For my first weekend journey in 2017 I spent 24 hours in Madrid, Spain. I had previously been to Spain in 2008 as part of a High School summer language immersion program. I recalled that I thought Madrid was ok, a little dirty and really not that exciting compared to some other cities in Spain such as Cadiz, Toledo or Barcelona. BUT, this trip changed that as I had small rediscovery of Madrid, and it is far cleaner nowadays.
Arriving in the early morning at Madrid Barajas, we took the metro to downtown. The Madrid metro is probably the easiest way to get around town, and they have tourist day passes that are worth it if you plan to zoom across town to hit up the various world-class museums, palaces and restaurants. But, like Barcelona, it is a very walkable city and if the weather is nice out why not stroll through the city? I didnt really hit any museums this trip as my friend and I had pretty much done all that on prior trips, but El Prado and Museo Reina Sofia are definitely worth your time if it is your first time and if you only have a day. Especially Picasso’s famous Guernica painting housed at the Reina Sofia.
- Arrive Madrid Barajas Airport in the morning, take subway to our hotel B&B Fuencarral 52, located on the pedestrian shopping street of Calle de Fuencarral.
- The first stop was breakfast at Chocolateria San Gines for Churros con Chocolate, there really is no other place in the world for this amazing breakfast/ snack.
- We then walked to the Royal Palace of Madrid, where we stumbled upon a changing of the guard before entering to buy our ticket and do a self-tour. I remember this was my first European Palace experience back in 2008, and it was still quite grand and awe-inspiring as the first time.
- We then walked toward Plaza Mayor, but then walked past Mercado San Miguel, which was not there when we were both their previously, and simply had to stop for the massive array of food in this wonderful Spanish food hall.
- We then headed to the Parque de el Retiro where lots of famed fountains and right behind El Prado museum. We just took a leisurely stroll through the park then slowly walked through Madrid back to our hotel before out evening activities.
- The evening began with drinks at the Gin Club gin bar.
- We then walked to La Venencia, a highly recommended historic sherry bar in Madrid, unchanged from the Spanish Civil War days. In fact some of the rules have stuck to this days: no photos (so that you are not outed as a fascist spy), no tipping (accordance to socialist values), and no spitting. The waiters here are friendly and will teach you about Sherry if you dont know about it, and pour your fine sherry from casks or one of the dusty bottles. They scribble your oder with chalk on in front of you and when you pay erase it off. Its a very authentic Madrid experience, and the sherry was amazing.
- We then had dinner at Restaurante Botin, the world’s oldest continuously operational restaurant, a place that I had wanted to try my first time in Madrid but didnt make it. The food was tasty, service friendly, and place full of history and ambiance, worth a visit.
- We topped off the night with drinks at a bar near our hotel, The 1862 Dry Bar.
- Early morning subway right to Barajas airport to catch out flight back to the U.S.