So you are a jetsetter blazing through the world and barely stopping to take in an unfamiliar landscape? Or you may have a long layover in Madrid that allows you to get out of the Barajas airport and take a look around? Great you could make it here, read on!
Your first stop is Plaza Puerta del Sol, the dead center of Spain from where all roads start their mileage count and where Christmas tree is lit every year. Puerta del Sol also has a metro station where three lines conveniently cross, making it easy to get there and go anywhere you need to be in Madrid. Grab some breakfast there, as most cafГ©s open early for tourists' convenience, and head to your destination for the day.
Option 1: although we win no points for creativity with this one, Museo del Prado is really a one-of-a-king art museum (the biggest gallery in the world!), and you really should wander around it least for an hour or two. If you are a fine arts enthusiast, you could spend eight hours in the museum and still yearn for more. After you are done with the visit, head deeper into the Buen Retiro park for a breath of fresh air before your meal of the day.
Option 2: if you are allergic to anything related to art, and neither Museo del Prado, Museo de la Reina Sofia nor Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza tickle your fancy, stroll west along Calle Mayor towards Plaza Mayor, one of the most beautiful squares not only in Madrid, but in Spain. After taking a look at this architectural perfection, continue along Calle Mayor to take a peek at the Almudena Cathedral and then, walking along Calle BailГ©n, at the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) of Madrid. Drink in the view of Madrid in front of you and appreciate the contrast of historic sights with modern residential areas on the horizon. Turn right on Calle Sant Quintin and follow it to Calle Arrieta and Calle Arenal, which will lead you back to Puerta del Sol. If you have more time, head east towards the Buen Retiro park, where, incidentally, all the museums you decided to skip are located (hopefully, next time?). Retiro is a vast green space, and if the weather is nice, you can spend hours wandering around and people-watching, as madrileГ±os like coming here often, as well.
Good shopping: Salamanca district (Calle Serrano and little streets around it).
Good dining streets: Calle Cava Baja, Calle Huertas, Calle Victoria.
Map of this itinerary