Souvenirs Shopping Walk, Madrid (Self Guided)

It would be a pity to leave Madrid without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Madrid, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
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Souvenirs Shopping Walk Map

Guide Name: Souvenirs Shopping Walk
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Author: Daniel

1) Cantaro

What to buy here: Spanish Ceramics.

Traveling Spain’s many diverse regions, you’ll discover no shortage of ornately designed colorful ceramics. Broad brushstrokes of blue and gray swish around pitchers from Granada, radiantly colored flowers form rings inside of a serving bowl from Toledo, and a mosaic-tiled clock appears to come straight from a Gaudi museum. But what if you don’t have the time to travel the whole country to find your favorite Spanish ceramic masterpiece? Cantaro, a shop located just off of Madrid’s tourist and traffic thoroughfare, the Gran Via, stocks artisanal wares from around the country at surprisingly reasonable prices (a handmade pitcher for 12€? Score!). From pots, to platters, clocks, salt-and-pepper shakers and more, you can find gifts in all shapes, sizes and prices. No stranger to ceramic-lovers, they’ll even be sure to package up your new purchase so that it’s safe for the long journey home.

Price: from a few euros to hundreds of euros.

Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 10am-2pm and 5pm-9pm; Closed in August.
El Corte Ingles

2) El Corte Ingles

What to buy here: Majórica pearls | Paella basics.

- Majorica pearls. Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but pearls come in at a close second. Good thing, then, that you can score some for a decent price while on your trip to Spain. Majorica, a company started in 1897 on the island of Mallorca, produces its world-famous pearls by following a process similar to their development within an oyster. The man-made pearls, which closely resemble the natural version, consist of a solid glass-ball center that is covered layer by layer with a special paste made of various organic marine products (such as ground up mother of pearl and even fish scales). Employing expert techniques and other carefully guarded methods, Majorica is able to produce the ultimate pearl. The resulting perfectly rounded gems have a shine and iridescence not found in nature. The pearls can be purchased alone or in settings as earrings, rings, necklaces and more. Price: starting from 20€.

- Paella basics. Why not take a little bit of Spain’s world-famous paella back home with you? OK, so you can’t exactly take a doggy bag in your suitcase, but you can at least return with the ingredients. Part of what makes paella so especially delicious is the type of rice that grows in Valencia’s Albufera – the fresh-water lagoon that the rice fields call home. This unique variety of rice is a fundamental ingredient because it absorbs all the flavors as the broth bubbles and reduces. Also important to paella creation is the paellera – the flat pan used to cook it. The paellera not only ensures that the rice cooks slowly and evenly, but, if done right, allows for the creation of the highly coveted crust on the bottom of the pan - the socarrat. Between the pan, the rice and a killer recipe, you should be on the right path to making your own authentic paella. Price: Rice (arroz bomba): starting at 3€ per kilo; Paellera: 5€ - 70€+.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am-8pm; Occasionally open on Sundays.
Casa de Diego

3) Casa de Diego

What to buy here: Spanish Fans.

The shops that infest the tourist traps of Madrid are littered with fans of all shapes, sizes and colors. The selection may be large, but the quality is probably low. So what if you are looking for something more authentic? Stop by Casa de Diego in Puerto del Sol where three generations of family continue to make and sell traditional Spanish fans. Flowers, lace, ornately painted images – they’ve got every kind of fan imaginable, all made right there in the store in central Madrid. If authenticity isn’t your thing and instead you are more interested in quantity or price, your best and most economical bet is Madrid’s famous outdoor market, the Rastro. Each Sunday, in the famous La Latina neighborhood, the winding raucous streets turn into a bustling market. There, you can bargain your way to fan happiness. They may not be as fancy, but with basic fans costing around 2€, it might make for a more suitable gift for your long list of people to shop for. Price: 12€ up to 2000€+.

Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 9am-1:30pm, 4:30pm-8pm; Saturday: 10am-2pm.
La Violeta

4) La Violeta

What to buy here: Violetas.

Almost 100 years ago, the shop La Violeta opened its doors, selling a selection of candies and other treats. After several years, one of its signature items reigned supreme – las violetas. Nowadays, that same shop is run by the family’s third generation and still sells the same famous Madrid treats that have been a source of success for the last century. There, you can pick from a wide selection of quantities and containers, which they will wrap up for you and adorn with - what else - a purple ribbon. Nostalgic Madrilenos recall their childhood at the taste of one of these famous candies, and gift-givers know a box of them will always be warmly received. The little sweets, purple and in the shape of their namesake flower, are made with flower essence and therefore have the slightest floral flavor. Their small size, flowery design and dainty packaging make them an ideal gift from Madrid. Price: boxes starting at 5€.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday: 10am-2pm and 4:30pm-8:30pm.

5) Borca

What to buy here: Shawls.

There’s something romantic and extravagant about an elaborately embroidered shawl. Called mantones de manila, the traditional Spanish shawl gets its name from the port in the Philippines where the Spanish colony exchanged goods from the Far East (despite the fact that the item was actually made in China). First popular in Southern Spain, the garment, known for its intricate embroidery, originally gained fame among flamenco dancers and even mainstream use in everyday life throughout the nation. These days, while shawls remain a flamenco staple, they are not a daily fashion accessory and instead only reserved for more formal occasions. If an embroidered manton is too dressy for you, you may want to take advantage of your trip to the Rastro for fans to also pick up some pashmina-like shawls. At 2-3€ each, you can’t go wrong. They may not be locally produced, but I’m pretty sure your friends back home will be happy to receive them regardless. Price: 49€ - 2500€.

Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 10am-1:45pm, 4:30pm-8pm; Saturday: 10am-1:45pm.
La Favorita

6) La Favorita

What to buy here: Spanish men's hats.

Wandering the Madrid streets, you might discover that many Spanish grandpas share one thing in common – their hats. While most Spanish men below the age of 50 are very unlikely to sport such a headpiece, I do believe us foreigners might be a bit more daring. Find your own Spanish hat (for Grandpa, Dad, or even yourself), at La Favorita, the oldest hat shop in Madrid. In the Plaza Mayor tienda, founded in 1894 and family-run, you can find gorras (messenger caps), proper sombreros (straw hats), as well as boinas (more or less what we might call a beret). The gorras are more commonly worn during the cold winter months, while the sombreros are a popular summer choice. So if a flamenco outfit, fan or embroidered shawl doesn’t seem like quite the right gift for Dad, now you know just what to get him. Price: 4€ - 158€.
Gritos de Madrid

7) Gritos de Madrid

What to buy here: Thimbles.

Most people probably fall into two categories when it comes to thimble collecting: they love the idea, or they think it’s silly. You might believe you belong to that latter group until you see the ornately handmade thimbles at Gritos in Plaza Mayor. While most tourist shops sell poorly made, even cheesy thimbles to the masses, Gritos sells true collectors’ items, ranging from commemorative to customized. Fancy a certain animal? Most likely they have a dedal for you. Obsessed with a cartoon character? They’ll probably have that too. Amongst the hundreds of porcelain, ceramic and metal miniatures, you’ll undoubtedly find one that speaks to you - much to your surprise. And since the shop is located in the heart of Plaza Mayor, it’s worth a stop by just to take a look. They’re cute, they’re cheap, and most likely at least one person in your family would absolutely love one. Price: 1.50€ - 40€.

Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 10am-2pm, 4:30pm-8pm; Saturday: 10am-2pm.
Casa Hernanz

8) Casa Hernanz

What to buy here: Alpargatas.

Come springtime, the line outside of Casa Hernanz stretches far out the door. Spaniards and tourists alike gather to stock up on Spain’s favorite summer shoe – the alpargata. Made of rope and cloth, the shoes form a staple of Spanish summer attire, particularly at the beach. Apart from the appealing bohemian look, they come in 32 colors, from candy-apple red to lime green and lavender purple. And even better, the price is oh-so-right at only 5€ a pair. Considering that they only last about a season, locals usually stock up yearly, purchasing a slew of their favorite colors. While you can find them in various locations, the world-famous shop, Casa Hernanz, sits behind Plaza Mayor, where it has made its mark on the shoe-world for over a century and a half. Just be sure to come prepared with your European shoe size and those of friends back home. Price: 5€.

Opening Hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-1:30pm and 4:30pm-8pm; Saturdays: 10am-2pm.

9) Chocolat

What to buy here: Chocolate for chocolate con churros.

Madrid's favorite treat is without a doubt chocolate con churros. Unlike the churros you might be used to, most in Madrid don't come with a dousing of cinnamon and sugar. Instead they are accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate. And it’s not your standard hot chocolate, either. Rather, the creamy and thick concoction seems more appropriate for a spoon than sipping. Dip in it, drink it, whatever you want - it's delicious. Now if only you could box that up and take it home with you on the plane! Good news - you kind of can. Stop by Chocolat, one of Madrid's most famous churrerías, indulge your craving for the sweet treat and, before leaving, buy a bar of their melt-it-and-make-it-yourself-at-home chocolate. Whether you dare to try and make churros yourself, or just eat the bar of chocolate on the trip home, it will be a memorable gift from Madrid that your tummy will be grateful for. Price: 5.50€ for 500 grams, 9€ for 1 kilo.

Opening hours: Monday-Sunday, 7:30am-9pm; Closes at 4pm on Tuesdays; Closed August 8th through 15th.

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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
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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.