Madrid itinerary in 5 days
Guides and Tours
Nygil Murrell - Private tour guide. Very knowledgable and good introductory tour of city, including food tastings along the way. Nygil is a history major and a sommelier. He also offers food and wine tours.
Cell: +34 620 883 900
Madrid Food Tour - Nice guides and interesting tours and tastings.
Phone: +34 695 11 18 32
Juan Jose Espada (a.k.a. Juanjo) - Excellent, local guide for historical walking tour.
Cell: +34 667 780 475
Tapas crawl - the area on Calle Jesus and Plaza Jesus is full of tapas bars. Just go from one to the other. Each one has a specialty.
Prada a Tope Restaurant. This is a Michelin rated restaurant. Their Tortilla in tomato sauce is delicious and different from the other tortillas you get throughout Spain. Highly recommended for lunch or dinner.
Naia Bistro. This modern Mediterranean restaurant off of a nice square is very good.
La Paella de la Reina. This is an excellent paella restaurant. We ordered seafood and vegetarian paellas and both were delicious.
Mercado San Miguel. This market is a must for anyone who is a foodie. It is filled with vendors selling everything from dozens of varieties of olives, to tapas, delicious cheeses, sardines, wine, vermouth and all kinds of desserts. Sometimes there's live music. It's a really fun place to be.
Madrid is home to what is known as the "Golden Triangle of Art". It includes three world class art galleries - the Prado, Reina Sofia and Tyssen - all close to one another on the main boulevards of the city.
Prado Museum. This is a large museum of European art from the 12th century to the early 20th. It has a lot of Renaissance art by many masters. It is worth a visit, given that it is considered one of the best in the world.
Reina Sofia Museum. This has a beautiful collection of 20th century art, including European impressionist art. It has a large collection of Spanish art including Picasso and Dali. It houses the famous Picasso painting, the Guernica. Highly recommended.
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. This private collection includes impressionist and post impressionist paintings, as well as modern art. Highly recommended
I love Spain - the language and culture are so vibrant. Each part of Spain is very unique.
Madrid is often over-looked. Barcelona seems to get all the hype but we really loved Madrid with its majestic streets, busy squares, world-class art museums and delicious food.
We arrived in Madrid and checked into Hotel Atlantico on the famous and majestic Gran Via.
We grabbed a light lunch at a local restaurant.
We decided that a tour of the Royal Palace would be a good way to spend the afternoon since we were very tired from the flight. We walked to the Palace, which took around a half hour. We did a self-guided tour inside the palace with the recorded ear set. It was very beautiful and we learnt about the history of the palace and royal family.
Spaniards eat dinner very late. Usually dinner is a light meal of tapas. In the summer months, the locals fill the streets in the evenings once the temperature has cooled down. We walked to Calle Jesus and Plaza Jesus for the many tapas restaurants in the area. We did a "tapas crawl" going from one restaurant to another, drinking a glass of wine and tasting the particular restaurants tapas specialty. Very fun evening.
We started our day with a private four-hour walking tour with Nygel Murrell. We met in front of the palace and he walked us through central Madird while explaining the history and stopping for delicious food tastings and some vermouth! Nygel is a history major and a sommelier - always a good combination.
We stopped in the beautifully renovated Mercado San Miguel market for Spanish olives, a monastery for some cookies baked by the resident nuns, and a small bar for some vermouth and cod-fritters. This tour was a very good introduction to Madrid - passing through the main squares as well as the literary quarter.
After our tour Nygel recommended an excellent restaurant for lunch, called Prada a Tope - a Michelin rated restaurant.
We went to the Reina Sofia Museum which was beautiful. It is Spain's national museum of 20th century art. It includes the famous Guernica painting by Picasso. Highly recommended and is a good activity if you want to do something indoors during the mid-day heat.
We wanted to try Paella this evening so went to La Paella de la Reina which is located just north of the Gran Via. We ordered seafood and vegetarian paellas and both were delicious.
We did a four hour food tour with Madrid Food Tour. This was a fun tour that went to several different areas with many tastings of a variety of different types of food. We started in Plaza Mayor. The guide was very good and explained the history of the areas and the history of the foods we were trying. It included a restaurant that serves a special stew which originates from the Jewish Cholent. There were around eight people on this tour.
We walked around the Grand Via, Puerta del Sol and the surrounding streets. These are the main shopping streets.
We went to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum another world class museum in Madrid. This is one of the world's largest private art collections. It includes impressionist and contemporary art. It is highly recommended.
Dinner at Naia Bistro. This was a lovely restaurant recommended by Nygil. Food was very good.
Day trip to Toledo
We decided to do a day trip to Toledo, a medievil ancient city, set on a hill top south of Madrid. It once was the capital city of Spain. Toledo has a rich Jewish, Arab and Christian history.
We took a train from Madrid, which was very easy and convenient. The trains leave every hour from the main Madrid train station and the trip takes 30 minutes.
We met our private guide, Juan Jose Espadas (a.k.a Juanjo) at the Toledo train station and hopped in a cab to the gates of the city.
Juanjo was an excellent guide who walked us through the ancient city and explained the history. We were particularly interested in the Jewish history of Toledo. He toured us inside the old synagogues as well as the famous cathedral.
After the tour we had lunch in a nice restaurant and walked around the town on our own. We took a cab back to the station but asked the driver to stop at an overlook so we could get a nice panoramic view of the hill top city.
Tip: You should purchase your return train ticket back to Madrid in the morning when you're buying your ticket to Toledo, as the trains returning back to Madrid get sold out. We had to wait an extra hour in the Toledo train station to catch a train.
For a pre-dinner bite and some drinks we headed back to lively Mercado San Miguel. This market is a must for anyone who is a foodie. It is filled with vendors selling everything from dozens of varieties of olives, to tapas, delicious cheeses, sardines, wine, vermouth and all kinds of desserts. Sometimes there's live music. It's a really fun place to be.
We decided to return to Prada a Tope for dinner. It was so delicious that it was worth a second visit!
We wandered through Retiro Park. The park is a lovely place to spend the morning in the summer wandering through the gardens, sitting on a bench to relax or have a picnic.
The Prado is a world-class art museum with a large collection of Renaissance paintings and paintings mainly from the 1700's and 1800's. Highly recommended particularly if you like this type of art. There are many masterpieces.
We returned to the tapas bars along Calle Jesus.
After breakfast we checked out of our hotel and headed to the train station for a few days in Seville and the south. See my Seville & Southern Spain itinerary in 4 days.