“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”– Andre Gide.
We visited Madrid in April 2019.
Madrid ‘Bajaras Airport’ is one of the busiest airports in Europe. The easiest way to reach the city center from the airport will be to use the metro. Mainly there are 3-4 transportation options from Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) to Madrid city center: bus, taxi, metro, and train.
This vibrant, energetic city has plenty of different flavours– Whether you are a football fan, or a person looking for a perfect city break, or a person interested in Architecture marvels/museums/Galleries. It’s all there, in this beautiful city.
Madrid, the Sunny capital of Spain is a very safe city (beware of the pickpockets though, in the metro).
Let me get into the details.
On the Day 1, we visited the following places:
NOTE: We reached Madrid by afternoon and the following places were covered in the post lunch session.
Puerta del Sol:
Puerta del Sol is the city center and it has a public square that is one of the business/lively part of the Madrid. Most of the main roads converge to this place.. Many of Madrid’s famous sights are around or near this square. Don’t get surprised if you end up coming to this place multiple times in your trip. Mostly it will be overcrowded with tourists and please beware of pickpockets. This is one of the shopping destinations in Madrid.
El Retiro Park:
This park was initially created as a retreat for the royal family and it is one of the largest parks in the city of Madrid.
Although the lake (Retiro Pond) is man-made, the peaceful waters set in front of the massive columns and statues of the Alfonso XII monument are a sight to see, especially around sunset.
This park is very near to Puerta De Alcalá.
Puerta De Alcalá Arch:
Erected in 1778 by Italian architect Francesco Sabatini, It is regarded as the first modern post-Roman triumphal arch built in Europe. The original Puerta de Alcalá was built in 1599 to welcome the wife of King Felipe III.
The Puerta de Alcalá Arch is sometimes referred to as the entrance to the city.
Each side of the gate has a different design. The one looking towards the city centre is crowned by sculptures of war trophies such as flags, weapons, breastplates and helmets, and its three rounded arches are decorated with the head of a lion. The other side, which is the one travellers would first behold when they arrived in the city, is more ornately decorated and is crowned by the royal coat of arms held up by Fame helped by a child.
Bear and the strawberry tree, at Puerta Del Sol:
This is a bronze statue of a bear standing on its feet searching for fruit among the leaves of a strawberry tree. This statue was created by the sculptor Antonio Navarro Santafé for the Spanish government and was inaugurated in 1967. It portrays an animal deeply symbolic to the city of Madrid and the subject of much local folklore.
There are different stories about this statue.
Day trip to Toledo.
In case if you wants to book a tour package, you will find the same in various shops in the Puerta De Sol City Centre area. I would recommend not to book the day trip to Toledo through any agencies. You can easily plan and do it by yourself.
The trip to Toledo needed more coverage and hence I had to come up with a separate blog for this.
On day 3, we decided to take up a Hop on Hop Off.
Following places were covered as a part of that city bus tour.
Palacio real / Royal palace:
Though it’s the official residence of the royal family, they don’t actually live here anymore, and the palace is only used for official state functions. You can walk through the palace (both self-guided and guided tours are available) starting at the grand stairway and wander through lavishly decorated staterooms.
This is a office building in Madrid Spain. The construction was completed in 1910 and the building was inaugurated in 1911.
This fourteen-storey building is one of the most well known buildings in Madrid.
The original project was for 64 apartments, a hotel (the Capitol, which currently belongs to the Vincci group), a café, a bar, a restaurant, a seltzer water factory and offices and ballrooms. On its lower floors, there was a cinema for almost 2,000 spectators: the Capitol cinema. In 2007, under the direction of the architect Rafael de la Hoz, a full restoration was completed, which eliminated all the advertising from the façade except for the Schweppes sign and a more modern one on the roof for the Vodafone mobile phone company.
Plaza De Cibeles:
The Plaza de Cibeles is a square with a neo-classical complex of marble sculptures with fountains that has become an iconic symbol for the city of Madrid. This is one of Madrid’s most beautiful buildings. It is currently the headquarters of the Madrid City Hall.
Almudena is a catholic church in Madrid. The cathedral was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993.
Due to Personal reasons and time limitation, we couldn’t cover some places that we had planned initially. Please find below some other places that you can include in the itinerary.
Egyptian temple of debod
Teleférico de Madrid
Free walking tours (https://www.neweuropetours.eu/madrid-walking-tours/)
Royal Botanical Garden
La Dehesa de la Villa : It is a huge park, almost a forest, in the north of Madrid. It is a good alternative to the Retiro Park, which is often overcrowded.
Lighthouse of Moncloa
Winter Sports in the mountains
Naval museum Madrid
Rooftop Terrace at Círculo de Bellas Artes
Bull fighting (Whilst I might not agree with Bullfighting entirely (or at all), I recognize that for better or for worse, it is an important cultural institution in Spain. It may seem like attending a bullfight is one of most authentically “Spanish” experiences you can have. After all, it’s a spectacle that has been historically linked to Spain for hundreds of years).
Some other interesting things you could do in Madrid:
1) Spain is famous for its ham and you will find a lot of places to enjoy this.
2) Real Madrid is one of the most famous soccer teams in the world and you can try watching a live game in Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
There are also companies like Viator/Get your Guide and so on, which arrange Day trips/stadium tour.
I think 3 days (including Toledo) should be a good itinerary for Madrid.
In this tour, we had extensively used the local train service. The connections were good and was on time. We stayed in Tescantos (little far away from the main city center and Airport). There was train service available from Airport to Trescantos with a change of line at the Chamartin station.
The tickets can be bought from the machines (shown below), available in Airport and other stations.
Being an Indian, I always try looking for an Indian restaurant in all the cities that I visit. In Madrid, I visited ‘Taste of India’. It is just a 10 Minutes walk from Puerta Del Sol.
The food was good and price was decent.
Summers in Madrid are hot and Winters are actually cold. Most people assume that Spain is warm all year but Madrid gets a bit of snow most years and the commonly drop around the freezing mark.
We’d recommend visiting late March-Mid June and September-October as temperatures are a comfortable 65°F-85°F.
Summary: In case if you have only 3 days in your hand and want to visit either Barcelona or Madrid, my personal recommendation will be Barcelona.