Highlights and Tips from a Semestre Studying in Madrid

Travel tips

by Michael Loiacono

MikeMichael Loiacono has spent the last 4 months studying at Syracuse Universtiy in Madrid as part of a student exchange program. He’s also been an invaluable intern, helping us out with Notes from Madrid and our other sites. Over at Notesfromspain.com he gives us the rundown on why you should definitely (definitely!) try some time abroad for yourselves, and here are some of the top tips he’s picked up for Madrid:

Madrid is located in the center of Spain. This allows a great deal of ease for great little day trips to outside towns such as Segovia, El Escorial, Aranjuez, and of course Toledo. But, even more it makes traveling to other bigger cities in Spain very doable, Barcelona, Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla are all musts and all within a half day’s travel.

I won’t spend much time doling out advice on which bars to go to or which clubs… the fun part is finding them for yourself. However, one of Madrid’s not so hidden but fantastic treasures is the Retiro Park. On warmer days relaxing, eating, reading or evening napping in the park is phenomenal. Who needs beaches anyways?

Madrid is a much more compact city than people expect. Although the Metro is extremely easy, many times it is not any quicker than walking. I strongly encourage you to try and walk places. Maps can be deceiving because they make the city appear much larger than it is. Therefore, I would recommend to bring a good pair of walking shoes. Walking places is a great way to not only see and get a feel for the city, but it’s usually no more time consuming than the buses or Metro.

Having said my bit about walking, there are undoubtedly times when you won’t walk. It happens. And for those times you do spend on the metro, a book is a great way to pass time. Pick a few up before you come over. Trust me, you will not regret it.

USE THE BUSES! Sure the Madrid metro map may be a bit easier to follow and has pretty colored lines. But the buses run all night, allow you to actually see the city, and can save you a great deal of money. Take a minute and try them, in truth they aren’t that difficult.

Finally, I could not write a highlights from Madrid post without a shout out to the nightlife here. I won’t elaborate, but I had always thought that New York City was the city that never sleeps: Madrid easily gives New York City a run for its money!

Don’t forget to check out Michael’s post on the good life of a student abroad at Notes from Spain.


Comment from Amy
Date: December 11, 2007, 9:54 pm

I couldn’t agree more about the buses. I’ve met a lot of new expats who are intimidated by the buses and the responsibility of finding the right stop, but they are really missing out. And most bus drivers are happy to guide you to the right stop if you can give them some sort of landmark or intersection!