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What to see and do, or eat, for a few hours in Madrid?

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
Say someone has managed to book travel to and from Madrid T4 to head north and start a camino later in the year - depending on restrictions etc, obvs - and had a grand total of 6 hours between landing and getting on the ALSA bus ... and wanted to see a slice of Madrid when it's so tantalisingly close?

How would you travel into where in Madrid to do or see or eat what? And why?

I once had 2 hours in Porto and really enjoyed just getting the bus into the city centre, strolling from the tiled station and towards the river, having a bite to eat and then heading back to the airport again. I am happy to do something similar again, but where? And how to get there as quickly and hassle-free as possible?
This will be between 16.30-ish to 21.30-ish, so museums etc are not really ideal. Places and plazas maybe?
Also I don't like cutting it fine time wise and really have to be back at T4 in good time so I don't miss my bus.
What would you do?
 
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SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
I would take the metro to station Sol and stroll around the neighourhood. you could go for a pastry at the famous la Mallorquina. https://pastelerialamallorquina.es/. Puerta del Sol.


Neighbourhoods of Lavapies and la Malasaña are also nice to wander around but maybe more interesting when you have more time to spend.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I would take the metro to station Sol and stroll around the neighourhood. you could go for a pastry at the famous la Mallorquina. https://pastelerialamallorquina.es/. Puerta del Sol.


Neighbourhoods of Lavapies and la Malasaña are also nice to wander around but maybe more interesting when you have more time to spend.
From Puerta del Sol I would walk to Plaza Mayor and then to Palacio Real. On that route there are plenty of bars and restaurants To choose one, you can go to Mercado de San Miguel for pintxos/tapas.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Lucky you! I would definitely plan to be on a Cercanías train at T4 in time to make your bus. It’s reliable and quick. You will have to change to go

If you like old centros históricos, I would head down to Puerta del Sol and from there to the Plaza Mayor. Madrid‘s is one of the most beautiful, up there with Salamanca IMO. And maybe over to the Santiago church through the old town and then to the gardens outside the palace, if time was still on your side.

Another option would be to head from Sol down to Cibeles, the gorgeous old post office that now offers rooftop views of the city, and then beyond through the Arch of Alcalá to the Retiro Park, one of the world’s most beautiful urban parks.

Renfe has good Cercanías schedules on its websites for planning your return trip. You are likely to have to change trains in Chamartín but it’s easy and very efficient.

Have fun!
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
I knew I could count on you all for help! I am starting to regret not staying for a few days now ... next time.
OK, full disclosure - I am not a massive fan of underground travel, but I suppose I have to get the train from T4 to (Edited) Chamartin and change over there to go to P de Sol? How easy/difficult is it? I just tried walking it on Google Earth to stop by Museo Sorolla, but it seems a long and not very interesting slog. And now I have so many better suggestions for what to do with my time!
 
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SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
A nice restaurant is Momo ( Calle Libertad ) in Chueca. Still going strong after all these years. Not always easy in a big city where " trends " change rapidly.
 

Ian L

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances summer 2017 (SJPP to Fromista)
Camino Frances summer 2019 (Fromista to Santiago)
I did a segway tour in Madrid a few years ago. They offer different tours, some in as little as an hour. You can see a lot more of the city than if you were trying to do it on foot in the same amount of time.
 
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LesBrass

Likes Walking
Year of past OR future Camino
yes...
I knew I could count on you all for help! I am starting to regret not staying for a few days now ... next time.
OK, full disclosure - I am not a massive fan of underground travel, but I suppose I have to get the train from T4 to (Edited) Chamartin and change over there to go to P de Sol? How easy/difficult is it? I just tried walking it on Google Earth to stop by Museo Sorolla, but it seems a long and not very interesting slog. And now I have so many better suggestions for what to do with my time!

The metro from the airport is a doddle - we did find (a bit like london) that sometimes it's quicker to walk around the town then change lines. Take a look on at a map as well as the tube map once you get into the centre... it might be easier to walk?
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
Indeed, I will start the day on a train, then a plane, then a shuttle bus and another train, before getting the train back to sit on the bus for hours, so I am tentatively thinking of getting the train to Recoletos (only one train, less hassle) and then walking to the Puerta del Sol, getting some air and sunshine, wandering about following your suggestions and then returning to T4 to start my adventure.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Casa Labra for bacalao and croquetas or Chocolatería San Gines.

The tapas bars around Calle Jesus

Plaza Major

Consider the yellow Aerobús from the airport to Atocha. Every 10 minutes, takes 30-35 minutes. Although, to be honest, with the time you have available; I wouldn’t leave the airport.

Does your bus only leave from the airport?

I don’t think immigration will be as rapid as usual. In the UK queues hours long have formed with only a fraction of the usual numbers of passengers - but our border force couldn’t care less and have no incentive to sort it out.
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
I don’t think immigration will be as rapid as usual.
No, I am waiting to see how that goes, but I have a Norwegian (ie Schengen) passport, so hopefully I won't be left in line with the UK passport holders. As far as I know I can still pass through the EU/EEA channel?
I was planning on staying in the airport reading a book or something, and for 3-4 hours I wouldn't want to risk getting late for my bus, but 6 hours ... I can do something more fun. Provided I get through passport control at a decent time.
 

witsendwv

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2015)
From Puerta del Sol I would walk to Plaza Mayor and then to Palacio Real. On that route there are plenty of bars and restaurants To choose one, you can go to Mercado de San Miguel for pintxos/tapas.
Too commercial/crowded - There was a bar right across from the main entrance to the San Miguel market called Bar Cerveriz. I don't know if they have survived, but if so the owner has won best Tortilla Espanola in Madrid. Very small, not many tourists compared to the view across the street. Otherwise Meson de Champinon down the street on the left of the market has the best mushrooms.
 
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Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Too commercial/crowded - There was a bar right across from the main entrance to the San Miguel market called Bar Cerveriz. I don't know if they have survived, but if so the owner has won best Tortilla Espanola in Madrid. Very small, not many tourists compared to the view across the street. Otherwise Meson de Champinon down the street on the left of the market has the best mushrooms.
Yes I agree. But we are talking about a tour with not too much time. At Mercado de San Miguel you can see different offer of pintxos in a relatevily small space.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
No, I am waiting to see how that goes, but I have a Norwegian (ie Schengen) passport, so hopefully I won't be left in line with the UK passport holders. As far as I know I can still pass through the EU/EEA channel?
I was planning on staying in the airport reading a book or something, and for 3-4 hours I wouldn't want to risk getting late for my bus, but 6 hours ... I can do something more fun. Provided I get through passport control at a decent time.
It’s not the ‘passport control’ aspect of immigration which has gone wrong in the UK, it’s the detailed and ever-changing Documentation and testing associated with COVID. It’ll get easier as time goes on.
 

witsendwv

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2015)
Yes I agree. But we are talking about a tour with not too much time. At Mercado de San Miguel you can see different offer of pintxos in a relatevily small space.
Maybe so, but there are so many places to stop in around the market it still would not be my first choice. The food is not traditional- Pimientos de Padron are served year round. (and that is just not possible)! I did like to stop at the Vermut bar inside for vermut de grifo and Campo Real olives, but on that visit my husband had a very bad experience with the gambas al ajillo at another vendor so I suspect he will not want to return! ☹️
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
It’s not the ‘passport control’ aspect of immigration which has gone wrong in the UK, it’s the detailed and ever-changing Documentation and testing associated with COVID. It’ll get easier as time goes on.
Ah, but the covid issues in September is so far a complete unknown. The UK-EU issue is known and at least I don't have to queue with British passport holders. Whatever happens, at least I have more than enough time to deal with it without stress!
 
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Felipe

Veteran Member
After the hassle of airport, buses, planes, deplaning, safety checks, queues, I would like a quiet place to rest, in a place with trees and flowers, and do nothing. El Retiro park is close to Puerta de Alcalá, El Prado and a few steps from Atocha, the main station. It has a lake and some remarkable monuments and sculptures. You can see madrileños stroll, children play, couples looking into each other's eyes, old people enjoying the sun,
and in general, watch life as it is in Spain (just don't let the fortune tellers read your palm and don't accept a flower from them). Yes, I know this may sound too quiet...
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
so I am tentatively thinking of getting the train to Recoletos (only one train, less hassle)
Going to Recoletos puts you very close to the Plaza Cibeles and the Retiro Park. If sunshine and air are more appealing than urban and narrow streets, consider taking the elevator (or walking, I did it, it’s not hard) up to the top of the tower in Cibeles for great views. There is also a café/restaurant there with views. And then over to the Retiro park.

Or, heading in the opposite direction from Recoletos, you could stay in old Madrid by going to Tribunal and Chueca. If a big tapas market is appealing, the Mercado San Antón is slightly less crowded than the San Miguel, but not in as pretty a building by any means.

OR.... I know you said no museums, but Recoletos is so so close to the Museo Arqueólogico Nacional. It was closed for years and years for renovations and now is an absolutely incredible place. Airy exhibition rooms, excellent viewing — I went in 2019 for the first time in 25 years or so and it now bears absolutely no resemblance to the dusty dark place I remember so well from the 70s and 80s.

Can you tell how much we are yearning to go to Madrid again!!!!
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
So that's two votes for the Retiro, and that sounds pretty wonderful. I will leave it to the mood, energy levels and weather on the day - I now have two great little slices of Madrid to enjoy with very little hassle, thank you all very much!

For the benefit of others as well though, please keep the suggestions coming. Daydreaming of travel is my favourite pastime!
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I would take the metro to station Sol and stroll around the neighourhood. you could go for a pastry at the famous la Mallorquina. https://pastelerialamallorquina.es/. Puerta del Sol.


Neighbourhoods of Lavapies and la Malasaña are also nice to wander around but maybe more interesting when you have more time to spend.
When I have slept my first night or leave from Madrid that is where I stay. You are 100% correct. Unless someone knows of an area with a much shorter subway ride I would second your suggestion.
 
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Sue OC Pilgrim

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Say someone has managed to book travel to and from Madrid T4 to head north and start a camino later in the year - depending on restrictions etc, obvs - and had a grand total of 6 hours between landing and getting on the ALSA bus ... and wanted to see a slice of Madrid when it's so tantalisingly close?

How would you travel into where in Madrid to do or see or eat what? And why?

I once had 2 hours in Porto and really enjoyed just getting the bus into the city centre, strolling from the tiled station and towards the river, having a bite to eat and then heading back to the airport again. I am happy to do something similar again, but where? And how to get there as quickly and hassle-free as possible?
This will be between 16.30-ish to 21.30-ish, so museums etc are not really ideal. Places and plazas maybe?
Also I don't like cutting it fine time wise and really have to be back at T4 in good time so I don't miss my bus.
What would you do?
I spent a semester in
Madrid in the late 80s. My favorite activity was going tosca-hopping for tapas in Calle Huertas. That time window you gave us the perfect time to do this!
 

Sue OC Pilgrim

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Say someone has managed to book travel to and from Madrid T4 to head north and start a camino later in the year - depending on restrictions etc, obvs - and had a grand total of 6 hours between landing and getting on the ALSA bus ... and wanted to see a slice of Madrid when it's so tantalisingly close?

How would you travel into where in Madrid to do or see or eat what? And why?

I once had 2 hours in Porto and really enjoyed just getting the bus into the city centre, strolling from the tiled station and towards the river, having a bite to eat and then heading back to the airport again. I am happy to do something similar again, but where? And how to get there as quickly and hassle-free as possible?
This will be between 16.30-ish to 21.30-ish, so museums etc are not really ideal. Places and plazas maybe?
Also I don't like cutting it fine time wise and really have to be back at T4 in good time so I don't miss my bus.
What would you do?
I would head to the area around Plaza Mayor and go enjoy tapas on Calle Huertas.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Many forum members know a lot about public transportation in Madrid, but for those who do not — some of these posts talk about hopping on the metro at the airport, while others have talked about Cercanías. They are different systems. The metro will take you much longer to get downtown. It is more crowded, and has more pickpockets. Not to alarm anyone because I ride the Madrid metro a lot, but there are a lot of pickpockets. And if you have been on a plane all night, especially with a clear “look” that identifies you as an outsider, you become a bigger target.

If you arrive in the new terminal, T4, you can get a Cercanías commuter line train that will get you downtown more quickly, and with fewer crowds, hence fewer pickpockets. There are now a few lines that go to the airport, so it is becoming more convenient all the time. If you arrive at the older terminal (which is where all flights that are not Iberia or a One World partner land), your trip is a bit more complicated and the metro may be the easiest in the long run.

Looking forward to arriving in Madrid before too long....... Buen camino, Laurie
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
The Aerobús from T4 and T1,2,3 every 10m from early morning to late evening is less troubled by our light-fingered friends as there are only three stops, so less opportunity to disembark. Gets you to Atocha in about 35 minutes traffic permitting. Cash only €5 in 2019.
 
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Peregrinopaul

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
Within walking distance of Atocha station is the Reina Sofia Museum/Art Gallery. A stunning collection of Goyas and Picasso's Guernica.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
One place that I remember enjoying for tapas in Madrid is the street of Cava de San Miguel which you access through a bit of a tunnel and stairs on the west side of the Plaza Mayor. There are plenty of "Mesones" built into the hill giving them something of a bodega-like atmosphere. Often, they will have their own specialities so you can go from one to the other sampling. In the forefront of the picture below you see the Meson de Tortillas. A bit further down the road is the Meson de Champiñones, which was a favourite.

The area is, obviously, a bit touristy. But when I was living in Madrid some thirty years ago the same mesones were there and were frequented by locals as much as tourists.
20160821_200520.jpg
 

JMac56

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2015)
CF+Fis(2016)
CP:Porto-SdC-Mux-Fis(2017)
CF:Leon-SdC(2017)
CF+Mux+Fis(2018)
Ah, Madrid! I concur with many of the above suggestions. La Mallorquina on Sol is a must! And maybe a quick look at the Almudena Catedral if you have time / interest. 🚶‍♂️
 

Steve Taylor

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
June 2019 Sarria to Santiago Sept 2019 Logrono to Burgos Aug 2020 St Jean Pied De Port to Logrono
Say someone has managed to book travel to and from Madrid T4 to head north and start a camino later in the year - depending on restrictions etc, obvs - and had a grand total of 6 hours between landing and getting on the ALSA bus ... and wanted to see a slice of Madrid when it's so tantalisingly close?

How would you travel into where in Madrid to do or see or eat what? And why?

I once had 2 hours in Porto and really enjoyed just getting the bus into the city centre, strolling from the tiled station and towards the river, having a bite to eat and then heading back to the airport again. I am happy to do something similar again, but where? And how to get there as quickly and hassle-free as possible?
This will be between 16.30-ish to 21.30-ish, so museums etc are not really ideal. Places and plazas maybe?
Also I don't like cutting it fine time wise and really have to be back at T4 in good time so I don't miss my bus.
What would you do?
If I was taking a bus north from Madrid and had six hours to kill, I'd find the bus station first of all, then take a wander around the area nearby. If you do fancy heading somewhere else, Sol and Plaza Mayor are worth a visit, while a walk down Gran Via is interesting. Alternatively, if you like football, you might just fit in a tour of the Bernabeu Stadium, though they probably don't allow rucksacks.
 
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nidarosa

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
Sadly I won't have time for that on this occasion but I agree, it is one for the future.
I have also found out that the bus leaves from the centre before it picks up at the airport T4, so that would add to the time available (and the stress in making sure I was absolutely in the right place). Other threads suggest I might need a lot of the time I have to get through immigration, covid checks etc, so I am not going to make an ironclad plan.
Yet.
 

linkster

¡Nunca dejes de creer!
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
This beats standing in line and looking for a seat at San Gines. The choclate was served with a soletilla (kindof a soft cookie) rather than churros or purros.

Edit: lost the quote from Ivar's post.
 

linkster

¡Nunca dejes de creer!
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Plaza de Santa Ana is also a short walk from Plaza Mayor. Lateral has seating in the plaza as well as inside.
 
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