What to do with 24 Hours in Madrid

Introducing guest blogger Samara from Extra Dough Pro

Explore My City Madrid

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is chock-full of historic landmarks, cultural events, and exquisite scenery. It’s the type of place where you and your family could spend months, exploring the old city streets, enjoying the attractions, and sampling local dishes. But what if you only had 24 hours to “do it all” in Madrid?

With just one day to hit Madrid’s hot spots, I strongly advise you to create a detailed itinerary. With so little time and so much to see, this isn’t when you want to wing it.

Certainly, when traveling with kids, you don’t want to waste precious moments researching your next stop; your entire family will be so thankful that you’ve done the legwork ahead of time!

This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents


What to do with 24 hours in Madrid with Kids

Breakfast time: The kids will jump out of bed when they hear that there are churros and chocolate waiting! These strips of fried dough served with a hot chocolate dipping sauce are a classic sweet treat that’s actually a perfect snack any time of day. You’ll find them at just about any outdoor terrace in the Plaza Mayor. For the grown-ups, you can’t go wrong with ordering a strong coffee and pan tumaca, a traditional breakfast of toasted bread smeared with a fresh tomato. 

Plaza Mayor - 24 hours in Madrid
Plaza Mayor (image credit Sebastian Dubiel CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

The Plaza Mayor dates back to the 15th century; originally it was the city’s central market area. Today it’s filled with locals and tourists alike. It continues to host all sorts of events from artisan fairs, to soccer games, to bullfights.

Late morning time: Head to the Reina Sofia Museum, one of Madrid’s most popular museums that is said to house the largest collection of modern art in the world. The adults will appreciate how the art portrays Spain’s recent civil history, and the kids will be awestruck by the colors and images dreamed up by Picasso, Miro, and Dali. With so much to take in, your whole family will appreciate the benches and seats throughout the museum that are just right for resting or contemplating the masterworks all around.

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Reina Sofia

Early afternoon time: While there won’t be enough time to explore all that the Center for Fine Arts has to offer (namely, numerous multidisciplinary events), by all means ride the elevator to the last stop for a breathtaking view. Kick back with a cocktail (and something non-alcoholic for the kids) from Tartan Roof restaurant and peer down at the stunning urban design of one of Europe’s largest cities. Take the opportunity to scope out all the places you want to see on your next visit!

Tartan Roof

Lunchtime: Meander through La Latina neighborhood, the oldest and one of the liveliest sections of Madrid. Along the narrow, twisting streets you’ll find a charming mixture of ancient and innovative buildings. On Sundays, this area hosts the Rastro flea market, where you can hunt for treasures both antique and modern.

When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the restaurant Juana la Loca. Here you can enjoy an authentic Basque pintxo lunch, a type of small, made-to-order tapas. Originally, pinxtos (from the Spanish “pinchar,” which means “to stab”) were made on little pieces of bread and stabbed through the middle with a toothpick. These days, there’s quite a variety of pinxtos, only some of which are stabbed in the center. To compliment to the pintxos, the adults should sip on txakoli, a dry, white, sparkling wine. 

Late afternoon time: Walk off your lunch around Madrid Rio park. What used to be an industrial area was recently turned into an enormous park dedicated to leisure activities and cultural events. Kids can choose from 17 elaborate play areas (all built with sustainable materials) that offer climbing rock walls, zip lines, and more. There are bikes and rollerblades for rent, or you can keep it cool and spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic. During the summer, locals and tourists flock to the “urban beach,” a grassy area surrounding a large water fountain that provides perfect relief on a hot, sunny day.

Dinnertime: After your relaxing time in the park, consider turning it up a notch in the neighborhood called Chueca. This is a trendy, artsy section of Madrid, where traditional style blends with the avant-garde. Pop into a few galleries and boutiques before settling down in Ribero do Mino, a rustic, informal yet utterly delicious seafood restaurant. Whatever you choose on the menu, expect top-notch presentation and professional customer service.

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Late nighttime: If your kids are still awake, you’ll want to take the family to a flamenco show at the intimate venue, Cardamomo. Tickets include one drink (wine or juice). There’s a small stage for the musicians and dancers and all seats afford a terrific view. Honestly, the only complaint you’ll probably have is that the one-hour show flies by way too fast!

Time to plan

The thought of sightseeing in Madrid for just 24 hours is as exciting as it is overwhelming! But with advanced planning and a well thought out itinerary, you and your family can hit the ground running and get the most out of your short stay.


About the Blogger

Samara Kamenecka is a VA specializing in SEO and content creation. She aims to help all moms find the right side hustle over at ExtraDoughPro.com, where she writes about everything from VIPKid reviews to other online teaching opportunities.

With thanks to Samara for her contribution to our guest series.  You can also find Samara’s guide to the best travel toys for two-year-olds here. 


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Explore my city Madrid


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