Madrid is a city full of art, beautiful architecture and incredible food. Follow my three day tour guide to make the most out of your trip to Spain's capital city.
Breakfast: Federal Café (Plaza de las comendadoras 9)
Start your day with one of my top breakfast choices. Federal Café is a calm little place located in Plaza de las comendadoras and they offer an extensive list of breakfast options varying from toasts such as brioche with maple syrup, pears and ricotta to eggs and cereal. Furthermore they offer many different juices for you to choose from, perfect to provide you with enough energy for walking around the city all day.
From Plaza de las comendadoras you will reach Plaza Mayor by walking down Calle Amaniel until reaching Gran Via. Turn left and walk down until you reach Santo Domingo tube station. From the tube station walk down Calle de san Bernardo and follow the road down until reaching Costanilla de Los Angeles. Turn right down that road and you will reach Calle del Arenal. Cross the road and turn into Calle de las Hileras. Carry on walking down the road and it will lead you directly into Plaza Mayor.
Plaza Mayor is one of the most significant squares of the city. It is considered to be one of Madrid’s most charming districts with beautiful simple architecture of the square contrasted with the embellished Casa de la Pandería. The Casa de la Pandería was built by Diego Sillero towards the end of the sixteenth century. It used to house royal lodgings such as the History academy however today it holds the main tourist office. The incredible façade is the work of Carlos Franco, a painter of Spanish origins who, through his art depicts mythological creatures relating to the History of Madrid. Whilst passing through the square keep an eye out for the Statue of King Philip III on horseback. It was given as a present to the King by the Duke of Florence.
From Plaza Mayor make your way through the exit leading back to Calle Mayor called Calle Cdad. Rodrigo. After a minute on your left hand side you will see plaza de San Miguel. Turn into this square because you will have infront of you one of the cities top food markets. El Mercado de San Miguel is one of the oldest standing food markets that today houses different food stands with their own specialities. My favourite one was the Alevín Cocina Creativa which serves a selection of gulas. Take a tapas for the road whether it is a cone filled with Iberian cured meat or a pastry.
From the Mercado de San Miguel make your way back to Calle Mayor and follow the road through to Catedral de la Almudena. This neoclassical church was completed in the twentieth century after a series of refurbishments and changes. The Interior of the cathedral bares a neo-gothic style with a Greek cross plan and numerous side chapels decorated with statues of contemporary artists. The gothic stained glass windows really catch the eye but do not forget to look up and be stunned by the beautifully decorated ceiling. The entry to the cathedral is free however there is also a museum that explains the history of the church and it’s patrimonial goods. The entry to the museum costs 6 euros for a standard ticket and 4 euros for a reduced ticket.
From the cathedral walk up Calle Bailen and turn left into Plaza de la Almeria. You will get an awesome view of both the Cathedral on your left and the Palacio Real on your right hand side. This is also where you can buy your tickets to the Royal Palace. The entry to the palace costs 10 euros for a standard ticket and 5 euros for a reduced ticket. However if you happen to come between October-March, on a Monday-Thursday, Between 16.00-18.00 & between April-September, on a Monday-Thursday, Between 18.00-20.00 the entry is free.
After having your tour around the Palacio Real I would suggest taking a walk through the romantic Jardines del Campo del Moro, it will give you a different perspective of the palace.
Located on the other side of the Gardens in Paseo de Virgen del Puerto is the Ermita de la Virgen del Puerto. Known by many as one of the most beautiful buildings of Madrid, the Ermita de la Virgen del Puerto is a hermitage built to idolise the Puerto Virgin. The building is one of the most impressive architectural masterpieces of the city, created by Pedro de Ribera.
Following from this, walk northbound until reaching Plaza San Vincente. Here turn down Cuesta San Vincente and you will see Jardines de Sabatini. This park is one of my favourite parks of the whole city. The neoclassical style of the Royal Palace has been reflected in its gardens, with beautifully trimmed hedges and trees. They were opened to the public by King Juan Carlos I in 1978. The name of the gardens was taken by the Italian architect, Francesco Sabatini, who helped design the palace and to whom therefore the gardens are dedicated to. These gardens offer a spectacular view of the palace and are also the perfect location for a romantic walk with your other half.
After strolling around the gardens it’s time to find a place for Lunch. Exit the Sabatini Gardens onto Calle de Bailên. Turn right and keep on walking straight on until turning left on Calle Mayor. You follow the road through Plaza Puerta del Sol and turn right at Calle de Espoz y Mina. Turn left into a little road which will lead you to Plaza Sta. Ana. You will find Lateral, one of the best tapas of Madrid.
Lunch: Lateral Santa Ana (Plaza Sta. Ana 12)
Lateral is the perfect spot for lunch. You have an extensive menu filled with various high quality tapas options. You can either chose to order a few in order to taste as many as possible or i can recommend to order three per person. Options include Salmorejo, a fresh soup made of tomatoes, bread and garlic (it tastes better than it sounds). Furthermore the classic Gazpacho which is perfect for a refreshing summer starter, made of peppers, tomatoes, garlic. Other things you can chose are: salmon roll filled with ham, cheese and caramelised apple, seabags ceviche with lime juice, spanish tortilla (it is incredible here), grilled chicken salad or guacamole. http://www.lateral.com/en/restaurants/santa-ana/
After lunch continue on Calle del Prado towards the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. It is an essential cultural centre of the city, with many masterpieces ranging from the Renaissance era to “Las Vanguards”. I am usually someone who prefers landscape paintings and this museum holds the art of my favourite landscape artist Claude Monet. They have artwork ranging from the thirteenth to the twentieth century including pieces from the incredible Salvatore Dalí. Other masterpieces include Caravaggio, Manet, Van Gogh, Grosz and Picasso.
From the Thyssen-Bornemisza you walk up Paseo del Prado, turn left at Fuente de Cibeles down Calle de Acalá. Stay on the right hand side to follow on to Gran Via. Walk down the street into Plaza de Espana where Gran Via becomes Calle de la Princesa. Turn left into Plaza de Espana and walk down into Calle Ferraz. You will find a large park containing the Templo de Debod. This park is the perfect spot to sit down and relax (the best time is at sunset because the colours reflect onto the water and it is simply a beautiful view).
The Templio de debod is temple that was initially built in Egypt and later transferred to Madrid when the Aswan Dam was built. The temple is such a relaxing monument, especially at sunset when the sky reflects on the water.
The Temple is located in a beautiful, tranquil park called Parque del Oeste. I would advise taking a walk through this stunning place. You will find the Madrid rosegarden a few minutes walk from the temple.
After having explored this space, it’s time to walk towards the restaurant for dinner. Take the exit from the park onto Calle del Marqués de Urquijo and follow straight onto Calle de Alberto Aguilera. When you get to San Bernardo Metro station walk northbound to Quevedo Metro station. On Calle Eloy Gonzalo you will find Perrachica.
Dinner: Perrachica (Calle Eloy Gonzalo 10)
Perrachica is a super restaurant located in the northern part of Madrid. I absolutely adore this place; the interior décor is in a modern, rustic style with a tranquil atmosphere created by the abundance of colour green. The menu contains a wide variety of options apt to most tastes. Whether you fancy some rice, a plate of pasta, tuna tartar or a beef sirloin steak. To make a reservation check their website here: http://perrachica.com/reserva-online
Evening: Why not go to the Teatro Real to watch a dance show or the opera? Tickets are on sale on the website: http://www.teatro-real.com/es/temporada-16-17/opera/
Breakfast: Frida Café (Calle San Gregorio 8)
Frida Café is a perfect place to start your day. Order a delicious breakfast such as eggs benedict, Iberian ham and avocado coupled with a freshly squeezed juice or avocado on toast. Located in the heart of malasaña, Frida Café is loved by many with its beautiful, chic atmosphere and amazing selection of foods.
From Café Frida walk to the end of Calle de Belen and turn right at Calle Fernando VI. Turn left again up Calle del Gral. Castaños. You will find on your right hand side the Parroquia de Santa Barbara.
You will reach the Parroquia de Santa Barbara. Take a few minutes to step inside this neoclassical site and admire the King’s and Queen’s mausoleum. The church used to be part of the Salesas Reaes Convent which today houses the Surpreme Court. What really caught my eye is the majestic staircase that leads up to the church from the outside.
Located just behind the church is the Tribunal Supremo, in other words the Supreme Court of Spain. This is the highest court of the country. Have a look at this beautiful building with its neoclassical architecture.
Fro the tribunal supremo, walk down Calle Bárbara de Braganza following onto Calle de Villanueva. You will reach the Biblioteca Nacional de España. Take a tour and view the most important library of the country. The Biblioteca Nacional contains copies of all the books published in Spain. It also contains collections of manuscripts, drawings, photographs and illustrations. It is possible to visit the museum of the Biblioteca for free. For more information check out their website here: http://www.bne.es/en/MuseoBibliotecaNacional/
From the Biblioteca Nacional why not visit the Museo Arqueologico Nacional. Located on Calle de Serrano 13, the Archeological Museum instructs the public about numerous objects that once belonged to different cultures that populated the Mediterranean region. Tickets cost 3 euros for adults and 1.50 for a reduced price. For more information on the museum click here: http://www.man.es/man/en/exposicion/exposicion-permanente.html
Walk down paseo de recoletos until reaching Plaza de Cibeles. This square is one of of my favorites because the intricate architecture of Palacio de Cibeles is really one of a kind. Today it houses the Palacio de las Comunicaciones and on the sixth floor holds a terrace with a spectacular view over the city. If you are looking for a nice rooftop terrace to have a glass of wine then this is not a bad place to go to!
From Plaza de Cibeles walk up Calle de Alcalà until you reach the large roundabout. This is called Plaza de la Independencia where Madrid’s most famous landmark, Puerta de Alcala is situated. Commissioned by King Carlos III, the Puerta de Alcalá was the main entry into the city. It is also seen as the first modern post-roman arch built in Europe.
Lunch : El perro y la galleta (Calle Claudio Coello 1)
For lunch I suggest El Perro y la Galena, located just a few minutes away from the arch in a streed called Calle Claudio Coello 1. Always book this restaurant because it is very popular and is often fully booked. I love this restaurant for its unique and original décor. It is simple yet remains one of my favorite restaurants. Furthermore the food is delicious, and if you like fish then you must try the Cod tacos with guacamole followed by the apple crumble with biscuit ice cream and a white chocolate and vanilla sauce.
Presuming you took my recommendations for the food, taking a walk to burn off some calories will be highly necessary. Stroll down Parque del Retiro until you reach Palacio de Cristal. Also if the weather is right then you can hire a rowing boat in the lake of the park. The boats cost 5.80 euros from Monday-Friday and 7.50 euros on the weekend.
After spending some time at the park venture towards the Real Jardines Botanicos. Situated in front of the Prado Museum, the botanical gardens are an 8-hectre garden filled with 30.000 plants and flowers, and around 1.500 trees. This garden was designed by two architects, the Italian Francesco Sabatini and Juan Villanueva. There are three terrazas you must look out for, Terraza de los Cuadros that contain collections of ornamental, medicinal and aromatic plants gathered around a fountain, the Terraza de las escuelas botanicas and the Terraza del Plano de la Flor that contains a collection of trees and shubs. Entry costs 4 euros for a standard ticket and 2 euros for reduced tickets.
Finally time to go to the Prado Museum. From Monday to Saturday between 6PM-8PM & on Sundays between 5PM-7PM the entry to the museum is free. I absolutely adore the Prado Museum, it contains fantastic paintings from many influential artists such as Velazquez, a seventeenth century Spanish artist. He is famous for his religious paintings such as “The Crucified Christ”. Another famous theme of Velazquez is dwarfs and buffons. These were known as “Gente de Placer” or in other words entertainers that were a fundamental part of European court life. Rubens is a seventeenth century Flemish painters. He was highly admired by King Philip IV who commissioned works from the artist for the decoration of the Royal Palaces. One of my favourite paints is “Ceresand Pan”, an oil on canvas that depicts ceres, goddess of agriculture representing nature being cultivated by a man. Finally, Goya, an extremely influential Spanish painter of the eighteenth century. I love him for his black paintings because they are so obscure and unique and portray a series of emotions. These black paintings are located downstairs.
Time for Madrid’s most iconic rooftop bar located in the Belles Artes. This bar serves the best cocktails, especially the Passionfruit Martini for you sweet lovers. Not to mention the incredible view over the metropolis building and the rest of the city. Come here and relax on the white leather couches before dinner.
Dinner: Ramses (Plaza de la Indipendencia 4)
From the Belles Artes you walk down Gran Via all the way back to Plaza de la Independencia. This is where you will find Ramses (which you must book in advance). Ramses is one of the top luxurious restaurants with affordable prices. You have a wide range of food options ranging from sushi to Iberian cuisine. To book a table send an email here: firstname.lastname@example.org
For something more "mediterranean" go to La Pescaderia. Situated near Calle de Fuencarral, in Calle de la Ballesta, 32. This restaurant serves numerous tapas which are perfect for a light dinner. The restaurant is known for its fresh fish, so why not opt for the fresh octopus carpaccio or cod tacos?
Breakfast: Ojalà (Calle de San Andrés 1)
Start your day with breakfast at the incredible Ojalà. This café is located in the heart of the city centre and the food options are varied. You can chose between a continental brunch including croissant, boiled egg and salad or a world mix including bread, hummus, guacamole, poached egg and a fruit salad and more. For more information about the menu check it out here: http://grupolamusa.com/restaurante-ojala/
After breakfast why not take the morning to walk around the shops in Malasana. You have Gran via, Calle de fuencarral and numerous boutiques in the area of Chueca.
Lunch : Gigi meet me bar (Calle de Luchana 13)
Gigi meet me is located in Calle de Luchana, 13. You walk up Paseo del Prado, paseo de Recoletosand tun left at Calle de Génova and carry on down Calle de Sagasta until you reach Bilbao tube station. You turn into Calle de la Luchana and you will find the restaurant. It is a top quality, affordable priced restaurant that pays special attention to detail and presentation of its dishes.
After lunch walk towards the Area of Salamanca, which is best known as Madrid’s own Chelsea. Here you will find both luxury boutiques and luxury brands such as Carolina Herrera, Louis Vuitton, Chanel etc.
Make your way to the Museo Nacional Reina Sofia. The importance of this museum in my eyes is due to the presence of Picasso’s Guernica. The Reina Sofia is a modern and contemporary art museum containing important pieces from the nineteenth century to today.
Dinner: Amazónico (Calle Jorge Juan 12)
End your visit in style. Amazonico is one of the best restaurants in Madrid. The tropical vibe and fusion cuisine will ensure you have one of the best culinary experiences. Due to its popularity it is vital that you pre-book. You can do so here: http://restauranteamazonico.com
For an alternative go to Bar Galleta. (Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 31 )
I am in love with this restaurant. The decor is simple yet rustic and creates a warm and cosy ambiance. The starters are wonderful, I chose mushrooms stuffed with courgettes, truffled cheese and tomato and pesto tartar. I would also recommend the duo of hummus and baba ganoush served with crudités. Regarding the main dishes I tried the chicken filled with foie and mushrooms, plum and pistachios. If you have the chance I highly recommend coming here, yet again do not forget to book this place in advance as it is very popular. To book through the website, click here: http://www.bargalleta.com
Other things to do:
-Have brunch or afternoon tea / cocktails at Salvador Bachiller's secret Garden. This place is located on Calle de la Montera 37. They are so original in the way they serve their tea's and cocktails it's a sort of Alice in wonderland vibe.
-Have an ice-cream in Amorino located on the Corte Inglés of Plaza de Callao. The view is stunning and the ice cream is a real treat.
-Take a day out to Toledo or Segovia. I will write more about these two places on a separate post, But its only one coach ride away and you can discover Spain's heritage.
EXTRA INFORMATION :
Travel from the airport:
Taxi: There is a fixed taxi fare of 30 Euros from the airport to any destination!
Bus: From Atocha and Plaza Cibeles there is a bus called "Exprés Areopuerto" which will take you to the airport for 5 Euros. It Stops at T1, T2 and T4. From the airport you can catch it from any of those stops too.
Metro: From any terminal you can get the Metro line 8 to Nuevos Ministerios. It only takes 20 minutes approximately and there is an extra fee on top of your usual travel card of 3 Euros unless you have the Abono Turistico. (For more information on the Abono Turistico click here.
Tourist Information is located in Plaza del Sol.