Madrid: Walking through elegant boulevards and expansive parks!

Madrid sunsets

Madrid, the Capital and probably the first city that comes into your mind when someone says Spain, attracts a plethora of tourists & travelers from different parts of the globe every year. This city has so much to offer to both backpackers as well as high end luxurious travelers that you will find yourself slowly drowning inside the magic of this city. It is the largest city in the entire country with a mixture of both architectural as well as natural beauty. Once you are in Madrid it is quite hard to not notice the stark difference between everything modern and historical. Every street, every corner speaks their own stories, their own history and their own beauty that makes this city come to life everyday. 

MADRID ITINERARY & THINGS TO DO:

Yes Madrid is a big city and figuring out what places to see and how to go about it and cover all the spots in Madrid is definitely a task in itself. But let me assure you that this 3 day itinerary covers all the spots in Madrid and you can surely tick this city off of your bucket list.

DAY – 1: Plaza Mayor – Mercado De San Miguel – Royal Palace of Madrid – Puerta Del Sol – Museo De la Reina Sofia – Gran Via

Plaza mayor mad

Start your day with exploring 400 year old historic square named Plaza Mayor. In the center of the square you’ll see a 17th-century statue of King Philip III of Spain. Around the Plaza there are plenty of restaurants, however don’t eat here as the food is most expensive in this part of Madrid. Apart from that, be careful of being pick-pocketed in this square. You can spend as much time as you want here listening to stories of the King Philip III of Spain. According to the Spaniards, King Philip III was not a successful monarch and it was during his reign, the entire economy of Madrid started to collapse

Later on head straight to Mercado De San Miguel – a one stop shop for all your food desires. This place is quite lively throughout the day with people eating and having the time of their lives. You can experience all local food products of Madrid in this market and being the epicenter of tourism, it is also a bit pricey. You should have your lunch here.

Next up is the largest royal palace in Western Europe ad-measuring 135,000 square meters in area and the biggest building in the city having 3,418 rooms i.e The Royal Palace of Madrid. Obviously you want to see a palace that big, you can visit it from 10:00am – 6:00pm during the winter and 10:00am – 8:00pm during the summer. Prices vary based on what you want to see and whether or not you get an audio guide, but admission is free from 6:00pm – 8:00pm between May and September, and from 4:00pm – 6:00pm between October and March.

reina sofia

While returning back to your accommodation, walk back from Madrid’s most famous central square i.e. Puerta Del Sol which serves as the center most point of SpainThe square also contains the famous clock, where all the locals gather during the year end to celebrate the beginning of the new year.  The bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes – The tradition consists of eating a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31 every year. According to the tradition, that leads to a year of prosperity and also is believed to ward away negative energy and general evil. So if you happen to celebrate your new year in Madrid, you know where you should be 😉

The last place to visit during the day will be the Reina Sofia museum. The reason for keeping it for the evening is because of the free entry one can avail to admire the drawings of Picasso. The museum is huge and has around 20,000 pieces of art, including works by Salvador Dalí, Juan Gris, and Joan Miró. The museum opens at 10:00 am every day (except on Tuesdays as it is closed) and closes at 7:00 pm on Sundays and at 9:00 pm every other day.  It is free from Mondays (except on Tuesdays as it is closed) to Saturdays from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Sundays are free from 1:30 pm – 7:00 pm. However, make sure to reach an hour ago the free time to avail the free tickets as the line can get really long.

Later for Dinner, head to Gran Via, another popular street in Madrid containing plethora of high end shops and rooftop bars and restaurants. This place is basically for enjoying the night life of the city and mark the end of the day.

DAY – 2: Parque Del Buen Retiro – Prado Museum – Santiago Bernabeu – Temple of Debod

santiago bernabeu

Start your Day from one of the largest parks of Madrid i.e. The Retiro Park or Parque Del Buen Retiro as they say in Spanish.  This is the best place to relax and unwind after a long hours of travelling from other parts of the world to Madrid. You’ll see people chilling, jogging, listening to music, eating, etc. as you stroll through this beautiful park and I recommend you to do the same. You can stay in the park for as long as you want. Also let me tell you that entrance to this park is free, need I say more? There are all types of historical monuments and buildings located in different parts of the park which one can explore inside.

On a distance of 5-10 minutes walk you will end up outside the Prado Museum which is greatest collection of European art in the world. Works by Francisco Goya, El Greco, and Diego Velázquez are the highlights and the entire collection comprises around 8,200 drawings, 7,600 paintings, 4,800 prints, and much more. The museum is open from 10:00 am – 8:00 pm on Monday – Saturday and from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm on Sundays and holidays. The museum is free for its last two opening hours each day.

temple of debod

Later on board Bus No. 27 (15 stops – about 25 minutes) and head straight to The Real Madrid Football Stadium – Santiago Bernabeu. Except on the match days, they are open everyday until 7:00 pm Monday – Saturday and until 6:30 pm on Sundays and holidays. Going through the entire stadium takes around 2 hours.

From the football stadium, make way to The Temple of Debod and catch on the spectacular sunset in the city of Madrid. This Temple was built around 200 BC by the ancient Egyptians and was later on gifted to Spain in the 20th Century as a token of gratitude for helping to save the temple of Abu Simbel. Do not, I repeat, Do not miss the spectacular sunset from this Temple. There is literally no best way to end your day.

DAY – 3: El Rastro – Next destination

Assuming that this day is Sunday, you can just shop till you drop in La Latina/ El Rastro street. This is one of the largest open – air shopping street open on Sundays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. You can find jewelry, clothes, books and so many products to choose from. This street also contains several cafes and tapas bar where one can relax and enjoy before heading to your next destination.

HOW TO REACH MADRID:

Madrid is the epicenter of Spain and so reaching here is possible from all the different parts of the country. Madrid, being the capital, is connected to every other city by transportation and hence most of the people visiting Spain usually stay in the capital and then take up plenty of day trips to different cities and villages in the country. Due to its easy connectivity, visitors find it convenient to make a base in Madrid and then go around.

atocha railway station

BY ROAD: You will find buses from everywhere in Spain to come to Madrid. The bus is the cheapest way to travel between cities however, it takes many halts and goes through many villages which is why it is a time-consuming journey.  Apart from that one can also carpool with the other people doing the same two cities through this website called as BlaBla car. It is quite safe and the best way to have a road-trip along with some strangers going in the same way.

If you are looking for a bus to the city center you can find the The Airport Express shuttle which runs for 24 hours in the day.  The 24-hour airport express bus stops near the O’Donnell metro stop (line 6), at Plaza de Cibeles, and next to the Atocha train station. Apart from that there are EMT buses 200 (T1 – T4 arrivals to Avenida de América) and 101 (T1 – T3 arrivals to Canillejas) which also stop at the airport, but don’t run for 24 hours. The only time you should take the bus is if you are arriving outside the metro hours.

BY TRAINIf you are low on time you should hop on to the Renfe trains of Spain.These are high speed, inter-connected trains running through the entire country. You can check the time-table and book your tickets online on www.renfe.com But the price of the tickets of these high speed trains are quite expensive so as per my suggestion, only doing the long distance journeys would be cost-effective.

BY AIR: Madrid–Barajas Airport is the largest international airport in Spain catering to national as well as international flights from different places in the world. To reach the city center one can take the Metro Line 8 to the ‘Nuevos Ministerios Metro station’ which is at a distance of just 15 minutes. Metros leave every 5-10 minutes from 6:05 am – 2:00 am every day.  

WHERE TO STAY?

I stayed at La Posada De Huertas and absolutely loved it and obviously I would recommend it to anyone wishing to stay in Madrid on a budget. It was at a walking distance to all the spots in the city center. You can also choose from a variety of other places and book an accommodation online according to your convenience. 

HOW MUCH DOES EVERYTHING COST & HOW TO BUDGET?

food in madrid

ACCOMMODATION

Madrid is quite expensive in terms of accommodation charges for a normal budget traveler. Hostels start from 15-30 euros per person whereas mid-ranged hotels will start from as low as 70 -100 euros for 2 persons. Hence, if travelling in pairs it is convenient and reasonable to book hotels whereas hostels are a safe bet for solo travelers on a budget. Also, there are plenty of luxury options for persons wishing to live a luxurious life and lot’s of hotels are located right in the city center. The cost for luxurious hotels start anywhere from 200 – 250 euros per night.

FOOD

Food outside is mid-ranged. The cost in any restaurant for a complete meal can start anywhere from 10 – 20 euros. If cooking by yourself then this cost can be brought down to almost half. You will find supermarkets almost everywhere and that is definitely the best way to decrease the overall cost on the food. 

TRANSPORT

The best way to travel within Madrid is to take the metro. Some places are easily walk-able while the rest of them will need you to go by metro. Madrid is one of the biggest cities of Spain and some sightseeing places are far away from the city center. Also, this is the part where one can save a lot of money. All you need to travel by metro is the metro card filled with a certain number of trips. Paying individually for each trip is expensive which is why the metro card is useful for reducing the cost as the cost per trip is less with the metro card in comparison with the individual paying option!

ACTIVITIES

As per this Madrid travel guide, there are plenty of things to do here some of which I have already mentioned above. Most of the places doesn’t require you to pay any entrance charges. The entire country is more about historical monuments, elegant boulevards and expansive parks which is free of cost. Therefore, you need to pay only to enter the museums and also if you take any other tours. Hence, you can end up saving money on the activities as well.

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madrid city guide

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