Madrid in One Day, Top 10 Attractions and Sites

Posted by on Aug 4, 2013 in Countries, Spain | 4 comments

Summary: Are you in transit in Madrid for one day or a few hours? This post provides a program sample including a list of all the things you can do in a short time in Madrid (shopping, museums, food…). It will help you to spend an unforgettable day in the city.

What to do in only one day in Madrid? One day is of course a very short time to fully enjoy the beautiful Spanish capital, but fortunately many monuments and places to visit are quite close to each other, and it is easy to move around with the metro and buses. Here is the program we suggest in order to see as much as possible in only one day, without wasting too much time in transportation.

To avoid comings and goings, we suggest that you start in the western part of Madrid and move east during the day, visiting places on the way.

1-Royal Palace


The Royal Palace

This palace is supposed to be the official residence of the royal family, but they don’t actually live here.

You can visit the palace itself, and nearby you will also find:

    • Plaza Oriente
    • Plaza de la Armeria
    • Sabatini Gardens
    • Campo del Moro Gardens

Plaza Oriente

2- Corte Ingles-Shopping Malls

Maybe it is not a good idea to go shopping in the morning and spend all your money! But the shopping center is on the way between Santo Domingo subway station and Puerta del Sol subway station, so you won’t have to come back when you are too tired!

3-Puerta del Sol

This is the center of Madrid and of Spain, where all the main roads of the country start. There is always a lot going on here (it is a little bit like a Spanish Time Square).

IMG_7198 copy

The starting point of the Spanish roads

One of the great things we did while visiting the square during late April and early May was sunbathe under the beautiful and warm sun of Madrid.

You may also want to taste Madrid’s traditional food and drink. If you like churros, we recommend the “Chocolateria San Gines” Pasadizo San Ginés, 11. Metro: Sol, where they serve churros that you dip in a delicious hot black chocolate drink.


Churros and chocolate at Chocolateria San Gines

If you’re on a diet, you should pass this stop—but in general, you shouldn’t visit Madrid if you’re on a diet!

While we didn’t encounter any problems while in Puerta del Sol, it’s advisable to be careful of con arts and pickpockets.

4-Plaza Mayor

A very beautiful old square where you will find many shops and restaurants.


Plaza Mayor

While in the square—and if it’s around lunchtime—a cheaper option if you’re on a tight budget is to have a “bocadillo de calamares” (fried squid sandwich) for €2.50/€3. There is a very famous restaurant for this specialty in Plaza Mayor, La Campana in Street Botoneras, 6. If you don’t like squid, they also have tortillas (the famous Spanish omelet).

5-Mercado San Miguel

As they say in Madrid, “Buen provecho!”

We suggest that you wait until you go to the Mercado San Miguel to have your lunch (if you still hungry after eating your squid sandwich and churros with chocolate) because, although it is a bit expensive, it is the best place to taste all kinds of traditional Spanish food in a short period of time.


Mercado de San Miguel’s desserts and drinks

Tapas, paellas, bocadillos, churros, olives, cheeses, seafood, tortillas, and different types of drinks are all available.


Mercado de San Miguel’s tapas


6-Atocha Railway Station

The train station is beautiful and worth seeing. One of the terminals has been converted into a covered tropical garden, and in addition you will find several small shops, cafés and restaurants. Most of places offer Wi-Fi for their customers.

7-Parque del Retiro

This is the break of the day! You might not want to walk after your lunch (unless you had a huge tapas, paella and churros lunch), as you’ve been walking all morning long. You can just go to this gorgeous park to have a little siesta (nap) under a tree and listen to the birds around you. And if you want to walk, this is the perfect place to do so.

8-El Prado Museum-Paseo El Prado


Paseo El Prado on the way to the museum

The museum is free after 6pm, so depending on the time you spend in the park and if you are interested in visiting the museum, you might come earlier and pay the entrance. The El Prado museum specializes in arts and exhibits—mainly paintings.


Statue of Velasquez near by El Prado museum

Definitely worth seeing if you are an art lover!

9-Lavapies Neighborhood

This is the very cosmopolitan part of Madrid, and it’s busy 24/7. You will find plenty of exotic restaurants, cafes and shisha lounges. You can have a drink with tapas or dinner (or both, of course).

10-Taberna Flamenca El Cortijo (Picos de Europa)

If you have enough time and energy, you can finish your tour with a flamenco show. You can dine there or just have a drink while enjoying skilled dancers and castanet players performing. Note that the restaurant is half an hour from Puerta del Sol with public transportation.

These are our suggestions for a day tour in Madrid city. It is a busy day, but you will see most of Madrid’s attractions.

Enjoy Chicos!


  1. Madrid is really a beautiful place which has lot of attractions to see. Although it is slightly difficult to cover all attractions in one day, but you have mentioned a good brief guide about famous places of madrid.

    • Thanks Jefferey. Agree, Madrid is a great big city and it needs weeks to explore it.

  2. Useful tips for a brief visit in Madrid here. I’ve actually missed a few of these, like the Lavapies neighbourhood. Sounds interesting.
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