In the heart of Spain you’ll find Madrid, the beautiful – and huge – capital of the country.
Many people prefer Barcelona, but Madrid is definitely worth a visit, combining art, good food, nightlife and Mediterranean charm.
Although it’s a big city, most of the attractions are very close together, so three days is enough to see them all.
The climate is similar to Greece, so spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Madrid.
If you stay in a central location then you can see almost everything on foot. If you want to be more comfortable you can get a metro card.
We took a two day pass and it cost 14,20€, and from the airport to the city we took a bus that cost just 1,50€ to a point and from there we took the metro to the centre.
Accommodation in Madrid
Hostal Juliette-Gran Vía
In the heart of Madrid, on the main street Gran Via and on the Plaza de Callao is the Hostal Juliette-Gran Vía. It is ideally located, as most attractions are very close by.
The rooms are small, but modern and renovated. Breakfast is served on the building’s terrace.
Sightseeing in Madrid
Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is a square in Madrid, one of the most famous and busiest places in the city.
In Puerta del Sol square you will also find the “kilometre zero” as the Spanish call it, because it is the starting point for measuring all the kilometric distances in the country.
Plaza Mayor is the central and most famous square in Madrid. We went in late November and the Christmas markets were already set up and the scenery was beautiful.
In the centre of the plaza is the bronze equestrian statue of King Philip III, created by Jean Bulon and Pietro Tacqua.
Mercado de San Miguel
The Mercado de San Miguel is the food market in Madrid. It’s always full with people and you’ll find a huge variety of tapas there. The prices are quite expensive, so I’d suggest you take a stroll, but eat somewhere else.
Plaza de la Villa
Plaza de la Villa is an urban square in the centre of Madrid.
The beautiful cobbled square, bordering Calle Mayor, houses some of the oldest buildings still standing in the city.
The majestic symbol of Madrid and Europe’s largest palace was built sometime in 1755 and is considered the official residence of the royal family, although the building has been licensed for state ceremonies.
The palace has 135,000 square metres of floor space and has 3,418 rooms open to the public to admire the aristocratic architecture and decoration as well as the unique art collection. Several rooms of the palace are open to the public, with the exception of state functions.
The ticket costs about 15€.
The Cathedral of Almoudena
Next to the Royal Palace of Madrid is the imposing Cathedral of Almudena.
It is an impressive building 102 metres long and 69 metres high, built during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in a mixture of different styles: neoclassical exterior, neo-Gothic interior and neo-Romanesque sanctuary.
Plaza de España
Another great square in Madrid to visit is the Plaza de España. This is where the impressive Hotel Riu Plaza España is located, which you can visit and climb up to its rooftop to admire Madrid from above.
Puerta de Toledo
The Puerta de Toledo is a gate located in Madrid. It was declared a Bien de Interés Cultural in 1996. Construction began in 1812, but was not completed until 1827.
The Royal Botanical Garden
Next to the Prado Museum you will find the Royal Botanical Garden. The garden has free admission from 10:00-13:00 if you want to visit it.
Palacio de Comunicaciones
In the Plaza de Cibeles is the Fuente de Cibeles with the goddess Cybele on the chariot drawn by the lions.
Behind is the Palacio de Cibeles, known as Palacio de Comunicaciones, which is the City Hall of Madrid and was built in 1919 in imposing architecture. You can combine it with a visit to the Reina Sofia Museum and the Prado Museum.
El Retiro Park
El Retiro Park is an impressive park in Madrid.
Covering over a square kilometre, it is one of Madrid’s main attractions and within it you will find monuments and statues, a beautiful lake and various art exhibitions.
Many describe this enchanting, green lung of the city as an open museum with statues, while the fountains and monuments make the setting dreamlike.
The large artificial lake, or ‘Lake of Retiro’, is located near the northern entrance to the park next to the monument to Alfonso IV, which features a semi-circular series of columns and a mounted statue of the monarch atop the tall central core.
Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
Of course, you can’t travel to Madrid and not visit Real Madrid’s stadium.
The tour costs €25 (the cheapest package) and includes entry to the museum and access to a section of the stadium.
Reina Sofia National Museum
The Reina Sofia National Museum is home to the most important anti-war work in world history. Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, painted on a huge canvas, depicts the horrific bombing of the small Spanish town of the same name by the army of fascist Italy in 1937.
If you want to avoid the endless queues, make sure you get there early.
Food in Madrid
In Madrid, one thing is certain. You’ll eat good food. You can find countless options, with seafood, meats, etc., and the prices are for all budgets!
Mas Al Sur
One dish you should definitely try in Spain is paella. For delicious – and affordable – seafood paella go to Mas Al Sur.
Besides paella, we got Wok noodles with vegetables, fried squid and prawns cooked in garlic oil – and these are definitely a must try. At the end we were also treated to shots with a sweet drink.
For all dishes plus water we paid about 45€.
Chocolatería San Ginés
In Madrid you should definitely visit Chocolatería San Ginés, which was founded in 1894 and is famous for its churros and hot chocolate.
When you arrive you will definitely face a long queue but it’s definitely worth it! Despite being such a famous place, it maintains quite affordable prices. For a portion of churros with a glass of hot chocolate we paid 5,90€.
Museo del Jamón
At the Museo del Jamón we tried delicious ham sandwiches and empanadillas (like pies) with minced meat and chicken. For two sandwiches and two empanadillas we paid about 8€.
Cruz Blanca is a tapas bar near to the Puerta de Sol and definitely worth a visit. We tried bravas potatoes, delicious croquettes with cheese and jamón and chicken sticks with vinaigrette sauce.
Bocadillos de Calamares
A must street food that everyone eats in Madrid is the calamari sandwiches. We tried from Bocadillos de Calamares, located just before you enter Plaza Mayor and it was delicious. Each one cost 4€ and were quite filling.
I knew Taco Bell from American series, but I had never had the chance to find them in any of the countries I was traveling to.
I spotted them in Madrid, tried them and all I have to say is how much I would love to have them in Greece. We tried burritos, tacos, nachos and quesadillas and all were delicious and very affordable.
What you need to know before your trip to Madrid
- Spain’s currency is the euro, so you don’t need to change currency.
- The climate is like Greece, so when you pack your suitcase keep that in mind.
- Spain is an hour behind Greece.
- Three days is enough time to get around Madrid. I suggest you find a hotel in a central location for easy travel.
If you want to see more of my trip to Madrid, visit my Instagram profile.