6 Days in Madrid, Spain — A Recap

Churros, ancient cities & sunsets.

6 min readFeb 2, 2024
Madrid & Toledo

Day 1 — A travel day (Boston to Madrid, Spain)

We took a red-eye flight to Madrid which was nice but also tiring. Hopped in an uber to our airbnb which was located right in the center of the city. It was an apartment in Plaza Mayor, the central square in Madrid. This location was really nice because it was very accessible to a lot of the popular sights and restaurants. Our first tapas dinner was at Matador and we got some albondigas (meatballs), anchovies & chorizo. I forgot how much I loved tapas style eating and how affordable it is!

After dinner, we wandered to the famous Chocolateria San Gines for some chocolate and churros. I had been here 10 years ago in the middle of a very hot summer, and I still dream about these churros. They were very tasty but I had some better churros and chocolate later on in the trip (I’ll reveal these later).

Day 2 — Madrid, Spain

On the second day, we moved my brother into his homestay. We walked around the city with his host. He took us to a local market, and we wandered the streets until we made it to the Palacio Real. The streets of Madrid are so beautiful and walkable. There are so many windy narrow alleys that you can get lost in. They also clean the streets every morning which is a very nice surprise after walking the dirty streets of New York for the past few years. After our walk, we said bye to my brother and got some lunch at La Paradita, near the Teatro Real. The food was ok, but the orange juice was quite tasty #citrusseason.

We got on the metro and took it over to the other side of town. On the metro, I almost got pickpocketed. I was wearing my winter jacket with my phone zipped up in my front pocket. The car was crowded and I had to lift my arm up to stabilize myself. In those few minutes, the man next to me had unzipped my pocket and taken my phone. As I was about to get off, I couldn’t feel my phone in my pocket and stared down the only man who could’ve seen anything. He pointed to the ground where my phone had mysteriously appeared. I panicked and picked it up and promptly got off the train. This experience frazzled me and I was pretty confident that my phone had been almost stolen because it had been turned off. After this, we guarded our pockets very carefully as we walked through El Parque Retiro. I’m grateful for my New York instincts and feel very lucky that my phone was safe.

The weather in Madrid was beautiful the entire time we were there, and then sun was always out. The park is a great place to stroll and people watch. We made our way down through the park and stopped at Taberna Mas Al Sur for some yummy sangria. We walked back home and passed out since we had an early day the next morning.

Day 3 — Toledo, Spain

We hopped on a 9 o’clock train from Madrid’s Atocha station to Toledo for a fun day trip. I highly recommend booking these high speed train tickets early because they do fill up the night before! We got off the train and took a Hop on Hop off bus tour around Toledo. We stopped at the San Martin Bridge first to walk around the Jewish quarter and the monastery. This area is really beautiful and peaceful in the morning. The entire city is pretty touristy but it is very well kept and doesn’t feel aggressively tacky. We got to see the main cathedral and the mosque which are located more in the center of town. It was really fun to explore the narrow streets. After almost 10 hours in the city I felt like I really knew the place. In total, we did 3 loops of the hop on hop off bus. There are some beautiful viewpoints at the top which overlook the city. I highly recommend checking those out if you have time.

At around 7pm we took the train back into Madrid and had some tasty food at Ramen Kagura. This was a pretty exhausting day and I slept for 12 hours the following night.

Day 4 — Madrid, Spain

Woke up pretty late and got brunch at Plenti. I highly recommend this spot if you are missing the classic avocado toast + iced latte moment. After eating lots of meat, bread and potatoes, some veggies were very welcome to our fried stomachs. We ate a pretty big lunch and wandered over to the Prado Museum. I’ve been here before and to be quite honest, I got pretty tired of it. Some of the paintings are pretty impressive but after seeing the museums in Colombia and Mexico, I was not impressed with Spain’s lack of acknowledgment of their colonialist past.

After the museum, we headed back to the airbnb for a little nap. We had an early dinner at El Mini Bar (which had an incredible tomato jam and goat cheese situation). At night, we had made reservations at the Teatro Real for King Lear. The opera was in German and it was pretty depressing. Our seats had an obstructed view so we had to stand to really see the whole stage. The performance was really well done and they had subtitles which made it super easy to understand.

Day 5 — Madrid, Spain

Our last day in Madrid was pretty relaxed. We started our morning with my brother who seemed to have started to settle into his routine. We walked around the streets and got a little brunch with him. At the Sol station, we parted ways and let him embark on his study abroad journey. Our evening ended at the Templo Debod. This is a beautiful spot on top of a hill with an ancient Egyptian temple to watch the sunset. The temple closes a bit early and is very small so we weren’t able to go in. Afterwards, we walked to the famous Cava Baja for a little tapas hopping. We ate more albondigas and croquetas and ended the night with some lovely churros at Valor. I think these churros were SO good. I liked their 80% chocolate dip the best. My hot take is that these were better than the ones at San Gines. A lovely end to a lovely time in Madrid.

Day 6 — A travel day (Madrid, Spain to Boston)

Got up early to take our flight back to Boston. A pretty smooth travel day other than the fact that I was starting to get sick :(

Some reflections

I hadn’t been to Madrid in almost 10 years and it felt cool to be back in a city and experience it through a slightly older lens. Madrid and Toledo are both beautiful cities with so much history. I could see myself living in Madrid if I really had to. I haven’t spoken much Spanish in the past few years, and it felt good to practice it. The food and drinks in Spain are so cheap and I was kind of taken aback by it. Maybe my New York living has corrupted my brain. Madrid feels like a city that I will keep coming back to in my life and I’m excited to keep experiencing it.

Madrid & Toledo