The Wanderbug’s One Perfect Day series asks travel bloggers around the world for their favourite insider tips & experiences in the cities they love most. I think it’s the best way to find fresh inspiration for visiting a city, with a handful of icons & must-dos interspersed with more low-key (but just as special) experiences that the guidebooks miss. If you’re a travel blogger itching to share your One Perfect Day on The Wanderbug, please get in touch!
The Spanish capital is too-often overlooked in favour of show ponies like Barcelona, Seville & Ibiza, but travellers who take the time to get under Madrid’s skin are richly rewarded. Who better to dish out insider tips on falling in love with Madrid, than Courtney of Adelante? One of Spain’s top expat bloggers, Courntey is a Seattle native living in Madrid, Spain and working as an assistant English teacher. Besides venturing around Europe, she likes drinking tinto de verano in the sunshine, tapas crawling, and embarrassing herself by trying to speak the local language. You can follow along with her adventures on her blog Adelante, as well as on Instagram and Twitter.
No trip to Spain is complete without visiting the vibrant capital of Madrid. Contributing its own unique flavor to the cultural amalgam of modern day Spain, Madrid’s colorful personality abounds with rich history, picturesque sights and exceptional gastronomy. Though Madrid deserves at least a few days of exploring, here’s how to make the most of it in 24 hours!
Rise and shine! Start your morning off right with a chocolate napolitana and café con leche from Madrid’s most famous bakery, La Mallorquina. This timeless pastry shop is located right in bustling Puerta del Sol, the heart of the city and the geographical center of Spain.
Next, make your way towards Plaza Mayor. While nowadays this square is often swarming with tourists, Plaza Mayor still retains much of its authentic Spanish charm. This lively plaza, a historic epicenter with a captivating past, is now brimming with bursts of color, bustling cafés and curious people-watchers. While the overpriced restaurants are to be avoided at all costs, the beauty of Plaza Mayor is nevertheless undeniable.
Before lunch, stop by the Royal Palace and relax in the Jardines de Sabatini. The Royal Palace itself boasts an ornate and decadent interior that rivals Versailles, but the gardens are the most luxurious place to admire the palace’s regal façade. Afterwards, peek inside the colorful Almudena Cathedral right next door to the Palace.
Next, make your way to Mercado de San Miguel for a delectable feast of tapas. As you wander through the many stalls of traditional Spanish treats, be sure to admire the market’s elegant architecture. Indulge on delicacies such as jamón ibérico, Spanish cheese, olives, almonds and fresh seafood, and wash it down with a glass of wine or vermouth.
Mercado de San Miguel
After that, head to Parque del Buen Retiro for a stroll around Madrid’s most picturesque park. Take a ride on a paddle boat in the park’s small manmade lake, or grab a glass of tinto de verano at one of the outdoor cafés and people watch.
Before sunset, head to La Azotea at the Círculo de Bellas Artes for some of the most spectacular views of the city. Atop the chic rooftop bar of La Azotea, you can sip affordable wine while admiring the breathtaking scenery of Madrid. Stick around after sunset to see the city sparkle at night.
Make your way to La Latina for some tapas at Juana la Loca, home to the city’s best tortilla española – a traditional omelet made with potatoes and onions. Be sure to also try their mouthwatering huevos rotos – fried eggs atop French fries and sprinkled with thin slices of jamón ibérico.
After dinner, start preparing yourself for a night on the town. Madrid has the highest number of bars per square meter in Europe, so it’s no surprise that its vibrant nightlife is unparalleled. Spaniards tend to stay out until about 6 in the morning, so be sure to caffeinate accordingly!
Most visitors flock to Kapital, Madrid’s famous seven story night club with a different floor for every musical taste. For something more posh, head to Gabana in Barrio Salamanca. If nightclubs aren’t your thing, check out the bars on Calle Pez in the hipster neighborhood of Malasaña.
After dancing til dawn, you’ll surely be craving a late night snack. Feast upon the city’s best churros con chocolate at Chocolatería de San Gines, one of Madrid’s most iconic eateries (that’s conveniently open all night long!)
Hopefully by this point, you’ve fallen madly in love with Madrid and are tempted to stay more than just one day!