This is my go-to itinerary for what to see during a 2-day break or a weekend in Madrid.
We’ve had lots of friends and family visit Madrid since we moved here. So, I’ve been busy acting as a local guide, showing visitors around the city, giving them a taste of Spain while keeping everyone entertained.
This self-guided city itinerary is perfect for starting after a nice breakfast and walking at a leisurely pace. It takes in the main sights of Madrid, the best parks and shopping areas, all through a very easy walking route. Follow this and you will see everything you need to in Madrid during a short two day visit or weekend break.
It also gives plenty of opportunities for a beer, ice cream or snack pit-stops along the way. How long you stay at each location is up you, I’m not a fan of city walking guide’s with rigid time frames on… relax, take it at your own pace, you’re on holiday!
Here’s a rough map to give you an idea of which direction to go on each of the two day routes (stops are marked with a red star). Each stop or landmark leads nicely on to the next with lots to see and photograph.
I’d recommend that you grab a city map or use google maps… just so you don’t get lost 🙂
Day 1 itinerary:
The main square in Madrid has awesome architecture and is pretty impressive. You can wander around the square, laughing at street performers and taking photos or stop and have a coffee. Check out the little hidden shops on the squares edge (in the shade) and the bars and restaurants that are running off the main square.
Tip: You can get a great bocadillo de calamares here, my fave is at La Campana!
Mercado San Miguel
This the most famous food market in Madrid and a great lunch stop. Take a look at all the counters and pick out what you fancy. A few olives here, a croquette there, a fresh oyster here, a glass of cava there. They have literally everything you could want under one roof, its fab! Everything is clearly labeled behind glass stalls, with prices.
Tip: On a hot day they have the water misters inside to help you stay cool!
The Trafalgar square of Madrid. Its where you’ll find the famous bear and strawberry tree statue and one of the main Metro stations. It’s the most central spot in the city and you can easily get anywhere from here. The open space tends to draw in street performers, groups of lazy teenagers and event promotions.
Tip: There are some great shopping streets that run off Sol towards Gran Via!
The most picturesque park in Madrid. It’s got botanical gardens, a crystal palace, a boating lake, swans, museums and monuments galore. But it also has grassy areas, little bars, cafes and ice cream stands. You can easily while away the hours here. Each little area you walk through feels like a completely new park.
Tip: Look for little turtles that live in the pond in front of Palacio de Cristal!
This is the oldest part of the city and famous tapas area. It’s my favourite place to get dinner. You have so many wonderful bars and restaurants to choose from here it’s insane. Cava Baja is the main street lined with small traditional bars where you can get delicious tapas and pinchos. On Sundays it’s the place where Madrid locals go to spend the evening bar-hopping.
Tip: If you want to enjoy the sun and sit outside find Plaza de san Andres or Plaza de la Paja!
Day 2 itinerary:
The the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. Its only really used nowadays for state visits and ceremonies but is a must see when visiting Madrid. It’s a beautiful building that you can either admire from afar or go inside to explore. It’s huge, it’s the largest royal palace in Europe by floor area and inside its grand opulence is well-maintained. Set at the top of a hill, it gives spectacular views of the west side of Madrid and the Casa de Campo park.
Tip: If you want go inside book your tickets online to queue jump!
Templo de Debod
An ancient Egyptian temple that was moved to Madrid as a donation from Egypt in the 70’s. It’s a lovely photo opportunity and is nestled in the Parque del Oeste, which is a nice walk from Palacio Real via Jardines Sabatini & Plaza de Espana.
Tip: If you have time for a de-tour, take the nearby Teleferico cable car for a 30-min round trip ride into Casa de Campo Park!
The Shoreditch type area of Madrid. It’s the cool, chilled out trendy barrio where you’ll find the more modern and independent cafes, bars and shops. It’s an Instagrammers dream and great spot to get lunch or coffee and cake. If you want to find the latest foodie trend or see some good street art, this is the place to go.
Tip: Check out the quirky vintage clothes & second hand book stores!
The busy main street that runs across the city from Plaza de Espana to Banco de Espana. It’s good for a bit of retail therapy but you’ll also find theatres, cinemas and famous landmarks here. The most photographed spots are the Capitol building with the Schweppes sign and the Metropolis building with its ornate roof.
Tip: The Primark on Gran Via is the biggest in Europe and its pretty awesome for bargain hunting!
Plaza de Santa Ana
Is a large square full of cafes and restaurants with lots of outdoor seats to enjoy the sunshine. There are also many restaurants in Las Letras barrio, you can anything from traditional to modern cuisine. My favourite streets just behind the square are Calle de las Huertas and Plaza de Angel.
Tip: The Melia ME Reina Victoria hotel has a great views from its rooftop bar Radio!
There are lots of great things that I’ve missed off this guide (just to keep it a shorter walk) and I haven’t included any museums (but will do a Madrid museum blog later).
If there are any cool sights you love in Madrid and think I should cover next time just mention it in the comment box.
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…. Next blog is all about my trip to the Costa Del Sol