First of all, the most important way to start your day in Madrid is with a good breakfast and by putting on some comfy shoes in preparation for a day of sightseeing. We recommend Plaza Callao as a starting point: it’s a popular meeting point, full of people and shops, and also home to a famous cinema.
Step one: see
From Plaza Callao you can walk along Gran Via: don’t forget to look upwards as well as ahead of you! The old traditional buildings are especially beautiful. Do your best not to get lost among the shops and cafes you’ll find on your way towards Plaza de España, where if you are lucky you will find an artisan market. From there it's a good idea to go to see the Royal Palace with its amazing garden and views. Don’t forget to take a look into the Temple of Debod afterwards - it will surprise you! If you choose to head right from the Gran Via, you’ll find a famous fountain called known as Cibeles (people in Madrid are very proud of this!) and La Puerta de Alcalá, which is a typical sight in Madrid.
On your way back don’t miss a visit to La Plaza Mayor, where there are also sometimes markets - the typical food market is old-fashioned and has plenty of tasty food and tapas to try! Next you should walk to La Puerta del Sol, known for it’s new year’s eve parties. There you will see Madrid’s ultimate sight: a sculpture of a bear, as well as a famous slab on the pavement marking kilometre zero - the official starting point of Madrid’s six national roads.
Step two: eat
Food should be one of the most important aspects of your visit and is of course necessary to build up your energy after all that walking. We recommend tapas, which is the perfect way to try a range of different things. A good idea is to look out for some of the more hidden bars and restaurants: the food will be better and not aimed solely at tourists. There are some nice and inexpensive places in the streets behind La Puerta del Sol heading away from Gran Via. Apart from tapas, you can always try some home made main dishes, normally accompanied by good, regional wine. If you fancy some fast food instead, you can order a Bocadillo de Calamares (calamari sandwich served on white bread) or a “caña” (a small beer). For those who like sweet things, you can find plenty of shops selling pastries and baked goods (think churros, which are typical of Madrid)!
left: Bocadillo de calamares, right: churros with chocolate
Step three: Party
A visit to Madrid wouldn’t be complete without sampling the city’s nightlife. It doesn’t mater how young or old you are, there are plenty of bars where you can just drink a beer with friends while listening to music, but also bars where you can drink and dance (usually with free entry). And then there are of course the discotecas, which are open until very late into the night (or even well into the morning). The best areas to go out are Salamanca, Malasaña, Moncloa y Argüelles, “el barrio de las Letras” (the writer’s quarter) and ”La Latina” (the Latin quarter). There’s a big mix of people in Madrid, of all ages and cultures, so you’ll definitely find a place that suits you.
madrid, tourism, food, party, sightseeing