After my study abroad ended in Florence, I decided to hop on over to Spain. I’ve always wanted to visit and figured I might as well since I was in the neighborhood. Plus, a friend of mine from high school lives here, so it was the perfect excuse to visit!
My three days in Madrid were a whirlwind. The exhaustion that comes with traveling finally caught up with me, and I felt a cold coming on as soon as I got to my airbnb. But I definitely wasn’t going to waste my time nursing a cold. Besides it wasn’t anything a glass (or two) of sangria couldn’t fix!
Thankfully, I lived in a very convenient location that was close to all the main attractions my friend suggested. I had gotten so used to the cobblestoned streets of Florence and historic buildings that being in Madrid felt like a different time period. In contrast, Madrid is so modern with its contemporary architecture, and there’s an undeniable energy that pulses through the streets.
Despite having only three days here, I managed to see quite a bit. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to their renowned museums, but I didn't want to rush through them, so I decided it wasn't worth it. I also didn't get the chance to experience their night life because I didn't feel comfortable about wandering out late at night on my own. Regardless, I was super satisfied with my trip and had happy I got to cross another city off my bucket list. So, if you’re ever in Madrid and short on time, here are some of the places you should definitely visit!
Spend your day getting lost on the streets of Madrid; it's the best way to get acquainted with the city! For the main tourist street, walk down Gran Via. For shopping and little boutiques, walk down Calle de la Princesa. Stop by Mercado de San Miguel for some tapas and sangria and be sure to check out nearby plazas (Plaza Mayor & Puerta del Sol).
Now that you're more familiar with Madrid, check out some of their must-see sites, such as Templo de Debod by Plaza España. Also not far from the ancient Egyptian temples is the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Afterwards, spend a relaxing afternoon strolling through Buen Retiro Park. Stop by one of the cafes for some churros con chocolate for a midday snack. There's plenty to see and do here, like art galleries, the crystal palace, and paddle boating on their lake. And if you get tired, find a spot on their lawn for a nap!
For a late lunch or dinner, go to Alhambra (Calle de la Victoria, 9, 28012 Madrid, Spain) for cheap sangria and a delicious meal - try the small squids!
If you're here on a Sunday, be sure to check out El Rastro (Calle Ribera de Curtidores, s/n, 28005 Madrid, Spain). Opened 9 am to 3 pm, El Rastro is an outdoor flea market, where you can pick up some souvenirs. Another great place to walk around and shop is Plaza del Callao (Plaza del Callao, 28013 Madrid, Spain). Located right off Gran Via, this central plaza is the Times Square of Madrid. Busy streets with tons of shops and people, you truly get a feel of how lively Madrid is here. It's a great place to come at night as well with all the buildings lit up.
Around sunset time, make your way to Circulos de Bellas Artes (Calle de Alcalá, 42, 28014 Madrid, Spain). Pay the 4 € entrance fee for their rooftop bar. Grab a drink, relax on their cozy lounge area, and watch a beautiful sunset over Madrid.
Initially, I thought my friend could be my personal tour guide, but she was still busy with school, so I ended exploring most of Madrid on my own. This was my first time traveling solo in a new country, and even though I was nervous about not speaking Spanish, this was one of the most rewarding experiences. In three days, I felt like I gained three years worth of personal growth, and for that reason, Madrid will always hold a special place in my heart. Who knew I could fall in love with a place in such a short amount of time?
*Originally published on Violets for Vivien