The capital city of Spain, Madrid is unsurprisingly a must see destination. From the wide, bustling streets lined with majestic buildings to the calming, green parks, wandering around this city is a fabulous way to spend your time. Although 24 hours is not nearly enough to explore this thriving city, here’s a highlight of the some of the top places you can look forward to on a trip here.
1. Mercado de San Miguel
When experiencing a new city, a market is always a good idea, and Madrid is certainly no exception. Located in the heart of Madrid, San Miguel Market opened around 1916 and although it is a bit more glam than some of the city’s other markets, with higher prices, the food on offer and the atmosphere are unbeatable. Stalls offer anything from classic Mediterranean gastronomy to a fusion of cuisine from from around the world, and it’s the perfect place for breakfast or a snack to start your day.
2. Parque del Buen Retiro
Added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List this year, a morning stroll around Madrid’s famous and beautiful park is a must. Jardines del Buen Retiro (Gardens of Pleasant Retreat) is a 120-hectare site and a remnant of the 17th-century Buen Retiro Palace. Here you’ll find various impressive water features, many different gardening styles from the 19th century to the present, a peaceful boating lake, and the terraced Royal Botanical Garden. There is also the largely residential neighbourhood of Barrio Jerónimos with its rich variety of 19th and 20th century buildings.
3. Palacio de Cibeles
This majestic building was in fact Madrid’s post office headquarters until 2011, but is now the home of Madrid City Council and a visitor attraction. It offers incredible views from its observation deck and is in general a marvellous building worth a few moments of admiration.
4. Art galleries
Around the Retiro Park is a triangle of Madrid’s three most famous art galleries (among many as the city offers plenty!). Whilst in the area, if art is an interest of yours be sure to take a look round the The Prado, which houses classical paintings, The Reina Sofia, a modern art gallery, or the Thyssen-Bornemisza, which has a little bit of everything.
5. Plaza Mayor
Perfect for a coffee break or lunch, head to Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s main square. With a long past, it has been the scene of everything from coronations to bullfights and beheadings. Take a stroll around or perch yourself at a bar and soak up the atmosphere, a famous Madrid bocadillo de calamares (calamari sandwich) in hand.
6. Palacio Real de Madrid
Also nearby is the Royal Palace of Madrid, the official residence of Spain’s royal family. Nowadays it is used for official ceremonies only, and members of the public can visit the palace to admire the centuries worth of grand paintings, furniture and armour.
7. Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol, also called kilometre zero, sits at the very centre of Spain and all roads in the country lead here. You’ll also see here the the famous bear and strawberry tree statue which is the official symbol of Madrid.
8. Gran Via
To soak up the real essence of Madrid, stroll down the city’s most famous street, Gran Via. For a good view of the iconic Schweppes sign which it is famous for, go to the top of the Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience, and aside from this just enjoy the sights the famous street offers.
9. Dinner on Calle de Ponzano
Walking along Gran Via you’ll reach Calle de Ponzano, the place to be for a delicious Spanish evening meal. Offering seafood (marisquería), tapas bars, wine bars (bodegas), a mix of Spanish delights, fusion and modern cuisine, craft beers and more, here you’ll have plenty to choose from.
10. Temple of Debod
The Temple of Debod is Madrid’s own Egyptian temple, gifted to Spain by Egypt and moved piece by piece in the early 1970s. This is the spot in Madrid to sit and enjoy the sunset, soaking up the tranquility of the site after your busy day in the buzzing capital city.