If you are looking for a walk around the historic centre, here you have a brief itinerary for a 2 day visit, everything within a walking distance from Chueca area. This way you can enjoy the touristic sites while enjoying the 6 coolest neighborhoods in Madrid.
Day 1. Historical Center
Starting from the Edificio Telefónica building (1929) at the middle of Gran Vía, just a step from Chueca and Malasaña areas, we can start walking down Gran Via until reaching Plaza España after passing by Callao. On the way we can see the fantastic theatres that host cinemas, plays and musicals like the Lion King.
After reaching plaza España, we can stop there to visit the Monument to Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote in 1605. The monument is surrounded by two big buildings from the 50s, Edificio España and Torre de Madrid.
On the other end of the square you can briefly take a look to two beautiful buildings on each of the corners, the building Real Compañía Asturiana de Minas on one side and the modernist Casa Gallardo on the other.
From ther we can start walking towards the Plaza de Oriente, a big gardened square where is locates the Royal Theatre or opera house and the Royal Palace. In the middle of the square you can find what is one of the most important statues in Madrid, the equestrian statue of the king Philip IV of Spain.
The tour inside the Royal Palace is worth it for the views you have of the huge Casa de Campo park, the biggest urban park in Europe, five times the size of Central Park in New York. After, we can enter the Almudena Cathedral just in front, to admire the spectacular modern-looking stained glass windows. If you want to access its terrace and watch a magnificient view of the historic centre, enter the museum of the Cathedral.
After the Cathedral continue walking along the calle Mayor. You will pass by the old city hall building La Casa de la Villa, and a few steps after, you will reach the entrance to Plaza Mayor, a big square that functioned as the the heart of the historic city. Just on a side of the entrance you can find the Mercado de San Miguel, the last remaining iron market hall in Madrid, converted into a gourmet tapas food court that has turned very popular for locals and tourists.
Walking into Plaza Mayor you will notice the brilliant fachade of Casa de la Panadería, fully covered with beautiful paintings and hosting the tourist office. In the middle of the square you can find the equestrian statue of Philip III.
After the square you can walk along the calle Postas until reaching Puerta del Sol, a place known as the centre (km 0) of the radial network of Spanish roads. You can there visit the statue of Charles III, the Real Casa de Correos building and the statue of the Osa y el Madroño (“bear and strawberry tree”), the most important symbol and part of the coat of arms of the city of Madrid.
Here you can finish the first day of touristic monuments and just enjoy the rest of the day discovering the life of the city and its LGBT neighborhoods in the city centre. If you want to return to the starting point, just walk along calle Montera to reach Gran Vía again.
Day 2. Golden Triangle of Art
After your first day getting to know the oldest area of Madrid, on this second day we suggest you visit one of the three world class museums of Madrid. The Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia or the Thyssen-Bornemisza.
You can start your second day at the Metropolis building, right at the end of Gran Via, in the corner with calle Alcalá, which is one of the exits of Chueca neighborhood. From there, walk down to Plaza de Cibeles leaving on your right side the Círculo de Bellas Artes, a cultural centre which terrace has one of the best views of the city.
Plaza de Cibeles has three really beautiful buidings, Casa de América building (beware of its ghosts!), Banco de España buiding, which hosts the central bank of Spain, and Palacio de Cibeles, the current city hall building. Palacio Cibeles is worth visiting to take a look at its glass-covered inside square and its stunning view of the Metrópolis building from the terrace. In the centre of the square you can find Cibeles Fountain, where Real Madrid fans celebrate when their team wins a championship.
From this square, walk along the Paseo del Prado, also know as the art street, where you can find the three museums we were taking before. The first museum you will reach is Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, it holds a huge collection of ancient and modern masterpieces.
If you continue walking along Paseo del Prado you will reach Plaza de Neptuno, where the Ritz Hotel and the Palace Hotel are located. In front of the right fachade of the Palace Hotel you will find the Congress, the higher chamber of representatives in Spain. Don’t miss the famous lions that stand at the entrance of the building.
Farther on the Paseo del Prado you will reach Museo del Prado, the biggest painting museum in the world and the most important art institution in Spain. Right beside the museum you will see the Botanical Garden and the Caixa Forum, a small private museum with a beautiful vertical garden.
Right at the end of the street we reach Atocha square, where the Museo Reina Sofia is located. You can find the finest paintings of Picasso and Dalí here. On the other side of the square the huge Atocha station hides a magnificent tropical garden inside. Pay it a visit, you will not regret it.
From Atocha take Cuesta de Moyano, a bohemian steep street where you can find second-hand book stalls. At the end of the street you will reach the Retiro Park, the central park of the city where locals enjoy sunny days and weekends. Inside the park there is a jewell called Palacio de Cristal (crystal palace). Also visit the Fuente del Ángel Caído (a unique statue representing the fall of Satan from heaven). You can end your visit to the park renting a boat and rowing in the pond.
Exit the park through the Independencia door to reach Puerta de Alcalá, the first modern post-roman triumphal arch built in Europe. From there walk down the street to reach Cibeles again, finishing the course of this second day.