My husband and I arrived in Madrid on a Sunday at 09:30 in the morning, only 03:30am back home in the East Coast of the United States. I read somewhere that the best way to get over jet lag is to plod on. So, we did!
After checking in at our hotel, and quickly freshening up, we headed out to start our 7-day itinerary in Spain.
We spent 2 days exploring the historical center of Madrid. Here are the attractions that we experienced and visited.
Madrid Hop On Hop Off
Officially known as Madrid City Tour, the hop on hop off bus is an open top double decker that travels 2 routes: Historic Madrid and Modern Madrid. Visitors may buy a 1 Day Pass or a 2 Days Pass. From March to October the bus runs from 9AM to 10PM every 8 minutes. During the low season, it runs every 15 minutes from 10AM to 6PM. Prices and details at the Madrid City Tour website.
Museo Nacional del Prado
The Prado Museum is a must see in Madrid. It houses the greatest collection of paintings of European masters, including Las Meninas by Diego Velasquez considered to be the world’s best painting.
My husband and I spent about 3 hours at the Prado with the goal of seeing paintings by Caravaggio, El Greco, Fra Angelico, Goya, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Titian.
It is best to buy tickets online to skip the line. Check for updated details and pricing at the Prado Museum website.
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
The Reina Sofia is a Modern Art museum. On Sundays, from 13:30PM to 1900PM, visitors may enter for free. However, not all collections are open for viewing. This was not a problem for us because we only went to see one exhibit, Picaso’s Guernica. He painted the mural to show the destruction of the bombing of the town of Guernica. Photography is not allowed in the museum, so we were not able to take a picture of the mural.
Hours and cost for the Reina Sofia Museum can be found here.
Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is site of Spain’s symbolic center, ‘kilometer zero’. King Charles III established Puerta del Sol as the city’s hub. There is a statue of a bear pawing a tree at the square. This has been the symbol of Madrid since medieval times. The county governor’s office is also located here.
Madrid’s former main square is enclosed by four-story symmetrical buildings. It is a historical site where major events such as bullfights, royal pageantry, executions, and celebrations were staged. Although Puerta del Sol is now Madrid’s main square, Plaza Mayor is still a popular place for people to hang out.
Devour Madrid Food Tour
With only two days allotted for Madrid in our itinerary, I thought it best to book a food tour that features Madrid’s most classic dishes at 100-year old eateries. We would not have gone to all the stops in the tour on our own with the time constraint. My husband and I did Devour Madrid’s Ultimate Spanish Cuisine tour which took 4 hours. The food tour included dishes for breakfast, lunch, and merienda (snack time). We learned a little bit of history and devoured delicious food and drinks.
Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Almudena
Madrid’s Cathedral was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993. It is fairly new as construction started in 1879 and was completed in 1993. Then crown prince Felipe VI and journalist Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano got married here in 2004. Entrance to the cathedral is free, but a 1 donation is most welcome.
Palacio Real de Madrid
Madrid’s Royal Palace is a place of opulence. It shows Spain’s wealth before it declined. It is Europe’s largest palace covering nearly 1.5 million square feet with its 2,800 rooms. No longer a residence, it functions as the ceremonial palace for formal state receptions, royal weddings, and a tourist attraction. Purchasing tickets online help to skip the line at the ticket booth. Click here for cost and details.
On our previous visit with family, we enjoyed hanging out at Jardines Sabatini, Plaza de Espana (presently covered in tarp for restoration), and checking out the Gran Via. This time, we definitely saw more of Madrid. There is more to see. Perhaps, next time.