This year, I spent 4 days during my birthday week in Madrid! I had been before but not since I was 18 so it had been almost 10 years! To be totally honest, I didn’t remember much of the city. It’s a huge, modern city but it is absolutely CHARMING. The architecture is breathtaking and I had a blast getting lost every day. I walked about 9 miles every day, never felt unsafe and stumbled upon SO many incredible spots. I loved exploring off the beaten path and stumbling upon the tiny cobblestone streets lined with colorful homes. I pulled together a big list of everything I saw, ate and did this time in Madrid! It’s a magical city and I hope you enjoy exploring!
A couple quick tips!
1. Wear comfy shoes! You will walk… A LOT.
2. Siesta is very real. Expect most places to be closed for about 2 hours every afternoon from 2-4 or 5.
3. Most people speak english, but it’s handy to know some key phrases. So, brush up on your Spanish!
A huge thank you to my friend Whitney from The Blonde Atlas! She helped me put together my whole Madrid itinerary and it was HUGE help! Definitely make sure to check out HER SITE and keep her in mind if you need help booking your future travels! She’s the best!
Where To Eat
La Mallorquina: Calle Mayor, 2, 28013 Madrid, Spain
La Mallorquina was an accidental stumble upon and it was so good, I ended up going back two days in a row! It’s an incredible bakery located right in the heart of the city on the edge of Puerta Del Sol. It was SLAMMED with locals as well as tourists and the baked goods were out of control. You have to stop in a grab something (or a dozen things like I did the second day) here.
Cafe Federal: Plaza de las Comendadoras, 9, 28015 Madrid, Spain
A super charming breakfast spot with options to please everyone! I had a delish Shakshuka!
Chocolateria San Gines: Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5, 28013 Madrid, Spain
The most famous spot for churros in Madrid! You have to try authentic churros! They serve them with a cup of hot chocolate…. and not hot chocolate like the drink… a cup of hot. melted. chocolate. Be aware! One order is 4 churros, not one! We made that mistake and then had 8 churros and two huge cups of chocolate for the two of us… needless to say, we took churros back to the hotel and snacked on them for the next two days!
Bazaar: Calle Libertad, 21, 28004 Madrid, Spain
This spot and the one below I didn’t actually eat at, but I stumbled upon them one day when I was lost in the most charming little streets. It was during siesta so the spots weren’t open… but I passed them and couldn’t help but jot them down because they looked SO charming and the menus looked delicious! If you go to Madrid and try these spots, let me know! I can’t wait to try next time I’m there!
Diurno: Calle de San Marcos, 37, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Mercado De San Miguel: Plaza de San Miguel, s/n 28005 Madrid
The most famous market in Madrid and an absolute MUST! It’s a total scene and the food is amazing! We had a blast grabbing a couple little things from a few different stands. I had my first ever mango juice here (and my first jamon sandwich of the trip) and WOAH. There’s no turning back. It was unreal.
Maricastaña: Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 12, 28004 Madrid, Spain
We went here per the recommendation of my friend Whitney from The Blonde Atlas . It’s the most charming spot located on a tiny little cobblestone street. I ended up sitting here for almost 3 hours just working and enjoying the cozy space. The food was very good and I had the best cappuccino of my life there.
What To Do
Walk through Buen Retiro Park: Plaza de la Independencia, 7, 28001 Madrid, Spain
I loved this park so much that I went back two days in a row. The first day, we didn’t get here much before dark so we only explored for an hour or so. But the following day was beautiful so I went back and walked the entire park! If you’re here during a warmer season, I’d absolutely grab things for a picnic and spend the afternoon here. The park is expansive and stunning. There are so many different spots to see and enjoy, little cafes if you want to grab a coffee or a bite and gorgeous landmarks all within the park. Don’t miss it!
Rent a Row Boat in Buen Retiro Park: Plaza de la Independencia, 7, 28001 Madrid, Spain
This is quite possibly the most touristy thing I’ve done in a long time but it was an absolute BLAST! We had a gorgeous, sunny day and it was so fun and relaxing to row around the pond and look at the gorgeous, The Monument to Alfonso XII. If you luck out with a beautiful day like we did…. rent a row boat! You’ll love it.
Visit the Prado Museum: Paseo del Prado, s/n, 28014 Madrid, Spain
There are INCREDIBLE museums in Madrid. I decided to do the Prado during my couple days visit. The museum is expansive and absolutely breathtaking. There is an incredible selection of different types of art… but even the building itself is a piece of art. I’d recommend allowing at least 2-3 hours here.
Visit the Reina Sofia Museum: Calle de Santa Isabel, 52, 28012 Madrid, Spain
Reina Sofia is the other extremely famous art museum in Madrid. It’s the home of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. I didn’t visit this time because it’s one of the things I actually remember from my last visit to Madrid. If you have time, I highly recommend visiting both museums.
Coffee with a great view in the Square of Puerta de Alcalá: Plaza de la Independencia
The Puerta de Alcalá is one of my favorite sights in the city. Located in the center of a very busy round about, it’s a beautiful sight. There are quite a few little cafes right across the street. I stumbled into one and really enjoyed having a coffee with a view.
Tour Palacio Real de Madrid: Calle de Bailén, s/n, 28071 Madrid, Spain
The Royal Palace of Madrid is totally breathtaking. You can view the outside free or charge but we decided to go inside for 11 euro/person. It was TOTALLY worth it. The palace is incredible and we had a blast exploring and pretending like it was our home. Here’s a few of our favorite pictures from our visit there!
See a flamenco show at Villa Rosa: Plaza de Sta. Ana, 15, 28012 Madrid, Spain
We didn’t have a chance to do this but Whitney highly recommended it! It’s something I’d definitely love to do if/when I go back to Madrid!
Save time in your itinerary to just wander and get lost. My favorite part of exploring Madrid was the time I spent with no plans. Every spot was so charming and I loved getting lost in this city.
Things To See
El Palacio De Crystal: Paseo República de Cuba, 4, 28009 Madrid, Spain
The Crystal Palace is located inside Buen Retiro Park and it’s STUNNING. I also visited here once mid day and once at sunset. It’s located on another beautiful little pond. They have small art installations that change out inside. Because it’s technically a museum there is no professional photography allowed but seemed that everyone was getting a few photos in. Make sure to find this gem of a spot on the map while you’re wandering Buen Retiro Park!
Plaza Mayor: Plaza Mayor, 28012
A little touristy but absolutely worth seeing! It’s a beautiful plaza with tons of cafes, street performers and lots to see! It’s another fun spot to either just walk through or stop for a quick coffee in the sun!
Puerta Del Sol
A main square in the city… Also a little touristy but definitely worth walking through! Plus, that’s where La Mallorquina is! hehe
Where to Shop
The Salamanca Neighborhood
Warning: it’s easy to get in some trouble shopping in Madrid. The city is filled with every stand alone designer store you could imagine AND since most of them are European… things are quite a bit less expensive then here. I bought myself a naughty birthday gift and saved about 40%!
Where to Stay
We stayed a little outside of the city center at a convention hotel because that’s where Lu’s meeting were. So! I’m not an expert here. The Everygirl also has an amazing Madrid guide which breaks down a bunch of places to stay! Find it HERE.
How to Get Around
The Metro system in Madrid is expansive and pretty simple! You can get pretty much anywhere you need via Metro!
Uber is available and super easy in Madrid! Lyft isn’t there yet so be aware of that. I used Uber to get around pretty much everywhere! It was also super affordable!
My favorite way to explore Madrid was on foot! It’s a great walking city and if you have the time, you can walk everywhere! I even walked back to our hotel each which was almost 4 miles from the city center! I never stumbled upon an unsafe or unattractive spot.
Any Madrid things you’d like me to add!? Say the word, love bugs! Hope you enjoy exploring Madrid as much as we did!!!
Photos of me by: Thu! If you need a photographer in Madrid, she’s your girl!!!