After 5 days in Barcelona, we arrive in Madrid. Madrid is the capital of Spain and the most populous city in the country. I personally loved Madrid the most out of the 3 cities. Here is a 4 day Madrid itinerary based on my travels, exploring everything from the food to the culture.
Day 1: We start with the hub of the city, Gran Via. Gran Via, also known as the "Times Square" of Madrid, has plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants. It stretches almost a mile long, leading from Calle de Alcala' to Plaza de Espana. Since it is right in the center of Madrid, it is also near many of the other popular plazas.
If you're like me, you travel to eat. However, finding a decent restaurant is a challenge. That's why when my friends and I discovered Vinitus in Barcelona, we were thrilled to see the same restaurant in Madrid. Vinitus Gran Via Madrid was, without a doubt, one of the best restaurants we ate in Spain.
Some of our favorites included the red shrimp, the mussels in modena sauce, and the flautas. Flautas are mini baguette sandwiches that are just to die for. The bread is just so outstanding that it doesn't matter what the filling is. I tried at least 5 different flautas and they were all delicious.
As with many Spanish restaurants, you can't leave without trying their dessert. The winner? Torija or Vinitus' version of bread pudding. It's custardy, it's sweet, it's heaven. If I could, I would have brought home a dozen.
After stuffing yourself, take a ten-minute walk to Retiro Park. Voted as the #1 activity on Tripadvisor, it's a park not to be missed. Some of the key places to visit are the Palacio Cristal, the Monument to King Alfonso XII, the Palacio de Velazquez, and Paseo de la Argentina.
Are you ready for dinner yet? I hope so because it's time to eat at the oldest restaurant in the world, Sobrino de Botin. I highly recommend making reservations because they do fill up fast. The dish to order? The suckling pig.
We also tried the callos Madrid style (pictured below), roast baby lamb, scrambled eggs with asparagus, and artichoke hearts with Iberian ham. The pork, lamb, and callos were the stars of the night; the vegetables not so much.
Skip the dessert at Sobrino and go to the famous Chocoleteria San Gines for churros. I tried churros at multiple places throughout Spain and can say without a doubt that Chocoleteria San Gines was the best. It's no surprise that there is always a wait.
It also doesn't hurt that they are open 24 hours. My only regret is not eating there more than once. Anyone can make a good churro but it's their chocolate sauce that is just perfect. The right consistency, the right sweetness, just perfect overall.
Day 2 of the 4 Day Madrid itinerary: Time to get emersed in Madrid's culture. Let's start the day by visiting the Royal Palace of Madrid, the official residence of the Spanish royal family. I'm sad to say that you are not allowed to take pictures inside, but if only!
The rooms are exactly how movies depict royal palaces to be. Every detail from the wallpaper to the chandeliers to the chairs is just incredible. Buy your tickets online to skip the line and schedule a day for when you would like to visit.
Right next to the palace is Plaza Oriente, an outdoor area with statues of monarchs, and Sabatini Gardens. You can also visit Almudena Cathedral right next to the Palace. This cathedral is the only cathedral in Madrid and guess what? It's free to enter!
If you have a spare minute, check out the crypt right beside the cathedral. The Crypt of La Almudena Cathedral is also free to enter and is regarded as the largest crypt in Spain.
By now you must be famished which means it's lunchtime. Take a 10-minute walk and find yourself at a popular tourist spot, the Mercado de San Miguel. I will admit, this market is full of tourists but that doesn't mean there aren't good tapas to be found.
I stayed away from the vendors selling expensive tapas (anything over 3 euros per tapa) because according to locals, you should never have to pay too much for an authentic tapa. Some safe choices include the assorted olive skewers, small crostinis, and fried empanadas. Don't forget to get a glass of sherry or wine while you're at it!
For more food markets, visit Mercado de Anton Martin, Mercado de San Fernando, Mercado de la Cebada, or Mercado de la Paz.
After lunch, take a 15-minute walk on over to Plaza Mayor. Plaza Mayor is a major public space in the center of Madrid with old traditional shops and cafes. I will admit, it's more of a place to appreciate history more than anything else. Take a look at the buildings and the paintings on the walls.
At night, go check out La Latina, a historic neighborhood in the Centro district of downtown Madrid. Here you will find lively bars packed with delicious food.
The only way to do it right is to find a place packed with locals and squeeze your way in. You can find everything from albondigas to Spanish tortilla to even imitation baby eel. For the best fried eggs on potatoes, go check out Los Huevos de Lucio.
Day 3: I'll start by saying wear comfortable shoes because it's time for the Prado Museum. Considered one of the greatest art museums in the world, El Prado houses works of art from Diego Velazquez, Francisco Goya, and Caravaggio. It took us 5 hours to see the entire museum but you can easily spend an entire week there.
If you still have the energy, just take a minute and explore Madrid! Get lost and really appreciate all of what Madrid has to offer.
Day 4 of our 4 Day Madrid itinerary: Go on a food tour. Before this Spain trip, I have never gone on a food tour. I now know I have been missing out. Going on a food tour really helps you understand the cuisine and history behind the city. To get a better idea, take a look at the next post on my Devour Food Food Tour experience.
Here are some recommendations suggested by our tour guide:
- El Rastro flea market: Sunday morning flea market
- Hermita de San Antonio de la Florida: chapel where Spanish painter Francisco Goya is buried
- Matadero Madrid: cultural center with art exhibits and farmers markets
- Sorolla Museum: 20th-century Spanish artist's home and gardens
- Bodeda La Ardosa: known for tortilla de patatas
- Restaurante El Neru: Asturian food
- Taberna La Carmencita: the second oldest tavern selling Cantabrian seafood and locally grown vegetables.
- Paella de la Reina: paellas
And that concludes the 4 day Madrid itinerary. Check out the following post more details on the food tour!