My future husband and I will be taking a cruise for our honeymoon ending in Venice, Italy in September and will have a stop overnight in Madrid, Spain before returning to the US (Chicago). We will be arriving in Madrid on a Sunday at 2:45 pm and will be flying out for Chicago at 11:50 am on the following day a Monday. What should we concentrate on seeing in Madrid (1st trip there) since our stop will be super quick. Would we have enough time to do a walk from Puerto del Sol to Royal Palace Loop including a stop at the Royal Palace and a visit to the Prado, with a evening Bull Fight or Flaminco and Tapas? Also, is there something quick but relaxing that we could fit in on Monday morning or is it better to stay up late and sleep later before our flight? Or, could we do a 30-40 min bus trip from Prado to Puerto de Europa and take metro, bus, or taxi to airport from there?
I would suggest the hop-on hop-off bus to get a good overview of the city. You can get off at the palace and see that, then hop back on. The whole route takes about 90 minutes. Unless there is something you specifically want to see there, or unless it is all you want to see, you won't have time for the Prado. It is huge, and it would be expensive if you are just going for an hour or so. If you are arriving by train, you will be near the Prado when you get there. If you are flying in, you have about a 30 minute trip into town by metro, taxi, or van. You really won't have time for anything on Monday morning other than a leisurely breakfast. You have to be at the airport two hours in advance of your flight, and you have a 30 minute trip to get out to the airport.
I appreciate the response. I do know that we would probably only have a very quick visit to the Prado and would plan ahead to research what we most would want to see. I was hoping to visit it within the last few hours as according to what I have read - it is free from 6p-8p. I love art of all kinds but my fiance is not a big art museum fan, so I would not want plan a prolonged stay with him with me especially at the end of our trip. We will be planning on visiting Paris prior to our cruise and will have our opportunity to view the Louvre and/or Orsay when we have more time and he has more patience if you know what I mean. But, I see what you mean - that may not leave us enough time at the Royal Palace...especially if it takes 30 min from airport to hotel before we start at the Royal Palace...not including how long it will take to get there from the hotel and waiting in any lines. And, I know of the 2 - he would much rather see the Royal Palace. It does seem likely we won't have time to do both the more I think about it. This visit to Madrid is going to feel like a tease, but I guess it is always an excuse to return to Spain. Especially considering it originally wasn't part of our original plan. We made it part of our plan when we were looking at flights and realised that our choices of connections was London to get us back Sunday (but we wanted to avoid London Heathrow) or Madrid to get us back Monday with overnight in Madrid (or staying in Venice an extra night and still connecting in Madrid with no visit to sights).
I know what you mean - I was "teased" by Madrid last year (and I hope to get back there later this year). You might want to check the closing time of the palace on Sundays - not sure about that, but it might make a difference in your final decision. I'm not a huge art museum person either. If you are planning on hitting some in Paris, maybe you trade off and let him see the palace in Madrid? One other thing - main dinner service in Spain starts around 9:00 pm, so you have a fair amount of usable time that afternoon and evening.
Have you booked a hotel? I suggest you limit time spent in travel from and to the airport by picking a hotel within walking distance of one of the stops for the Airport bus, either Plaza de Cibeles or the end pinpoint, Puerta de Atocha station. You can walk from either to the Prado and through Retiro Park. With a flight in one day and a flight out the next morning, the last thing I would want to do is spend time on a HoHo bus. Madrid is great for walking and after spending an hour or so at the Prado, you could walk to Puerta del Sol del Sol and down the pedestrian street. Check out Plaza Santa Ana for places to eat. There are a number of tapas places that serve a nice selection in the early evening if you don't want to wait until 9:00. We found a trendy place with a tapas menu and good wines by the glass, and had a nice dinner there at 7:00 pm instead of eating late. Or you could take a longer walk to Plaza Mayor which is beautiful. There are places with tables on the square that make for a memorable experience if you want a glass of wine and tapas. Not as good as the place we found at Plaza Santa Ana, but you can't beat the view.
With an 11:50 am flight you should be on your way to the airport at 9:00, so there is not a lot of time to sleep in, or do much of anything in the morning other than shower and breakfast. So if you want to stay out late and enjoy the nightlife, be sure and set the alarm to get up in time. What is it you would like to see at Puerto de Europa?
Your luggage is checked through to Chicago, right? If you don't have your boarding passes before you leave the airport, you'll have to allow time to check in for your flight in the morning. Early morning walks are usually nice, but I'm not sure about Madrid - sunrise in September is around 8 a.m. The Prado may not be your best choice unless you can get there quickly. At 6 p.m., when the free hours begin, it gets pretty crowded which will slow you down considerably trying to get from room to room to see your top picks.