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7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Madrid

Last updated on May 13th, 2024 at 04:21 am

7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Madrid

Madrid is one of the most popular destinations in Europe and we will tell you the tourist traps to avoid in Madrid for your next trip.

Madrid, the vibrant capital of Spain, is filled with culture, art, and history, but like any major city, it has its fair share of tourist traps.

Being aware of these can enhance your experience and help you enjoy what the city truly has to offer. Here’s a guide to some common tourist traps in Madrid and better alternatives

What Is The Best Way From Madrid Airport To City Center?

The best way from Madrid airport to city center if you are getting to Madrid at night time is by Airport Express Bus 24 hours for €5 and it will take 30-40 minutes. If you go by metro you will be able to reach everywhere in Madrid for €8 and 45 minutes travel time.

Read here How to get from Madrid Airport to city center and how to buy a Sim Card Madrid Airport 

Read here Tips for living as an expat in Madrid, how to get from Madrid itinerary 


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Tourist Traps to Avoid in Madrid

1. Restaurants in Plaza Mayor

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Why to Avoid: The restaurants in Plaza Mayor are often overpriced and cater primarily to tourists, offering subpar food at inflated prices.

Alternative: Walk a few blocks away from the Plaza to find more authentic and affordable dining options. The La Latina and Lavapiés neighborhoods are nearby and offer a wide range of restaurants serving delicious Spanish and international cuisines.

Restaurants can be 20-30% more expensive and some of them do not have the best quality!

2. Souvenir Shops Near Major Attractions

Why to Avoid: Shops around major tourist spots like the Royal Palace or Prado Museum tend to sell generic, overpriced souvenirs that are often not even made in Spain.

Alternative: For unique local crafts, visit markets like Mercado de Motores or the El Rastro flea market. Here you can find authentic Spanish goods, from handcrafted jewelry to art, at reasonable prices.

3. Flamenco Shows Marketed to Tourists

Museo del Flamenco, 7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Madrid

Why to Avoid: While flamenco is an integral part of Spanish culture, many of the flamenco shows in central areas are designed for tourists and can be overpriced.

Alternative: Seek out a flamenco show at a tablaos or a cultural center known for its authenticity, such as Casa Patas in Lavapiés or Cardamomo, where the locals go.

4. Overpriced Tapas Bars on Gran Vía

7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Madrid

Why to Avoid: Gran Vía is a busy street popular with tourists, and many bars there charge much more for tapas and drinks compared to less central locations.

Alternative: Visit bars in the Malasaña or Chueca districts for more authentic and reasonably priced tapas. These neighborhoods are known for their vibrant nightlife and local crowd.

Just 5 minutes walking distance you will find bars where ordering 2-3 beers you will have enough tapas to make it your dinner.

5. Street Performers and Costume Characters in Puerta del Sol

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Why to Avoid: The central square can be fun to visit, but the performers and costumed characters often expect tips in exchange for photos, and some can be quite pushy.

Alternative: Enjoy these performances from a distance if you’re interested, but always watch your belongings closely in crowded areas.

6. Generic Paella on Touristy Streets

7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Madrid, How to Make An Authentic Spanish Paella (Recipe Guide)

Why to Avoid: Authentic paella is from Valencia, not Madrid, and many restaurants in tourist-heavy areas serve a commercialized version that lacks the true flavor and quality.

Alternative: For authentic Spanish cuisine, consider trying local specialties like cocido madrileño (a traditional chickpea stew) in less tourist-focused restaurants.

7. High-Cost Guided Tours

7 Tourist Traps to Avoid in Madrid, Things to Know Before Visiting Madrid For First Timers - Madrid Travel Tips Guide

Why to Avoid: While some guided tours offer valuable insights and history, they can sometimes be pricey and no more informative than a good travel book or free audio guide.

Alternative: Opt for free walking tours (just tip the guide what you feel is fair) or download an audio guide for a self-paced tour of the city’s historic sites and museums.

By avoiding these traps, you’ll be better positioned to explore Madrid’s authentic charm and enjoy experiences that truly reflect the local culture and lifestyle.

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