24 hours in Madrid
Madrid is not only a famous business hub, but also a city of great art and vibrant (night) life. Here are some recommendations to help you get the most out of your precious time in the city.
Let's assume you arrive on a Sunday morning. You've already made the right decision, as Sunday is the best day to get to know the city! Visit the Rastro, Madrid's biggest flea market, where every week thousands and thousands of locals turn up in search of a bargain or just to browse the stands.
Your next stop will be the Plaza Mayor, the tourist center of Madrid, where bullfights used to take place. But what you'll find there today is mainly overpriced restaurants and gift shops. Not to worry, as there's no need to buy anything; you can just watch the jugglers and street musicians or hang out at the foot of the equestrian statue of Philipp III.
The Plaza de Oriente is another very fancy spot; however, if you decide to go "underground" (take the stairs for the underground car park, and make a right on the parking level), you'll see how the plaza got its name. Here you can find the ruins of an Islamic guard tower from the 11th century - one of the few remnants of Madrid's Moorish past.
An hour-long tour through the royal palace you will show you what baroque splendor means. After this visual overkill, head for the Templo de Debod, which is thousands of years older and Madrid's oldest building. It is an authentic Egyptian temple built in honor of the gods Amun and Isis. The best area for lunch (and a siesta) is definitely Madrid de los Austrias, a district which owes its unofficial name to the Hapsburgs, who with Charles V acceded to the Spanish throne in the 16th century. What they left behind had more of an imperial splendor than a savory snacks direction. Nevertheless, here you'll find the Taberna Almendro 13, one of the classics among Madrid’s tapas bars.
A visit to Madrid without experiencing its art and museums would definitely be a waste of time. The "Centro de Arte Reina Sofia" plays host to modern Spanish art and is a highly recommended alternative to Madrid's premium attraction, the Museo del Prado. However, there is almost no way to avoid the Prado, as it is quite simply a must-see attraction. But don't even attempt to take in the complete collection (as it is just not doable in a day). Just make sure you see the most outstanding artworks, such as Velazquez's enigmatic "Las Meninas".
Don't forget to take a short walk through the Retiro Park and stop at Fuente de la Cibeles - a fountain where people like to have a dip at the feet of the fertility goddess after one of the local football clubs (usually Real Madrid) has won a game.Your next move is a headlong jump into the notorious nightlife. The first stop of your club tour is El Junco, probably the best jazz club in the city, followed by the boozy and popular Huertas district. At the end of your night / trip, a culinary delight awaits you: churros (Spanish doughnut) with a cup of melted chocolate at the Chocolateria San Gines.