Planning to spend 2 days in Madrid? Madrid – a vibrant metropolis that combines the old with the new, Spanish heritage with a foreign culture, as well as traditional ideas with modern twists. Regarded as the financial hub of Spain, whilst also serving as a historical capital, Madrid is a city of contrasts and had an unforgettably unique atmosphere.
This two-day Madrid itinerary will take you from its oldest heritage, such as the Royal Palace and Temple Debod, all the way to its more contemporary quirks, such as the Gran Via. Like most European cities, there is so much to explore, but this concise two-day itinerary will help you to get the most out of your trip.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Two Days in Madrid: Where to stay?
- 2 How to spend 2 days in Madrid: a Perfect Itinerary
- 2.1 Madrid in 2 days: Day One
- 2.2 Madrid in 2 Days: Day Two
- 3 Practical Information for your 2-day Madrid Itinerary
Two Days in Madrid: Where to stay?
Hostal Central Palace Madrid: This guest house has an elegant ambiance with incredible views overlooking the Cathedral, Royal Palace and Sabatini Gardens. Spacious rooms with classical décor and wooden floors make you wish you could stay forever! Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá: Ideally located and beautifully decorated with spacious rooms, this is a luxury boutique-style hotel with attentive staff. There’s a rooftop pool that you can enjoy during the Summer months and 3 on-site restaurants serving up Spanish and French cuisine. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
How to spend 2 days in Madrid: a Perfect Itinerary
Madrid in 2 days: Day One
Breakfast with Churros
One of Madrid’s foodie favorites is Churros con Chocolate, an indulgent and delicious breakfast for those with a sweet tooth. Churros are doughy and sugary sticks, that may be dunked in huge cups of thick melted chocolate.
The best place to try this dish is Chocolateria San Gines; opened in 1894, this is the ultimate place to start your Madrid experience, as the churros are irresistible, reasonably priced, and the atmosphere is vibrant.
After breakfast, head towards the Royal Palace of Madrid; however, take your time in getting there, as one of the most charming things about the city is watching it come to life in the morning.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official home of the Spanish royal family and has an extensive history to it. With the title of the biggest royal palace in Europe, and boasting a whopping 2,800 rooms, it is definitely a draw-droppingly beautiful building. Visitors are able to go inside certain parts of the palace, as well as wander around the extensive gardens.
By getting to the palace at 10 am, which is when it opens, you will hopefully be able to avoid the tourist crowds that often come later in the day.
Lunch at Mercado de San Miguel
Nestled in the heart of the city lies Mercado de San Miguel, a stunning covered market filled to the brim with a selection of Spanish food and drink. The market is the perfect place to sample local delicacies and wines, as well as to experience an atmosphere that consists of both tourists and locals alike. Some of the best stalls to visit for lunch include How Beautiful is Panama, Uvepan, and The Yogureria.
Walk off your wholesome lunch by strolling down Madrid’s central shopping street, the Gran Via. Here you can find lots of major shops and restaurants, in Art Deco and Art Nouveau style buildings. Known as the Spanish Broadway and the Street that Never Sleeps, the Gran Via certainly has a unique atmosphere to it.
Eventually, the Gran Via will lead to Retiro Park, a beautiful and famous greenspace with an abundance of hidden gems and things to do. For example, a must on the list is the Paseo de la Argentina, otherwise known as the Statue Walk, which as the name suggests, is a row of statues in a gorgeous setting! Afterward, head to the lake to do some people-watching, relaxing, and maybe even taking a boat trip!
Palacio de Cristal
Nestled in the heart of Retiro Park is Palacio de Cristal, a stunning glass palace inspired by London’s Crystal Palace. The Palace was created in 1887, and its breath-taking beauty and lakeside location remain timeless; entrance is free.
After relaxing in the park, head towards Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s most famous and iconic square; united by nine different entry points, the Plaza is the perfect place to experience a great atmosphere, particularly in the early evening. There are lots of lovely restaurants and bars surrounding the square, which offer incredible views; take some time to sit and admire the authentic Spanish architecture of the square.
Sunset at Debod Temple
Although Madrid has many beautiful places to view the sunset from, perhaps the most astonishing is Debod Temple. Located in West Park, this temple is from ancient Egypt which was rebuilt in Madrid and is from the 2nd Century. This is the perfect way to draw your first evening in the city to a close, and experience something that many tourists bypass. Admission is free as well!
The surrounding area of the Debod Temple has an exciting atmosphere and is the perfect place to sample some authentic Spanish food. Head to Debod Pinchos y Tapas, which is only a short walk from the temple, and offers some of the city’s most irresistible tapas, which are small plates intended for sharing.
Madrid in 2 Days: Day Two
There are so many places in Madrid that offer an amazing breakfast, and one of these is La General. Here, you can find irresistible, as well as reasonably priced, pastries and coffees. There are also hot food options too, such as the avocado toast, which is absolutely delicious!
Museo del Prado
The best way to begin your second day in Madrid is by visiting perhaps its top cultural sight, the Museo del Prado. This is one of the greatest art museums and has one of the most extensive collections of artworks, including works by Goya, Rubens, Raphael, and many more. The museum opened in 1819 and is built in a neo-classical style. You could spend hours wandering around this gorgeous museum, as there is simply so much to see!
Spain’s national museum of 20th-century art, it’s at the Reina Sofia that you can see Picasso’s masterpiece ‘Guernica’ along with a collection of 21,699 other works by a variety of Spanish artists including Dalí and Miró. Organized by theme and date, the museum is split into 3 parts – Collection 1 contains works from 1900-1945, Collection 2 covers art from 1945-1968, and Collection 3 houses artworks from 1962-1982.
Showcasing over 1,000 pieces of European art from the 13th century – 20th century, the Thyssen covers artistic movements including Italian primitives, German Renaissance, 19th-century American art, Impressionism, German Expressionism avant-garde, right through to Pop Art. See work by Dürer, Caravaggio, Rubens, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and so many other famous and lesser-known artists.
Founded in 1725, Botin is the world’s oldest restaurant. Centrally located just off of Plaza Mayor, the restaurant truly feels as though you are stepping back in time; its tavern-style and authentic-looking interiors give you a taste of its original set-up. The food itself is gorgeous and quintessentially Spanish; its most famous dish is the suckling pig, which, like many other of the restaurant’s dishes, is cooked in the original wood-fired ovens.
Barrio de Salamanca
This neighborhood is the city’s most upmarket area, where you can find snazzy bars, restaurants, and designer shops. Even if you aren’t looking to splash out on some designer outfits, this district is perfect to wander around, as the architecture is beautiful, and there are lots of little side streets that hour independent boutiques.
Malasaña is perhaps the city’s trendiest neighbourhood. Here you can find an array of vintage shops, which are housed in buildings covered in bright and colourful wall-art, which gives the area a really laidback and youthful vibe.
Puerta del Sol
Spend your final evening in what is often regarded as the heart of Madrid, Puerta del Sol; it is a place where everyone gathers, and is particularly wonderful in the evening, due to the abundance of street performers and groups of visitors. There are also lots of bars, cafes and restaurants around this area, as well as popular shops.
Just a short walk from Puerta del Sol is the restaurant Rosi La Loca Taberna, which is rated the 59th best restaurant in Madrid on Trip Advisor. This colourful eatery provides traditional Spanish dishes with great service, at a very good price. There are many restuarants in the city that are designed solely for tourists, and this certainly is not one of them; visit Rosi La Loca Taberna for an authentic experience.
If you are staying more than 2 days in Madrid you might be interested in these amazing day trip ideas.
Practical Information for your 2-day Madrid Itinerary
When is the best time to visit Madrid?
The best time to visit Madrid
Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-October) are generally considered the best time to visit Madrid in terms of balancing good weather with fewer crowds however, Summer (good for events) and Winter (good for deals) shouldn’t be entirely ruled out. There are lots going on in the city in Spring despite the rain showers that are abundant in April (average temperatures of 14c) and May (18.5c).
How to get to and from the airport
Metro: Metro trains run every 5-15 minutes from the airport to the city center (line 8 Nuevos Ministerios station) between 6.00-1.30. There are 2 metro stations at the airport, one at terminal 2, and one at terminal 4, free shuttle buses move passengers arriving into terminals 1 and 3 to terminals 2 and 4. Price: €3.00 Duration: 22 minutes
Bus: A yellow express bus runs every 15 minutes 24/7 between the airport (terminals 1, 2, and 4) and the city center stopping at O’Donnell, Plaza de Cibeles, and Atocha central railway station. The bus only stops at the train station between 6.00-23.30. Price: €5.00 Duration: 50 minutes
Train: The RENFE railway also operates from the airport (terminal 4) going to the central railway station in the city center. Trains run every 5-15 minutes between 06.00-23.33 with 5 stops – Chamartín station, Nuevos Ministerios station, Atocha central railway station, Méndez Álvaro station and Príncipe Pío station. Price: €2.60 Duration: 27 minutes
Taxi: Taxi’s wait outside each of the terminals at Madrid airport and benefit from a single fixed-rate fee when traveling within the city ring, even when traveling late at night. If traveling outside of the city ring, you’ll be charged by the meter. Price: €30 Duration: 20 minutes
Private Transfer: Spend a little more by booking online with Welcome Pickups and have the comfort of a friendly English-speaking driver waiting for you outside of arrivals with any necessary travel extras that you pre-book along with child seats. They’ll wheel your luggage to the vehicle and will be only too happy to offer recommendations on where to eat and what to see and do. Price: €35 Duration: 20 minutes.
How to get around Madrid
Madrid is a very walkable city when you stay in the centre as most of the top attractions are close together, within 2km of each other. The only times you’ll really need to take public transport are to reach Palacio de Cristal which is a 40 minute walk from the cathedral and Atocha railway station which is a 30 minute walk.
To really maximize your time and energy, you can move around the city by metro and bus. To use the metro you’ll need a public transport card (€2.50) which you can fill with single or 10-trip passes whilst the EMT blue buses accept cash and the metro travel card.
If you need to travel further afield, make use of the commuter rail system called Cercanías. There’s also a hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus that will drop you directly outside, or as near as possible, to the top tourist attractions with the added benefit of audio commentary so you can learn about the sights you’re passing.
Though Madrid has so much to see, one of the most enjoyable, and as you will discover, memorable parts of your trip is simply wandering around the beautiful side streets, and admiring the architecture, history, and hustle and bustle of city life.
When you leave Madrid, you will undoubtedly be craving another trip to the city, as you will feel as though there was always more to see, do and experience.