The saying goes, ”when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” and that’s exactly what I did when a short layover time in Madrid International Airport resulted in me missing my connecting flight to Manchester. This did mean that I had to purchase a new flight, but it also meant having 24 hours in Madrid. (A new city for me.)
Your attitude and how you respond to situations truly makes the difference. I could have been upset, which admittedly, I initially was. But I looked at the bright side, I was in a city I’d never explored before and had a full day to see, eat and do all the things that Madrid has to offer.
Below is my useful 1-day Madrid Itinerary to help you start booking your own trip. (Or long layover visit.)
Madrid Travel Tips
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, get to the terminal, pass security and get to your gate. Madrid International Airport is massive! For example, traveling between terminals could mean having to get on a public bus depending on what terminal you are arriving/going too. (FYI: Free between terminals but none the less a hassle & watch out for pick pocketers.)
- If you are having a connection in Madrid and using a different airline, make sure the connection time is a minimum of 3 hours apart. You may have to pass through customs twice, adding even more time to an already long process, given how big and busy Madrid airport is.
- Take advantage of the ”Menu Del Dia” aka lunch specials at restaurants in Madrid.
- It is either written on a separate piece of paper, advertised on a wall, or outside of the restaurant.
- It is usually not translated into English. You may need to ask for it as restaurants want tourists to spend more money and will usually not include or mention this when they share menus. (More details on this below.)
What A Day In Madrid Looks Like
|10:00 AM||Churros & Chocolate from “Chocolatería San Gines”||Considered the best place in Madrid for churros and chocolate.|
Tip: Visit the takeaway shop across the main sit down restaurant, which will have a shorter line. Churros and chocolate can easily be eaten by walking. This will allow you to maximize your time and enjoy more of the city, especially if this is a short visit.
|11:00 AM||Free “Madrid Essential” Walking Tour||Easiest way to see and learn about the city in a short 2.5 hour tour. Check out times and full description here.|
|02:00 PM||Lunch – Menu del dia.||This fixed-price meal is offered Monday to Friday at many restaurants. Price will range from 10 to 16 euros and will typically include a starter, main, dessert or coffee, one drink (sometimes its even wine or beer) and bread.|
|03:30 PM||Parque El Retiro||Large park with a lake, rose garden and plenty of statues and fountains. The perfect way to walk off your lunch.|
|05:00 PM||Mercado De San Miguel||Have your taste buds indulge in this popular and well known indoor tapas/bar market.|
|06:00 PM||Sunset||Bask in the sunset near Royal Palace of Madrid and Cathedral de Santa María.|
|08:00 PM||Dinner at “Sobrino De Botin“||Oldest recorded restaurant in the world and known for its local Madrid cuisine. Be sure to book your reservation in advance here.|
Explore more destinations in Spain HERE