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A 3-Day Solo Itinerary in Madrid, Spain

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Every mom deserves a break, and solo travel is the perfect fantasy for those juggling endless family trips and responsibilities. Family vacations are heartwarming, but they also come with the need for consensus and compromise. Imagine a trip where your desires lead the way. You don’t have to embark on a month-long backpacking adventure to savor that long-awaited freedom. Just a few extra days added to a business trip can offer the perfect slice of “me time.” No schedules to follow, no one else to consider—pure bliss!

When work takes you to a new city, extend your stay by a few days. The airfare is already covered, so the extra cost is minimal. If your work hotel is pricey or far from the action, find a cozy, central place to stay for a couple of nights. This approach lets you experience the city from two unique perspectives.

What do you do with this newfound freedom? Plan in advance: an exhibition, a museum visit, a show, or any activity that catches your fancy. Limit yourself to one organized event per day to leave room for spontaneous adventures—shopping, café hopping, people-watching, and leisurely strolls.

Day 1: Churros, Gran Vía, Shopping, and Plaza de Cibeles

Jet-lagged from a long flight, it’s wise to take it easy on your first day. Begin by exploring the area around your hotel. Opt for a central location, like the bustling Calle Preciados, so you’re always close to your bed if jet lag hits. Kick off your day with a delicious breakfast at Chocolatería San Ginés, famous for its churros con chocolate since 1894. This delightful treat will fuel your adventures along Gran Vía, Madrid’s vibrant main street.

Gran Vía, often referred to as Madrid’s Fifth Avenue, is lined with shops and stunning architecture. From high-end fashion boutiques to quirky local stores, the shopping opportunities are endless. Be sure to check out the H&M located in a former theater—its interior is a spectacle in itself. Don’t forget to look up and admire the grand buildings, such as the Fundación Telefónica and the iconic Metropolis Building, which add to the street’s charm.

After indulging in some retail therapy, make your way to Plaza de Cibeles. Here, you’ll find the magnificent Palacio de Cibeles, now a cultural center. Explore the various exhibits and take in the breathtaking views from the rooftop terrace. Surrounding the plaza are other architectural marvels like the Banco de España and the Palacio de Buenavista. It’s a feast for the eyes and a perfect way to end your first day.

Day 2: Royal Palace, Vermouth, Wandering, and Sunset

Start your second day at Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s bustling central square. Grab a coffee and a pastry at the renowned Pastelería La Mallorquina, a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike. Energized and ready to explore, head to the nearby Plaza Mayor. Early in the morning, this historic square is serene, allowing you to appreciate its grandeur before the crowds arrive.

Next, make your way to the Palacio Real, Madrid’s royal palace. This vast building, larger than Versailles, is a testament to opulence and history. The audio-guided tour takes you through the palace’s majestic rooms, each filled with fascinating stories. Don’t miss the armory, where you can see Charles V’s impressive collection of armor, a highlight of the tour.

With the palace behind you, it’s time for some unplanned adventures. Head to Mercado de San Miguel, a gourmet market where you can indulge in a variety of Spanish delicacies. Try the olives, tapas, and, of course, a glass of vermouth. This vibrant market is a feast for the senses, perfect for food lovers.

Spend the afternoon wandering through Madrid’s charming streets and squares. Let your curiosity guide you—you might stumble upon hidden gems like the world’s oldest restaurant, Sobrino de Botín, dating back to 1725. As the day winds down, head to Parque del Oeste. Behind the Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple, you’ll find a stunning viewpoint. Watch the sunset paint the Royal Palace and the surrounding cityscape in shades of pink and gold. It’s a magical experience that captures the essence of Madrid.

Day 3: Reina Sofía Museum, Retiro Park, and Tinto de Verano

On your third day, skip the famed Prado Museum and opt for the Reina Sofía Museum instead. This modern art museum is home to Picasso’s masterpiece, “Guernica,” along with works by Miró and Dalí. The collection is extensive and captivating, offering a different perspective on Spanish art.

After immersing yourself in art, it’s time to enjoy Madrid’s green spaces. Head to Retiro Park, a sprawling oasis in the heart of the city. Stroll through the park’s manicured gardens, visit the beautiful Palacio de Cristal, and take a moment to relax by the lake. The park’s serene atmosphere is a perfect contrast to the bustling city.

Find a terrace café within the park and order a glass of Tinto de Verano, a refreshing mix of red wine and soda. Sit back and indulge in some people-watching—one of the best ways to soak in the local culture. As you sip your drink and watch the world go by, you’ll appreciate the slower pace and the opportunity to simply be present.

As your solo adventure comes to an end, take a final stroll through the park and savor the tranquility. Madrid has not only provided a break from your daily routine but also a chance to rediscover yourself. This solo journey, though brief, has been transformative, reminding you of the joy of stepping out of your comfort zone and the beauty of creating your own path.

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