This is a quick guide to Madrid’s must-see spots when you have just a few days. We suggest some visits and experiences you should not miss on your holiday, but above all, we advise you to spend as long as you can in the city. This is the only way to enjoy all the culture, entertainment, leisure and life of one of Europe’s liveliest capitals.
This day will be devoted to the most traditional and historic side of Madrid. We suggest visiting the historic streets of the district of Los Austrias, which reflect the importance of the Spanish monarchy to the city, or the famous district of Las Letras, once home to the great figures of Spanish literature.
Did you know that the centre of Spain is in the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid? This could be a good starting point for a walk into the district called the Barrio de los Austrias. Close by is the Plaza Mayor, always lively, with pavement cafés, artists and shops. In the surrounding area you can visit the Plaza de la Villa, through narrow streets full of 15th, 16th and 17th century architecture.
Carry on down Calle Mayor to find the impressive Royal Palace, Cathedral of La Almudena, Teatro Real and Plaza de Oriente all grouped together. You’ll want to take a lot of photos! And of course, take the chance for a walk in the Sabatini gardens.
In Spain people usually take a break for a snack before the mean meal. It’s a good moment to enjoy some tapas. This area is full of traditional taverns where you can try some of the most popular Madrid tapas, such as potato omelette, “bravas” potatoes, battered squid, olives, or prawns with garlic, and many others.
Spanish speakers may be surprised to find interesting literary quotes on the pavement. Why? Because Madrid’s Barrio de las Letras or District of Letters pays homage to the most famous Spanish writers of the 17th century and inscribes phrases by them in its streets. Authors of the stature of Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Quevedo lived in this district in the 17th century, and we can still see traces of them: Cervantes’ tomb in the Convent of Las Trinitarias, or the Lope de Vega Museum House, for example. It is also home to some of the city’s oldest and most charming bookshops.
The Teatro Español is also is also in this area, where many successful Golden Age productions were first staged, and still presents important plays today. The area is full of bars and restaurants with terraces, making it a perfect spot for the late afternoon. A good option is The Roof, the roof terrace of the hotel Me Madrid, on Plaza de Santa Ana.
Cultural life in Madrid is among the most exciting in Europe, so we suggest ending the day with a show. For example, many see Madrid as the world capital of flamenco, and there are now many flamenco tablaos in the city centre. Some of the most famous nearby are Corral de la Morería, Torres Bermejas, Café de Chinitas, Las Carboneras and Las Tablas.
Take the opportunity to experience a traditional Spanish musical form, awarded the World Heritage designation by UNESCO.