Twenty- Four Hours in Madrid

Programs for this blog post

Teach In Spain Program

Authored By:

Diamond W.


As the temperature begins to rise in Madrid, so does the number of people coming to visit this awesome city. I have had the pleasure to host and play tour guide to quite a few family and friends who have visited me while in Madrid, and I think I have created the ideal 24 hour agenda. 

How to Start

To begin, Madrid is not a city that you vacation in, it’s a city that merits exploration. With this mindset, we are getting up bright and early. If you’re staying in the center, then this will help you explore with a lot more ease. In my opinion, most of the popular sites are in the city center. I will also add that if there is a best day to visit Madrid, I would say Sunday. For this reason, I am creating an agenda based on a SUNDAY (there will be certain things that are only open on Sunday). 


At 8 am or 9 am, head to Gran via to get the coveted photo in front of the Schweppes sign. There is minimal traffic at this time, and you may be able to get the photo during a pedestrian crossing. But please do not risk your life for this picture, it is not worth it! 


After this, walk or take the bus (001 bus is free and tourist friendly) down Gran via to enjoy a typical Spanish breakfast at La Primera. Here, they have a budget friendly breakfast menu where they serve one of the best tortilla de patatas that I’ve ever tasted, along with a side of fruit and breakfast beverage of choice. This restaurant is also nicely located for people watching down on the Gran via. 

Let’s Get Walking

After breakfast, you now hopefully have enough energy to enjoy El Rastro. El Rastro is an outdoor flea market located in the La Latina neighborhood. You can get there via metro or by walking from Gran via. It is about a 20 minute walk, but may take a little longer due to foot traffic. Depending on the route you take, you may be able to pass through Sol. Sol is a big square that has a lot of commercial shopping for name brands but it's also a square that has a lot of history. However, even if you do not have someone to guide you to the square, there is still much to see in my opinion. 


Once at El Rastro, you will find everything, from jewelry, Moroccan leather, boutique dresses, paintings, and basically half of Madrid. It is the place to be on a Sunday. Here at El Rastro, the price is not always fixed so be prepared to barter.  You should also always keep your bag close to you; pickpocketing is common here, especially if you’re speaking English. The market spans for a few blocks and ends at 4pm. 


12 pm-2 pm: After El Rastro, I suggest a walk towards Museo De Prado from La Latina. This may take 20 to 30 minutes depending on the route you take. The ideal path is called “Paseo del Prado”. Along this path, you will pass by Cibeles, the Thyssen museum, and the Neptune Fountain. The Museo de Prado is an ideal place to visit for the afternoon, even if you just wanted to see where it was located. Outside of the Prado entrance local artist sell their work. I also  find it noteworthy because it’s huge and hosts prominent artists’ works like Velazquez and Goya. 



2-5 pm: After Museo de Prado, comes El Retiro, which is only a 5 minute walk up a slight incline from Prado. Here is what is referred to as the Central Park of Madrid. You could spend a whole day in this park, that’s how grand it is. This isn’t just any old park, this park has a pond, a library, tennis courts, and a crystal house that host different exhibits throughout the year.  If it’s a sunny day, you could enjoy a paddle boat ride in the pond, or enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants located in the park center (warning: prices here will be higher than outside of the park because of how touristy the area is).  

An Afternoon With Views

After El Retiro, you have to see the sunset! But where to go? There are so many choices. If you want to be around the locals, there is the Temple de Debod, a popular gathering sight for both tourists and locals. It is located by an old Egyptian temple, and many people bring their own blankets to watch the sunset. There is often live music from street musicians and laughter in the air. But if you are exhausted and want to relax and sit with a drink in your hand, then I highly recommend the Dear hotel rooftop. It’s free, and there is a rooftop bar that allows you to look over the Gran via avenue and enjoy the sunset. 


If you still aren’t pooped after all this, then it is a cultural must to see a flamenco show! There are many to choose from and some flamenco shows offer a drink and snack with the ticket purchase. If you are worried about picking the right one, just know that if the title has tablao in it, it will be authentic. My personal favorite is La Cueva de Lola. I went with my mom, and we were able to enjoy drinks and a show with our purchase. 

How to Finish

Because we never know what the next day will hold, you have to say goodnight to Madrid with chocolate and churros. Now, the popular spot to go to is San Ginés, but I personally prefer 1902, which is a few steps away from San Ginés. At 1902, the space is small, but clean and intimate with a touch of old school vibes. The waiters are dressed in clean white coats with accented gold buttons. You can also see the churros being made right at the entrance of the store. When I visit 1902, I always ask for the churros without gluten because they are made fresh. There is nothing better than warm churros and hot chocolate. Now for my readers from the USA - be mindful that this hot chocolate is thick and sweet, not really the drinkable kind that we are used to in the States. 


And with all that done, you can say that you've seen Madrid! Links to all the places mentioned will be posted at the end, along with some other useful ones.