How to spend 24 hours in Madrid is a very interesting question, if you only have a short amount of time to stay in one of Europe’s most impressive cities. The capital of Spain has a lot of different sights to see and things to do. From classic historical monuments and politically important buildings to cool parties and incredibly friendly people. A city full of good vibrations. Definitely a big point on the bucket list to cross off, even if you only have 24 hours to spend.
When I was on a short trip to Spain, I did not know how to spend 24 hours in Madrid. Luckily I had a friend from Chile, who lived in Madrid by that time. He showed me around. Without him, I would have not seen a lot, because I would have been completely lost. It’s always good to have friends or to know some locals 😉
Because he showed me all the good and important places within one day, I decided to set up this how to spend 24 hours in Madrid itinerary. It’s designed to bring you to all the important places, but not to show you to much, so that you can still enjoy the day and not feel like you are in a rush all the time. That’s exactly what my friend did with me and I feel like this is the best way to explore a city.
Just like I always say: Before you explore a new destination, you need some general information first. It doesn’t make sense, if you know how to spend 24 hours in Madrid, but actually don’t have any clue what sight you visiting in that moment and what they represent. I don’t want you to have the situation where you stand in front of a building, statue, etc. and think “What in the world is this?”.
I had this a couple times in my life and I felt like a complete idiot. Plus I realised that there is no point of going somewhere without having any backround knowledge, right?
So get some information first and then read this guide on how to spend 24 hours in Madrid 😉
How to spend 24 hours in Madrid – Morning
9am – 10am
Start your day with a proper Spanish breakfast. I assume that you have finished your typical morning routine already. So wake up a little earlier than 9am 😉
Typical Spanish breakfast is really nice, even though there is a lot of different stuff to choose from. You could either go for a heavier breakfast (jamon, egg, tomatos, rolls and bread) or you go with the small sweat version (Churros con Chocolate). Both ways are great 🙂
They will give you enough energy to properly start the how to spend 24 hours in Madrid schedule. Furthermore you also get the first small impressions of the Spanish cuisine, which is one of the best ones in Europe. Spanish cuisine is the pioneer of Mexican and South American food. Really tasty!
Good restaurants or cafès to go to:
10am – 11am
This is the time to really start with the how spend 24 hours in Madrid itinerary. There is a lot to see and the best way to get first bigger impressions of the city is to head straight to Plaza Major. It lies in the middle of the city and it’s the perfect spot to go back to, if you are lost. This huge plaza was built in 1590, has a big bronze statue in its middle and a suprisingly modern style. Plaza Major is full of all kind of different small shops. It’s the pivotal point of the city and the major spot for many tourists.
From there, head west to Palacio Real de Madrid, which is the largest Royal Palace in Europe. The Spanish royal family chose to stay somewhere else, which is why it’s open for tourists almost all year long. Architecturally it is one of the most impressive buildings in the city and a huge tourist magnet.
Right next to it is the Catedral de la Almudena. This significant building has only been constructed in 1879, so it’s still relatively young. But that doesn’t make it less beautiful. It has been built in a combination out of baroque and Gothic style. With its mosaic decor, chapels, statues and heretogeneous styles, Catedral de la Almunda looks very modern and unique from the inside as well as the outside.
View over Madrid
Make sure to have a look from the inside. Also walk up to the deck. You’ll have an awesome view over big parts of the city. Very pretty!
11am – 12am
From there you can go directly to the Puerta del Sol. It’s another big highlights on the how to spend 24 hours in Madrid itinerary. This place is buzzin and known to be the centre of the radial network of spanish roads.
There is always something special going on at Puerta del Sol, which is why you should not miss out on it. When I was there I saw about 50 people starting to dance Flamenco to Spanish music for no other reason than celebrating life. Really cool! 🙂
How to spend 24 hours in Madrid – Lunch
12am – 2pm
Siesta time is usually from 2pm – 4pm, but to escape the busy restaurants and tapa bars, you should settle down a little earlier. Find yourself a nice place to have lunch. You’ll find a lot around Puerto del Sol. These are a couple ones to go to:
The third cafè is a must see for Spanish cuisine, if you ask some locals for their advise. A couple traditional Spanish dishes you can try are:
- Huevos Rotos (broken eggs with fried potatoes)
- Bocadillos de Calamares (roll with calamari rings and souce)
- Oreja a la Plancha (roasted pig ear with paprika, salt and lemon)
Generally Spanish people like to celebrate their siesta time. It’s like a symbol for the Spanish lifestyle, because siesta is the 2-3 hour time frame during the day to relax and chill out. Everywhere else in the world you have to be back in the office after about one hour at latest, but not in Spain. This is why you should have proper lunch anyway to do it exactly like the locals do it 😉
Why you should walk
You also have to walk a little more to finish the how to spend 24 hours in Madrid itinerary, which is why you need some energy. If you have something else on your schedule, which is further away, I would recommend you to take the bus or the metro. Other than that, every important sight is walking distance. If you walk, you gonna get a way better feeling for the city anyway. Madrid has countless of beautiful tiny alleys with a very special charme. They have been shaped through many different epochs, which is why there is a big variation of architectural styles and colours. Very lovely!
2pm – 4pm
When everybody else is having siesta, it is the perfect time to explore some other big attractions on the how to spend 24 hours in Madrid itinerary. The first place to visit after lunch is Casa de Cisneros, which is a small palace on the Plaza de la Villa. It has been built in the 16th century. According to history it has once been a prison for a former secretary king called Philip II of Spain, Antonio Perez.
Your next destination should be the Prado Museum. This museum has one of the finest pieces from phenominal artists like “Las Meninas” by Velázquez. It’s the largest collection in Europe. A MUST SEE.
Also make sure to walk along Gran Via, which is one of the main streets in Madrid. You’ll see nice monuments like the Cibeles Fountain or the Puerta de Alcala, which was the first modern post-roman triumphal arch in Europe ever.
Another cool spot is the Plaza del Callao. There is a big shopping center. If you go up to the highest floor, you’ll have an awesome view onto Gran Via and some other parts of the city. This area of Madrid’s center also has heaps of shopping arcades and entertainment.
4pm – 6pm
If you want to chill out and relax a little, then you should go to one of all the cool parks in Madrid. This is the eased part of the how to spend 24 hours in Madrid itinerary. From Gran Via it’s just a puddle jump to the El Retiro Park, which is basically a huge botanical garden. It contains a special tree, which suppose to be about 400 years of age. Very unique!
On your way back to the centre of the city you should stop by at the Basilica of San Francisco El Grande. This is a very pretty Roman Catholic church in the neighborhood of La Latina. Along the same way on Ronda de Toledo street lies the Puerta de Toledo, which is another one of 19 big arches in Madrid. One looks cooler than the other. Trust me 😀
During your walk you have the opportunity to absorb a bit more of the fantastic feeling you get in this incredible city. Maybe you buy some small snacks like tapas or pinchos de Tortilla from one of many street vendors. The street food culture is also a very charming part about Madrid.
How to spend 24 hours in Madrid – Afternoon
6pm – 8pm
This is the perfect time from the how to spend 24 hours in Madrid schedule to slowly sit down in a nice restaurant somewhere and have dinner. After 2 hours of walking in the morning and 4 hours of walking after lunch, you have well deserved a good plate full of delicious specialities.
Madrid has many great restaurants to go to for dinner. Try one of the following ones:
If you did not have tapas during the walk through the city, then you should have them for dinner besides your main dish. This time is also very good to get in contact with some locals. Everyone is drinking some beers and wine, the atmosphere gets even better than before and people sometimes randomly start talking to each other. Madrilenians are very open minded and they love a good talk 😉
8pm – open end
To end the how to spend 24 hours in Madrid schedule you should go on a night out, depending on what time you leave on the next day. If you leave a little later, then I would highly recommend your hit up some bars like Fatigas del Querer or La Casa del Abuelo.
If you are more into a cultural night, you should probably go to the Teatro Real or to a place where they play smooth life music.
Want to know more about another great city of Europe? Read here
What could also interest you:
- Ultimate packing list – What’s in my Backpack?
- The best Travel Gear to explore the world
- What to pack for a short camping trip
- Best Travel Backpack – How to choose the right one?