12 Hours in Madrid

March 15, 2016

OK, so 12 hours might not be the perfect time to spend in a capital city - especially a city as cool as Madrid. But we're all pretty busy people, so if that's all you have - this itinerary has it down. 

Spending a short time in such a big city - even a whole weekend - its hard to know which places to head to first. But luckily, my friends Sofia and Chantal live there, so I got the best of both worlds - all the touristy things that you HAVE to see, and a few local, more uniquey places too.

(I didn't really have only 12 hours - sorry. But if that is all you have, I promise this post nails it.)

10.00 am

Start with breakfast in Malasana, Madrid's 'Shoreditch' equivalent. It was my favourite part of Madrid that I saw, with lots of cute bars and restaurants and shops. We went to Ojal√°, which also has a beach bar downstairs - with real sand - for evening drinks. 


One of the things I miss most about London is brunch (breakfast for Italians tends to be an espresso and a pastry - no eggs in sight), so I went for a classic option...
Also, how cute is that china?

11.30am

Once you're fed and watered, head to the Royal Palace. If you didn't already know (and a surprising amount of people don't) Spain has an extremely good-looking royal family, so if you needed a reason to go, there's always that. 

The Palace is beautiful and sits in front of a really pretty park. We just ogled it from the outside (and took a few pics) but if you want to go in, its free between 4pm and 6pm on weeknights. 
 1 pm

Stop for lunch - obviously. Most of my city trips revolve around food and drink - or, in this case, tapas and Sangria. Head to a market - I went to two whilst I was there. Mercado San Miguel does amazing tapas-sy nibbles, the croquettas and a sort of octopus and caramelized onions on toast thing were particular favourites. Its right in the centre, just next to Plaza Mayor... 
 The other market I went to was Mercado San Anton, just off the Gran Via. Its slightly more expensive and designed more for fresh food shopping, but it does have a great roof top bar (which was really what I went for...) with big jugs of Sangria...
3pm

After lunch, walk down Gran Via, the main shopping street (stopping in shops obvs - especially Europe's biggest Primark, if you're me).

Keep walking until you reach Buen Retiro park to chill for the afternoon. It's a super pretty big open space with a big lake with rowing boats for hire - sit on the steps and watch people try (and fail) to steer them.
9pm 

In the evening, head out for tapas obviously. But don't eat before 10, because the Spanish will think you're a weird English freak. 

We went to El Tigre, which looks a bit average from the outside but is great - buy a massive glass of wine for 3.40 euros and get a huge plate of tapas chucked at you, from croquettas to jamon to patatas bravas. You won't leave hungry. 

The only thing I've missed out here is Museo del Prado, Madrid's (and arguably Spain's) most famous art museum. It is absolutely fabulous and well worth the visit - especially since its free for students under 25!

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