You will hear people say that the San Miguel Market in Madrid is touristy and crowded and expensive. Despite of it all, this food market is worth a visit. Even Anil Kapoor—when he was in Madrid for IIFA earlier this year—explored San Miguel and had a great time of it.

Anil Kapoor outside San Miguel Market in Madrid. Courtesy of IIFA.
Anil Kapoor outside San Miguel Market in Madrid. Courtesy of IIFA.

If you need further coaxing, we give you five reasons to include this in your itinerary next time you fly to Spain.

One: You get to meet an old soul.

Built in 1916, it is one of the oldest markets in Madrid, classified as a Property of Cultural Interest. This iron structure underwent a six-year restoration. It reopened in 2009 as a modern day venue offering tapas and premium food products.

The historic San Miguel Market in Madrid.
The historic San Miguel Market in Madrid.

Two: It is located in one of the liveliest parts of Madrid.

The market is located right across the Plaza Mayor, a grand rectangular arcade that attracts tourists in large numbers.

Three: It is a foodie’s dream.

Go stall hopping in the market.
Go stall hopping in the market.

San Miguel Market in Madrid has 33 stalls of freshly prepared tapas and gourmet food products. Go stall hopping and try the variety that is available here—from sushi, garlic prawns, bocadillos, and pizza, to beer, wine, and fruit tarts. Cookbooks, utensils, flowers are all here! Marketgoers also include shoppers who fill their bags with fresh meats, vegetables, and fruits and cook at home.

Four: It has a great vibe!

Imagine this: You’re standing on newly-laid granite floors under a historic iron-and-wood roof, being showered with water droplets (no air-conditioning), breathing in aromas of delicious food. Yes, the atmosphere is surreal.

Five: It’s open day and night.

The shutter is up at 10am daily and the bustle winds down at midnight or even later (at 2am from Thursday to Saturday). It can get really busy after office hours, so if your little ones are with you, plan a family excursion during the day.