While in Madrid, my access to wifi was limited to school or the host family’s home I was staying at. In order to get away from the crowdedness of the school cafeteria, I spent my time in Madrid exploring the ins and outs of cafés spread out throughout the city.

To begin, café’s function quite differently than your traditional coffee shop in the States. In the US, it is common to plop down for several hours working on homework or catching up on emails. While it is common to spend a decent chunk of time at a cafè in Madrid, the function of the time spent at those cafes were slightly different.  

Instead of deleting emails and checking Instagram every five minutes to procrastinate writing that ten page paper, time is spent away from work, enjoying a café con lechè or cafè cortado while conversing with family or friends.

Since my stay in Madrid lasted six months, I was lucky enough to become pretty familiar with the local cafès. These are a few of my favorite places to order coffee, chat with friends, and explore new facets of the city.

1. Salon des Fleurs

Located just a few blocks away from SLU Madrid's campus, Salon des Fleurs entices you upon first glance. From the moment you lay eyes on the pile of flowers out front, you cannot help yourself from taking a closer look.

Once inside, the aroma of fresh flowers comes to the forefront, extending the invite to sit down in one of the antique couches or chairs placed throughout the whimsical space. It gives the feeling that you have just entered a fairytale land filled with coffee, tea, and sweet treats.   

2. Bico

mocha, milk, espresso, cappuccino, coffee
Sarah Morrissey

Bico may be a hidden gem of the Madrid's Cafè scene. Tucked away in the Malasaña neighborhood, this spot will not disappoint. Beyond having the most perfect looking (and tasting) café con lechè, this couple-run café is so homey they even bring their dog to accompany them. 

3. Monkee Koffee

Just a few blocks past Salon des Fleurs, Monkee Koffee’s modern rustic interior creates a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for grabbing a bite to eat while enjoying a broad selection of coffee.

4. Celicioso

meat, chocolate
Sarah Morrissey

Having celiac disease, Celicioso was my heaven on earth. Their entire bakery is gluten-free ranging from delicious cupcakes to gluten-free sandwiches, begging for indulgence. Centrally located right off Gran Vía, Celicioso's colorful cupcakes are hard to miss from the street. For those who do consume gluten, it would be hard to distinguish that these tasty treats lack any thereof. 

5. The Little Big Café

With only five or six tables, The Little Big Café creates a comfortable environment to enjoy coffee or a nice lunch with friends. Having an ever-changing “menú de semana” written on the chalkboard walls, the feeling of comfort and spontaneity that encompasses the true entity that The Little Big Café offers. 

6. La Bicicleta Cafè 

The Malasaña area does not disappoint when it comes to great cafès. From Bico, Cafè de la Luz, to La Bicicleta Cafè you are sure to find a spot that you love. La Bicicleta Cafè is a relatively large space, in context of Madrid Cafès, having a large upper room in addition to a quieter basement.  

The funky artwork to the retro seating, La Bicicleta Cafè's trendy crowd allows you to people watch for days. The best part about La Bicicleta Cafè is that it doubles as a bar, providing either type of brew you are feeling all under one roof – not to mention heading back the following morning for their rendition of brunch. 

7. Cafè de la Luz

Walking through the streets of Malasaña, one could easily bypass Cafè de la Luz. However, once inside, its charm speaks for itself. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and a pastry and get cozy in this romantic corner cafè.

8. Toma Cafè

Widely known throughout Madrid, Cafè Toma is one of Madrid's BEST cafè bars. With its top notch coffee, it is best to go on off hours to ensure that you can grab a coveted seat in this trendy spot.  

While I have only skimmed the surface of wonderful cafès in Madrid, take it upon yourself to explore the wonderful neighborhoods of Madrid and continue to delve into the eclectic cafès Madrid has to offer. Even if you are not too keen on coffee or tea, have no fear, there are many restaurants that allow you to get to know the Madrid's unique cuisine.