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Favorite Places in Madrid & My First Two Weeks Abroad

September 30, 2021
by Nora Squires
Mallorca Cathedral

I am so excited to share the highlights of my first couple of weeks studying abroad in Madrid. Madrid is a magical city and has a lot to offer. I’ll even share a glimpse of life outside of the streets of Madrid. And trust me… you don’t want to miss them! 

Unlike most of my group, I arrived by myself. The first couple days I had a severe lack of direction, jet lag, and an overwhelming feeling of nervousness. However, I was excited and curious to start this new journey. At the end of the day, action does indeed cure fear. So, where did I start? Let's explore together ↴


I have officially been in Spain for over two weeks now. So if we take a look back at my first few days, the plazas of Madrid are where I started to fall in love with the city.  I became hopeful and confident that this journey was going to be unforgettable. My two favorite plazas are:

Puerta del Sol - filled with people, shops, amazing restaurants. It is home to anything and everything you need. I am used to a busy and fast-paced environment in Chicago (where I attend school), so for me, Sol gave me a joyfully familiar feeling.  

La Plaza Mayor - also a very popular tourist attraction, La Plaza Mayor is a spot that should not be missed. The amount of restaurants and beautiful architecture has me coming back again, and again, and again. After all, the plaza was used for celebrations, announcements, and acted as a meeting place in historic times!

Segovia Cathedral


There was no way this post was getting published without mentioning my favorite places to grab a coffee! If you’re anything like me, there’s always an excuse to indulge. I have found a couple cafes that have given me a reason to return. Two of my favorites are Hanso Cafe and Mission Cafe. Aside from amazing coffee, these are both great for studying, grabbing a quick (healthy) bite to eat, and catching up with friends! 


Hanso Cafe


If you don’t mind spending an hour on a bus or train, then I HIGHLY recommend visiting Segovia. It is the most magical city with gorgeous architecture. Here, I was lucky enough to have a tour guide to learn all about Segovia’s history. The Gothic-style Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Alcázar (a medieval castle) were my two favorite highlights of Segovia!

Segovia Castle


Who doesn’t love a spontaneous beach trip!? That’s what Mallorca was for me. Without any prior knowledge of the island, I bought plane tickets on Thursday and landed in paradise on Friday morning. Thankfully, booking a last minute trip overseas is way easier AND way cheaper than in the states! I could write endlessly on how beautiful Mallorca was, but I hope these pictures can give you a better visual. 

Mallorca beach


Since I have done a fair amount traveling so far, I can truthfully say that traveling during peculiar times in Spain is safe and nothing to stress over. Everyone is masked on public transportation and air travel. However, it is important to read the travel requirements in advance! I have found that many countries differ on these requirements while booking future trips. It’s better to be over-prepared, right? 

The only problem with visiting Madrid is that there are so many places to choose from! This is just the beginning. Thank you for coming along on my first two weeks studying abroad. Until next time!

Nora Squires is the Fall 2021 CEA MOJO Blogger in Madrid, Spain, and is currently studying at DePaul University.
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