The Essential 24 Hours In Madrid Itinerary

Madrid is a city that you wish that you could go back to again and again. There is so much in Madrid that will keep you fascinated. Sometimes, though, time is not on your side and you can only spend 24 hours in Madrid. What then? Well, you can still get a sample of what this wonderful city has to offer. Follow along to see how.

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Temple of Debod

This is an excellent place to start your day in Madrid. Seeing this Egyptian temple early in the morning before the crowds get there ensures that you get a great view. And great pics. The temple doesn’t open for visitors until 10 a.m. With only a day in Madrid you can save that for another time.

Still, it’s pretty cool to get to see a real authentic Egyptian temple. There is also a magnificent overlook behind the temple and the surrounding grounds are nice as well.

Royal Palace of Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid

From the temple, you can take about a 10-minute walk down to Sabatini Gardens. This will put you right next to the Royal Palace of Madrid, which is a must see. The palace doesn’t open until 10 a.m., so you can spend the morning strolling through the beautiful Sabatini Gardens. Across from the front of the palace is another beautiful green area, the Plaza de Oriente. You spend some time there as well.

Sabatini Gardens and the Royal Palace of Madrid

Before it’s time to enter the palace, walk from the Plaza de Oriente to Plaza de la Armeria. This plaza is located between the palace and the baroque Catedral de la Almundena.  Be sure to check out the overlook at the far end of the plaza.

Plaza de Oriente and the Royal Plaza of Madrid

It’s a good idea to purchase your tickets online for the Royal Palace of Madrid. This allows you to skip the line. The palace is the largest in western Europe and one of the largest in the world. It has a massive courtyard to match.

You’ll be allowed to take photos in the courtyard and during the beginning of your tour. Past a certain point, though, photos are not allowed. 

As you make your way from room to room (including the throne room) you can’t help but be impressed at the royalty on display.

San Miguel Market

San Miguel Market in Madrid

Once you’re finished with the palace you can head on over to the most famous market in Madrid, the San Miguel Market. Not only is this a beautifully constructed market, originally built in 1916, but it contains some fabulous food.

This means that it’s a great place to stop for lunch and you’ll have a lot to choose from.

One of the favorites would have to be anything involving Iberico ham, whether it’s on a sandwich or by itself. There is also a wide variety of tapas to choose from. Whatever you decide you’ll leave full and happy.

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor in Madrid

It’s only a few steps to Plaza Mayor where you’ll get to see the main city plaza. Its decorated entrances are a great way to be introduced to the wide-open plaza.

Walking through its arches you gradually see the plaza unfold before you. The space is enormous with its splendid architecture including the statue of King Phillip III which sits at the center.

San Gines

Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid

Make your way through a few side streets until you find yourself at San Gines for some delicious churros. There will likely be a line, but the wait will be worth it.

Eating your churro after dipping it into a cup of thick hot chocolate will be one of the best things that you do all day. 

Plaza del Sol

Plaza del Sol in Madrid

This spacious square is framed by beautifully constructed buildings, several of which are in classic Spanish architecture. There are several shops bordering the plaza with many more running off of the north end.

These streets are connected to the premier shopping street in the city, Calle Gran Via. A highlight of the plaza is El Oso y el Madrono or The Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree

Plaza del Sol is great for the atmosphere and architecture. An added bonus is that it’s just above the busiest metro station in the city. You can save your feet for a bit by taking the #2 metro three stops to the entrance to Retiro Park.

Retiro Park

Grand Pond in Retiro Park in Madrid

Retiro Park has a bit of everything. It’s a great place to go for a stroll, rest, admire the many gardens and natural beauty, and even go for a ride on a rowboat! The Great Pond holds the rowboats and is bordered by several benches where you can relax.

As you make your way south through the park you can also stop at the Crystal Palace which is pretty much what it sounds like. This fantastical structure is a greenhouse that also houses works of art and is stunning to see in person.

Follow the many paths and see what find. A pleasant walk through Retiro Park is a nice way to end your day in Madrid.


  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog,, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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The Essential 24 Hours In Madrid Itinerary
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