From churros for breakfast to copas at the club, experiencing Sunday in Madrid is essential for understanding the Spanish capital.
I’ve definitely been guilty of using Sunday as a travel day. Oh, I’ll just book an early flight back. I get it. You want to be home at a reasonable hour.
But, Sunday is quite arguably the best day in Madrid. If you want to see what Madrid is really all about, hold off on that red-eye flight. Better yet, wait until Monday to leave!
- 55 Non Touristy Things to Do in Madrid
- The Ultimate Roundup of Best Madrid Day Trips
- An Almost Local’s Guide to Madrid
Start Your Sunday in Madrid the Spanish Way
Just because you were out all night partying doesn’t mean you should skip breakfast. Whether you’re stumbling home from the club or setting out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, start your Sunday in Madrid with some churros.
Get yours straight from the fryer, and don’t forget a side of chocolate. Once you’re finished dipping your churros, drink up! It’s much thicker and richer than the powdered hot chocolate I grew up sipping on cold days, but madrileños refuse to let a drop go to waste.
Where to eat churros in Madrid: Tucked down a side street near Plaza Mayor, the city’s most famous spot for this doughy treat is Chocolotería San Ginés (Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5). The first time I stopped in, the line ran all the way to the corner! If that happens to you, come back later. It’s open 24 hours.
Don’t have a sweet tooth? Order pan con tomate (bread with tomato). When I was living in Madrid, this simple breakfast became my go-to. It’s a sliced baguette topped with tomato, olive oil and salt. There’s no need to hunt for the perfect spot. You can get it pretty much everywhere in the city (everywhere in Spain, for that matter).
Sunday brunch in Madrid: If you want to start your day with a mimosa, check out Carmencita Bar (Calle San Vicente Ferrer, 51) for an American-style brunch! Just make sure you make a reservation ahead of time because, as one of the best brunch spots in Madrid, this place really fills up!
Hunt for Treasure at El Rastro in Madrid
If you want to find treasure, you really will need to hunt. In my experience, Madrid’s most popular open air flea market is mostly inexpensive souvenirs and basic necessities like underwear and jeans. For genuine antiques, check out the shops of the main thoroughfare.
Regardless of what you find though, El Rastro’s atmosphere is what makes it one of the best Madrid markets on Sunday. There’s no shortage of sights, sounds and smells as the crowd carries you along. If you want to see the market at its busiest, make your way to Plaza de Cascorro around 11 a.m. Just make sure to keep an eye on your wallet because pickpockets don’t sleep in on Sunday!
Tips for bartering: If you’re looking for amazing deals, El Rastro probably isn’t your scene. At most, vendors will shave 10-15% off the price. However, some won’t haggle at all. I once got €5 off a sweater, and that was a major victory in my book. For your best bet, arrive later (2 p.m. -4 p.m.) because sellers might be more motivated to strike a deal closer to closing time.
Get in One Final Round of Madrid Sightseeing
If you’re in Madrid for a weekend getaway, Sunday might be your last opportunity for sightseeing. Even if you’ve got a few more days, it’s important to keep in mind most museums are closed Monday. Because several popular museums have free hours, it’s one of the best things to do in Madrid on Sunday:
- Museo del Prado (Metro Atocha): Free 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. every Sunday
- Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Metro Atocha): Free 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. every Sunday
- Museo de América (Metro Moncloa): Free all day every Sunday.
- Museo Archelógico (Metro Serrano or Retiro): Free all day every Sunday.
- Museo Taurino (Metro Ventas): Free all day every Sunday.
Enjoy the Fresh Air at Casa de Campo
Madrileños of all ages flock to the city’s green spaces on Sunday for some sunshine and fresh air. It’s one of the best ways to enjoy Sunday in Madrid! Popular activities include running, cycling, picnicking and strolling (the Spanish make an art of it). Everyone makes a huge deal out of Parque del Bueno Retiro, and while it is beautiful, it’s also very crowded.
Personally, I prefer Casa de Campo. Located just west of the city center, Casa de Campo is the largest park in Madrid. Casa de Campo has an even bigger lake than Retiro, and rowboats are available for rent.
Madrid from above: The teleférico (cable car) runs from Parque del Oeste to a restaurant inside Casa de Campo. During the 11-minute ride, you see monuments such as the Almudena Cathedral and Royal Palace as well as get a better idea of just how big the park is. A round-trip ticket costs €6.
Experience the Madrid Tapas Scene
As long as you’re not too claustrophobic, there’s no better place to spend Sunday in Madrid than La Latina. Most of the bars and restaurants are located on Cava Baja and and Cava Alta. It’s hard to go wrong, but a few of my favorite spots are Casa Lucio, El Viajero, Lamiak and La Chata.
Seriously though, don’t let the bumping and jostling alarm you. You might need to get a little creative in order to find a place to stand (tapas are traditionally eaten standing up). Also, it’s best not to go on a completely empty stomach as it may take awhile to get your food. But, once you do, these traditional tapas are sure to be worth the wait:
- Huevos rotos: Fried eggs over potatoes and topped with jamón.
- Patatas bravas: Fried potatoes smothered in a spicy red sauce.
- Callos a la Madrileña: Stew-like dish featuring beef tripe, chorizo, blood sausage and garbanzo beans.
- Tortilla de patata: Egg and potato omelette.
- Caña: Small glass of beer, generally drank with tapas.
How to Spend Sunday Night in Madrid
My first year as an auxiliar de conversación, I didn’t work Monday. So, of course, I was looking for something fun to do on Sunday night. If New York is “the city that never sleeps” then Madrid is “the city that drinks copas till sunrise, slams a café con leche and goes to work.”
Many madrileños don’t seem to care they’ve got to be in the office at 9 a.m., which makes for a fun scene (and potentially wicked hangover) any night of the week.
Jam out at Marula: Near the Segovia Viaduct and just down from Calle de la Morería, Marula Café (Calle de Caños Viejos, 3) is my favorite place to spend a Sunday night in Madrid. The music ranges from funk and classic disco to soul and jazz.
Starting around 11 p.m. Sunday, the RootsJam hip-hop session takes over the stage. It’s a mix of serious artists and people just having fun. The club is small, which makes for an intimate setting, and most of the performers seem to know each other.
An incredible jam band backs everything from freestyles to duets. I won’t pretend to know anything about music, but it’s fun to be around people who are so passionate about what they’re doing. Get ready for some crazy saxophone solos.
How do you generally spend Sunday in a city you’re visiting? Which of these activities will you definitely be adding to your Madrid itinerary?