Madrid is an explorer’s paradise. The elegant boulevards, iconic architecture, manicured gardens, delectable food, and the lively nightlife – the capital city of Spain is indeed a European treasure that captivates travelers from all over the world. Check out our guide on how to spend 24 hours in Madrid and make the most of your time in the city. Surely, you will be back for more!
Ideally, visitors spent four to five days in the vibrant city. However, if you have only got a day, don’t let the long list of ‘Madrid to-do’ spoil your travel plans. Read on to see how you can best spend your morning, evening and night in your precious 24 hours.
The temperature of Madrid is predominantly warm – year-round. Especially if you are visiting in the summer months, you need to get an early start in the morning to avoid the scorching heat of the afternoon.
Start off your day with a traditional ‘Madrid’ breakfast. Head over to a nearby café and order a cup of café con leche along with a tostada con tomate y aceite ( really,originally a Catalan dish called pan-tomaca) – toast with grated tomatoes and Spanish olive oil virgin extra.
Once you have completed your breakfast, take a stroll around the nearby landmarks to experience the culture of the city. Begin at the center – at the Puerta Del Sol, featuring the statue of King Carlos III on a horse.
From there, view the amazing architecture of Royal Palace, Teatro Real, Calle Mayor, and other cathedrals in Madrid. Due to limited time, you might not be able to go inside all of the landmarks. But don’t worry, there will get to see enough trademark interior.
Between your walks around the city, make sure to peek inside the quaint bakeries for a snack. Spanish lunchtime is usually after 2 pm so a mid-day snack during your journey is essential to keep the energy levels up.
From there, you can climb to the top of the Círculo de Bellas Artes and witness the most incredible view of the city from its rooftop.
Alternatively, shopaholics can fulfill their desire for retail therapy at the Gran Via, Madrid’s prime shopping destination. Here, you can find all the major international brands along with some great variety of Spanish souvenirs to take home.
They say ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’. So when you are in Spain, do as the Spanish do and enjoy their traditional varieties. Wary away from places that advertise their food in English and take recommendations from the locals for the true Spanish delights.
If you ask us, we recommend the pincho de tortilla (Spanish omelet) or the Cocido madrileño, a hearty stew with chickpeas and meat. However, the dish is purely a wintery delicacy and you may not like it very much if it’s blistering hot outside.
Another popular treat to eat in Madrid is the churros. The fried-dough pasty can be eaten at any time of the day and can be found at various cafes and street stalls around the city.
With a belly full, it’s time to head over to the Museo Thyssen, the largest private art collection in the world. Here, you can witness the extraordinary pieces from some of the greatest artists of all time. A typical tour of the museum takes 30 – 45 minutes.
In the vicinity of the same venue, you can also visit the Reina Sofia home of the world’s premier collections of contemporary art.
After the walk around the city, it’s time to visit a few parks. The city boasts a number of amazing parks but since you only have 24 hours, we suggest the Retiro, the city’s most popular park. It is located right beside the museums and you can enjoy a great time basking in the fading sunshine.
The park is also popular for the rowboats that the visitors can rent out to paddle along the large man-made pond in the center of the gardens.
As the sun starts going down, it’s time for one of the most famous Spanish tradition – the tapas. Hop around bars to bars on the Cava Baja Street in the La Latina district and enjoy the small servings of tapas with a drink.
Those interested in flamenco can watch one of the most important shows at the Torres Bermejas, a replica of the famous Alhambra Palace of Granada. The show typically lasts around 90 minutes and offers complimentary drinks with dinner add-on options.
Madrid is also home to some of the best clubs and pubs. If partying is your thing, join in the crowd for a dance or two and end your 24 hours in Madrid by watching the sunrise at the Templo de Debod.
And if it’s not, hit the sack and get up early for a sweet breakfast of hot chocolate with an almond croissant. The perfect way to say goodbye to the beautiful city.