There are way too many things to see, eat and do in Madrid but with only three full days in this lively city, we did just enough to plan a return visit. It was my first visit, so please take a touristic view of the city with me!
If you come hungry to this market hall, you might have to withdraw a lot more cash. We had an assortment of food including Arroz Negro from Paella y Ole, Fresh Burrata from MOZHEART, Salmon stuffed Olives from La hora del Vermut, and of course, jamón ibérico.
A touristic destination but interesting to see if you’ve never been. You can have a chuckle with the fat guy in the Spiderman costume (no Spanish translation necessary), be hypnotized by the bubble maker, maybe even join in on a “free” walking tour or just take a bunch of selfies and move on. It’s right next to Mercado de San Miguel so, a bit of walking after gorging won’t hurt.
We were heading towards the Temple of Debod when we walked right by the Royal Palace of Madrid. It is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family but only used for official business and ceremonies. There were lovely gardens (Jardines De Lepanto, Plaza Oriente, Jardines del Cabo Nova, and Jardines De Sabatini), a two-story carousel and rambunctious puppies roaming everywhere.
Jon’s extensive Instagram research led us to this temple and his pageant mom-style of trying to direct me into posing like an Insta-celebrity. Nope, I’m just going to do the opposite.
Madrid has some awesome shopping and Portuguese futbol star, Cristiano Ronaldo so, we combined the two and paid an homage by visiting a Real Madrid Official Store (there are a few locations scattered around the city). I don’t understand why the Fly Emirates logo has to be so big on their uniforms. I mean I do, because of commercialism but come on, we get it.
A few blocks down I spotted a cat market or Mercadillo del Gato (market of the cat) with its enticing logo, but when we inside, we encountered an angry lady who thought she wasted her breath trying to sell something because I said I don’t understand Spanish en español. They speak Spanish pretty fast in Madrid, so it took me at least a day to understand. I am used to hearing the chill Mexican Spanglish lingo in California, lo siento señora! There was an interesting nativity scene which displayed the surrounding area around the manger because why should Jesus get all of the attention?
Free Museums in Madrid
A few of the museums in Madrid are either free to view or offer free admission for a few hours a week. You just have to line-up at the entrance 15-30 minutes before the doors open to get a ticket before getting scanned in. We went mid-week in December so, we didn’t have to wait long, but you may have to come much earlier during the peak season. When you see a line forming, just jump in and ask to make sure.
If the thought of waiting in line, rushing to see as many things in a limited amount of time and seeing masterpieces alongside hundreds of people gives you a mild anxiety attack, please don’t go during the free days. Support the art programs and pay the nominal fee to view the museum at a leisurely pace.
CaixaForum Madrid is a museum and cultural center with a variety of events for all kinds of performance and visual arts. Most people notice it by the huge living green wall and other large art pieces surrounding it.
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS) is free on: Monday (7:00 – 9:00 p.m.), Wednesday-Saturday (7:00 – 9:00 p.m.) and Sunday (1:30 – 7:00 p.m.).
Museo Nacional del Prado is free on: From Monday to Saturday (6pm – 8pm) and Sundays and holidays (5pm – 7pm).
Palacio de Velázquez is always free and the art exhibition changes monthly. The museum is located in Parque de El Retiro, right next to Palacio de Cristal which has ongoing exhibits as well.
Where to Stay in Madrid
Our Airbnb in Madrid was in a bustling neighborhood full of vintage shops, eateries and bars/clubs for the hipster set. Being in close proximity to two metro stations were also important but oddly enough, we didn’t need to use them since there were enough places to walk to including all of the places we visited listed above. If you’d like to stay in the same Airbnb and don’t mind walking up 4 flights of steps, then check out this hip flat in Madrid’s Malasaña Neighborhood! I also have an Airbnb discount code for you if it’s your first time.