Madrid is often overlooked. With the exception of huge soccer fans, most tourists choose Barcelona over Madrid as their main destination point when visiting Spain. Even I almost almost skipped Madrid. When I created my Europe backpacking trip itinerary, I left Madrid blank because I had no idea what to do there.
But Madrid is such an artistic, dynamic city and it should not be skipped when planning a Europe trip. I only had 48 hours in Madrid, but that was long enough to make me fall in love with it.
– What To Do –
Circulo de Bellas Artes
Hands down, my favorite Madrid experience. At Circle de Bellas Artes you can take the elevator to the top of the building. There, you will will find a bar lounge and terrace. This place has exceptional views and it is a great way to appreciate the modern European architecture. You can enjoy some champagne, make some new friends, and relax.
* Special thanks to my new friend, Trini (@triniumana), for the suggestion.
Temple of Debod
The Temple of Debod was a gift to Spain from the Egyptians. The temple once resided in Egypt but was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid. It was a gesture of gratitude and appreciation for the help Spain provided when helping save Egypt’s temples.
The temple is a great place to catch a sunset. It’s pretty during the day and night, as well. But it’s themes beautiful when the sun is setting.
The Royal Palace is the official residence for the Spanish Royal Family. The place has spectacular rooms with intricate and astonishing ornaments. There is not a single corner without elegance and class.
Visit the palace to get a feel of what it’s like to be a royal. You’ll most likely want to sit on the throne and picture yourself wearing the crown they have on display. Or maybe that was just me. Haha!
This is a huge, lively plaza surrounded by alleyways that lead a ton of restaurants and shops. You can grab some ice cream or a coffee and roam around as you explore. You never know what you’ll come across.
Shop at Gran Via
Madrid is known for its expensive and deluxe shopping centers. Gran Via, commonly known as Spanish Broadway, is a boulevard full of upscale shops and buzzing with visitors. It’s a fun walk, even if you’re just window shopping. 😉
Alternatively, you can join the party scene and experience the ongoing, never-ending nightlife here, too.
– Other Attractions You Shouldn’t Miss –
Because I only had 48 hours in Madrid, I didn’t have enough time to complete the following items. But, I’ve heard great things about them and I will most definitely check them out on my next trip to Madrid.
Palacio de Crystal
A palace made entirely of glass and held with iron (works of a French architect). I’ve seen beautiful pictures taken here and I’m excited for the day I get to visit. If you look up pictures yourself, I’m almost positive you’ll want to go, too.
Catch a Game or Tour the Stadium
The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is home to the well-known soccer team, Real Madrid. If you go during soccer season, you HAVE TO buy tickets and catch a game. And if you go during off-season, you can tour the stadium for just 18 euros.
– Where to Stay –
I stayed at The Hat. It’s an awesome hostel with great service and a scenic terrace. They provide a free walking tour with quirky, humorous guides. You can also purchase a continental breakfast for just 2.50 euros. Everyone is nice and friendly. Hostels are a great place to meet fellow travelers and make new friends.
In case you haven’t heard of Airbnb, it’s an online hospitality service that enables you to rent apartments, houses, private rooms, and shared rooms all over the world. People, just like you, choose to rent out an empty room in their home or they rent out their entire home while they’re away. Some have even turned it into a business and they buy property just to rent through Airbnb. If you haven’t already, you can create an account at Airbnb.com and you’ll be able to rent any place, anywhere, any time, for a price you can afford. It’s much more affordable than hotels and, most of the time, it’s more comfortable, too.
– How to Get Around –
Not everyone likes to walk, especially in the heat. But I would suggest you walk everywhere, within reasonable distance. Walking is the only way to truly see and become familiar with any city. Plus, you’ll get some exercise in. Download apps that offer offline maps and guide yourself through the city.
Ride the Bus
Riding the bus is fairly simple. Personally, I use the app, Google Maps. It allows me to look up walking, biking, public transportation, and vehicle directions. I simply input where I’d like to go and choose public transportation, it will, then, tell me the number of the busI need to take, how many stops it will make, and exactly where I need to get off.
The metro is just like the bus. The only difference is that you need to purchase a ticket before hopping on.
Uber isn’t allowed in every city. If this is your preferred form of transportation, make sure you verify that it’s allowed in the city you plan on visiting. Luckily, Madrid does offer Uber services. you can download the app on your phone and request your next ride, just as you would back home.