Hemingway's Walking Tour, Madrid (Self Guided)

There have been many writers who express a love for Madrid, but one who did so quite famously was Ernest Hemingway. During his life, Hemingway was a frequent visitor of Madrid, finding in it his muse, popular success and critical acclaim. Don Ernesto, as he was called in Spain, was a frequent visitor to specific sites in Madrid that became major tourist attractions. The majority of those sites are described in the next walking tour.
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Hemingway's Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Hemingway's Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
Author: emma
Restaurante Sobrino de Botin

1) Restaurante Sobrino de Botin (must see)

The Botin restaurant, a famous eatery in Madrid, claims to be the "oldest restaurant in the world." It was founded by Frenchman Jean Botin and his spouse and was originally called Casa Botin. The restaurant was inherited by their nephew Candido Remis, thus explaining the change of name to Sobrino de Botin, which survives to this day. The famous painter Francisco Goya is said to have worked here as a dishwasher in his younger years and the place was also a firm favorite of Ernest Hemingway. It grew more popular after Hemingway's regular visits, and is said to be the place of the last scene of his novel "The Sun Also Rises." Botin is known for its excellent cuisine and great staff.

You can also book the 'Botin Experience' which includes a tour of the restaurant prior to sitting down for your meal.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 1pm-4pm / 8pm-12am
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cerveceria Alemana

2) Cerveceria Alemana

Cerveceria Alemana is located in central Madrid's Plaza Ana, well known for hosting many cafes and eateries and for being a popular night spot for Madrid's youth. It is also the place where Hemingway had his daily haunt- the Cerveceria Alemana (German Bierkeller). His regular table still stands in the near right-hand corner and this tavern is noted in his novel "The Sun Also Rises."
La Venencia

3) La Venencia

Clad in vintage posters with the interior yellowed in cigarette stains, La Venencia sherry bar in central Madrid gained fame in the 1930s, during the Spanish Civil War, as a popular hangout of Republican soldiers and their supporters, among whom was Ernest Hemingway, a war correspondent, who frequented the place seeking news from the front. Nowadays, the joint has retained much of its character; the old wooden barrels and sawdust floor, still in place, remember Hemingway pitching up for a glass of sherry, much as the top shelf bottles, none of which seems to have been dusted since either. All of this adds a great deal to the place's appeal. Regularly crowded by locals, the bar still carries the sign from the Civil War era, saying “Don’t spit on the floor.” Moreover, in keeping with its republican tradition, La Venencia still observes the strict rule, as was in Hemingway’s time – no photographs, as a safety measure against possible Fascist spies, as well as no tipping. The latter may seem odd, but these were socialists and workers, after all...
Museo Chicote

4) Museo Chicote

When you are looking at your list of museums to visit in Madrid, don’t be misled by the Museo Chicote on the Gran Via – it is not a museum, it is the most famous cocktail bar in Madrid. During the Spanish Civil War the bar was a favorite meeting place for the Foreign Press and Hemingway was one of its most regular patrons. It has kept its nineteen thirties Retro style, but has added modern lighting, modern acoustics, a dance floor and some of the top Spanish DJ’s to entertain you into the small hours. The walls are festooned with the great and famous who have (perhaps) sipped refreshing cocktails in the heat of the Spanish summer nights. Here you can see – apart from the famous Ernest – photos of Dali, Sophia Loren, Frank Sinatra and Orson Welles, among others.

If Ava Gardener ever frequented the place, you would have a hard time proving she didn't – a well positioned photo suggests that she did; but in these days of airbrushing software, who really knows? Only the bar-tenders and they are keeping mum! The cocktails aren't very cheap, around 7 Euros a glass, and a lot of people don’t find them up to the high standard the fame of the bar requires they should be, but you should visit the place to form your own opinion. You should know, however, that at night the cocktail bar is a favorite haunt for gays, the music is very loud and the place is often over-crowded. If you want to have fun, then it’s a great place to spend the evening; if you want a bit of peace and quiet, it would be better if you chose another bar – or spent the evening at your hotel with a good book!

Operation Hours: Monday - Saturday: 17.00 - 03.00. Sunday - closed.
Circulo de Bellas Artes

5) Circulo de Bellas Artes

Not far from the Plaza de las Cibeles you will find the Circulo de Bellas Artes, a private, non-profit making cultural institution which first opened its doors in 1881. In 1921 it was declared the Center for the Protection of Fine Arts and in 1981 it was listed as a National Historical Building.

The institution offers one of the most active cultural programmes in Madrid and is certainly worth an afternoon’s visit. You will find here something for everyone’s taste in the arts; in the exhibition rooms you can admire drawings, paintings, etchings, ceramics and photos from many famous artists and also from up and coming artists of today.

For film lovers there is a cinema, but if you prefer to see a play, you will also find a good theater. There are concert and lecture halls and during the Madrid Carnival the famous Masked Ball is held here. Bookworms will love the Center’s well-stocked library or you can play snooker in the Billiard Room on the third floor. There is a shop for souvenirs and a cafe/restaurant where you can enjoy a very good meal and tapas are served at all hours of the day.

Don’t miss a visit to the terrace, where there is a statue of Minerva and where you will be afforded a wonderful view of Madrid.

***Hemingway's Madrid***
Hemingway was a frequent guest at the Hotel Suecia, which was just around the corner, and often visited the Circulo de Bellas Artes. Several famous artists passed through the doors of this educational center that is a must see for any arts lover.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hotel Suecia

6) Hotel Suecia

Hotel Suecia was the place Hemingway stayed on his last visit to Madrid. He had stayed at the end of the 50s, leaving the hotel a stamp of historical importance before its closure. Today, a wall plaque reminds tourists of the visit of the writer before his presumed suicide.
Westin Palace Hotel

7) Westin Palace Hotel

Westin Palace Hotel (previously known as Palace Hotel) is where Ernest Hemingway would come to stay whilst in Madrid. In particular, he would frequent the bar in the lobby for a glass of Martini en route to his much loved Prado museum, which is just around the corner.
Museo Nacional del Prado

8) Museo Nacional del Prado (must see)

The Museo Nacional del Prado is a museum and art gallery that features one of the world's finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection. Founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture, it also contains important collections of more than 5,000 drawings, 2,000 prints, 1,000 coins and medals, and almost 2,000 decorative objects and works of art. Sculpture is represented by more than 700 works and by a smaller number of sculptural fragments. The painting collection comprises about 7,800 paintings, of which only about 1,300 are at public display, mainly because of the museum's lack of space. A new, recently opened wing enlarged the display area by about 400 paintings, and is currently used mainly for temporary expositions. El Prado is one of the most visited sites in Madrid, and it is considered to be among the greatest art museums in the world.

***Hemingway's Madrid***
Although Ernest Hemingway was not a usual lover of museums, Prado was an exception for him. He recognized this cultural site as a treasure, with its exhibited works by Picasso, Velazquez, Goya, El Greco and many other international artists. The writer was especially fascinated by Goya, whom he considered a genius.

Why You Should Visit:
The sheer number of masterpieces is mind-boggling, the iconic works truly humbling.
The rooms are very well organized, the map is easy to figure out, the signs are very informative and they're all translated into (very good) English.

Buy online tickets one day or several days ahead and skip the (usually long) lines.
Purchase your ticket with the added museum guide at the ticket booth, which essentially saves you €10 if you plan to purchase it individually inside.
If you plan to visit all the 'big ones' - El Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía, purchase the "Art Walk" ticket at the ticket office as it is quite affordable.
Free visit for the last 2 hours (get there early) – great idea to reduce your travel budget and still see something, but too short if you want to take your time.
Another tip is that you can have both your ticket and audio guide stamped and leave the museum for lunch.

Operation Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-8pm; Sunday and holidays: 10am-7pm.
Free for those under 18 years of age.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Madrid, Spain

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Museums Walking Tour

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City Orientation Walk I

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Souvenirs Shopping Walk

Souvenirs Shopping Walk

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
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Citizens of Madrid are famous for being dynamic and very outgoing. Living in one of the liveliest cities in Europe, locals enjoy the nightlife, when Madrid transforms into an array of colors and music. Check out the most popular nightlife spots in Central Madrid in the next self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
City Orientation Walk II

City Orientation Walk II

Madrid is the economical, political and cultural center of Spain. Founded in the 9th century, this city is one of the most relevant destinations that Spain has to offer to its visitors concerning culture and history. Madrid is a vibrant metropolis full of taste, vigor, and wealth. This walk starts in the city's most prominent areas - Gran Vía and Sol. The latter is Madrid's epicenter...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Madrid for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Madrid has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Madrid's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as iVenture Card, Madrid Flexi Attractions Pass, Madrid Unlimited Attractions Pass, Madrid City Pass and Madrid City Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple Madrid's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Madrid hotels that are conveniently located: Hotel Liabeny, Petit Palace Posada del Peine, Quatro Puerta del Sol.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Madrid, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, as a guided tour typically costs from US$25 up to US$100 or more per person:

- Hop on a “hop-on hop-off” double-decker and enjoy sightseeing of Madrid from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the two interconnecting routes (your ticket is valid for both).

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – these usually last from 1.5 to 2.5 hours and allow you to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Madrid on a bike tour for 3 hours visiting the most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them (for 5-20 minutes) to get rest, watch the surroundings, and learn much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Satisfy your hunger for historical knowledge and culinary delights of Madrid on a walking tour with food tasting and dinner to experience the unique flavor and culture of the Spanish capital and to soak up its nightlife atmosphere.

- If your passion for food pairs with that for fast-paced choreography, then you definitely may enjoy a night of flamenco dancing at one of the most esteemed flamenco venues in the heart of Old Madrid.

- If you take a keen interest in royal matters and history, consider taking a 3-hour sightseeing and Royal Palace tour of Madrid to explore the city's most important architectural sights and Royal Palace (Palacio Real), learn about Madrid’s Moorish origins, observe its famous Habsburg and modern-day monuments, and see what has shaped the Spanish capital into what it is today.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Madrid, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Toledo, Segovia or a combo of Toledo and Aranjuez. For as little as circa US$60 to US$120 you will get a chance to discover historical highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites being picked up straight from your hotel, or any other place in Madrid, and transported either by train or a comfortable air-conditioned minivan to the destination of your choice and back again. Also, you may wish to take a chauffeur-driven tour of Madrid Wine Region visiting several wineries for a chance to learn about the region's wine making traditions and to taste a dozen of local wines. This excursion will set you back around US$140.