English girl in Madrid: Visiting El Rastro

English girl in Madrid: Visiting El Rastro

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Newcomer Jennifer Wilkinson discovers the delights of El Rastro - one of the largest outdoor market in Europe.

El Rastro is said to be the largest outdoor market in Europe. It opens from 8am – 3pm on a Sunday and is located between the La Latina and Tirso de Molina. It is another of my must see, must visit places in Madrid.

You can get absolutely anything here, clothes, hand made jewelery, trinkets, art, furniture, comic, hardware, games, toys, music that will forever remind you of your time in Madrid and fill you will warm thoughts.

It is a mixture of new, crafty things and a flea market. You can get anything that your heart desires.

Some quick tips:
1. Watch out for woodworm. From what I have been told. Wood worm is something that effects a lot of antique wood products and if you get it in your home, you are in a little bit of trouble. However I am sure that they get rid of it before they sell a product.

2. Keep your hand on your valuables, this is a pickpockets' favourite way to spend the day with all those excited tourists with lost of cash on them.

In the 17th and 18th century El Rastro was a huge meat market which is where it gets its name from. El Rastro means blood stain and refers to the blood stains of the animals sold there.

Photo © Jennifer Wilkinson

 El Rastro

However it is now safe to say that none of that kind of thing happens there these days. Just streets and street filled with stalls and people.

All this shopping is bound to make you hungry and what an amazing place to be when you are hungry. The tradition when visiting El Rastro is to go for caracoles (snails).

I suggest visiting the bar aptly named caracoles located near the top of the market very close by to La Latina station, sitting at the bar and ordering a portion. They are served in a slightly spicy tomato sauce and are extremely tasty abeit a little scary looking but you will just have to get over that.

Another fantastic place to eat is at El Capricho Extremeno which is located at the very bottom of the market. Just look for the huge queue and wait in it, it is bound to be for this tasty shop. They sell bread with just about any Spanish tapas topping you could ever wish for. For just EUR 2 each!! It is well worth the wait, the food is sensational and there is a real family ambiance about the place that makes you feel like you are eating fresh traditional Spanish home made food (which you are).

Photo © Jennifer Wilkinson


I recommend the pulpo (octopus) and the tortilla (Spanish omelet) These are my favourite ones, but they have so much to chose from. If you visit you have to be prepared for a wait and to be assertive otherwise you will end up being there for a while.Try to get there early or you might miss out on some of the food. It is so popular that they run out of the best stuff fast.

And if you are still hungry after all this food or need to rest your feet. The traditional thing to do after El Rastro is finished, is to sit at a bar in La Latina and have a cana with some tapas. A very good way to spend a day. :)


Jennifer Wilkinson / Expatica

The writer is an English expat living in Spain. Her blog, English girl in Spain, offers a unique insights of the country seen through the lenses of her camera.

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