Okay, I left you on our walk at the Puerta de Alcalá and the entrance to the Retiro Park. Let’s start from there ( but you are welcome to start at any point on this tour and spend as much or as little time in each sit site as your personal itinerary or preference allows).
You will notice that there are many beautiful sidewalk cafes around the circle of the Puerta de Alcalá. For our tour, find the Calle Serrano, head north. This is the barrio de Salamanca which today hosts the best high end shopping and real estate in Madrid. It is a wonderful neighborhood to people watch. Continue up Serrano until you get to the Arqueológico museum. IF YOU ONLY HAVE ONE DAY TO SPEND IN MADRID, PLEASE SPEND IT HERE!
I hope I have made myself clear. I have spend many days in Madrid and in this recent trip there are three places that I visited that I had not visited before, the Basilica de San Francisco el Grande, the Theissen Museum of Modern Art, and the Arqueológico Museum. I was so deprived of cultural depth. Here you will see presentations on the history and changing cultures, arquitectura, and art of Spain that it serves as a tutorial for anything else you may do in Madrid of Spain.
Upon finishing at the Museum, exit and turn left to the block which is the Plaza de descubrimiento. Turn left at the block and you will return to the Paseo de la Castellana and the Plaza de Colon. Turn left down the Paseo back to Cibeles and then turn right up Alcalá, passing between the Banco de España and the Army headquarters. When the road splits keep right to stay on la Gran Vía.
Do not miss the amazing buildings as you walk. One has a tendency to look up at the amazing capitals and rooftops but remember that Spain is all cobble stones and tripping is easy. Wear comfortable shoes.
As you walk up La Gran Vía, you will see fabulous restaurants and theaters as well as shopping and the hustle and bustle of life in a capital city. The road crests at Callao metro station and plaza and then vears right down to the Plaza de España. This plaza is dedicated to Spanish writers and the statue in the center shows Don Quijote and Sancho Panza.
Once at the Plaza de España, turn left onto Bailen and walk a few hundred meters back to the National Palace. You have completed the loop of my favorite places in Madrid.
The past recommend walking tour in Phase I, II, and III is not intended to be completed in a day. You should pick and choose what is important for you based upon your time and interests. I have strongly recommended a couple of places but please, make your own itinerary, take your time, and savor the rhythm of life and flavors of Madrid. I think the minimum time recommended is five days to see and appreciate all that I have recommended but time being our most precious commodity, do what you can and have a copa and tapa for me.
Restaurants of particular note:
I maintain that there is no bad food in Madrid. You can have tapas and/or snack your way through Madrid T little cost. That said, for those who desire a particularly amazing culinary experience, here are my recommendations:
La Barraca, Calle de la Reina 29
34 915 327 154
Absolutely the best paella and all its variations I have ever know ( and I pride myself as making a damn good paella)
La Taberna del Alabardero, Felipe V 6 (adjacent to the National Opera House). 34 915 47 2577
Amazing high end restaurant you would expect in any capital city. Frequented by those who attend the Opers and those of distinguished taste.
El Paraguas-Calle Jorge Juan 16
Rated by many the finest in Madrid
El Buey – Plaza de la Marina Española 1
My personal favorite and that if my wife. Less high end but tenderloin served with hot plates to cook to your liking and the best mushroom sauce ever
El Pimiento Verde, near the Plaza Mayor. Highly recommend for its food and portions but I never had a chance to try it.
I hope this guide will serve you well. I wish I had it 40 years ago when I was first here. These are my personal observations and tastes. I hope you like them and if you decide to try them, I may see you there. Let me know what you think.