Only Have One Day In Madrid Spain? Follow This Itinerary!

1 Day in Madrid

Only have one day in Madrid Spain, and not sure where to start? We felt the same way! Your first visit to this massive capital city can feel a little overwhelming. Yet, even if you’re short on time, there’s so much you can see and do with a 1 day in Madrid itinerary. Here’s exactly how we would spend one day in Madrid, with a mix of all our favorite spots, delicious food, and can’t miss activities!

Planning a One Day in Madrid Itinerary

Where to Stay: We personally love the Cortes neighborhood which is considered the art and literary center. It’s now our go-to spot whenever we’re in Madrid, and we love that we can walk almost everywhere in the city center from there.  

  • If you’re looking for a luxurious stay check out Gran Hotel Inglés. This is part of the Leading Hotels of the World collection! 
  • Thompson Madrid has an amazing pool with a view over the city. Travelers will enjoy their classic and stylish rooms. 
  • On our last visit we stayed at Ibis Styles Madrid Prado. We absolutely loved the location and all the great spots to eat around it. 
  • Traveling on a budget? Onefam Sungate is one of the highest rated hostels for your one day in Madrid itinerary. 

Madrid Airport: The Madrid airport is super close to downtown if you’re planning to fly in. We paid €20 for a taxi directly to our hotel. You can also use public transport for just a few Euros.

To find the best flight deals, we always start our search on Skyscanner. From there, it’s easy to compare our results with Expedia and other popular search platforms.

Train Station: The Madrid train station is conveniently located in the center of the city. Check out Omio which is how we find all our train routes throughout Europe. 

When to Go: The best time to visit Madrid is in the spring or fall when the weather is warm, but not too crowded with tourists. The summer months can get very hot and is the busiest part of the year. 

We visited in mid-March and it was very pleasant. While it was warm enough for shorts and a light jacket, we could actually still see snow on the mountains surrounding the city.

Day Trip vs Overnight: By now you’ve seen this is a one day in Madrid itinerary. However, the more time you have, the better! There’s enough to do where you could easily spend a few days, or even weeks here. 

City Sunset

Quick Madrid Travel Tips

  • 🌍 Consider getting a Spanish e-sim before you arrive to stay connected. 
  • 🌇 Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of tours and activities around Spain. 
  • 🚗 Discover Cars is the best way to find deals on rental cars in Spain. 
  • 🏥  Never travel abroad without insurance like SafetyWing
  • 🎒 Get inspired for your trip with our Amazon packing lists.
  • 🇪🇸  Check our all our Spain articles to help plan your next adventure! 


One Day in Madrid Spain

Spanish Breakfast

There is no better way to start the day than with a traditional Spanish breakfast! This is honestly the one part of the article where we won’t be super specific. Find somewhere close to your hotel, or while walking towards your fist stop of your one day in Madrid itinerary.

Our personal favorite breakfast is jamon and tomato tostada, cafe con leche, and fresh orange juice. Keep an eye out for the chalkboards in front of local restaurants that offer this as a morning special.

Another super popular breakfast in Madrid is churros! Chocolatería San Ginés is one of the most famous, and is literally open 24 hours a day. Churrería Chocolateria 1902 might not be 24 hours, but is just as delicious. 

Where to Eat One Day in Madrid

Morning at the Grand Palace

Planning to hit the Royal Palace of Madrid? Then it should be the first thing you do in the morning after breakfast. To avoid the crowds, you’ll want to be waiting outside well before the doors open to be one of the first in.

We highly recommend joining an official tour to learn all the history with an informative guide. On our last visit to Madrid we took an amazing tour with Walks. It’s called Madrid in a Day with Royal Palace, Churros Tasting, and Prado Museum.

Our guide made sure we were the very first people to enter the palace. As you can see from our photos below, this allowed us to experience this famous attraction without the daunting crowds of the afternoon. Normally, that plaza would be completely packed with tourists!

Madrid itinerary

Find the Secret Nuns Cookies

Secret nun cookies?? That’s right! We were just as intrigued as you might be when we first heard about them.

Hidden on Elbow Road is a small door where you have to knock and say a secret password. Once you’ve been granted access, head down the hall to the back of the Monastery of Corpus Christi.

Here you’ll find a rotating wooden window in the wall. Since it’s forbidden to see the cloistered nuns faces, you actually talk to them from behind the door.

We wrote a full guide on what to expect, the exact password, and how to find the nuns cookies here. This is such a fun little stop to add to your one day in Madrid Itinerary!

The reasoning for buying the cookies prior lunch is because they only are open until 1pm. In classic Spanish style, they then head into a siesta before opening again later in the day.   

One day in Madrid Guide

One Day in Madrid Lunch & Exploring 

Finding the best places to eat should be at the top of your 1 day in Madrid itinerary! We love Spanish food, and the capital has so much unique cuisine to choose from.

When it came time for lunch, we had to try the famous Calamari sandwich (Bocadillo de Calamares). We were a little shocked when we found out that this was specialty here.

Madrid is a landlocked city after all! However, we quickly discovered that some of the very best seafood in Spain can be found here.

We ended up going to Bar La Campana after spotting a sign for the sandwich. At the time, we had no idea it is one of the highest rated spots in the city.

So why did we pick this restaurant in Madrid?

Something we stand by the most from all our years of travel is to follow the lines. Whenever there’s a quick moving queue for street food, you probably want to get in it!

When we first walked past there was at least 20 people waiting, but it was moving super fast. We jumped in take away line without thinking twice, and are so happy we did. 

One important tip for the calamari sandwich is to ask for the sauce. It’s a thick orange mixture that isn’t too spicy, but definitely adds a flavorful touch to the sandwich.

Instead of waiting longer for a table, we took our bocadillos and sat in nearby Plaza Mayor around the fountain. Funny enough, almost everyone around us was eating the same snack from Bar La Campana!

There’s so many other food options if calamari isn’t your thing. Just a short walk away from here is Mercado San Miguel. This is a fun food market to pop in and grab tapas at before continuing your 1 day Madrid itinerary.

Bar La Campana

calamari sandwich

One Day in Madrid Spain Guide

Check Out the BEST View in Madrid! 

Whenever we’re exploring a new city we love to get a view from above. One of the people we met on our Walks tour that morning recommended 360 Sky Bar.

If your feet are starting to get tired, you can easily jump in an Uber to get there. We basically crossed the entire city in a taxi. It cost just six euros which was super inexpensive for how far we went.

After arriving at the Hotel Riu Plaza Espana, you’ll see this is not just any rooftop bar! It’s become quite popular on social media in recent years, and for good reason. Whether you’re looking for a photo opportunity or just want to see Madrid from a different perspective, it’s well worth a visit.

We went in the mid-afternoon and only had to pay five euros for entrance. However, know that the price does go up to €10 at night and on the weekends. The views from the 27th floor over Madrid are absolutely insane, and it was the perfect spot to relax with a cold drink.

We sat in on the highchairs overlooking the Spanish capital with the beautiful snow- capped mountains in the distance. Read our post all about 360 Rooftop Bar Madrid for more about our experience!

What to do in Madrid for One day

Best View in Madrid Spain

One Day in Madrid Tapas Tour

Every traveler may want to spend their night differently with only 1 day in Madrid. Yet, for us, the ONLY way to do it was tapa hopping our way through the city!

It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting on Monday or Saturday. The bars will be packed and bursting with energy every evening.

With so many options, we can’t blame you for not knowing where to start your tapa adventures. Consider jumping on a food tour if it’s your first time visiting Madrid.

We’ve done tours like this all around the city, and it’s such a cool way to try both the famous and local spots. Two we loved in particular were the Classic Madrid Tapas Tour and the Tapas and Wine Tour which are both with Devour.

You can also check out their website here to see all the tours they offer. We tried several incredible tapa spots that we would have never known about if we didn’t have a guide!

One Day Madrid Tapa Itinerary

5 Tips for Tapa Hopping in Madrid

1. Wander the city and find your own favorite spots, but don’t skip out on the most prestigious establishments either. Some of our absolute favorites are Casa Labra, Mesón del Champiñón, and La Casa del Abuelo.

2. Expect a short wait to get in if it’s super popular and somewhere you don’t want to miss.

3. Stick to one drink and move on. We know firsthand that this can be difficult! Yet, if you only have one day in Madrid Spain, you’ll surely want to experience multiple places. 

4. Look around and see what the locals have if you’re not sure what to order. Most restaurants specialize in one specific thing even if they have a larger menu available.

5. Get comfortable with the person next to you! You can expect to be squeezed in tight with other patrons while tapa hopping in Madrid. Many of the bars are small and they pack them to capacity.

Madrid Itinerary Where to Eat

Is One Day in Madrid Spain Worth it?

Absolutely! We’ve now made multiple visits to Madrid, and it’s become one of our favorite cities in Europe. Many travelers may just have a layover or 1 day in Madrid before continuing on to other parts of Spain. 

This is exactly how we would spend our time if it was our first trip to Madrid. However, know that there is so much more to see and do if you have more days. You should plan for at least two to three nights if possible.

Either way, this city is totally worth visiting for yourself. Whether you have one day in Madrid, or more time to experience this epic destination!

One Day in Madrid Spain

Have any questions about this article or want to share your own one day in Madrid Spain itinerary? Leave us a comment below. 

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

This experience was made possible in partnership with Walks and Devour Tours. As always, any opinions and recommendations remain our own.


Madrid Spain

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  1. Gina
    March 30, 2024 / 11:56 pm

    I have an upcoming Spain trip this summer and I’m definitely checking out that 360 Rooftop Bar! My friends and I are also planning to go on a tapas tour!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      March 31, 2024 / 5:27 am

      That will be so much fun! Madrid is such a cool city to explore (-:

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