If you only have 2 days in Madrid you had better use it.

Spain’s capital is the country’s largest city and attracts many visitors who want to enjoy its vibrant culture and learn more about its history. However, Madrid retains a more authentic feel than other famous Spanish cities.

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If you’re wondering what to do in Madrid in 2 days, you’ll be spoiled for choice. It has some of the best museums, architecture and gardens in the world.

There are many interesting and fun neighborhoods to explore and an eclectic food scene with trendy cafes and great restaurants.

To make our travel plan easier, we made this itinerary for 2 days in Madrid. It includes our suggestions for the best places to visit each morning and afternoon of your stay.

We’ve also shared our favorite places to eat and some of the best accommodation options in the city, with ideas for every budget.

Madrid

Day 1

On your first two days in Madrid, you’ll visit some of the city’s most iconic avenues, see its incredible royal palace, and explore its cathedral.

In the morning

Start your two days in Madrid with a coffee in Malasana, a lively neighborhood in the heart of the city. We recommend going to Misión Café, a high-tech café that also serves incredible food!

After strengthening, it’s time to Puerta del Sol (Sun Gate) – Madrid’s most famous public square.

Here you will find the famous El Oso y el Madroño – a statue of a bear and a strawberry tree, made of stone and rice. It is an iconic symbol of the city and a popular place for locals to meet and chat.

You can also see Spain’s Kilometer Zero here – a stone slab that marks the geographical center of Spain, from which the distance of its national roads is measured.

Puerta del Sol

Take time to wander the surrounding streets, window shop and enjoy the many street performances.

The next stop is the Teatro Real (Royal Theatre), known locally as ‘Ópera’. In front of it, you will see the 19th century Plaza de Oriente, from which you will go to see the Royal Palace of Madrid.

One of Madrid’s most important attractions, this is the largest royal palace in Europe and a must-see in the city.

Words cannot describe the beauty of its interior, which is decorated with incredible works of art and is home to the Spanish Royal Crown Jewels. Book a guided tour to get the most out of your trip (this also allows you to skip a VERY long line!).

It’s easy to spend a few hours in the palace, exploring the banquet hall, throne room, royal apartments and gardens. Unfortunately, you’ll need to leave your camera in your bag – photography inside the building is strictly prohibited.

For lunch, make your way to the Plaza Mayor, an iconic square built in the early 17th century and another popular meeting place for locals.

Be sure to try a ‘bocadillo de calamares’ (calamari sandwich) and admire the baroque architecture around you while you eat.

Royal Palace of Madrid

Afternoon

After lunch, take a short walk back to the palace to visit the nearby Almudena Church.

This cathedral looks old, but construction actually began at the end of the 19th century and was not completed until the 1990s.

The building was finally consecrated in 1993 and a royal wedding was held there in 2004. The royal family used to have to get married in a church on the other side of Madrid!

Your next stop is Plaza del Callao, between Calle Preciados and Gran Via, a 15-minute walk away. It’s an interesting mix of old and new, with historic buildings like the Placio de la Prensa and the Carrion Building, as well as giant digital billboards that resemble Times Square!

From there, walk along Gran Via towards Plaza de España. Here you will discover the monument of Miguel de Cervantes, the famous Spanish writer.

You can see the statue of Cervantes himself, under which the first statues of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are placed.

Gran via Madrid

evening

As the sun sets, head to the Parque del Oeste (West Park), home to the fascinating Temple of Debod.

This original Egyptian temple, dedicated to the goddess Isis, was donated to Madrid by the Egyptian government. It dates back to the beginning of the second century BC and was originally built next to Aswan.

It makes a beautiful place to enjoy the sunset and the garden itself is located on a hill overlooking the Casa de Campo.

For dinner, return to the Plaza de España and choose from one of the excellent restaurants around the square or the surrounding streets.

Park del Oste

Day 2

The second of your two days in Madrid will be spent exploring one of its world-class art museums, sampling fare at its incredible food market, then relaxing and meditating in the city’s stunning gardens.

In the morning

When visiting Madrid in 2 days, a visit to at least one of its art museums is a must. These are located along the Paseo del Prado and include the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia National Museum of Art and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

Since you only have a weekend in Madrid, we recommend that you spend all your time in the Prado. Widely recognized as the best art museum in the world, it houses over 1,300 works of art, including masterpieces by Rubens, Raphael, El Greco, Francisco de Goya and many more.

It’s a huge museum, and even if you go through the collections judiciously, it will take several hours to see everything. It is completely self-guided, but for the best experience we recommend book a guided tour.

This not only gives you access to the switch, but also ensures that you see all the most important parts and understand their importance.

Your guide will explain the context of the pictures you see and their stories, making your visit very memorable and enjoyable.

Prado Museum Madrid

At the end of the morning, take a 20-minute walk down Carrera de S. Jerónimo to the Mercado de San Miguel for lunch. The name ‘market’ is a bit misleading as it’s basically a food hall – and one of the best (and busiest!) you’ll ever come across!

It has been selling delicious food for 100 years and includes stalls owned by some of Madrid’s top chefs. The variety is plentiful, and everything from manchego and jamón to the delicious Venezuelan corn pockets known as arepas are on offer.

Afternoon

After lunch it’s time to relax in one of Madrid’s most famous parks – El Retiro. Once used only by Spanish royalty, it was opened to the public in 1868.

Its 118 hectares of green space has been one of the city’s most popular attractions for locals and visitors since then.

It’s easy to spend the afternoon here wading through the pools, boating on the lake, or even taking a siesta! Be sure to visit the 19th-century Crystal Palace, which often hosts exhibitions, and check out the statue of King Alfonso XII.

El Retiro Park

You will also find a beautiful rose garden – La Rosaleda – at the southern end of the park and numerous playgrounds for children. Weekends are especially good for families, and you can see shows at the puppet theater almost every Saturday and Sunday.

After exiting the park, take a short walk to the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens. It has four level terraces and contains more than 5000 species of plants and trees.

Some special collections also include bonsai trees donated by Felipe González.

evening

After seeing the best of Madrid for 2 days, a fitting end to your trip is to book tickets for a flamenco show at Cardamom. With its exciting and passionate performances, this place is considered one of the best in the city.

It also offers excellent traditional dishes and tapas.

Alternatively, try the record-breaking Sobrino de Botini – the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world. Dating back nearly 300 years, it still serves the original recipes from when it was founded!

Is 2 days in Madrid enough?

Madrid is an exciting city with so much to explore and it’s easy to spend 5 days here without seeing everything it has to offer. However, this itinerary for 2 days in Madrid will give you more than just a taste of its culture, history, art and cuisine.

But keep in mind that this guide is based on two full days in Madrid. If you arrive late or have an early departure time, we recommend adding an extra night to your stay.



Fountain in Plaza de Cibeles

Where to stay in Madrid

Accommodation options in Madrid are varied. Whether you’re traveling on a shoestring or treating someone to a romantic getaway, you can always find something to fit your budget!

Here are some of our favorite places to stay.

Best budget accommodation

Ideally placed for this route, Hostel Foster located just off Gran Via and 100 meters from Santo Domingo Metro Station.

Rooms are clean, modern and brightly decorated, with free WiFi, plasma TVs and DVD players. The rooms do not include breakfast and there is no restaurant, but there are many restaurants and bars nearby.

Best mid-range accommodation

Also boasting a fantastic location Ii Castillas Madridjust 350 yards from the Puerta del Sol district.

The rooms are simply furnished but very comfortable and the hotel has its own restaurant serving traditional Spanish cuisine. There is an option to include breakfast in your room rate.

We also recommend trying DNorte – the restaurant next door to the hotel. It serves excellent grilled meat and fish and has a beautiful kitchen with wooden accents.

The best luxury accommodation

If you want to treat yourself or someone special, look no further Gran Hotel Inglés.

Housed in a 19th-century building, this 5-star hotel is within walking distance of Puerta del Sol. The rooms are decorated in an art deco style and the restaurant is excellent, serving modern Madrid cuisine.

The hotel has a variety of rooms and suites, with all the amenities you’d expect at this price point, including a spa and wellness center and a gym.

Final thoughts on two days in Madrid

We hope this itinerary for 2 days in Madrid has helped you plan your trip. Following our guide will allow you to experience what makes this city so special and soak up its unique atmosphere.

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