Joaquin Sabina sings, “A mitad de camino entre el infierno y el cielo, yo me bajo en Atocha, yo me quedo en Madrid.” Well, let me say the songwriter is totally right; you will discover it once you meet Madrid personally.
Beautiful, multicultural and completely funny, Madrid is one of the biggest cities in Europe and is artistic in every possible way. Spain’s capital is open to thousands of tourists and students from around the world, giving Madrid its very bold flavor.
As a big city, Madrid needs many days to be known completely. However, let’s focus on how to live a perfect day, given that you don’t have limitless time in the city. Whether you are by yourself or with some friend, lover or perhaps a family member, Madrid is a city that you can enjoy no matter how you are traveling. For me after living there for some months as a student and two years before, visiting as a traveler, I can say: Madrid tastes different depending on the mood you visit in.
If you are traveling solo, you will appreciate more each alley and street , cause let me tell you Madrid has a particular romantic air that can be felt in each step you make, or even traveling by metro.
So a personal tip might be: walk through the city wearing your headphones while listening to some Spanish music, or just your favorite one.
Start your walk on the 0 Km.
This spot is located in Puerta del Sol.. Why is it special? Cause from this point, it begins the count of the radial roads of Spain. So, of course it is a MUST if you are in the city. Besides, Puerta del Sol is a really beautiful square and perhaps the most popular. It’s surrounded by buildings such as Casa de Correos, where a big clock sits, known for being the place where the countdown to New Year runs.
Madrid is full of narrow, winding streets so as your walk continues you may start noticing how very easy it is to get lost between them; any way this must be one of the most wonderful things to do in Madrid. Discover the magic and allure of the old buildings. Neighborhoods such as Malasaña, La Latina, Huertas and Tirso de Molina are very cozy and picturesque.
And of course, do NOT forget walking through Gran Vía; the architecture is amazing and if you are a shopaholic this is your street.
Eat some tapas.
You may also notice that there are plenty of “Bar de Tapas” around the city and they all might look the same but you must give one chance for lunch. The cool thing with these kind of tiny restaurants is that when you pay for a caña (a pine) then the tapas come for free. Try some patatas bravas (my favorite) and also, the menu is extensive so don’t hesitate to try some other stuff.
Explore the metro.
In my opinion, Madrid’s subway is one of the most practical, clean, secure and comprehensible (I still can’t figure out how to travel in London’s underground) of Europe. It will make you feel like you are in an old movie. In fact not long ago, Madrid opened Chamberí station as an exhibition, which now you can visit and understand the history public transport of the city. Chamberí belongs to the first line that started to run in 1919. Yes for sure it is interesting and intriguing.
You can have more info here.
Have a picnic at Retiro:
I am totally a “park girl.” That is why for me a perfect day in Madrid includes this beautiful park. I am sure you will love it too. It is huge, green, with colorful flowers, and you can always find people on bicycles, skates or long boards while others do yoga or just some exercise, (during summer, young people wear tropical clothes just for hanging around, TOO COOL.) Do not hesitate and take some bread and Iberian ham, and of course a bottle of wine for enjoying a sunny day.
Take the opportunity of amazing sightseeing.
For the sunset, I can say there are many different spots throughout the city where you can go up to have the best sightseeing of Madrid, but my advice for this “perfect day on the Spanish metropolis” is: go to Palacio de las Cibeles (yes, of course it is situated in front of the popular Cibeles Fountain).
The panoramic view from here will make you fall completely in love with Madrid. You can appreciate each iconic building lit by the beautiful sun. Don’t forget to pay attention to the peculiarity of the roofs. AMAZING!
Tip: first Wednesday from each month, it is free.
Don’t miss the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid
If you still have time in the afternoon, go straight to the Royal Botanical Garden. It is just in front of Prado Museum. You may have to pay $6 euros, but it is completely worth it if you are a fan of nature. Spring is the best season to visit this place, when it takes on a romantic cheerfulness.
Party is a MUST.
If you are not tired enough, you should totally try a pub crawl. Nightlife in Madrid is one of the best in Europe. You can find places with all shades of music, from Reggaeton and Bachata to House and Minimal, (the best) but of course the most popular style of party is to go from one bar to another having beers, chupitos (shots) and sangría.
Malasaña, the hipster neighborhood.
Located near Tribunal Metro station, this zone is vibrant and totally enjoyable. Full of bars, pubs, vintage stores, fashion boutiques, record’s stores, coffee bars, and so many other things you should totally try. This area is the young’s favorite so why not giving it a chance?
*Extra: For book lovers and passionate readers, between Paseo del Prado and Retiro Park, there’s a street best known as Cuesta de Moyano where you can find plenty of stands that sell books, new or second-hand but most importantly CHEAP! You can buy an antique book from $2 euros, a lot of good deals that you can’t miss.