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Requesting Thoughts/Comment on Madrid Visit (Including a Boston Stop)

Below is an itinerary for a late March 2020 Madrid trip for my wife and me. I’ve spent months honing it and it’s at the point where I’m pretty happy with it, given our limit of four available days (five nights). Madrid is the first stop in our trip, followed by five nights in Paris (itinerary in France section) and twelve nights in London and southern England (itinerary posted in England section). I’ve also included in this segment the two days we will be in Boston prior to departing for Madrid. I’m hoping to get some recommendations for good Boston seafood shacks and/or good Jewish delis.

FWIW, my primary resources to date have been the RS Spain, Paris, and London guides, supplemented with info from these RS forums and Internet searches. Kudos and thanks to Rick for his advice!

All recommendations and comments are welcome, specifically regarding:

--Where to eat: I’ve pretty much identified too many places to eat already, but further recommendations are ALWAYS welcomed. Don’t worry about cost; I can sort that out. Our interest is mainly in “traditional” Madrid and Spanish foods. Regarding any recommendations, we won’t likely get too far out of the Puerto del Sol area.

--A question: is the roast suckling pig at Sobrino del Botín worth the expense and tourist crush?

--Any major goofs I’ve made in the itinerary. F’rinstance, would it be a good thing to swap the days for the Prado vs. the Palacio Real?

--Any brief “must-sees” since we’re “in (whatever) neighborhood”.

Thanks in advance for any comments and recommendations!

Sunday (March 22): Arrive Boston 16:20, stay in Coolidge Corner area.

Monday (23): Harvard Museum of Natural History at opening (9:00), then JFK Library

Tuesday (24): “Downtown” Boston, Boston Harbor, harbor cruise, depart Boston Logan for Madrid about midnight

Wednesday (25): Arrive Madrid (layover in Barcelona from 11:30-15:15) at 16:40: Stay in immediate Puerto del Sol area (hotel already booked). Dinner at El Corte Inglés “Gourmet Experience”--because it’s close to PDS and has a view.

Thursday (26): Morning Puerto del Sol and Plaza Mayor walks (plus churros and squid sandwiches!), city bus #27/minibus Lavapies tour, and CaixaForum—at least from the outside for the “green wall”. This is an intentionally slow day in case jet lag is an issue.

Friday (27): Royal Palace first thing in the AM, then the Reina Sofía. Evening DevourMadrid food/flamenco tour.

Saturday (28): Winebus tour of a winery and Segovia—our big splurge in Madrid.

Sunday (29): Museo Nacional Del Prado first thing in the AM, then Retiro park and/or the Royal Botanical Gardens

Monday (30): Depart Madrid about noon for Paris

Posted by
2975 posts

A good and historic churro shop a couple minutes walk from the PDS and Plaza Mayor is Chocolateria San Gines. It’s been in the same location since 1894. To me, the cochinillo at Botin’s isn’t worth the expense, but if you like pork, it probably is. There are other places to get cochinillo, but at Sobrino de Botin you’re paying the the history and atmosphere. There are many places near PDS for walking and visiting. The PDS only takes a few minutes to see, but it’s fun for people watching. To me, it comes alive at night. Beware of pickpockets in the PDS and Plaza Mayor (which is close by). Near it are the Gran Via, Plaza de Espana, and the Royal Palace. Mercado San Miguel just on the far side of the Plaza Mayor from the PDS is a good places for tapas. The Reina Sofia has free evening hours, so you might be able to fit it in on Thursday evening. That would free up time on Friday for something else. Retiro park is a block away from the Prado and is nice for strolling and people watching. Other places you could visit if in the area that don’t take long to see are the Rana de Suerte statue, Puerta de Alcala, Puerta de Toledo, Puente de Toledo, Temple of Debod.

Posted by
4646 posts

You are missing out on one of the most amazing cities in Spain, Toledo. It is just south of Madrid and it is an easy day trip.

Posted by
129 posts

Thanks for the comments so far!

jamieelesabio: Yep--San Gines is probably the first stop Thursday morning! La Campana seems to be what we'll pick for the squid sandwich.

geovagriffith: Yeah, I know we're missing Toledo--and a ton of other sites. We consciously chose Segovia over Toledo for our one day trip. If money wasn't an object, it'd be good to spend another five-ish days in Madrid. This would allow for an overnight to Toledo, visits to the Naval and Archaeological Museums, and some time just to wander around. Alas, it ain't to be on this trip. ;«(

Posted by
637 posts

Hi Willy,

A couple of ideas for your Madrid trip. Your schedule looks very doable. Just leave time to explore. Madrid is a vibrant city, so check out the local events while you are there. One night coming back from dinner at midnight there was a pop-up market with handmade items.

  • For a fun and very local experience just a short walk from Puerto del sol is El Cogollo--delicious and very filling Gallicia food, must try the Octopus. The menu is in Spanish. It is a very small place so unless you want to eat very early, you will need reservations:
  • El Corte is gourmet food court. It is also the place that I did most of my foodie souvenir shopping. The food is actually very good.
  • Devour tour is excellent. We took the Tapas tour. Our only regret is we didn't take the tour at the beginning of our visit. Our guide, Joy gave us insight into some unique restaurants, including her recommendation for El Cogollo (listed above).
  • The Winebus tour was one of the highlights of our visit. Ignacio, the owner, is a generous soul. The video with the Octopus on his website is actually a video that my husband took from our tour. He did everything to make the tour special, from the winery tour to lunch in a restaurant with a century old wine cellar. The highlight of the tour of Segovia was overlooking the castle on a bluff outside the city, sipping wine and watching the sunset.

Hope this helps,

Posted by
129 posts

Sandy: Thanks for the info! I'm glad to hear your experiences with Devour and Winebus were good. My impression from reading reviews was that they'd both be good, must always be wary of online reviews.