21 Hours In Madrid, Spain!

I’ll be honest, Spain was never on my “must see” list. It’s not that I didn’t want to visit the country itself, but I felt like Spain was a ‘typical’ Europe trip. Most people that I know that have traveled internationally have been to Spain, France, and/or Italy. I just want to go places that most people are not going to, but I’m so happy that I decided to give Madrid a shot!

Puerta de Alcala
Cybele Palace

After our trip to Morocco, we had a 21 hour layover in Spain. The first thing that caught my eye was all the beautiful architecture Madrid had to offer. I mean OMG, it was absolutely stunning! It was then that I had wished I had more time in the city to explore! However, I still covered as much ground as I could with it being winter in Europe. It was pretty cold walking to each location. Although, one of the benefits of visiting Madrid in December is all the Christmas lights! There are lights EVERYWHERE and it really made my experience there unforgettable.

Outside Our Hotel From The Balcony
A View Of Calle Gran Vía

Where To Stay:

If you want to walk to all the popular sights and don’t mind the noise and busy streets, you’ll want to stay in Centro. This is basically the center of Madrid and also the oldest part of the city! We stayed at Hotel Catalonia Gran Vía.

I would definitely recommend staying at this hotel! It’s right on the main street of “Calle Gran Vía” and the views are remarkable from the two top floors! We upgraded our room to have a balcony with a view and it was honestly worth it. Even though it was cold, it was still satisfying to open the doors and enjoy the view. I would suggest getting this room in the spring or summer time too! Could you image having the breeze come through the open doors while it’s nice outside? Ugh, therapeutic!

Where To Eat:

Before arriving to Madrid, we tried to plan what restaurant to grab dinner at and if we should make any reservations. We decided to play it by ear since there were many eateries near our hotel. I’m one to plan things, so it’s kind of hard for me to just go with the flow at times, but in this scenario, it’s best that we did! The lady who helped us check in (her name was Cristina) gave us an outstanding recommendation right up the street.

Us & The Paella
Seafood Paella

We had dinner at El Rincón de Esteban. I’m so glad we listened to Cristina because the food was amazing and the service was excellent! It was also authentic as fuck! I would suggest the seafood paella! It’s big enough for two people to share and there’s a whole lobster included. So, so, so good!

What To See:

After dinner, we started to venture off to the locations I wanted to check out. The two top places we had to go to were Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. These are both iconic spots in Madrid and Plaza Mayor offers a Christmas Market until the end of December! Some of the places I would recommend are the following:

The Side Streets Are So Cute & Small
The Beautiful Architecture
The Christmas Lights!
Carlos III Equestrian Statue
The Christmas Lights!


El Oso y el Madroño
The Christmas Lights!
The Christmas Tree In Puerta del Sol!
The Christmas Lights In Puerta del Sol & Me!
Plaza Mayor
King Philip III
Plaza Mayor
The Christmas Market At Plaza Mayor
Me Inside of Plaza Mayor
The Christmas Tree Inside Plaza Mayor
My Mom & I

Like I mentioned prior, it was really cold out, so I didn’t get to see everything like El Retiro Park. This was literally right by our hotel, but it was just so cold that we couldn’t make it unfortunately. This is supposed to be one of the largest parks in Madrid with a nice pond, many gorgeous sculptures, and breathtaking architecture throughout!

Casino de Madrid is a location I reallllllyyy wanted to go inside of, but I think you can only go for private events and if you have reservations at their restaurant? Please correct me if I’m wrong! The inside of this place looks so dreamy! I wanted a picture on their staircase so badly! If I go back to Madrid, I’m definitely making this my number one priority! LOL

Outside Of Casino de Madrid

I think Círculo de Bellas Artes is another place to check out. I was intrigued by their rooftop restaurant/bar and Cristina even recommended we make a stop here so we could see the view. As much as I hate to say we didn’t make it here neither, I think their rooftop is worth a visit!

The Metropolis Building (Edificio Metrópolis)
Beautiful Lights

Truthfully, Madrid was a blast! I would have loved to have an extra day or two, but even with my short visit, I enjoyed it! This was my first stop in Europe and I cannot wait to see where I end up next!


La Flare

Outside Our Balcony At Night
Calle Gran Vía At Night


109 thoughts on “21 Hours In Madrid, Spain!

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  1. I’ve been to Madrid before (like 10 years ago) and I also really enjoyed the trip. LOVED the food. Seems like it really lights up during Christmas. Beautiful pics!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That looks like a great trip with lovely photos! I have only been to Madrid once to visit friends and so would be happy to return and check out some of your recommendations.I was like you and was not in a hurry to visit Spain as it was a typical destination. So, my first trip to Spain was to the south to Seville, which is stunning!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know what you mean about not having it on your list of places to see, for sure! But once you’re there and seeing all it has to offer, i think it’s hard to not want to return! Your photos of the city are simply stunning too! X

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such beautiful photos! I’m glad you enjoyed it, I’ve heard it’s lovely there – besides, you now have a reason to go back so you can see more 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really enjoyed Madrid when we went a couple years ago. Really enjoyed walking around and seeing the sites. The Christmas lights look beautiful! Sounds like you had a great quick visit!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I know what you mean about Spain being a ‘typical’ trip. I spent most christmases in Spain growing up but I’ve never been to Madrid – it looks so lovely from your photos!

    Emily x puttheworldtowrites.co.uk

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I know what you mean about Spain being a ‘typical’ trip. I spent most christmases in Spain growing up but I’ve never been to Madrid – it looks lovely from your photos!

    Emily x puttheworldtowrites.co.uk

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! Madrid looks absolutely sensational! All those lights are so pretty! It is somewhere I have never visited but has always been on my list. My partner and I were thinking about going a mini-break this year I will need to suggest Madrid to him

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Never been to Madrid but it does look stunning! We are probably like you, we both prefer of-the-beaten path places, but still want to experience the popular cities. And usually it turns out they are popular for good reasons! Safe travels.x x

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a way to spend a layover! That seafood paella looks amazing. Madrid has been on our list for a while so it’s cool to see cool alternative ways to sneak in some time there. Was the layover planned like this or just by accident?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was 100% planned! My mom really didn’t want to do an overnight layover, but i talked her into it & at the end of the trip, she really enjoyed herself! We made sure to stay within the city center close to everything & kinda mapped out what we wanted to do so we had a game plan. I really wish i had more time, but the time i spent there will be unforgettable. Madrid was so pretty & the paella was delicious! I would definitely go back & reccomend checking out! I really do believe Madrid gets overlooked! Thank you so much for reading !😊


  11. Pingback: 21 Hours In Madrid, Spain! — The Girl in All Leopard – Truth Troubles

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