While it may not receive some of the same accolades as Barcelona, Madrid is a cosmopolitan city of over 3.1 million people that deserves every bit of the same attention. The soul of the city dates back centuries and is still seen in much of the city’s architecture, but an injection of capital into the city center has brought boutique stores, clubs, bars, and restaurants. No matter what you love to do, you’ll find it in Spain’s capital city. Before you arrive, discover the best places to eat, drink, and sightsee with this handy itinerary.

Early Morning: Fuel Your Day With a Delicious Breakfast

Madrid is one of the more walkable cities in Europe, but if you want to make it through the entire day, make sure to grab some breakfast. In Spain, breakfast is the smallest meal of the day, so don’t expect heaping portions like you might find in the U.S. The biggest choice you’ll have to make is sweet or savory.

If you’re looking to indulge your sweet tooth, head to Chocolateria San Gines, where churros are king. Since 1894, this Madrid institution has served up these traditional fried strands of dough either by themselves or with a chocolate dipping sauce. Pair it with a hot chocolate for a true taste of Spain. When you want something savory, hop on over to the Cafe de Oriente. Located across from the Royal Palace, this eatery provides spectacular views, breakfast tostadas, and the best cafe con leche you’ve ever tried.

Royal palace madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid in Madrid.

Midmorning: Visit the Royal Palace

If you’ve decided to eat at Cafe de Oriente, you’re just footsteps from the Royal Palace of Madrid. Although the royal family no longer resides in the palace, it’s often used for state-sponsored events and is open to the public year-round. Built in 1735, the palace is an excellent example of Baroque and Classical architecture. Inside, you’re free to walk around on your own or hop on a guided tour. Bargain hunters should visit on Wednesday when admission is free.

Noonish: Grab Some Lunch

After wandering around the Royal Palace, you probably worked up quite an appetite, so around noon, head out to lunch. This is the optimal time to grab a bite, as most natives eat at 2 p.m. and lounge for an hour or two, making it difficult to get a seat.

Be forewarned that Madrid can get rather expensive, but if you know where to look, you can pocket some extra cash to spend elsewhere. Expect to spend about $10 to $15 for a moderately priced lunch. However, you won’t be disappointed.

Located in the eastern portion of the city, La Sanabresa is popular with the locals, sometimes even necessitating a reservation. For about $15, you can get a full spread including a salad, a traditional dish such as chorizo or Spanish ham, a dessert, and a beer or glass of wine.

plaza santa ana
The Plaza de Santa Ana in Madrid.

Afternoon: Visit the Markets

Hopefully, you didn’t break your belt at lunch because you’re going to need some extra room for your walk through the city’s numerous markets. These establishments are just another reason that Madrid is widely considered one of Europe’s food meccas.

The Market of San Miguel, or Mercado de San Miguel, is a must-stop for every visitor and conveniently located in the middle of the city. Offerings include fresh oysters, caviar, pastries, and even the famed squid sandwich, which features crispy rings of squid on a baguette-style bread loaf. If you’re searching for the perfect souvenir or gift, head to the Adelita Market. On the third weekend of each month starting at 11 a.m., the market fills with individuals looking to sell their unwanted items. Get there early to get the best selection.

prado museum
The Museo Nacional Del Prado (The Prado Museum) in Madrid

Evening: Dinner

No trip to Madrid is complete without sauntering into a tapas restaurant with a few of your friends you’ve met along your journey. Everyone seems to have their own favorite, and with so many tapas restaurants, the choice is certainly overwhelming. For chic styling and free (yes, free) tapas, go to the Entre Caceres Y Badajoz. This Andalusian tavern doubles as a sports bar committed to watching bullfighting, making it a truly authentic experience. When you order a drink, they’ll bring a plate of tapas to you on the house, which is almost unheard of in Madrid.

As soon as you set foot on the streets of Madrid, you can feel the magic that makes the city one of a kind. With GoDoTrip, you can plan the perfect getaway that touches on all your interests and tastes.