What to see in Madrid in a day
What to see in Madrid in a day
Madrid boasts a wealth of architectural heritage, picturesque districts, attractive city parks, museums and monuments, as well as a delicious and varied gastronomy. It is impossible to see all the treasures this city conceals in one or even two days.
However, if you’re short of time, you can always visit the city’s best-known landmarks and the sites that every visitor to the city should discover.
What to do in Madrid in a day
Most of the principal landmarks are located within the same area, forming a route that can easily be completed on foot.
1. El Retiro Park
Madrid’s largest city park is a favourite spot for Madrid’s residents who flock there to rest and unwind from their busy lives. The park is filled with statues and gardens that are ideal for a gentle stroll. However, visitors can also enjoy the performances of street artists and musicians or take a peaceful boat ride on the lake. The park’s most striking building is the Crystal Palace, which houses temporary exhibitions. If you’re looking for something to do in Madrid in a day, then we recommend you check out the upcoming exhibitions that will be held there.
2. Puerta de Alcalá (Alcalá Gate)
The Retiro Park’s eighteen gates include one of Alcalá Street, famous for being one of the longest in Spain. It is also the site of the iconic Alcalá Gate, a monument that was once part of the city walls.
3. Cibeles Fountain
Making your way along the same street towards the centre, you come to Cibeles Square and its famous fountain, an authentic icon for fans of Real Madrid football club. It is also the site of major buildings such as the City Hall or Bank of Spain.
4. Puerta del Sol Square
Puerta del Sol is located at the end of Alcalá Street and is the site of the zero kilometre marker from which the country’s national roads radiate. It is an absolute must for anyone visiting Madrid in a day. The Casa de Correos or Royal House of the Post Office is the most striking, with its famous bell tower whose 12 chimes welcome in the New Year. The square is also the site of one of the city’s symbols: the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree.
5. Plaza Mayor (Main Square)
Walking down Calle Mayor, you come to this vast porticoed square, lined with three-storey buildings in striking reddish tones. The ground floors house a wealth of traditional tapas bars.
Other tourist sites to see in Madrid in a day
6. San Miguel Market
One of the best things to do in Madrid in a day, apart from tasting the delicious chocolate con churros, is to go for tapas. The dozens of stalls you’ll find in this market are perfect for tasting the wide variety of tapas, paired with a refreshing beer.
7. Almudena Cathedral and the Royal Palace
At the end of the street known as Calle Mayor stand two buildings: the city’s most important cathedral and the former residence of the Spanish monarchs. The tour of the Royal Palace offers visitors the chance to explore its many rooms and the Royal Armoury.
Close by are the Sabatini Gardens and the Campo del Moro Gardens, which lead to the River Manzanares.
8. Temple of Debod
Crossing Sabatini Gardens brings you to this Egyptian temple dating back to the 2nd century BCE. The temple was gifted by Egypt to thank Spain for its help in the construction of the dam in the region of Nubia. The best time to visit is at sunset, when the sun’s rays cast shades that surround the temple in an aura of mystery.
9. Plaza de España (Spain Square)
Just a short distance from the temple is the Plaza de España or Spain Square, site of the monument to Cervantes. It is flanked by the Madrid Towers and the Spain Building, the first skyscrapers to be built in the city and two of the must-sees during a day in Madrid.
10. Gran Vía
The route ends on Gran Vía, Madrid’s busiest shopping street. In addition to the many shops and restaurants, visitors can also attend a show at one of the theatres located on this street.
What to see near Madrid
Finding accommodation in the centre of Madrid can sometimes be difficult, and due to the noise many tourist opt for rest in quieter hotels on the outskirts. Most are well connected by road or train, and the journey to the city centre takes just a few minutes.
If you’re staying on the outskirts and would like to know what to visit near Madrid, you have the chance to visit a number of interesting alternative sites. Below are just a few of the many tourist attractions to be found in the north of the autonomous region of Madrid:
- Las Rozas Village, a huge shopping mall and the perfect place for leisure and a little retail therapy.
- El Escorial, a 16th century monastery included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It includes a royal palace, a basilica, a library and the royal pantheon.
- La Granja de San Ildefonso, in Segovia. This is one of the finest palaces in Spain, set amidst carefully tended grounds and monumental fountains. An attraction close to Madrid that is definitely not to be missed.
- Hiking in the spectacular setting of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range.