Series: Planning for 36 Hours in Madrid, Spain

Planner’s Travel Series 

About the series: Welcome to our ongoing travel series. These are all posts written by planning students and professionals about what to do in a given city when looking for Brunch, a Brew, or a good idea on a Budget. To cap it all off, we include a fun planning fact!

By Jo Kwon

About the visit: I visited Madrid a couple of times, but this was the first time to experience the city from a planner’s perspective! As the capital of Spain, Madrid offers a variety of food, activities, and scenery. Moreover, I met a few Madrileños to find out why Madrid is an attractive city!



Many may think of churros as a dessert, but it is brunch food for Madrileños. Churros, porras (the larger and chunkier version), and chocolate are musts in Spain. I had to explore the different churros and found the best place! Chocolateria 1902 has the crispiest churros that are freshly made. It’s easy to grab churros from early morning to late night. Don’t forget to order hot chocolate for dipping churros and porras!


Tinto de Verano

Another must in Spain is having tinto de verano, a summer red wine, near Plaza de Mayor. Tinto de verano is usually a mixture of red wine, tonic water, and lemonade. With the hot weather, tinto de verano is a tasteful and affordable choice. Although Madrileños suggest not drinking tinto de verano in popular tourist sites since bars and restaurants will be using cheap wine. Instead of tinto de verano, la cerveza clara, which is a beer with lemon. If you prefer something non-alcoholic, there are other options. Many restaurants have coffee as dessert. Coffee is available at low prices. On top of cheap coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice is served in a variety of places such as cafes, restaurants, and grocery stores.


One of the best things in Madrid is beer and tapas, way cheaper than those in the States. Beer comes in different sizes, and the smallest size is a caña, which is only one euro! If you’re finding yourself a bit thirsty, trying out a large size, jarra, is a great option. Depending on the type and size of tapas, prices can vary. However, getting a drink with a couple of tapas for under 10 euros is easy. Madrid has a tapas street called Calle de la Cava Baja, and tourists can have an excellent tapas crawl all day. During lunchtime, most restaurants offer menú del día (menu of the day), which costs between 10 to 15 euros. Menú del día usually includes a dish, a drink, and a dessert. One thing to remember is to go later in the afternoon because many restaurants do not open until 1 or 2 pm.

Fun Planning Fact 


Many places in the summer are under construction, but Puerta del Sol is a major construction that is noticeable in one of the most popular tourist sites. The mayor, Jose Luís Martínez-Almeida, stated that Puerta del Sol will change to its original form of the 19 century, which is pedestrian focused. The construction began in August 2020 and the vision of this area is to create space for only pedestrians with zero emissions. The 7,000 daily vehicle movements are completely removed and dedicated to pedestrians! Read more about their ambitious new project on Puerta del Sol here.

Featured Image: La Puerta de Toledo. Photo Credit: Jo Kwon

Jo (Joungwon) Kwon is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of City and Regional Planning. She is interested in using visuals in plans, specifically in environmental planning. She has been a part of CPJ since 2019. With a background in Statistics and English Literature, she received her M.A. in Computational Media at Duke University. In her free time, she enjoys watching indie films, going to live performances, and drinking good coffee.

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