Madrid is a massive city with many things to see, do and taste. It’s easy to spend days exploring the different streets, barrios and districts. But, what if you don’t have multiple days to devote to the Spanish capital?
Fear not! With a little hustle, you can easily explore and take in the major sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Madrid in just 24 hours or less.
Templo de Debod
Kick off your day at Templo de Debod. This Egyptian temple was gifted to Spain in 1968 as a gesture of thanks for sending resources to help stop a flood in 1960. It was moved to Madrid and rebuilt to mirror the way it had stood in Egypt, and today is a very popular meeting place for Madrileños.
After admiring the architecture, walk to the back of the park and take in the spectacular views of Madrid, Casa de Campo park as well as the Royal Palace.
Jardínes de Sabatini
The neo-classical gardens are part of the Royal Palace and are the home to vegetal mazes, sculptures, numerous trees. Visiting the gardens offers not only pretty great views of the Palace but also a few moments of tranquillity in the middle of the city.
Back on Calle de Bailén, walk a little bit more to find yourself at the Palacio Real (Royal Palace of Madrid).
Past generations of the Spanish Royal Family used the Royal Palace as their official residence, but it is currently only used for state ceremonies. The Royal Palace contains 3,418 rooms and it the largest royal palace in Europe by floor area.
Portions of the palace are open to the public. For approx. €11 you can tour 20+ rooms as well as take in the stunning courtyard views.
If you’d prefer to save your euros, you can get a pretty great view of the palace (through the fence) from the courtyard.
Cathedral de Almudena
Directly behind the Palace is the Cathedral de Almudena, the seat of the Archdiocese of Madrid. The Cathedral was built over many years and in many various architectural styles, so depending on where you look you’ll see a completely different building.
For a €1 donation, you can enter and explore the church. As you quietly walk around the Cathedral, make sure you look up at the impressive nave and square cupola, both of which are beautifully painted.
Mercado de San Miguel
Back out on the street, walk along Calle de Bailén and turn left on Calle Mayor. Follow this main drag past numerous jamón and tourist shops until you reach the Mercado de San Miguel.
Mercado de San Miguel is one of my favourite places in the city to grab a drink, sample different snacks, and watch the world go by.
Browse the stalls which offer everything from sausages and jamón to seafood and tapas, as well as sangria, wine, vermouth and juice. Trust me, it’s the perfect place to take a quick break and refuel before you continue your journey.
After sampling foods to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content, venture back out and walk through the impressive archways to find yourself in the heart of the city: Plaza Mayor.
Plaza Mayor has a long and rich history and has been the site of many events over the years, including markets, bullfights, football matches, public executions and celebrations. Today, Plaza Mayor is one of Madrid’s most famous spots and attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Puerta del Sol
From Plaza Mayor continue walking west to Calle Mayor and on to Puerta del Sol. This bustling square is the busiest place in Madrid and is the centre (km 0) of the radial network of Spanish roads (there’s even a street plaque to mark the spot). The square also contains the famous clock whose bells mark the tradition of eating 12 grapes at the beginning of each year (source).
Gourmet Express, El Cortes Ingles Callao
Walk north on Calle de Carmen until you find yourself at the doors of El Cortes Ingles Callao. If you’re looking to take a shopping break, this is the place to do it. But, shopping isn’t all that this site offers. Take the escalators all the way to the ninth floor, to the Gourmet Express. Past the racks of wine and spices, you’ll find one of the most unbelievable terraces in Madrid, offering stunning views of Gran Via as well as out to the Palace and beyond.
But, shopping isn’t all that this site offers. Take the escalators all the way to the ninth floor, to the Gourmet Express. Past the racks of wine and spices, you’ll find one of the most unbelievable terraces in Madrid, offering stunning views of Gran Via as well as out to the Palace and beyond.
Take a quick break and take in the bird’s eye view of some of the places you’ve been so far today.
Walk down Gran Via
Back down to terra firma, head out onto Gran Via towards the Palacio de Cibeles and Puerta de Alcalá. Gran Via is one of the cities most iconic and busiest streets. It’s easy to get lost in the crowd, but one of the best parts of walking down Gran Via is looking up to the tops of the buildings and admiring the amazing architectural details.
Palacio de Cibeles
Palacio de Cibeles is home to the Madrid City Hall as well as an amazing terrace. For just €2 you can take a trip up to the Mirador (or Viewpoint) and see another bird’s eye view of the city.
Puerta de Alcalá
Continue towards the Puerta de Alcalá in the Plaza de la Independencia, the former gate to the city, located near the entrance to El Retiro Park.
El Retiro Park
Either walk alongside or take a detour through El Retiro. If you do go through the park, take a few moments to relax on the steps of the Monumento Alfonso XII on the edge of the pond or wander through the tree-lined paths, while exploring the green heart of Madrid.
Museo del Prado
The Museo del Prado (Prado Museum) is the main Spanish national art museum, and one of the city’s most famous attractions. It is home to one of the world’s finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th- to the early-19th century, including numerous works by Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez, Peter Paul Rubens, and more.
The collection is currently comprised of around 7,600 painting, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints, and 8,200 drawings. The Museo del Prado is definitely a must-see for any art fiend.
TragaTapas Cava San Miguel
Wind your way back through Cortes barrio of the city and pull up a chair at TragaTapas Cava San Miguel. For just €3 you can order a bucket of five ice cold San Miguel beers and enjoy a cold beverage on a hot day.
Once your thirsts are satisfied, walk down Cava de San Miguel and take a few minutes to stop in front of Botín, the world’s oldest restaurant.
Take a very minor and short detour into El Madroño and order a shot of the local speciality: El Madroño. Served in a wafer cup lined with chocolate, El Madroño is a liqueur made from the Madroño tree (the symbol of the city). It’s special to the city of Madrid and no visit would be complete without taking a sip or two of this sweet liqueur.
La Musa Latina
Finally, make your way through the trendy La Latina district to La Musa Latina. Enjoy an amazing meal of tapas (get the fried green tomatoes if they’re on the menu!) and wine as you reminisce about you action-packed day in Madrid!
Have you been to Madrid? what would be on your 24 hour Itinerary?
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Have you been to Madrid? what would be on your 24 hour Itinerary?
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