Madrid was amazing! The city is monumental and you feel like every building, every bit of it is made of great history and importance. You can’t help felling tiny and humble. I’ve walked for miles like a good guiri should do and besides the sore muscles I feel extremely happy and satisfied!
Reading so much about it on blogs and personal websites allowed us to elaborate a good plan, so I’ll share mine, hoping it will also help others.
At Barajas airport you can take the subway, a cab or the bus. At the subway they will charge you the ticket plus a 3€ fee. For those who wish to ride the subway or the bus in Madrid you can by an Abono Turístico, for one, two or three days that already includes the trips from and to the airport.
Abono Turístico, zona A (includes all of the city centre and more):
1 day: 8,40€
2 days: 14,20€
3 days: 18,40€
Atocha - The train station is beautiful and you can visit the tribute to the victims of 11th March 2004.
Museo Nacional Reina Sofia - The museum is amazing, it combines old buildings with modern exhibitions. The ticket costs 6€ (it’s cheaper for children, students and senior citizens) and free from 7pm to 9pm.
Don’t miss the chance to see Picasso’s Guernica. It was quite an emotional moment for me.
Fuente de Neptuno - From Reina Sofia you can walk to the Plaza de Cásanovas del Castillo and find the Neptune fountain which was designed by Ventura Rodriguez and along with the Cibeles and Apolo fountains are part of the group of sculptures designed to Salon del Prado. This is where Atletico de Madrid fans go to celebrate their victories.
CaixaForum - At the number 36 of the Paseo del Prado you will find the modern art gallery built by La Caixa bank. It currently displays three interesting exhibitions and it is totally free.
Museo Nacional del Prado - Along the Paseo del Prado you can easily reach the Prado Museum. It won’t disappoint you. The entree costs 14€ but if you go from 5pm from 7pm it is completely free.
Parque del Retiro - This park is too beautiful to describe. Inside you will find a great variety of trees, flowers and plants but also amazing monuments like Alfonso XII’s lake monument, the Cristal Palace or statues like El Angel Caído. The entrance is free.
Puerta de Alcalá - In the park you can take the exit to the Plaza de la independencia and see this monument built by Francisco Sabatini to represent the entry doors of Madrid.
Plaza de Cibeles - Going down from Puerta de Alcalá you will find the famous Plaza de Cibeles and also the Palacio de las Comunicaciones. The fountain is just breathtaking. This is were Real Madrid’s football team and fans celebrate their big victories.
Banco de España - At your left you will see Spain’s national bank, which like everything else is quite monumental.
Puerta del Sol - At the end of the Calle de Alcalá we find the famous Puerta del Sol. A mandatory stop for tourists visiting Madrid for the first time. I loved the excitement, the crowd, the modern subway entree and of course El Oso y el Madroño, the city symbols. There you will also find a lot of souvenirs shops.
Plaza Mayor - Take the Calle Mayor to find the incredible Plaza Mayor. Pick one of the terrazas and enjoy a chocolate con churros like we did. It was sunny and warm. And it couldn’t be better!
Mercado de San Miguel - Right next to Plaza Mayor you will find the San Miguel’s Market. It is beautiful on the outside and amazing on the inside! We have tasted little bits of Spain’s traditional food at a reasonable price. From chorizos to dulce de leche ice-creams it’s an absolute must-see place.
Calle Huertas - To dine or have a drink visit Calle Huertas next to Atocha’s subway station. It’s a lively place where we’ve found tons of bars and places to eat tapas and enjoy a little bit of music.
Catedral de Almudena - At the end of Calle Mayor you will find the Almudena’s Cathedral. You can visit the inside and also the museum.
Palacio Real - The royal palace is right next to the Cathedral. It is a monumental place, with a beautiful design surrounded by street performers and a huge crowd. The entrance is 10€.
Jardines de Sabatini - Right next to the palace we have found the Sabatini Gardens. Beautifully designed, they are a great place to have a rest and enjoy nature.
Plaza de España - After the Sabatini gardens we continued walking until we get to Plaza de España where we have found the Miguel de Cervantes monument, the statue of Don Quixote and the Spanish Senate. It was a great pleasure to see how this great writer is remembered and honoured.
Templo de Debod - A little bit ahead, following the renowned Gran Via there is the Egyptian gift, El Templo de Debod. An Egyptian temple that you can visit inside for free and where you can admire Madrid’s amazing landscape.
From there we grabbed some tapas in Calle Toledo (which is close to Plaza Mayor). We ate croquetas de jamon, huevos rotos con jamon e pimenton and parrillada de verduras for 9€, drinks included. The food was good and we took some time to relax and regain energies.
Santiago Bernabeu - Although we are fans of Barça my boyfriend suggested we should see the monumental Santiago de Bernabeu. Although we had a nice time the tour was a bit disappointing, there is no guide, the museum is not so big as one would have thought and they keep trying to sell you pictures with photoshoped players. The entrance costs 19€, which given the tour is quite expensive. My favourite part was the Di Stefano tribute.
After that we met a friend of mine in Plaza Callao and walked along the Paseo de Recoletos. It was quite a walk and totally worth it. Madrid is such a beautiful city!
Taberna Almendro, 13 - We’ve dine in Taberna Almendro which is a very pleasant place with a curious system. My advice is to get there early and grab a table. After that you have to go to the drinks counter for drinks and the food counter for food. Once the bell rings see if your order is ready and grab it! We had huevos rotos and rosca de carne rellena. Yummy!To get there take the subway línea 5, stop: La Latina.
On the third day we only had until lunch time to leave for the airport so we had breakfast in Plaza Canalejas and walked along the Puerta del Sol, Calle Mayor, Plaza Mayor and enjoyed lunch at San Miguel’s market. We had a nice paella de arroz con costra, patatas bravas and dulce de leche frozen yogurt.
Although we didn’t had the time we still recommend you to visit Casa de Campo (great natural park), Fundación Mapfre (nice exhibitions for free) and El Rastro (Sunday’s street market).
The trip was great and the city is just amazing! We’re hoping to get back soon! :D