El Rastro Madrid is probably the most popular open air flea market in Spain. Every Sunday and during public holidays, stalls are set up with a great variety of products, ranging from cheap clothes and old flamenco records to electronic goods and antiques. If you’re looking for a gift for that special someone or simply a cheaper pair of sunglasses, El Rastro has it all. It’s usually busiest between 11am – 2pm, but careful with your belongings because there are also a lot of pickpockets. With such a variety of articles, you might find a lot of things you don’t need, but there’s always a diamond in the rough that will shout out “BUY ME!”
Remember to bargain with the sellers, since some prices are not fixed, so you can try not showing a lot of interest in a product and you coming back with a previously set amount of money in your pocket and say, “I only have this amount”. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s worth the try, right? Also, if you go with friends and are searching for similar things then you should always be able to come to some arrangement if you buy multiple items from the same stall.
There is one particular square, “Plaza General Vara de Rey” that has a lot of second hand things, where you’re sure to find that authentic souvenir. As well as travelers, locals frequently visit El Rastro to stroll the atmosphere filled streets and around 12 noon to retire to one of it’s many bars to drink cañas and eat tapas. One particular bar, “El Capricho Extremeño” always has a line out of the door for their truly generous servings. €2/3 tapas topped with an overflow of finely shredded meats, cheeses, or seafood sound good to you?
The first time I ever came to El Rastro, I was also amazed by how quickly they dismantle the stalls and clean up. If you get there around 5pm it’s as if no one was ever there! (See before and after photo) So where does everyone go after a nice shopping spree at the Ratro? The cool kids continue their afternoon in La Latina.