Welcome to our Destination in a Flash guide for Madrid, Spain. Whether you want some inspiration for your next trip, or need advice on making the most out of 24 hours, this is the guide for you! We’ll tell you our favorites from our time living in Madrid and what we recommend to see, do, eat and skip!
What to See:
Retiro Park: Green spaces can be a little tricky to find inside the city of Madrid, which makes Retiro Park the best place to take in some nature! When the sun shines, everyone flocks to Retiro for games in the grass, sunbathing or a nap in the shade. There are many sections of Retiro, each one with something different to offer! There is a lake inside where you can rent a canoe, art museums, flower gardens, fountains, monuments, food stalls and entertainers of all kinds! There’s something for everyone, and too much to do even in one day!
What to Do:
Royal Palace: When we first moved, we made no effort to see the Royal Palace, mostly because we thought it was a bit touristy and we wanted to blend in with the locals. But when we finally went while family was in town, we realized that it was not just for visitors. The Royal Palace of Madrid is technically the largest functioning palace by floor area in Europe! There is a large courtyard outside, and many rooms to see inside that are still decorated with antique pieces. There is also a cathedral next door with an interesting crypt and multiple gardens to explore nearby. Entrance tickets cost 13 euro, but there are discounts and free hours for EU citizens.
What to Eat:
For the meat eaters, get some Jamon: Crepes are to France what Pork is to Spain. I’m serious…you cannot go to Spain and not see, eat, breath Pork! We ate Jamon, or ham, almost every week when we lived in Madrid and for good reason – it’s delicious! There is a huge range in quality of Jamon throughout Spain, from Serrano to Iberico, and it’s easy to find in all grocery stores and restaurants. Look out for the specialty Jamon places were you can watch them carve the meat directly from the pig’s leg!
Where to get it: Museo de Jamon, Plaza Mayor, 18, 28012 Madrid, Spain (eat at the bar for a lower price!)
For vegetarians, try Croquetas: Croquetas are breaded, deep-fried pockets of goodness that can come in any imaginable flavor! Spanish croquetas use a creamy potato base and are usually filled with Jamon, cheese or vegetables. They are easy to find and sometimes served as a tapa. Our favorite flavors were blue cheese and spinach, raisin & gorgonzola!
Where to get it: Casa Julio, Calle de la Madera, 37, 28004 Madrid, Spain
For coffee lovers, check out my article on some amazing cafes in Madrid!
What to Skip (and what to see instead):
Skip Plaza del Sol: While it may be the main plaza in Madrid, Plaza del Sol is 100% a tourist trap. There are chain stores around the outside, entertainers in character outfits, and it’s the only place where I ever felt I needed to watch my belongings for pick-pocketers. There are some really cool restaurants and clubs on streets near Plaza del So, but honestly, it’s not very exciting.
Instead, explore the smaller neighborhoods of Madrid: Madrid has 21 neighborhoods in the city limits, and the ones just beyond city centre (Plaza del Sol) are fantastic! Go north to Malasaña (university neighborhood) and Cheuca (the gay neighborhood) for amazing bars, cafes and nightlife. Go south towards La Latina for tapas and street art center, or Lavapies, the international and immigrant neighborhood.
After living in Madrid, we fell in love with the city! We realize this is a quick guide, but we have many great recommendation for things to see, do and eat. If you are interesting in more information, please feel free to message us or comment below and we’d be happy to share all that we loved about Madrid! Hasta luego!