Things to do in Madrid

The best way to spend 1 Day in Madrid: 24 Hour Itinerary & Tips

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Madrid , the capital of Spain is an eclectic mix of the past and the present. Whether it is the city’s architecture, its artsy drive, its cultural escapades or its culinary delights, almost every nook and corner of the city tells a story that can be millenia old or much contemporary. While just living one day in madrid might not quench your thirst for it, it is quite possible to measure the beat of the city in just one day. Check out our special One Day in Madrid guide, covering its most notable landmarks, museums, parks, market places among other things.

1 day in Madrid - 10 second summary

We agree a day in Madrid can be a hurried affair, but it is completely doable if you chalk your day out well. To make things easy for you, we have every minute of the day planned such that you'll get the most of 24 hours in the city. This one day itinerary for Madrid has been crafted keeping in mind the opening hours, ticket lines and distance between each attractions, so you're welcome to use it just the way it is!

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1 day in Madrid - Detailed Itinerary


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Parque del Buen Retiro


Palacio de Cibeles


Golden Triangle

Parque del Buen Retiro (8:00 AM)

Start your day in Madrid with a leisure stroll at the Retiro Park. There's no better time to breathe in some fresh air and witness the chirping of birds than the early morning hours. Formerly owned by the Spanish royalty, this is the largest park in Madrid. Spread across 350 acres, it is dotted with beautiful sculpture, ornate fountains, formal gardens, galleries, and plenty of space to relax. Filled with multiple activities, the Retiro park is not just a beautiful place that you must visit, it is also a great place to unwind yourself for the next leg of your travel. Set beneath the massive Monument to Alfonso XII, the Retiro Pond invites you rent a rowboat for a float on the lake. You can also check out exhibitions held at the Palacio de Velázquez and the Palacio de Cristal. One of the star attraction of the park, the Crystal Palace was intended to be a greenhouse, but now hosts temporary exhibitions.

Traveler Tip : This green lung of Madrid has an interesting array of must see titbits, for instance just inside the Retiro's Puerta de Felipe IV, stands Madrid’s oldest tree, a 400 years old Mexican conifer (ahuehuete). Than there is the statue of the Fallen Angel, near the rose gardens; notably it is referred to be the only sculpture in the world dedicated to the devil.

Palacio de Cibeles ( 9:00 AM)

A short walk away stands one of the Grandest and most prominent structures of Madrid, the Palacio de Cibeles looking upon the iconic Plaza de Cibeles and the famous fountain of Cibeles. It is currently the headquarters of Madrid City Council and CentroCentro cultural center, comprising of tourist information center, exhibition hall, hotels and Mirador observation deck. The eighth floor of the Palace has Mirador observation deck, that lends you a 360 degree panoramic view of the city of Madrid. From up here one can observe the convergence of the Gran Vía and Calle Alcalá, El Retiro Park. You can also step into the world of the "Spanish Broadway", the Gran Vía, either to shop or just to explore Madrid's most premier shopping areas, with hotels and movie theatres.

Traveler Tip: The Mirador observation can often spot a line, you can book the ticket online to skip the line on ticket window.

Golden Triangle of Art (10:00 AM - 1:30 PM)

The Golden Triangle is amongst the world’s most important museum complexes, comprising of three of the most notable museums of Madrid, Reina Sofia Museum, Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza. No less than a bermuda triangle for an art lover, each of the museum offers a plethora of inspiration. Though one would like to, the tight schedule would not allow you to cover all three museums. In all honesty, you need time to really appreciate and absorb the artworks laiden in these galleries, so it is better to make the tough choice of skipping one of them. Depending upon your chosen itinerary you can cover any one or two museums in your day trip. Here’s a brief about what each museum has to offer to help you make your choice.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

The 18th century hospital that had been beautifully remodelled and converted into a museum boasts some of the most notable artworks from the 20th century. A proud curator of the modern and contemporary art, the museum covers art moments in the likes of surrealism, cubism, expressionism, abstract, pop, and minimal. Here you’ll witness masterpieces like ‘Lady in Blue’ and the ‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso and works of other Spanish maestros like Salvador Dali , Joan Miro, Diego Rivera and Juan Gris. Divided into three time periods, the first floor houses the most popular collection that spans from 1900 to 1945. The second-floor collection covers post-war works from Spain and around the world, while the Nouvel building houses works from 1962 to 1982. Reina Sofia Museum is perfect for those who adore and are looking to get inspired from the art forms of the recent past

Museo del Prado

One of the largest and most famous museums of art in Europe and the world, the Prado Museum houses artworks collected by the Spanish monarchs of the period between the 16th and 19th centuries. The huge collection covers Italian, French, Dutch, British, German and Flemish works of the era. Often described as a museum of painters not of paintings as the collectors curated the art works on the basis of their favorite artists. Which is why, the museum boasts one of the largest holdings of notable artists such as Bosch, Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Hieronymus Bosch, Velázquez and Goya. The most notable and infamous paintings of the lot are “Las Meninas”, The Maids of Honor by Velázquez, and The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch. Prado is a mecca for art lovers who want to observe the evolution arc of various artforms, art movements and artists over the centuries.


The third angle of the Golden Triangle showcase one of the world's most important private art collection. Amassed by a financially prosperous family from Switzerland, the Thyssen-Bornemisza family for over seven decades. The collection illustrates the history of Western art and takes you through different schools such as Renaissance, Rososo, Romanticism, Baroque, Impressionism, German Expressionism, to 20th century Pop Art. The Portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein, the Swaying Dancer by Edgar Degas and Picasso’s Harlequin with a Mirror are amongst the highlight of the museum's collection. The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum perfectly compliments the Prado and Reina Sofia Museum by showcasing an entirely different collection, but still very rooted and true of the collection of both the museums.

Traveler Tip : The Golden Triangle is often packed with visitors, though summers tends to have way longer lines that winter. To make the most of your time you can opt for skip-the-line ticket for your preferred museum, or you can opt for the "Art Walk" ticket or the Madrid Tourist Card that covers all three galleries.

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Mercado San Miguel


Puerta del Sol


Plaza Mayor

Mercado San Miguel ( 2:00 PM)

After consuming Madrid's art culture, you'll have worked an appetite after all that walking. Head to one of the oldest and most alluring food market's in Madrid, the Mercado San Miguel. To start off the iron and glass architecture with its 20th-century glass walls is a vision in itself. On top of it, the historical building houses one of the world’s main gastronomic markets. Not a traditional grocery market, it is infamous for Tapas - snacks, canapés, or small plates originated in spain. This quaint market gives the visitors a chance to explore all of Spain's culinary delights, the traditional and the contemporary. Over 30 different vendors serve freshly prepared tapas, finest Iberian ham, freshest fish and shellfish from Galicia, Mediterranean rice dishes, exquisite cheeses from Castile, Asturias and the Basque Country, finest wine from all across the spain. You can easily double up your exploration of Mercado San Miguel as a brunch and food shopping session

Traveler Tip : The extensive market is a wormhole for the wanderers, make sure to stick to your time schedule while exploring the area. Note that the market is extremely famous amongst the locals as well and is bound to be crowded, especially during fairs and events, check on their official website and plan accordingly.

Puerta del Sol ( 3:30 PM)

Always bustling with locals and tourists alike, Puerta del Sol hosts some well-known symbols of the city, including the official symbol of Madrid, the El Oso y el Madroño aka the statue of the Bear and Strawberry Tree. A Kilometer Zero stone slab placed in the pavement of Real Casa de Correos that literally represents the geographical heart of Spain, as 6 major national roads of the country are measured from this point. The red bricked Casa de Correos, also adorns the infamous clock that has witnessed the Spanish new year tradition of eating the twelve lucky grapes since 1962. A large statue of King Charles III of Spain on horseback that stands guard in the centre of the square.

Traveler Tip :The Puerta del Sol leads to various prominent lanes of Madrid, that are dotted with bars, restaurants and shops. With an array of old - historic shops and modern-contemporary shops, go on a quick souvenir shopping spree if you'd like.

Plaza Mayor ( 4:00 PM)

A brisk 6 - 10 minute walk away from the Puerta del Sol, is one of most beautiful squares of Spain. The Pizza Mayor is infamous for it uniform architecture that houses three-story buildings and their 237 balconies facing the Plaza. Most striking of them is the Casa de la Panadería with its remarkable façade decorated by Carlos Franco. Of the 9 unique archways that lead into the square, El Arco de Cuchilleros takes the most fancy due to the picturesque buildings lined aside the steep steps leading up to the square. In the centre stands an infamous statue of Felipe III on his horse. Lined with various traditional shops and cafes under porticoes, Plaza Mayor offers Madrid’s culinary specialty, the calamari sandwich. Though slightly on the expensive side, you can also opt to hop to Mercado de San Miguel for a quick bite.

Traveler Tip : Given its expansive size the square has been a host to a variety of events such as bullfights, soccer games, markets, public executions, and even public penances over the years. One such traditional event, the Christmas Market has been organized at the Plaza Mayor for over 150 years. A must attend, the Christmas market offers Christmas decorations, costumes, toys, gifts among other things.


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Palacio Real de Madrid


Rosaleda Gardens


Temple of Debod

Palacio Real de Madrid ( 5:00 PM)

Madrid’s architectural flair continues to it’s Royal Palace as well. Exclusively used for state ceremonies and official acts, the The Palacio Real de Madrid is the largest royal palace in Western Europe. While entry to the Palace is free, taking a guided tour which gives you admission to the otherwise restricted parts is highly recommended. Do not miss the chance to take in its exterior grandeur, spread across 13 hectares with 870 windows and 240 balconies. The facade of the palace is adorned by beautiful gardens, Campo del Moro park on the west side and the Sabatini gardens on the north side.You can also explore a nearby square Plaza de Oriente.

Traveler Tip : The Royal Palace of Madrid observes change of Guard Ceremony, every Wednesday and Saturday of the year. Moreover, on the first Wednesday of each month, a Music Unit Kicks off the Solemn Changing of the Guard. If you're around during these times, make sure to catch these ceremonies.

Temple of Debod (7:30 PM)

Initially built in Debod in the Nile Valley , Egypt, the Temple of Debod was dismantled stone to stone, shipped, and carefully reconstructed in Madrid during 1972. Spain offered help to save Abu Simbel, an archaeological site that was threatened by flooding in Egypt, due to the construction of the Aswan Dam. As a token of appreciation and to save the temple from flooding, it was gifted to Spain. The second century structure houses hieroglyphs as well as photos documenting its history. Now, standing near Plaza de España, surrounding by parks, two stone gates and a shallow pool, the historical temple offers one of the best sunsets views of the capital. In addition, as the night fall, the scenic beauty increases as the temple and the gates are illuminated. Seeing their reflection in the pool and breathing in the calming breeze is the perfect end to a exhilarating day.

Traveler TipThere is a beautiful Rose garden nearby the Temple called the Rosadela Garden. if you have some time before the sunset, another beautiful Madrid destination could be checked off from your list. Do note that the temple is closed on Mondays and public holidays.

Madrid in a day map

Now that you have an idea of all that you can do in Madrid in just 24 hours, here's a map that will come handy. Our Madrid in a Day Map has been tailored to comfort with a route that is completely doable and makes the best of your time in the city . Download the map and keep it on your phone to get around the city with zero hassles.

How to spend 1 day in Madrid under 100 Euros?

Looking to budget your one day in Madrid? Here's how you can do it under 100 Euros.

Book the below tickets on Headout, and spend just € 45.90 for a terrific day in Madrid! Hit up all the prime attractions with skip the line access and a bonus guided tour of the Royal Palace. There's no better way to go about one day in Madrid on a budget!

Tips & hacks for making the best of 1 day in Madrid

  • Pick up the Paseo del Arte : The Paseo del Arte grants one visit to the permanent collection of each of the three museums on the Paseo del Arte (Art Walk) also known as the Golden Triangle : the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía. The pass is valid for one year from the date of purchase at the ticket office or from the date selected if purchasing online. If you buy the pass from one of the museum’s websites, you must pick it up from that same museum’s ticket office. It is priced at €29.60 and allows you a 20% discount on the total cost of all three tickets if bought separately.
  • Lunch large : Lunch is quite cheap in Madrid,especially places that have a “menu del dia” which costs around 10-15 EUR for a massive portion that can be shared..
  • Brunching in Madrid : There ain't no leaving Madrid without brunching. There are so many cool brunch spots in Madrid, we urge you to sleep in late on Sunday and head directly for a fat brunch spread. Checkout the top brunch spots in Madrid.
  • Metro it : If you'd rather take public transport than walk it, use Madrid's highly efficient underground metro system that will help you save on time as well. The last metro is at 1:00 AM
  • Don't eat at Plaza Mayor : While the square is lined with outdoor restaurants and cafés, many of these eateries are not ideal for sampling the best Madrid has to offer. If you’re looking to enjoy a meal al fresco, great options can be found in Plaza Santa Ana.
  • Sport the right shoes : Madrid has many ramps and uphills, so if you want to get through the day comfortably, make sure you wear the right shoes.
  • Don't leave without trying Churros and Porra : If you’re a churros fan, try ‘porra,’ a bigger version of this fried-dough traditional pastry. You can grab them on the go from any street vendor, you won't regret it.
  • For Football fans : If you're a football fan, don't leave the city without visiting the Santiago Bernabeu! Though it is a little away from the city proper, it is totally worth your time, effort and money.

Madrid 1 day essentials

Here are few detailed guides on Madrid that will help you plan your day efficiently. Happy exploring!

One day in Madrid