although there is no Halal restaurant on the premises, you can request for Halal meals in advance and they’ll prepare it specially for you!

hotel hesperia madrid

Credit: Hotel Hesperia Madrid on Facebook

Choose from their Arabian or Spanish cuisine menu, order in room service and unwind after a long day out sightseeing! You deserve it ?

Price: from €70

Address: Paseo de la Castellana, 57, 28046 Madrid

Directions: Take Metro to Gregorio Maranon (Line 7, 10)

Hotel Splendom Suites Gran Via

Seated in the heart of the shopping central, the Splendom Suites is by far located in the most convenient area. With major attractions just minutes away and plenty of Halal restaurants in the vicinity, everything you need is right within your reach!

splendom suites madrid

Credit: @splendomsuites on Instagram

Price: from €76

Address: Calle San Onofre, 5, 28004 Madrid

Directions: Take Metro to Gran Via (Line 1, 5)

7. Safety first!

madrid safety

We’re so excited for you to fall in love with Madrid as we did. To ensure that your trip goes smoothly, always remember to stay vigilant at all times.

There are many cases of pickpockets and scams in the city, so be aware of your surroundings. We were advised by locals to wear our bags on our front – especially when you’re in a crowd, in the train or having a meal on the sidewalk.

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P.S. Check out these awesome fares with KLM’s Dream Deals promotions when you book from now till 4 February 2019 (Travel till 30 Nov 2019):

Now you have everything you need to make the best of your mind-blowing getaway in Madrid! The dynamic vibe, incredible food, and stunning attractions and architecture make it an unforgettable city. So don’t wait any longer – your adventure awaits!

This article is brought to you by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.