It is a very busy city. Committing only 24 hours in Spain’s capital, Madrid, can be a challenge. It certainly was for me.

I started early, stocked up on breakfast, packed a bottle of water, grabbed a map of Madrid, slipped in my Madrid Card and bid goodbye to my hotel room. There is much to gawk and admire here!


Prado Museum and Reina Sofia Museum are the two top museums in the city. What’s better is that they’re 800 meters away from each other.

Prado is adorned with names like Goya, Rubens and Raphael (my favourite) and for an art lover like me, this place was a slice of heaven. Though I could lose an entire day (or more) here, I had already picked the galleries and paintings I wanted to see. Pre-plan your trip to this extensive museum by marking your interests on this map and approaching those single-mindedly.

Plaza Mayor.
Plaza Mayor.
The bronze statue of Felipe IV.
The bronze statue of Felipe IV.

Exit Prado and walk 10 minutes to the modern Reina Sofia. This is the home to perhaps the most priced artwork in Spain—Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. I’m still a novice when it comes to deciphering his work but this greyscale masterpiece is so invigorating that it would convert even the non-believer.

Next, I made my way, very swiftly towards the Surrealist, Salvador Dali. The two artistes are scattered away, so keep time for shuttling between galleries. Have a look at this map for quick navigation.

For the main sights in the city, I did a quick walk organised by Madrid Destino. The guided tour was an hour long. We started at Plaza Mayor, the main square of the city which over the years has taken different forms and names. Now, this is primarily a residential square. Our next stop was the San Miguel Marketplace, known for selling fresh food products. Walking on Calle de Santiago, we rushed by Church of Santiago and San Juan Bautista towards the open spaces facing Royal Palace of Madrid and Almudena Cathedral.

Read: Photo Story: First Glances of the Sepia Town of Segovia, Spain

DSC09081© Amrita Das
Almudena Cathedral.
While walking away from Plaza de Oriente.
While walking away from Plaza de Oriente.

Eat and Drink

Tapas and sangria anywhere. For an impressive evening, try the multi-level gourmet market and gastronomic experience called Platea on Calle de Goya. It is big and caters to everyone’s individual moods. I’d definitely recommend getting a seat along the tapas bar counter and sipping some Vermouth on tap or sangria. This is a restored and renovated theatre. Expect some engaging performances as dinner closes in.

Madrid is dotted with outdoor bars and cafes. After the museum run, I sated my hunger with a Spanish tortilla in a small cafe outside Reina Sofia. I washed my throat clean with local red wine.

Restaurant La Capilla de la Bolsa, a very short walk from Sol metro station is another place for a palatial fine dine evening. The decor is impressive with artwork adding to the Renaissance charm. I immersed myself in the chicken risotto completely, leaving behind just enough appetite for their delicious dessert.

Read: Photo Story: A Morning Stroll in Córdoba, Spain

My delicious vegetarian meal in Only YOU Hotel and Lounge.
My delicious vegetarian meal in Only YOU Hotel’s YOUnique restaurant.
Tortilla and wine.
Tortilla and wine.


This city is a complete haven for shoppers. The most popular areas are Puerta del Sol and Salamanca. I had splurged in Seville and in this city, I only focussed on last minute shopping. I spent about 10 minutes in a souvenir shop, at the exit of Sol metro station. I loved this area for shopping. Pity I didn’t have more time. Most shops are closed on Sundays.

Walking around Platea.
Walking around Platea.
And the show starts.
And the show starts.


Ayre Gran Hotel Colón is a business and comfortable hotel. Only a short 4-minute walk from Sainz de Baranda metro station, the rooms here are clean, basic with amazing sleep quality. The breakfast was also nothing exceptional but fulfilling.

For those who seek an exclusive and a boutique stay, I’d definitely point them towards Only YOU Hotel Madrid. Immaculate decor, intriguing cocktails, impressive rooms and creative food—this hotel seems to have it all. This is a luxury stay but definitely worth the experience.

My room in Ayre Gran Hotel Colón.
My room in Ayre Gran Hotel Colón.
DSC08982© Amrita Das
This is how I was welcomed.

Good to know

-Get yourself the Madrid Card and explore unlimited. Available in a number of slots (pay €47 for 24 hours); with this you have free entry to most museums, discounts on listed shops, restaurants and clubs.
-If you’d like a glimpse through the important sights of the city, get yourself a seat on the Madrid City Tour hop-on-hop-off bus.
-Summer is the best time for all culture lovers. They have numerous festivals happening starting this month like the vibrant Suma Flamenca, the visual arts festival PhotoEspaña and the open-air cultural meet Veranos de la Villa, amongst others.
-Madrid is like any other metropolis in the world. Most people speak English and communication is never problem.
-Flying in: I’d definitely recommend Turkish Airlines via Istanbul to Madrid. The flights are on-time, great service quality, delicious food and comfortable layovers.
-Getting out: Avail the high speed AVE, operated by Renfe, to all major cities around Madrid. They’re the best, punctual, clean and affordable.
-Getting around: Within the city, the Metro is the best option. Even though the Madrid Card does not include this, paying €1,50 from Atocha metro station to Sol metro station was hardly a pinch.

Making my way to Only YOU Hotel & Lounge Madrid's restaurant.
Making my way to Only YOU Hotel’s restaurant.
Incredible interiors of Only YOU Hotel & Lounge Madrid.
Incredible interiors of the restaurant.

Read: The Spanish Surprise

What do you think of this European city?

Note: I was invited to this media trip by Tourism Office of Spain and Turkish Airlines. 

To see more photos from my travels Like my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram.

Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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12 thoughts on “Madrid in a Day”

    1. Spain is a foodie’s paradise! It really doesn’t get better than that :D

  1. You managed to cover quite a lot in one day. I’d have wasted majority of the time, just admiring their architecture and photographing those buildings. It’s interesting to note that Picasso and Dali’s famous works are displayed in Madrid, whereas their earlier works are showcased in the city they spent majority of their years. Madrid also happens to be the city which is an arch rival of the only place I’ve been to in Spain – Barcelona;) My feelings towards Madrid are admittedly a bit coloured:P But yes, I’d love to visit the place some day.
    BTW is Vermouth a Spanish drink? Like Cava?

    1. Travel is personal no? Sometimes I sit in and do nothing. But the realisation that I may go back by not seeing some masterpieces from Madrid was extremely disconcerting. I haven’t been to Barcelona yet. And when I do, I will immerse myself in Gaudi. And it is absolutely all right to have a favourite :P Vermouth is originally Italian. But Cava and Sangria are, of course, Spanish.

  2. I think I need a few days in Madrid – a day or two for museums and art galleries, another day for excursions outside of Madrid, and while away time eating tapas and drinking wine – hmm, maybe a week in Madrid?? :-)

    P.S. The hotel looks amazing!

    1. A week in Madrid would be perfect Kat. And another week just for the food and drinks. It is quite a fascinating place!

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