My brother and his girlfriend were on their way to visit but flew directly in to Madrid to spend one night before continuing on to Valencia. I’ve never been to Madrid before so decided to take the high speed train an hour and 40 minutes from Valencia to meet them.
For starters, if you know me you know I like to travel in (stylish) comfort. These black and red plaid joggers paired with a sneaker wedge was the perfect fit for my morning train ride.
Once I arrived in Madrid I headed to the hotel my brother chose for us and the location was perfect. Vincci Via 66 is an affordable, clean, contemporary hotel on Gran Via in close proximity to everything. It was perfect for our one night two day blitz through Madrid. (http://www.vinccihoteles.com/eng/Hotels/Spain/Madrid/Vincci-Via-66)
Conveniently, most sights in Madrid are within walking distance.
Here’s what you should do-
Walk through Plaza Espana en route to Templo de Debod which is where you’ll start. This is an authentic Egyptian temple dating from the 2nd Century BC that was donated to Spain as thanks for assisting with rescuing temples in Nubia. It is surrounded by a beautiful park with far reaching views of Madrid. (Note: it rained our first day in Madrid but if you’re fortunate enough to get a beautiful day- watch the sunset here. Through word of mouth I hear it’s spectacular.)
Next Stop: Jardines de Sabatini. Equipped with perfectly manicured maze like shrubs and the Royal Palace of Madrid as it’s backdrop.
Exit the Gardens through a staircase on the left and find yourself a short walk away from the entrance of the Royal Palace.
While in route, you’ll see Plaza de Oriente on your left sitting in front of a famous opera house, Teatro Real.
Continue on to the entrance of the Royal Palace. If you’re interested, you’re able to buy tickets and go inside for 11 Euros. We did and I don’t regret it. Each room has a unique and individual design and purpose- it’s pretty cool. No picture taking allowed inside. Boo!
Directly across from The Royal Palace is the Almudena Cathedral. A short walk down the road on the right hand side and you can enter free of cost. Check it out if you have an appreciation for churches. It has beautiful bright colors and was only finished in 1993 making it quite modern.
Next Stop: Plaza Mayor. Cute plaza lined with restaurants that have outdoor seating and beautiful buildings as a backdrop.
ALERT ALERT– the next destination on this guide is a MUST!
How does CHURROS AND CHOCOLATE at one of the oldest chocolateria in Madrid sound? UM. DELISH. This is sure to be your most memorable meal in Madrid. Located on a small street off the beat and path, San Gines (pronounced San HE-NESS) is sure not to disappoint. There’s almost always a line out the door but don’t be discouraged! With affordable prices, good service and CHURROS THAT YOU DIP IN CHOCOLATE– you can’t miss out! Inside the walls are lined with photos of famous people who have gone over the years. Try not to let it distract you and head to the register to order. You’ll get a ticket with a number then, find yourself a seat. Once seated the waiter will come over, take your receipt and bring your order right out. PREPARE YOURSELF. (http://chocolateriasangines.com)
You’ll probably want to walk off some of what you just ate so continue on to Puerta del Sol. You’ll know you’re there when you see a bear statue: the symbol of Madrid and kilometer zero (from which all roads were built). You’ll also know you’re there because it’s one of the busiest places in Madrid. In essence, the Time Square of Madrid.
Explore the little streets that extend from Puerta del Sol and find your way to Gran Via. It’s been referred to as the Champs-Élysées of Madrid.
Head down Gran Via toward Plaza Cieboles. If you turn right you are close to The Museum Reina Sofia (modern art) and Museo del Prado (classic art).
If you make your way back to Gran Via and pass Plaza Cieboles on your right you’re on track to Parque Del Retiro. Once you see Puerta de Alcala(monument in the middle of a round about) you’re close to the park! One of the largest parks in the city of Madrid, Parque Del Retiro is beautifully manicured with flowers, trees and marvelous walkways. If the weather permits, make sure to rent row boats on the pond.
TRAVEL TIP: If you’re traveling by train to or from Madrid, leave yourself a little extra time to explore the small jungle they’ve created in the old part of the station. You’ll be amazed.
There you have it! Of course there are more places to go and things to see in Madrid but this guide provides a solid foundation if you only have a 2 days.
Here’s the quick run through of the above:
Plaza Espana → Templo de Debod → Jardines de Sabatini → Plaza de Oriente → Royal Palace→ Almudena Cathedral → Plaza Mayor → San Gines → Puerta del Sol → Gran Via → Plaza Cieboles → The Museum Reina Sofia → Museo del Prado → Parque Del Retiro √