Madrid and Barcelona are the 2 most important and very different cities in Spain. If Barcelona plunges you into its gentle embrace upon arrival, laughs briskly and smiles the whole trip. That Madrid is a serious self-confident businessman, dressed in solid clothes, conducting a business conversation with you.
At the same time, Madrid has all the elements of a holiday town except the sea: narrow streets, palm trees, and people melted by heat. If you turn off the main streets, you will find yourself in narrow streets and atmospheric courtyards.
If you want to specifically explore Madrid, to understand its atmosphere, then you need to live in it for at least a couple of weeks, most correctly to do it in spring or autumn, when you have the opportunity to see real Madrid without crowds of tourists. The best way is to study. Find a Spanish school or other courses and go.
The airport in Madrid is one of the biggest hubs in Europe. So many travelers are keen to explore the city during the long layover. Exactly for these people I did this guide. Just follow from the sight to the sight and get a great walk around the city.
Best places to visit in Madrid in 1 day:
1. The Bear and the Strawberry Tree
The statue “The Bear and the Strawberry Tree” is the main symbol of Madrid and the decoration of the capital’s coat of arms. It is located at the Puerta Del Sol metro station. From here you can start your walk around the city. I recommend walking.
2. Plaza mayor
The historical area of the city. Crowds of tourists constantly go here, souvenirs are sold and street musicians play. In the center of the square stands a monument to Philip III.
Do not lose much time here. Take a walk around the square, take a couple of pictures, and move on.
3. San Miguel Market
This is a gastronomic market. Which is a fashionable place where you can try all sorts of food. Exotic fruits, different types of wine, and desserts. Here you can pick up wine, baked sea urchin, asparagus, chocolate covered strawberries in different counters, and arrange a degustation.
4. Palacio Real
The Royal Palace in Madrid is the official residence of the kings of Spain. It also works as a museum. Inside you can find various palace interiors: a throne room, a mirror room, a chinese room, a library, an armory, etc. To make the tour more interesting, it is better to take an audio guide.
The entry price is 10 euros. BUT! On Wednesdays 1.5 hours before closing time – admission is absolutely free for everyone! See the details on the museum website.
After a tour of the palace best option is to wander through the gardens of Sabatini.
5. Plaza de España
Here starts the famous Gran Via street. In the center of the square stands a monument to Miguel Cervantes and his famous characters – Don Quixote and Sancho Pansa.
6. Gran Via
Go from Plaza de España to Retiro Park along Madrid’s most beautiful street, Gran Via. The street plunges into the urban atmosphere, here you can feel the metropolitan bustle while admiring the architecture of buildings. In my opinion, Gran Via is one of the most beautiful streets in the world.
7. Palace of Communications
This is one of Madrid’s most beautiful buildings on the outside, and the perfect decoration for Instagram shooting inside: snow-white arches, stucco molding, and a giant glass roof. Now inside the building, there are offices, cafes and much more. The entrance is free.
8. Музей Прадо
The National Prado Museum is a museum of European fine art. All the guides that I have read include Prado in the top-20 most popular museums in the world. The museum’s collection is huge, here you can admire the paintings of Bosch, Velazquez, El Greco, Goya, and others.
A ticket to the museum costs 15 €. BUT! In the last 2 hours of work, admission to the museum is free. Check the schedule on the site. There is a separate line for free tickets. Check the details on the museum website.
This is a great place to rest after your walk around the city. Retiro is a recreation park in the city center. It is very green and calm. Here people ride boats, walk, lie on the grass, read. There is a cafe with delicious Sangria and tapas.
When you are in Retiro, pay attention to the Gate of Alcala – the old entrance to Madrid. And the Crystal Palace – it is a small glass greenhouse. Inside of which are often hold exhibitions.
How to get to the city center from the Airport?
There are 2 ways: metro and the bus
- Express bus. Buses from Barajas Airport to Madrid go 24/7 with an interval of 15-30 minutes. There are stops at all terminals. Travel time is 40 minutes. The cost is 5 euros.
- Metro. At the airport terminal T2, there is a metro station – Barajas. Travel time is 40 minutes. But you have to make a change at the station Nuevos Ministerios.
Must-try food in Madrid:
Spain is one of the most gastronomic countries. However, cuisine and cooking methods are different in different regions. It seems to me that it is the atmosphere that distinguishes food in Madrid. It’s okay to drink beer with Jamon sandwich at the bar counter of a crowded bar.
1. Bocadillo con Jamon
Therefore, the first in the list will be just the classic Spanish Jamon sandwich. Great snacking option. In Madrid, there is a chain of cafes – Casa de Jamon, and there you can just sit in a crowded bar with a typical Spanish atmosphere, drink beer and eat Jamon.
Churros with hot chocolate and a cup of coffee are my true love. I don’t know about you, but on my first morning in Spain, I always have breakfast that way. And personally, in my experience, churros in Madrid are the most delicious.
You may also be interested in this article: How to spend a weekend in Barcelona?