Best Madrid Spain Attractions 2024 1
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Best Madrid Spain Attractions 2024

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Greetings, Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to a day of the best Madrid Spain attractions! Though Madrid is Spain’s capital, nowadays one might say that the city has a bit of an inferiority complex next to its country’s more popular tourist destination, Barcelona.

“Everyone’s always talking about Barcelona!” Madrid might say if it had a face. “Barcelona, Barcelona, Barcelona!” But don’t let the fact that everyone loves Barcelona dissuade you from enjoying this day of best Madrid Spain attractions

Spain’s capital has plenty of charms of its own On this day of best Madrid Spain attractions you will find history, Manchego cheese, royalty, cured hams, the best Madrid food market, Goya paintings, vermouth and sherry, lovely Retiro Park, and insanely delicious olives. Now I’m hungry! Let’s go get something to eat!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Best Madrid Spain Attractions

#1 TOP PICK

Best Madrid Spain Attractions 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
MADRID FOOD TOUR
✔️ Delicious local treats
✔️ Expert guides

#2 PICK

Best Madrid Spain Attractions 2024 3

MADRID TAPAS TOUR
✔️ Wine and tapas
✔️ Get off the beaten track

#3 PICK

Best Madrid Spain Attractions 2024 4

ALL OTHER MADRID TOURS
✔️
Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

madrid spain attractions

best Madrid Spain attractions

Morning: Market Tour

Madrilenos know how to do many things, but one of their primary areas of expertise is knowing how to eat well for minor ducats. That is why I was so excited about going on a delicious tour of Madrid’s markets.

I would get to sample the goods at three of Madrid’s most delicious markets, as well as some other assorted snacks from Madrid’s many wonderful pastry shops. As you will see, I got more than my money’s worth.

You can book a great food tour for yourself easily.

Check rates and availability right here!

In the meantime, I will whet your appetite for all the amazing food Madrid’s markets have to offer by showing you…

Approximately top 5: Gourmet Tapas edition

one day in madrid itinerary
1) Churros and Chocolate

The first thing you must eat is the classic Madrid breakfast, Churros and Chocolate from Chocolateria San Gines. Our amazing guide C told us that they have been making chocolate and churros here since the late 1800s.

The chocolateria is very popular in Madrid, which is why the walls are covered with photos of celebrities whom you probably will not recognize unless you are super up on your Spanish gossip mags like Nosotros Semanalmente.

We learned that there are two kinds of churros: the thin one that looks like a rope and the thick one that is darker in color. The thin one, as you can probably guess, tastes lighter. The way you eat these churro treats is by dipping them in the rich melted chocolate. Be careful, because the dipping chocolate isn’t like a cocoa. It tastes amazing, but it’s a bit too rich for me to want to drink it by itself.

one day in madrid itinerary
2) Spanish olives

Our next stop was at the Mercado de San Miguel. C told us this was a more gentrified market catering to tourists as much as locals, but that shouldn’t stop us from checking it out because there were some really delicious things there.

Our snack here was my favorite: olives! I just love their bitter, briny flavor, and I’m convinced they keep me looking young. Spaniards do olives like no one else, so if you are a drupehead like me, don’t miss out on them when you are in Spain. You’ll thank me later.

We tasted little green Campoamor olives in oregano, Cacereña black olives with manchego cheese and sundried tomatoes, and Hojiblanca green olives from Seville with artichoke. My favorite were the Campoamor olives because they had such a bright and fresh taste. But I’d be happy to eat them all again about a million times!

one day in madrid itinerary
3) Secret nun cookies

Do you like almond cookies? How would you like almond cookies made behind a secret door by secret nuns? Then you’re going to love the pastas de almendra from the Monasterio de Corpus Christi. C took us to this intriguing key-shaped door:

one day in madrid itinerary

Behind which live nuns who make these magical cookies. The nuns aren’t allowed to talk to anyone, so you need to place your order in advance and then pick up your secret cookies the next day. They leave them for you in a little dumbwaiter. I generally think my hometown NYC is pretty perfect, but one thing we could use is a secret cookie door, let me tell you.

I did not eat any cookies that day, but I did make them my breakfast for the rest of my time in Spain. They were delightfully fresh, nutty, and crumbling, even if they did cover my fingers in powdered sugar. Be prepared, own a napkin.

one day in madrid itinerary
4) Fruit, cheese, meat, wine, bread, and olive oil platter

After the more touristy market of San Miguel, we got to visit a real neighborhood place: the Mercado de la Cebada. Here we had a ridiculous amount of tastings. We snacked on some fresh cherries from Valle del Jerte and combined them with the famously pungent Queso Azul of Cabrales from Asturias.

one day in madrid itinerary

If you are a blue cheese lover, you need to eat this.

one day in madrid itinerary

Then we went to an olive oil shop and gorged ourselves silly on a gargantuan supply of olive oil from the fruity to the herbal. We paired these libations with a glass of Chardonnay from Zaragoza and tapas of manchego cheese and jamon serrano.

The other people on the food tour were veg, so I got to eat all the jamon myself. #jamnoregrets. I especially liked the Chardonnay because it is made in clay jugs, which gave the wine an earthier flavor than I am used to Chardonnay having.

one day in madrid itinerary
5) meat and cookies

Our last stop was at the Mercado de San Fernando, which was more hipster than Cebada, but less upscale than San Miguel. I couldn’t believe how much food there was provided on this tour because we had white wine from Madrid with manchego cheese and cecina de leon (cured beef).

Once again, all that cured meat was for me and only me! MWAHAHAHAHA! (Don’t worry, veggie people. C had a lovely meatfree empanada ready for the meatless among us.)

one day in madrid itinerary

Then it was time for pastries: rosquillas de San Isidro, pesquiñas of honey and mantecados from Valladolid. The honey pesquinas were sumptuous, dark brown, and delicious, the mantecados were full of layers of pastry and flakiness, and the rosquillas look like donuts, but much lighter.

Basically they are angel donuts. It was a perfect cookie plate because the tastes complemented each other, but none of the cookies were that similar.

one day in madrid itinerary
6) coffee and a pastry

Can you believe there was another stop on the tour? Well believe it! C wanted us to finish with a coffee and pastry at one of the oldest pastry shops in Madrid, La Mallorquina Bakery.

At her suggestion, I got this insane thing pictured above, which was a light as air whipped sugary egg white concoction covered in chocolate. I could only eat about half of it, which made me sad, but not as sad as I would have been had I collapsed into a food coma.

24 Hour Tip

Those are all the secrets of the tour that I can share with you for now. You’ll have to go ahead and book the tour for yourself to find out more!

Check rates and availability right here!

one day in madrid itinerary

best Madrid Spain attractions

Afternoon: Royal Botanical Gardens

After all that food and two glasses of wine, you’re not going to want to do anything but take a load off and allow your stomach to deflate.

Of course you can go back to your hotel room for a siesta, but I suggest you make the most of your day of the best Madrid Spain attractions head to the relaxing and verdant Royal Botanical Gardens. You won’t have to worry about anything here except which plants are the prettiest. Is it these?

one day in madrid itinerary

How about these? Let’s have a furious internet debate about it. Have at thee, trolls!

one day in madrid itinerary
24 hour tip

It was 97 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade when I visited Madrid in June, and Madrid has that kind of intense dry heat that makes you want to smother yourself to death with a thousand ice cubes. Fortunately, there is a small exhibition hall inside the Botanical Gardens, it costs nothing to enter it, and…it is air-conditioned!

So if the heat is unbearable, come inside, feast your eyes on some Spanish photography, and cool down until you are able to venture out into the furnace once more.

one day in madrid itinerary
24 hour treasure

I’m no flower expert, but I loved seeing all the different kinds of dahlias in bloom when I was in Madrid. They had every color from pink…

one day in madrid itinerary

to yellow and white…

one day in madrid itinerary

to this intriguing burgundy color.

one day in madrid itinerary

I also have fond feelings about this tree because its shade stopped me from getting a sunburn. Gracias, árbol!

one day in madrid itinerary

best Madrid Spain attractions

Late Afternoon: Retiro Park

So, now’s the portion of the day of the best Madrid Spain attractions when I…urge you to put aside the travel itinerary and live a little! Find a promising portion of Madrid and wander aimlessly until it is time for dinner. (Yes, you have to have dinner. This is Spain and dinner doesn’t start until 9, so you’ll be hungry again by then.)

But if you need a bit of help, there is not a finer place to get lost in all of Madrid than Buen Retiro Park. Retiro Park is literally fit for a king because it used to be the exclusive park of the Spanish royal family, and you know what they say about monarchs…they know how to build parks.

There are enough plants, crystal palaces, sculptures, decorative garden houses, and tree-lined boulevards in Retiro Park to keep you entertained for hours. Go close this webpage and find them all! Don’t come back until 9 PM!

one day in madrid itinerary
24 hour tip

You’d like a little more guidance, Internet Stranger? Fine, I will try to give you a small piece of advice or two. If you like street performers, check out the giant lake in the middle of Retiro Park, which has the wildly understated name of Retiro Pond.

Here you will find as many free shows as your cheap little heart desires. I believe these gentlemen above were performing some Middle Eastern music.

I also saw some Hare Krishna performing in Retiro Park Madrid Spain, but I didn’t take their photo because I don’t know that the HK go in for that kind of thing, and I was afraid they would maybe surround me and yell Hare Krishna at me until I gave them my cell phone camera.

one day in madrid itinerary
24 hour Treasure

So if you want to know my favorite thing to do in Retiro Park, it’s to pick a very regal looking section of the park, like the one above, and swan about pretending I’m the Infanta and sneering at people. It’s basically what I do at home in NYC, only it feels like more appropriate behavior in Madrid.

We haven’t declared someone Infanta of New York City since the 1970s, during the famous “Ford to Infanta: Drop Dead” incident.

one day in madrid itinerary

best Madrid Spain attractions

Evening: Dinner at La Malontina

La Malontina was, for me, the definition of a hidden gem. It’s just a small restaurant with a few tables hidden on a side street in Retiro Park. If you’re following this itinerary in the summer, it should still be light in Retiro Park by the time you head to dinner.

Because of its diminutive size, you need to make reservations online in advance before going. But once you are there, you will be treated to a dizzying variety of creative tapas. I had a fresh tomato salad with poetic swirls of vinaigrette…

one day in madrid itinerary

There were skewers of fried shrimp and squid with perfectly pungent garlic aioli. I’ve never had garlic aioli with fried shrimp before, but the combination was flawless.

one day in madrid itinerary

Next came the house specialty: piping hot Korean dumplings with sweet chili sauce. The dumplings were delicious plain because the meat was so well seasoned, but the chili sauce kicked them up that extra notch of class.

one day in madrid itinerary

I finished my tapas with another dish La Malontina is famous for: fried brie cheese with tomato marmalade and jalapeno peppers.

You need to get the savory warm cheese, cold sweet marmalade, and spicy pepper all in your mouth in one bite if you want to experience the full potential of this dish. Unless you don’t like spicy food–then don’t eat the pepper. But you shouldn’t really need me to tell you that, Internet Stranger!

one day in madrid itinerary

My dessert was a not-too-sweet mango and mascarpone combination served adorably in a little retro Mason jar. It was a soothing and light way to end the meal after all the different spices and flavors in the tapas.

I especially appreciated how the chef made all the dishes into a half portion for me so I could try more tapas. He said the regular portions would be too much. Of course he only charged me half price for each dish, so the whole meal didn’t amount to much more than 30 Euros. Thanks chef! You’re as helpful as a shady tree on a 90 degree day in Madrid!

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Best Madrid Spain attractions

Where to Stay?

I hope you’re looking for a convenient location for a hotel on your day of best Madrid Spain attractions, Internet Stranger. Unless you’re one of those strange people who hates convenience. I was happy with my stay at Hostal Alonso, located right in the heart of Madrid. There were always people around, which made it easy for me to enjoy Madrid’s thriving nightlife.

Plus it was super affordable and helped me stick to my budget as I wheelie bagged around Europe that summer. If you can go for something pricier, te salut! But I still suggest staying in the center of town. 

If you’re looking for a great deal on this hotel, click here.

And if you’d rather explore deals on tons of other hotels in Madrid, click here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your day of best Madrid Spain attractions. With plenty of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

one day in madrid itinerary

That’s the best Madrid Spain attractions

What do you think are the best Madrid Spain attractions? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Madrid right now? And do you think I could eat all the ham in Madrid if given enough time? Email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Best Madrid Spain Attractions

#1 TOP PICK

Best Madrid Spain Attractions 2024 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
MADRID FOOD TOUR
✔️ Delicious local treats
✔️ Expert guides

#2 PICK

Best Madrid Spain Attractions 2024 3

MADRID TAPAS TOUR
✔️ Wine and tapas
✔️ Get off the beaten track

#3 PICK

Best Madrid Spain Attractions 2024 4

ALL OTHER MADRID TOURS
✔️
Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have a one day in Madrid itinerary.

You can add another 24 hours in Barcelona. You can try a day with the best tourist attractions Barcelona Spain. Or add another day of what to do in Barcelona Spain.

Why not try 24 hours in Valencia? You can add on a one day in Valencia itinerary. Check out 24 hours in Madrid.

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