Morning: Start your visit with a walking tour of the city. My favourite walk is the Architectural Madrid, which appears in Lonely Planet’s Pocket Madrid, and only takes two to three hours.However there are many free maps available online, as well as specialised Tapas and Wine Tours that can be booked for a fee. Whichever way you explore Madrid, make sure that you don’t miss these sights:
- Plaza de Espana
- Royal Palace
- Bank of Spain
- Palace of Communications
- Alcala Gate
- Retiro Park
- Caixa Forum
- Atocha Train Station
- Plaza Mayor
- Market of San Miguel
Market of San Miguel is a great spot to head around lunchtime, when you have walked off your breakfast. It is a huge hall filled with lots of tasty foods; the only problem you’ll have is choosing what to eat!
Afternoon: If you fancy more of a sit down lunch rather than a market one, Prada A Tope serves delicious tapas. I was recommended Prada A Tope by a local, so we enjoyed lunch here on our first day in Madrid. We ended up sitting in the restaurant but I would advise grabbing a seat in the bar if you can, as it was busier and provided a more vibrant atmosphere for lunch. Depending on how you are feeling you may want to enjoy some Rioja after you have eaten, or head back to your hotel for a siesta.
Evening: Most people don’t eat until 9/10pm in Madrid. We normally headed out around 9pm but some of the restaurants were still quite quiet. Venta El Buscon gets great reviews on TripAdvisor so we chose to eat there for dinner. It was a great choice as the food was delicious and the wine was only €1.80! The restaurant had a very intimate feel and seemed to be full of locals, which was great. If you have a sweet tooth make sure you visit Chocolateria San Gines after dinner. Opened in 1894, San Gines is Madrid’s oldest chocolateria, and serves the most amazing, churros y chocolate. The churros are soft yet crunchy and the chocolate is a cup of rich, warm, melted chocolate.
Morning: Madrid has so many cute cafes that finding a place for breakfast will not be a problem. After you have fuelled up for the day why not head to Santiago Bernabeu? This is the stadium where Real Madrid plays. I am not a huge football fan but I really enjoyed the tour. Real Madrid is one of the most supported teams in the world, so it was really interesting to find out about the team and players. If you really don’t think you would enjoy Santiago Bernabeu then Gran Via offers a number of shops to explore as well as cinemas and theatres.
Afternoon: If you want to take a break from tapas, there is a Mexican restaurant that is similar to Chipotle, called Tierra Burrito. The burrito bowl, tacos and margaritas served here are all very tasty. However there a plenty of local tapas places to choose from as well. Casa Alberta offers delicious tapas and lovely Rioja; make sure to sit in the bar with the locals! After lunch, make the Museo del Prado your next stop. The Prado has one of the finest collections of art in the world, and houses pieces from Goya and Bosch. You could easily spend hours here wandering around all of the collection and the building itself is beautiful. It may be time for another siesta after the Prado, if all the exploring has worn you out.
Evening: Once you are feeling rejuvenated make your way to La Soberbia for dinner. We had passed here the previous evening and saw how popular it was so we wanted to try it out. Like the other restaurants it has a nice, cosy feel, and seemed to be well liked by locals. The jamon iberico here was fantastic and they served the most delicious bread. Again, the Rioja was amazing and extremely cheap! If you want to enjoy some more Rioja after dinner, Madrid has a lot of bars to choose from. Alternatively, spend the night walking along Madrid’s narrow streets soaking up the atmosphere and breathing in the city.