One Day In Madrid Itinerary – 14 Stops Not To Miss!

We had one day in Madrid on our 3-month backpacking trip around Europe. We were excited to visit Madrid and check out the city center, the tapas bars, the Prado Museum, and more! This city has so many fun things to do!

Madrid Spain

Top Things To Do


This ham is from pigs that are only fed acorns. The idea is that this gives the ham a different taste. This is a must-try when in Madrid!

Flamenco Dance

This is a Spanish dance where a single person dances with many strong hand and foot movements. It is a very strong and expressive dance.

You will want to get these tickets ahead of time. More on that below.

Prado Museum

The Prado houses the best and biggest collection of Spanish art along with other European artists.

Be sure to check the museum site to see if you need to buy tickets ahead of time or with a timed entry.

How To Get Around

Madrid is what I would call a small big city. Plus, it is made for walking! There are a variety of areas in the city where cars are not allowed, and the city has made streets underground. It was so nice not to have traffic whipping past us as we walked around and enjoyed the city.

It is totally walkable – especially if you are staying in a hotel in the city center. If at all possible, plan to walk everywhere while visiting Madrid. Metro stations are also all over the city, in case you don’t want to walk.

If you are flying into Madrid, getting from the Madrid Airport to the city center is pretty easy. I really love how great public transportation is in Europe!

A Historical Visit

We opted to do Rick Steve’s walking tour while we were in Madrid so Craig and I could add some history and context to where we were going for us and the kids. It was a great tour and made exploring and learning easier as we went – plus, it is free!

You can download the Rick Steve’s app and find the tour on your phone. Either you can play it and have him talk to you while you walk to the sites (if you are going to do this, you may want to get earphones for everyone). Or you can opt to read it out loud. That is what I did to help keep our kids engaged.

24 hours in Madrid Itinerary

We ended up having an interesting day when we were there. A sand storm in the Sahara sent red/orange sand all the way to Madrid, so everything had an orange tint to it all day!

Check out this great article on What To Do In Madrid With Kids.

Breakfast at: Casa De Las Torrijas

Getting breakfast on our one day in Madrid Spain

You have to get the French Toast here. It was delicious!! They have 2 different options; one is sweeter. We went with the sweeter one, and it was so good! A great way to start your day.

The Puerta Del Sol

Madrid Spain bear

This is the main square in Madrid. It is basically the Times Square of Madrid. Stop and look around to see all of the buildings and get a feel for the place. Walk over to the statue of the bear eating the fruit out of the tree – the symbol of Madrid and grab a picture!

La Mallorquina

Stop at this shop to get a pastry. We got the vanilla and chocolate Napolitanas to try. They were delicious. We got ours as takeaway but went to the counter towards the back area and stood there to eat. It worked out great.

Plaza Mayor

This is a unique plaza, and when you walk in and look around, you see that all the buildings have a very similar look to them. It is cool to think about what these plazas were like a 100 years ago!

La Torre del Oro Bar Andalú – A Bullfighting Bar

Stick your head in here, or just glance in when you walk by and see all the bull heads on the walls. Yes, the real bullheads from bulls that were killed during bullfighting. The walls of the bar are also loaded with pictures from bullfights. Definitely an interesting place!

Mercado de San Miquel

This is an awesome indoor market filled with little restaurants. I literally wanted to stop at each one we passed to grab something to eat. Everything looked amazing. Instead we opted to stop at the Sangria bar and got a Sangria for Craig and I to split and a non-alcoholic one for the kids. The kids didn’t like it at all . . .

I also grabbed 2 of the mozzarella tapas from the stand across from the Sangria bar and ate those while we had our sangria. This is definitely a place I would come back to multiple times if we were in Madrid longer.

I would also love to explore more of the tapas bars in Madrid!!

The Church and Convent of Corpus Christi

Unfortunately, we missed out on this since it was closed when we were there. But if you turn right and go uphill about half a block, you will see a big brown door. It is Calle Del Codo #3. This is the church’s convent; you can buy goodies from the nuns here.

If it had been open, we would have tried the galletas (shortbread cookies) or the pasta de Almendra (the almond cookies).

The Almudena Cathedral

Almudena Church

You can’t miss this church on your walk to The Royal Palace. It is huge! If you want to stop in to take a look. You should since it is gorgeous. The cost is a $1 donation per person.

The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace

Be sure to stop and see The Royal Palace or the Palacio Real. It is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family.

It is open to the public, but the day we were there, they had an event going on, so we weren’t able to go inside of it. Normally you can buy tickets to walk through the palace. Even though we couldn’t go inside, it was still worth stopping and seeing it from the outside.

You can sit on the steps of the Cathedral, take in the gorgeous and huge palace, and watch all the comings and goings of the palace.

Click here to get tickets for visiting the inside of The Royal Palace

The Plaza de Oriente

Plaza de Oriente

This plaza has statues of ancient rulers from the year 500 of the area. It was cool to walk around and see these rulers’ dates and names.

Chocolatería San Ginés

Chocolateria San Gines

Here you are going to try the Churros with a cup of chocolate to dip them in. We walked up to the pink neon sign and went right in there. You can order and stand to eat them all along the walls of the shop.

The walls also have images of famous people who have visited. We stood there and tried the churros and chocolate, and it was delicious! We walked out and went left and saw there was a whole restaurant area and outside seating. And it was busy!

The spot we walked in wasn’t busy, and it was easy and quick to get what we wanted. Plus, there was a bathroom there. For that reason, we recommend you go in here to get your churros unless you want somewhere you can sit down for a while – if that is the case, check out the restaurant area.



We had to stop at one of the many Jamon stops to pick up some delicious Jamon to try! We had heard that this kind is from pigs that are only fed acorns. For that reason, it gives it a very unique test.

Prado Musuem With A Guide

When researching things to do in Madrid, I knew we wanted to do the Prado Museum. Craig and I are not knowledgeable about art, so we thought it would be helpful to find a guide to show us the museum.

I came across a guide who did a kid-specific tour. This was perfect! Her tour is normally 2 hours long, but we already had a Flamenco show booked, so we only had an hour timeframe that would work with her schedule and ours.

Thankfully she was able to make that work, and we did a fast-paced yet super interesting and informative tour of the Prado Museum. I actually think the fast pace we went at, and it only being 1 hour, was perfect for our kids and kept them engaged.

You can check out the guided tour we did here. We highly recommend it if you are traveling with kids!

Flamenco Show With Tapas

Flamenco Dance

We ended the night with a Flamenco Show and Tapas. It was a tight squeeze in a small room, but we had a nice table for 6, and they brought out a Tapas plate for each person so you were able to enjoy your food in between the dancing.

They also brought out Paella rice – which everyone at our table loved. Plus a dessert and drinks. The whole show and eating was just over an hour long, but it was so worth it!

The dancers have so much passion and conviction. You could watch and feel their dancing as you heard their feet stomping on the stage. Plus, their costumes were gorgeous.

Click here to book your tickets and learn more about the Flamenco Show!

Map Of One Day In Madrid Itinerary

Map of what we did with one day in Madrid

Here is a high-level map of most of the stops explained below. As you can see, everything is very close and walkable! Click here for the interactive map.

Additional Things To Do

With only a day, you are limited in what you can do. But if you end up with extra time, be sure to check out:

Retiro Park and the Crystal Palace

Things To Notice

Street signs – or in Spanish, Calle De. Be sure to look up when you enter a new street to see the street signs on the sides of the buildings. They will have a picture and a name associated with who used to work on the street.

Where To Stay

Mola Suites – We stayed here and really enjoyed our room. It was big for our family of 6 and had a washing machine. Plus, it was centrally located, meaning we could walk everywhere we wanted.

It was an 18-minute walk from the train station.

If you have a layover in Madrid or plan a day trip from somewhere else in Spain, you will be glad you added a stay in Madrid to your list of places to go!

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All the places you want to see with one day in Madrid, Spain! Dancers, tapas, palaces and so many more awesome stops to make!

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