Only a weekend in Madrid?! Destinations for a short trip

Heading to Madrid with limited time? Perhaps only a weekend? It may seem overwhelming to visit such a big city with so little time, but I promise you can enjoy Madrid on more than a superficial level. Read through this list for inspiration and the things I find to be most important on a tour through Madrid. I aim to help you personalize your destinations to your interests so that you can have a fascinating, enjoyable, and relaxing vacation in Madrid. Keep in mind that Spain takes a siesta, so many shops and exhibits (in the Matadero especially) may be closed.

Note: If you are around on a Sunday check out the section of my list called La Latina, and/or the Matadero market. I believe that going to one of the big markets with stands is a great way to interact with and enjoy the city and culture.

In Malasaña:

Go to Toma Cafe or La Bicicleta (depending on if you’d like the chill quite vibe of Toma or the boisterous cafe plus bar vibe of Bicicleta), Camacho (for a yayo), and you must go to El Rincón (for incredible tortilla).

Centro:

Go to El Riojano for mazapán and turrón (great gifts) and to San Gines if you want churros y chocolate. Five-minutes away from Puerta del Sol is Plaza Mayor, perhaps take the free walking tour that begins there.

Lavapiés:

Get a tapa on Calle Argumosa. Go to any of the typical Spanish bars or the Asturian bar that’s across the street from them. If you are hungry enough for a whole meal go to one of the the two Senegalese spots that I mention in the Lavapiés list.

La Latina:

Are you in Madrid on Sunday? Perfect! Go to El Rastro flea market in La Latina. After this, head straight to the Mercado San Fernando, which has a wonderful old fashioned feel, delicious food, and full of locals enjoying a tapa and spending time together.

Art:

Go to the Reina Sofia museum to see Picasso’s Guernica. Go to El Prado to see Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights.

If you have time and it’s the weekend, take the yellow line out to Legazpi to the Matadero, see exhibits, have a drink/tapa, and enjoy the cool outdoor market (Mercado de Productores) which is only on certain weekends, full of free samples and great gifts of typical Spanish artisan foods, and definitely worth checking out.

El Parque Retiro:

You must go to Retiro! Have a picnic, read a book, go to the crystal castle of Reina Sofia Annex, or just walk through.

Books!

Perhaps you need a book to read in Retiro or Toma Cafe? Never fear! If you want to find a great book to read in English, go to Desperate Literature. I can’t recommend them enough!

Retiro y Paseo del Prado

This neighborhood is home of the glorious Parque Retiro, Plaza de la Independencia, 7, 28001
This is the perfect place to go and have a picnic on a sunny day, bring your guitar, or as do the young Spanish couples, to furiously make out in public. There is a little lake where you can take out a row boat. In the Parque Retiro you will find the Crystal Palace, a big glass structure that often houses art exhibitions, and The Reina Sofia Annex is, a small extension of its larger museum counter-part.

Museum:
El Prado, Paseo del Prado, s/n, 28014
National art museum in Madrid, home to many famous works of art. My favorite part is room 56, where you will find Bosch’s magical work “The Garden of Earthly Delights.´´ It has been housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid since 1939. Dating from between 1490 and 1510, when Bosch was between about 40 and 60 years old, it is his best-known and most ambitious complete work.

Garden of Earthly Delights
Garden of Earthly Delights

Madrid Barrio Guide

One of my favorite things about the city of Madrid is how very distinct each neighborhood or ‘barrio’ is. You can walk between the neighborhoods in the center or take the metro. For me, living in Malasaña, it would´t take more than half an hour to reach most of the places I would go. Remember that many Spanish businesses close each day around 14h-14:30h and open around 17h-18h for siesta. Siesta, my friends, is a blessing and a curse.

The barrios that I have written about so far are as follows…

Atocha

Malasaña

Sol

Embajabores

Chueca

Lavapiés

La Latina

Gran Vía