How to spend one day in Madrid

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Recently, I had the opportunity to travel around Spain a bit and one of my destinations was the magnificent country’s capital, Madrid. Although I have visited it on other occasions as well, I was giddy with excitement as it is one of my favourite cities.  There is so much to see and do in Madrid that one single visit is simply not enough. Let’s not forget that it is the biggest municipality in Spain after all. Unfortunately, on this visit I only had one day to wander around this spectacular city, therefore I had to plan my trip carefully in order to make the most of it. And I have to say that I had a blast! So, if you find yourself in Madrid with little time on your hands, here is a suggestion of how to spend 1 day in Madrid.

 

Where to eat in Madrid

Breakfast:

Mur Café

Plaza Cristino Martos 228015 Madrid, Spain

I started my visit relatively early so around 9 o’clock I was in the centre of Madrid. There are people who wake up in the morning chirping like happy birds. This is not me! If I don’t have a nice cup of steaming coffee I am grumpier than the Grumpy Cat. So, naturally, the first thing I did was to look for a nice café where I could also have a hearty breakfast. I didn’t have to walk for long before stumbling onto the perfect place.

Only a short walk from the centre, Mur Café is a little jewel that I’m so happy that I discovered. The first thing that you notice when you enter the café is the quaint atmosphere with beautiful, old-fashioned furniture. There is an option to sit inside or on the little terrace. I chose to sit inside because I spotted a comfortable armchair that had my name on it. There were quite a few people there, most of them eating breakfast, which I considered to be a good sign. As soon as I sat down, one of the waitresses came to take my order. I ordered a big coffee con leche (1.9€) and a breakfast bagel (7€). The coffee came right away and the bagel about 10 minutes later. Needless to say, it was delicious. The bagel, freshly made, was filled with cooked ham (jamon), cheddar cheese, a fried egg and chips on the side. The portions are generous, however, the people next to my table had the most mouth-watering slices of cake. I have a sweet tooth so I couldn’t help it and ordered a zanahoria cake which is carrot cake (4€). It was probably the best carrot cake I have ever eaten.

What I loved: Friendly and attentive staff, beautiful décor, relaxed atmosphere and affordable prices. I will surely return to Café Mur.

 

Lunch:

Restaurant Mandioca

Calle de San Bernardo 120 | Metro Quevedo, Chamberí28015 Madrid, Spain

At around 1:30 pm my poor feet needed a rest, so I decided on a quick lunch before I continued my touristic marathon. Restaurant Mandioca caught my attention because of the beautiful façade and the fact that it has a lot of plants inside. I later found out that this restaurant whole-heartedly promotes healthy eating and prides itself with the quality of the ingredients and dishes offered.

I was still kind of full from the hearty breakfast earlier so I only ordered a Sumauma salad (14.50€) which contained iceberg lettuce, quinoa, smoked salmon, avocado, pickled onion and toasted almonds. I have to say that it was very flavoursome and that indeed the ingredients were as fresh as they could be.

What I loved: Beautiful décor, there was a lot of light in the room, the plants brought the place to life, the staff was very attentive, my salad was delicious and the other dishes I saw on the neighbouring tables looked great as well.

 

Snacks

Moo’s Milkshakes

Calle SAL 3, 28012 Madrid, Spain

While on my visiting spree, this artisanal ice cream shop caught my eye. It is a tiny place but definitely has its own charm. I got a Ferrero Ice Cream (3.80€) which was amazing.

 

Bocavante

Calle del Cardenal Cisneros 1, 28010 Madrid, Spain

I was attracted to this place because of the enticing smell of seafood. And I didn’t regret it. Bocavante is a restaurant that combines fresh seafood and sandwiches, taking it to a new level. I ordered the small Chipiron sandwich (7.5€) which contained grilled squid with some sort of lettuce, pickled onions, 2 types of delicious sauces in a black brioche bread. It was an explosion of flavours.

 

Dinner

BLoved

Calle Gran Via 9 | Access through the Hotel Catalonia Gran Via, 28013 Madrid, Spain

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This place was recommended to me by a friend who has been here one year ago and loved it. BLoved is the restaurant of a small hotel called Hotel Catalonia Gran Via. The décor is very modern and sleek but at the same time extremely welcoming. The restaurant specific is a blend of International, Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine. The menu is rich with dishes ranging from rice and pasta to elaborate seafood dishes and juicy steaks. They also have a number of interesting starters and deserts. I skipped the starter because I suspected that the main dish would be quite generous and I was right. I ordered the Paella Valenciana (18€) accompanied by a glass of sangria. It was probably one of the best paellas I’ve eaten while in Spain. I later saw that one of their signature and the most interesting dish is the Sierra de Guadarrama beef which is served on a hot Himalayan stone. Basically, you get to cook your steak the way you want to. It looked like a lot of fun and I’ll be sure to order this the next time we come here.

What I loved: the furnishing and décor, our waiter was such a pleasant character, a lot of care for the plating of the dishes and the taste, the music was very pleasant.

 

What to do in Madrid in one day

Plaza de España

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Only a short walk from where I had breakfast, I started my visiting marathon with Plaza de España, a popular touristic destination situated at the intersection of Gran Via and Princesa boulevards. Right in the middle of the plaza, there is a beautiful monument dedicated to Cervantes built in 1915. You will also see statues of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza.  The square has a big fountain and a pond which were a blessing and a pleasure given that it was a hot day.

 Next to the plaza there are 2 imposing buildings: EdificioEspaña (117m), one of Spain’s most recognizable skyscrapers, the eight tallest building of the capital city, built in 1953 in a Neo-Baroque style and Torre Madrid (142m), an imposing tower built in 1957 by the same company.

Plaza de España is an oasis of relaxation, with people strolling or having a picnic, I simply felt recharged.

 

Mueo Cerralbo

About 4 minutes on foot from Plaza de España is one of the most important museums in Madrid, Cerralbo Museum. It is the former residence of the Marquis of Cerralbo who donated it to the Spanish nation along with more than 50.000 valuable objects including paintings, furniture, ceramics, watches, sculptures, weapons, tapestries and much more. 

 The museum is stunning, a true capsule in time that will offer its visitors a glimpse into how noble families from Madrid lived during the 19th century. My favourite was the museum’s Ballroom. There were also a number of movies shot here like The Age of Innocence or The Leopard, to name just a few. At the entrance, visitors are given a notebook with information on the most important objects, since there are no tags with information. All my admiration goes to the authorities for taking so much care into preserving this magnificent building.

 

Debod Temple

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8 minutes from the Cerralbo Museum, I found an authentic ancient Egyptian temple. It was built in the 2nd century in southern Egypt and dedicated to the Goddess Isis. In 1960, as a sign of gratitude for Spain’s help in saving the temples of Abu Simbel, Egypt donated the temple of Debod to Spain in 1968. It stands in the beautiful West Park and the good news is that the admission is free.

 

Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida

From the Cerralbo Museum to the Royal Chapel it was exactly 16 minutes on foot, quite a nice stroll I might add. I am a fan of Goya’s paintings so I couldn’t pass on the opportunity of visiting this chapel famous for the breathtaking ceiling and frescoes by Francisco Goya. It is also his burial place.

 

Puerta de San Vicente

On my way to the Royal Palace, I saw this beautiful gate that caught my attention. It was originally built in 1775 following the project of architect Francesco Sabatini but since then it has been dismantled and rebuilt 3 times. The last time it was rebuilt in 1995. It is a truly imposing structure and a landmark that attracts many tourists.

 

Royal Monastery of La Encarnacion

This was actually an unplanned stop. But there was something about the sobriety of the façade that attracted me. The interior is astonishing, with many works of art and relics like the blood of St. Januarius and of St. Pantaleon. The building is old, dating back from 1616, and was built by Friar Alberto de la Madre de Dios for Queen Margaret. I am glad to have discovered this remarkable jewel with its sublime frescoes on the ceiling and beautiful sculptures.

 

The Royal Palace of Madrid

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The main jewel of my trip was definitely the Royal Palace. It is the largest Royal Palace in Europe, containing 3.418 rooms filled with priceless objects. Even before I entered the palace, I got the chance to admire a small part of the gardens surrounding it. The interior is very sumptuous with many exhibits of immense historical value. Out of the 3.418 rooms, only a small part is open to the public, but even so, I didn’t get the chance to see it all on this occasion.

 The tickets are not expensive, I paid 13€ for the ticket and another 3€ for an audio guide in English. By the way, on Wednesdays starting from 6 pm, the entrance is free but there is a huge queue.

The Royal Palace is a must-see if you are planning a visit to Madrid, but reserve at least 2 hours in order to be able to fully enjoy and take in what you see.

 

Where to stay in Madrid

A&B Hostel Principe Pio

Paseo del Rey 628008 Madrid, Spain

Because my visit to Madrid was short, I only needed a few hours of sleep before I had to leave so I chose a hostel that was conveniently located in the centre of the city. I was pleasantly surprised with A&B Hostel Principe Pio. It was clean, and had decent facilities.As luck had it, I stayed alone in a room with 2 bunk beds. The bed was fairly comfortable and had a lamp and 2 electricity plugs plus free Wi-Fi. For (almost) 1 night, I paid 22€.

I have to say that this was one of the best days while visiting Spain but, I’ll have to admit probably the most tiresome. I chose to do this itinerary on foot. It is amazing how many little things you can discover while walking. This also gives you the chance to interact more with the locals. All in all, it was a fantastic experience, one that I will surely repeat, as Madrid has so many things to offer its visitors.

 

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

26 Comments

  1. This ignites the wanderlust in me. I would love to visit Madrid someday and visit the place you mentioned and eat the dishes you wrote about. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. THIS is great to know because Spain is THE NEXT TRAVEL DESTINATION I want to go to!!! My friend is moving back there too, so only another reason to want to go! We shall see if she agrees with your list of places to see and things to do!

  3. Madrid is somewhere I would love to go one day. It seems like such a beautiful city with so much on to do and see!

  4. Madrid is one of my dream place to visit and I am so happy that you’ve shared your travel experiences with us from this city.

  5. This is all super helpful. I’ve never been to Madrid before but I would definitely love to visit sometime.

  6. I was watching a PBS show this week about Egypt and during it they mentioned how Cleopatra strongly identified herself with the goddess Isis. I find ancient history intriguing and would love to visit the temple.

  7. Last year I visited Barcelona and fell in love one of my dreams is to go back to Spain and visit Madrid the city from where my ancestors come from. Cannot wait to make this happen. Thanks for the tips!

  8. It would be hard to get all of that done in one day, but I’d sure like to try. I really do love the food there. I am sure it would be amazing. That seafood sandwich sounds wild and delicious.

  9. Helpful guide considering that when you have only one day available it is not easy to organize it in a big and interesting city like this!

  10. If I could pick one day to explore a place in Europe right now, it would be Madrid! I’ve always been fascinated with Spain and would love to visit someday!

  11. You have put together the perfect itinerary! Though I have never been to Spain, I have pinned this for the future. 😉

  12. Great share! Loving the photos (paella looks delish!) and have to say that if we only had 1 day in Madrid, would love to watch a football game at either Real or Athletico! But your list is pretty awesome too, thanks for sharing!

  13. Madrid has been on my bucket list for years and I really hope I can visit it some day,and if so I will definitely check out those places you recommended ❤

  14. That seems like an absolutely perfect day! I’ve always wanted to visit Madrid and this just reaffirmed why I have such a desire to go there. It looks absolutely gorgeous and the FOOD… the food just looks and sounds amazing

  15. Great, If I only had one day I don’t think food wold be part of it as I’m more obsessed about their history

  16. I have never been to Madrid, maybe one day I will travel there. You have provided a useful guide on how to spend one day there. Thanks 🙂

  17. Madrid looks like a perfect place not to be missed especially for what type of foods they offer and tourist destinations they offer based on what I see now in your blog post. 🙂

  18. Such a wonderful tour in Madrid, I’ll surely check out the Royal Palace if ever I’ll visit it. Thanks for this one! saved your post for my reference.

  19. This blog post is so informative. We are planning to visit Madrid next month. what a coincident! will surely explore all the top list you have here (like Plaza de España..).

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