You already know what to do when you’re visiting Madrid. Take a stroll through Parque del Retiro. Visit the world-famous Museo del Prado. Take dozens of pictures at Puerta del Sol, where Spaniards greet the New Year while eating grapes. That’s Madrid 101!  You also probably have the part about what to eat covered, from hearty dishes like cocido stew to quick lunches like a squid sandwich at Plaza Mayor. But what about something sweet? You probably didn’t know that Madrid features some of the oldest, still-operating candy stores in Spain.

Forget Jolly Ranchers and Tootsie Rolls, we’re talking about traditional, European, and almost-forgotten sweets that have been around for centuries. These atemporal treats are delicious relics from a bygone era, evident of the artisan dedication involved in their creation and avidly consumed by kings and peasants alike throughout many generations. Therefore, visiting any of the charming spots dedicated to selling them is an experience that will immediately take you back in time. And the stores are so close to each other that visiting them fits perfectly in most tourists’ schedules for exploring the oldest streets of the city. So, you have no excuse to not treat yourself with the tasty and old-timey remnants of Madrid’s glorious past!

Here are 5 places where you can taste traditional candy in Madrid:

La Violeta

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by La Violeta (@lavioletaonline)

Let’s start at the birthplace of what might be the most well-known of all the traditional candies you can find in Madrid. A true classic on its own, the violeta (Spanish for the violet flower), is a small treat that has been delighting palates for more than 100 years. It all started in 1915 when Mr. Mariano Gil and Mrs. Pilar Termiño established a family business in the centric Plaza de Canalejas. Nowadays, La Violeta remains in the exact same spot, managed by the third generation of the industrious Gil-Termiño clan. As you can guess, the violet color is its undisputable trademark, with successful variations of their delicious candies like frosted violet petals. Of course, you can also find other traditional treats beloved by Spaniards, such as the chocolatey lenguas de gato or cat tongues (don’t worry, they’re not), sugar-coated almonds, or anise-flavored candies.

El Riojano

Founded in 1855 by Queen María Cristina of Habsburgo’s personal pastry chef, this legendary venue has been opened for more than seven generations! Since Dámaso Maza (nicknamed “El Riojano” because he was born in the region of La Rioja) died without children, his business was inherited by talented bakers who completely captivated some of Spain’s most illustrious citizens, from iconic writers like Jacinto Benavente to the Royal Family itself. More than 150 years after its opening, El Riojano still has a place of honor in Madrid as a revered destination for those eager to taste the same exquisite treats their great-grandfathers did. This is the place to try traditional Spanish treats that you’ve never heard of, from merengues, barquillos, and rosquillas tontas to monas de Pascua, huesos de santo, and gargantillas de San Blas. The catalog becomes even more impressive if you visit during the San Isidro festivities (May 15th), held to commemorate Madrid’s main saint.

But, if you’re known for your sweet tooth, you can’t leave town without trying its world-famous azucarillos (little sugars), a true institution among old-timers! Heavily mentioned in one of Spain’s most famous coplas songs, the azucarillo comes in many flavors and colors and is something unique that can only be found at El Riojano. And here comes the twist, because you don’t actually eat it…but drink it! Just let it dissolve in a glass of water, and it’ll become the perfect companion that your hot chocolate needed. If you can, don’t pass up the chance of enjoying one at the charming tea saloon. Its decoration remains practically unaltered since the 19th century, with period chandeliers, Carrara marble, mahogany counters, and even furniture granted by the Queen herself!

Casa Mira

Photo credit: Javier Peinado. Used with his permission.

A venerable Christmas landmark since 1842, Casa Mira can boast of providing the best artisanal turrones de Jijona (nougat delicacies avidly consumed in Spain during the holidays), which can be found throughout the whole country. And there’s proof! Luis Mira’s business became the official supplier for the Royal Courts of Isabel II, Amadeo de Saboya, Alfonso XIII, and the aforementioned María Cristina. But there’s more. The young entrepreneur’s treats even won an award at the Universal Exposition of Paris in 1899! With such accomplishments, it’s no wonder that national media refer to Casa Mira as a true “place of pilgrimage to its sweet-toothed devotees.” And that’s no lie. Apart from its indispensable turrones, people flock here to get all sorts of traditional treats, from marzipans, shortbreads and guirlache, to traditional anguilas (“eels” but not really) and colorful candied fruit.

You may also like: 7 Travel Etiquette Tips for Americans Touring Europe

Caramelos Paco

It was 1934 when trailblazer entrepreneur and marketing genius Mr. Francisco (“Paco”) Moreno Redondo decided to open what eventually became the first store in all of Spain entirely dedicated to selling caramelos (Spanish for candies) and bonbons. Located in Calle Toledo, 55, Caramelos Paco is a dream come true to any kid, and a delicious throwback to nostalgic adults who still cherish the flavors of their youth. If you’re into hard candies or prefer the chewable gominolas, it’s difficult to imagine a better place in Madrid to find specific brands or want to try new ones. From recent products to unforgettable classics like its emblematic sugar figurines, Caramelos Paco excels with a perfect mix of tradition and innovation. It also offers party supplies and plenty of costumes to choose from. You’ll definitely feel like a kid again in here!

Horno de San Onofre

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Horno San Onofre (@hornosanonofre)


Although not a candy store by any means, we can’t put an end to any sweet tour of spots for classic sweets and traditional candy in Madrid without visiting one of the most emblematic bakeries in the city. Since 1972, the renowned Horno de San Onofre has been delighting palates with its famous roscones, cakes, torrijas, and pastries not only in Madrid, but also in Nagasaki (some food for thought in case you had the intention of booking cheap international flights to Spain AND Japan). This international approach is certainly on point, given that this place is famous for coming up with the Spanish alternative to the omnipresent French macaron (known as suspiros de modistilla!). With a little bit of everything all year round, you can’t go wrong with Horno de San Onofre!

Do you know any other great places to find traditional candy in Madrid? Tell us about it in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

About The Author

Content Writer

Born in Barcelona. Raised in Madrid. New Yorker at heart. When he is not geeking out at a comic book convention or binge-watching superhero shows, this bilingual journalist loves to discover secret venues and hidden places around the world to fill his insatiable wanderlust. He also digs into ghost-busting, Bigfoot-hunting, and UFO-sighting. The truth is out there.