One day in Madrid (gluten free)
In April, I traveled to Madrid for work. It had been five years since my first visit, so I was happy to have a weekend for sightseeing before my meetings started. Here’s what I did with one full day to explore the city. (I also took a day trip to Córdoba; more on that to come.)
10 a.m.: Arrive at the airport
My flight landed at Madrid Barajas International Airport, and I took a cab into the city for a flat fee of 30 euros.
11 a.m.: Stop at the hotel
I stopped at my hotel, Praktik Metropol, to drop off my bags and freshen up. I’d highly recommend the hotel: It was affordable (114 euros per night during the week), centrally located, had a great roof deck and was close to many restaurants with gluten-free options.
11:30 a.m.: Eat at Celicioso
This entirely gluten-free bakery is the perfect place to refuel after an overnight flight, and it’s only a couple of blocks from the hotel. I had coffee and avocado toast.
12:45 p.m.: Explore el Parque del Buen Retiro
The walk from the bakery to the park is a tour in itself. I walked along the Gran Via and passed el Fuente de Cibeles, city hall and la Puerta de Alcalá city gates.
Inside the park, I stopped at the lake, where you could rent a row boat, and the Crystal Palace. Then I stepped away from the crowds and wandered the shaded paths.
2 p.m.: Visit a museum
I exited at the park at the southwest corner and walked along Calle Claudio Moyano, past the rows of book stalls, toward el Paseo del Prado. Madrid has lots of great museums, including the Prado, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. I chose the Reina Sofía to see “Pity and Terror: Picasso’s Path to Guernica,” which marks the 80th anniversary of “Guernica.” To access the exhibit, you’ll need a timed ticket, which they were strictly enforcing. (No photos were allowed.)
If you have time to see multiple museums, I’d suggest buying the Paseo del Arte card for 29.60 euro, which allows you one visit each to the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza. It included access to special exhibits at the Prado and Reina Sofía and gives you option to choose your admission time to the Picasso exhibit. You can print the ticket ahead of time and can skip the lines at each museum.
3 p.m.: Walk el Paseo del Prado
On the way back to the hotel, I took el Paseo del Prado, a boulevard lined with trees and statues.
4 p.m.: Relax
At this point, I was feeling jet lagged. I stopped at Celicioso for a snack. Then, I checked into my room, unpacked and took a short siesta (when in Spain…).
6:30 p.m.: Enjoy the view
I always like to see a city from above. You can take in the views from the hotel’s roof deck like I did, or visit the rooftop bar and patio at el Círculo de Bellas Artes.
7 p.m.: Take a walk
Explore Madrid’s old town and plazas. I stopped at Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Plaza de la Villa, the royal palace and Plaza de Oriente. You could continue walking to Plaza de España, which has a statue of Cervantes, and el Templo de Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple.
8:30 p.m.: Eat tapas
9:30 p.m.: Indulge in churros con chocolate
You can’t forget dessert. I stopped for churros con chocolate at Maestro Churrero, which offers a gluten-free version of the Spanish treat.
(Short on time? My favorites are bolded.)
- Gran Via
- Fuente de Cibeles
- City Hall
- Puerta de Alcalá
- Parque del Buen Retiro
- Museo del Prado
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
- Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
- Paseo del Prado
- Círculo de Bellas Artes
- Puerta del Sol
- Plaza Mayor
- Plaza de la Villa
- Royal Palace
- Plaza de Oriente
- Plaza de España
- Templo de Debod
(Disclaimer: I’m not a dietitian. I’m describing my experiences in hopes of helping with your trip planning, but you’ll need to decide what feels comfortable and safe for you.)