Itinerary for Madrid, Spain

I went to Madrid to celebrate my 31st birthday this past January and I have to tell you, this city is totally underrated. I had never been there before, so I wasn’t sure how it would stack up to Barcelona. Maybe I enjoyed it more than Barcelona because of the amount of planning I put into the trip, or perhaps it was because I was able to spend more time in Madrid than I was able to in Barcelona. Whatever the case, Madrid turned out to be one of my all-time favorite locations.

I went with friends, so the planning for this itinerary involved making sure that we all picked activities that we would enjoy, individually. We didn’t get to do everything on our initial itinerary, but we all enjoyed every single thing we saw and did.

Without further ado, Here’s what our itinerary looked like:


  • We landed at around 7pm at the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas airport. Since it was a little late, we hopped in a taxi to our first accommodations of the trip: Eric Vokel Madrid Suites. Located in the Malasana district, this boutique, apartment-style stay was very central with tons of nightlife surrounding the property and numerous bakeries that we enjoyed a cafecito at in the mornings. We had a giant balcony to enjoy, which faced the main street. The stay was perfect for the 3 of us, as it had two full-sized bathrooms, a master bed, and a pair of bunk beds in a separate room.
  • We were antsy to get our celebrations started, so we visited Bad Company 1920. This cocktail lounge had so much creative thought put into it and the drink presentation was impressive, to say the least. Upon reservation, you have to make sure you obtain the “secret passcode,” and you might even have to solve a puzzle or two to get in. Come for the elaborate cocktails in this prohibition-era styled cocteleria; stay for the service. All of the folks working there really played the part and stayed in-character as if the cocktail lounge was a huge secret, which really made the atmosphere of the establishment.


  • Madrid is known for their leather-making, so we booked a leather workshop in the morning! The workshop lasted about 3 hours and we were able to choose from a variety of items to make: glasses pouch, various sizes of purses, a passport holder, and other mid-sized items. The site we used to find this workshop was Airbnb Experiences.
  • We wanted to freely explore our area, so we left the rest of the day open. In the evening, we decided to catch a bite at Salmon Guru, a retro cocteleria with some tasty bites. I LOVED my dragon cocktail, especially because it came with a few hidden snacks, haha. The dragon had smoke coming out of its mouth and I’m a sucker for theatrics.

1/16/23 – 1/18/23

  • We took a trip to Toledo, Spain, which was just about a 40-minute train ride from Madrid. You could definitely take this trip in a day, but to really get a satisfactory stay in Toledo, we wanted to stay longer and I’m so happy we did. Toledo was truly a magical place and I’m still trying to figure out how to get back. It has an abundance of history that you certainly don’t want to miss out on. I recommend booking a tour given by a local! We booked one again using Airbnb Experiences. This town was truly a hidden gem and I fell in love… that’s for a different post though.


  • For our next stay in Madrid, we booked a cheeky penthouse right off of Gran Via. This place came with a hot tub on the balcony and it was my birthday, so we had to do it. By this leg of the trip, we were all pretty tired, so we didn’t make it to some of our planned places, namely, the Museo del Jamon, which I’m still bummed about. Highly recommended by the locals, I recommend you visit one of the 8 locations in Madrid. Just remember, you won’t be able to bring back the ham to the US due to agriculture laws (unless you sneak it?) ((I had to learn the hard way)) (((I don’t endorse crime, promise))). Casa Salvador is another restaurant we didn’t make it to, but I had added it to our itinerary for lunch. What drew me to it was its rich history rooted in the bullfighting tradition of the region; a tavern founded in 1941, the restaurant design looks like that of a mini museum crossed with a cozy, family restaurant. Famed individuals from the times used to frequent the tavern, such as Ernest Hemingway and Ava Gardner.
  • To celebrate my birthday, I wanted to go to an eclectic restaurant with artistic dishes and ‘fancy’ cocktails. I can’t elaborate enough on how Inclan Brutal Bar blew all of our expectations out of the water. All the dishes we ordered were so tasty, I don’t think we left a single dish half-eaten. If you go here, you CANNOT miss out on the ox tail dish and if you’re getting dessert, I highly recommend ordering the cheesecake. They add pop rocks to the top of the cheesecake, which awoke my inner child and brought me incomprehensible joy (if food makes you this happy, let’s be foodie friends). As I’m typing this, I’m realizing this place deserves its own post because SERIOUSLY, it was one of the highlights of this trip.
  • After dinner, we hit the street and found a bar we all really liked and then went dancing. If you’re staying in Madrid, there’s nightlife everywhere you look, which was great! Being within walking distance of everything is a huge advantage in this city. Hailing a cab or scheduling an uber is super easy as well if needed.


  • For our last day, we scheduled lunch at Botin, known as “the first restaurant in the world,” it was founded in 1725 and has been serving the same delicacies for centuries. You know I’m a history geek when I travel, so I had to see this place. We were seated in the wine cellar below the restaurant, which truly had an ancient feel. The service was very attentive and the servers gave us their personal recommendations, which was appreciated since we all wanted to try their most traditional/popular dishes. After our meal, I went on a mission to find where they prepared their famous dish, the suckling pig. This may be off-putting to some, but if you’re a curious person like me, seeing a wall lined with dishes of suckling pig will appear even more surreal than it sounds, and the demand for the dish just goes to show how rooted in tradition, even with the region’s gastronomy, this city is. This is something that I admired, as Madrid is also a very modernized city.
  • For our last little outing in Madrid, we had to reserve seats for a flamenco show, of course! Before the show started, we were given small tapas and a drink that we were able to carry into the intimate theater. It started out with a short history lesson on how flamenco music/dance was originated and there were some unsuspecting players in the evolution of the popular dance. Something I didn’t expect to learn was how people from India were key influencers in the creative expression of this dance, and others from around different regions of the world as well. You know when someone performs an act or dance perhaps one too many times and the act feels a little too, well, performative? There was none of that here. The passion and appreciation for the music and dance that was performed by the Spanish group at Essential Flamenco was palpable throughout the whole night. I admired the precision and rhythm of this group; if you go to Madrid, you can’t miss out on attending a flamenco show.

Here’s the gist of our itinerary in Madrid. I hope you’re able to get some inspiration from our time here!

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