It is a very busy city. Committing only 24 hours in Spain’s capital, Madrid, can be a challenge. It certainly was for me.
I started early, stocked up on breakfast, packed a bottle of water, grabbed a map of Madrid, slipped in my Madrid Card and bid goodbye to my hotel room. There is much to gawk and admire here!
Prado Museum and Reina Sofia Museum are the two top museums in the city. What’s better is that they’re 800 meters away from each other.
Prado is adorned with names like Goya, Rubens and Raphael (my favourite) and for an art lover like me, this place was a slice of heaven. Though I could lose an entire day (or more) here, I had already picked the galleries and paintings I wanted to see. Pre-plan your trip to this extensive museum by marking your interests on this map and approaching those single-mindedly.
Exit Prado and walk 10 minutes to the modern Reina Sofia. This is the home to perhaps the most priced artwork in Spain—Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. I’m still a novice when it comes to deciphering his work but this greyscale masterpiece is so invigorating that it would convert even the non-believer.
Next, I made my way, very swiftly towards the Surrealist, Salvador Dali. The two artistes are scattered away, so keep time for shuttling between galleries. Have a look at this map for quick navigation.
For the main sights in the city, I did a quick walk organised by Madrid Destino. The guided tour was an hour long. We started at Plaza Mayor, the main square of the city which over the years has taken different forms and names. Now, this is primarily a residential square. Our next stop was the San Miguel Marketplace, known for selling fresh food products. Walking on Calle de Santiago, we rushed by Church of Santiago and San Juan Bautista towards the open spaces facing Royal Palace of Madrid and Almudena Cathedral.
Eat and Drink
Tapas and sangria anywhere. For an impressive evening, try the multi-level gourmet market and gastronomic experience called Platea on Calle de Goya. It is big and caters to everyone’s individual moods. I’d definitely recommend getting a seat along the tapas bar counter and sipping some Vermouth on tap or sangria. This is a restored and renovated theatre. Expect some engaging performances as dinner closes in.
Madrid is dotted with outdoor bars and cafes. After the museum run, I sated my hunger with a Spanish tortilla in a small cafe outside Reina Sofia. I washed my throat clean with local red wine.
Restaurant La Capilla de la Bolsa, a very short walk from Sol metro station is another place for a palatial fine dine evening. The decor is impressive with artwork adding to the Renaissance charm. I immersed myself in the chicken risotto completely, leaving behind just enough appetite for their delicious dessert.
This city is a complete haven for shoppers. The most popular areas are Puerta del Sol and Salamanca. I had splurged in Seville and in this city, I only focussed on last minute shopping. I spent about 10 minutes in a souvenir shop, at the exit of Sol metro station. I loved this area for shopping. Pity I didn’t have more time. Most shops are closed on Sundays.
Ayre Gran Hotel Colón is a business and comfortable hotel. Only a short 4-minute walk from Sainz de Baranda metro station, the rooms here are clean, basic with amazing sleep quality. The breakfast was also nothing exceptional but fulfilling.
For those who seek an exclusive and a boutique stay, I’d definitely point them towards Only YOU Hotel Madrid. Immaculate decor, intriguing cocktails, impressive rooms and creative food—this hotel seems to have it all. This is a luxury stay but definitely worth the experience.
Good to know
-Get yourself the Madrid Card and explore unlimited. Available in a number of slots (pay €47 for 24 hours); with this you have free entry to most museums, discounts on listed shops, restaurants and clubs.
-If you’d like a glimpse through the important sights of the city, get yourself a seat on the Madrid City Tour hop-on-hop-off bus.
-Summer is the best time for all culture lovers. They have numerous festivals happening starting this month like the vibrant Suma Flamenca, the visual arts festival PhotoEspaña and the open-air cultural meet Veranos de la Villa, amongst others.
-Madrid is like any other metropolis in the world. Most people speak English and communication is never problem.
-Flying in: I’d definitely recommend Turkish Airlines via Istanbul to Madrid. The flights are on-time, great service quality, delicious food and comfortable layovers.
-Getting out: Avail the high speed AVE, operated by Renfe, to all major cities around Madrid. They’re the best, punctual, clean and affordable.
-Getting around: Within the city, the Metro is the best option. Even though the Madrid Card does not include this, paying €1,50 from Atocha metro station to Sol metro station was hardly a pinch.
Read: The Spanish Surprise
What do you think of this European city?
Note: I was invited to this media trip by Tourism Office of Spain and Turkish Airlines.