Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Madrid again ( I have been there 2 short times before) on a business trip and combined it with a long weekend family trip. It was the perfect way to combine business and pleasure and spend some quality time with my loved ones. Even Zucchero (my dog) joined us and it was the first time I took him on a weekend trip. Judging how well he adopted in the airplane, he loves to travel as much as I do! :)
How long to stay in Madrid?
Madrid is a big city with many things to see and do while you are there. I spend there a long weekend (Thursday- Monday) and I feel I managed to see a lot of the city so in my opinion you need good 4 days to get a feel of the city. However, we have been travelling as a family and with a dog which does mean we could not walk as much as usual.
Where to stay?
I stayed in ME Melia in the city centre and it was the perfect location. We were close to Gran Via, Plaza Major and a lot of good restaurants and bars that were all inviting for us to try them out! :) Taxi stop is just in front of the hotel as well as the Plaza Major. You can easily walk to the Gran Via in case you are up for shopping.
In addition, the hotel accepts pets and staff are super friendly. They even prepared a small sofa bed, some food, water and toy for Zucchero as well as a welcome card! This service costs you 12Eur per day but it was worth it). The rich breakfast buffet is offered in the Restaurant Ana la Santa for 25Eur/person or if you just want something small they offer smaller breakfast packages (example orange juice, croissants, coffee, and a fruit bowl for 8Eur/person).
I also stayed one night in Only You Hotels Atocha and I really loved the hotel interior. They welcomed me with a glass of champagne and fed me really well at the hotel restaurant. I had pumpkin soup with truffles and foie gras that was delicious followed by homemade truffle ravioli filled with mushrooms. In the morning there is a buffet breakfast for 21Eur/person and it is served on the top floor with an amazing view over the city and Atocha (in case you missed it in my insta stories you can view it as Madrid highlight on my Instagram page). Similarly, if you want just something small in the morning there is a bakery at the lobby to serve you.
What to do?
Here is The MissAdventure list of things to do in Madrid that we tested for you.
I love history and temples so for me it was a delightful surprise to find an Egyptian temple in the middle of Madrid. What does an Egyptian temple do in Madrid you wonder? Well, it was donated by the Egyptian government to Madrid as a thank you gift.
Mercado San Miguel
One of the things I always like to do is to visit a local market and one of the must-sees in Madrid is Mercado San Miguel. It is not a market as you know it. You go there for amazing tapas and company and not so much for the food shopping. I can see why many people love to go there to mingle, eat and chat in a relaxed atmosphere. The best was the Mozzarella tapas bar and the tasty crab tapas along with fresh olives.
El Retiro Park
Your visit to Madrid is not complete without visiting El Retiro Park. It is home to more that 15 000 trees and is a popular recreational destination for both locals and tourists. Is it home to the Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal) and Velazquez Palace.
I really loved the fact that there is a lake where you can rent a little boat and drive around.
Royal Palace of Madrid
I went there to see the guard change which is a nice spectacle on Saturdays that last from 11-2pm.
This is also the busiest time to visit and I don’t like waiting so we did not queue in the kilometres long line plus I don't think they welcome pets. It will have to be next time!
Shop till you drop at Gran Via
Get ready to shop till you drop! With thousands of shops, bars and restaurants ( and people) you will lose the track of time you spend shopping ( and possibly track of your wallet balance too!). Nevertheless, it is worth a visit or two and you find what you were looking for and more at Via Grande.
Take the bus tour to see the city
I am typically not a big fan of the “touristy” things to do but this was the best way to see the city and to decide spontaneously what to see especially if you are a group with a dog ( you can thank me later). Not to mention the fact that for 25Eur/ per person, you can travel as much as you like during 2 days.
Tapas, tapas, tapas and more tapas
You are in Spain and that means you should have some tapas and then some more tapas and then again. For those who don’t know tapas is a way of serving food in small portions so you get a bit of everything. I tried them all! Jamon, crochetas, meatballs, gamberas al ajillo,chorizo sausage and more at Melibea, Sant Ana Restaurant, Mercado San Miguel and Max Madrid.
Flamenco Show is a Must
There are many flamenco shows in the city and it is part of the tradition in Madrid. Most of the shows cost 50Eur/person but I found that a bit expensive so we found a Theater where you can watch it for 16 Eur/person. The show was really interesting and even though I don’t understand Spanish you could witness the drama and the emotions from the actors. It lasted 1 hour which is perfect for some entertainment and a sangria.