What to see in Madrid in 3 days: Itinerary for a weekend

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Madrid is the meeting point where entertainment, cultural and recreational activities satisfy the taste of everyone, young and old.
Being able to enjoy all the wonders of Madrid in just 3 days is really impossible, some renunciation is unfortunately inevitable. However, with a little organization, it is quite easy to see most of the attractions of interest. Here is a itinerary for a weekend in the capital of Spain!


  1. 1 day
  2. 2 day
  3. 3 day
  4. What to do in the evening? Movida and nightlife in the Chueca district
  5. User questions and comments

1 day

1 - Morning: Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral

The first day is dedicated to visiting some musts. By bus Lines 3, 25, 39 and 148 or Metro Lines 5 and 2 (stop at Ópera station) we reach the Royal Palace of Madrid, the official residence of the Spanish royalty (opening at 9:00 in summer and 9:30 in winter, recommended visit time about 2 hours).
Built on an area of ​​135.000 square meters and with its 3418 rooms it is the largest functioning palace in Europe. Of particular note are the Gate of the Prince, on the eastern side, i Gardens of Sabatini (monumental park located in front of the northern facade), Campo del Moro (on the south side), but above all the luxurious interiors, among which the Hall of the Alabarderos where to admire a fresco by Tiepolo depicting theApotheosis of Aeneas.

Opposite the southern facade of the building is the Almudena Cathedral (here are some tips for visiting).
The main facade of the cathedral is characterized by a Tuscan-inspired portico, while the overlying loggia is of the Ionic order; above the loggia, in a baroque-style niche, is the statue of the Virgin of the Almudena, Flanked by four sculptures depicting Sant'Isidoro, Santa Maria de la Cabeza, Santa Teresa d'Avila and San Fernando.

2 - Afternoon: Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol and Lunch

In 8 minutes walk from the Royal Palace we reach Plaza Mayor, originally known as Plaza de Arrabal, where the main food market of the city was organized (recommended visit time around 30 minutes).
Today the square is one of the most important in the city and is animated by street artists. It is covered with buildings on three sides, and is one of the most iconic places in Madrid. It has nine entrances of which the most famous is theKnife Bow. In the center is the Equestrian statue of Felipe III.

Only 4 minutes on foot separate Plaza Mayor from Puerta del Sol, the most classic meeting point in Madrid and the "rival" of the Plaza Mayor (recommended visit time around 30 minutes).
Sol hosts the events of the New Year's Eve. Tradition has it that on this occasion, local people quickly eat 12 grapes in a row, synchronizing with the chimes of the clock.
Symbol of the city of Madrid is a sculpture placed in the center of the square: the Bear Statue, built in the second half of the twentieth century and the work of the sculptor Antonio Navarra Santafé.

Quick lunch at La Mallorquina, a historic venue located on the western side of the square. This is a delightful patisserie with seating that also offers rotisserie pieces. Get directions

3 - Evening: Barrio La Latina and Dinner

With the metro line 5, stop at "La Latina" station, we arrive in the district of the same name.
Here you can decide to visit architectures such as the Royal Basilica of San Francisco the Great, stroll among suggestive gardens such as Las Vistillas (offers a splendid sunset) or simply explore the narrow and sinuous streets of medieval origin that characterize the neighborhood.
Remember, if you find yourself visiting Barrio La Latina on a Sunday, you definitely can't miss the market El Rastro of Madrid, the most famous flea market in the city.

For dinner ... at 21:00 the traditional aperitifs begin. The rule is to jump from one tapas to another. Grab a tapas drink in one bar, then take your breath before moving on to the next bar and do it all over again. To feel like a real Madrilenian, order a caña and not just a beer.

In summary

  • Distance traveled: 2,3 km / 29 min
  • Places visited: Royal Palace (full € 11,00, reduced € 6,00), Almudena Cathedral (free), Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Barrio La Latina
  • Skip the Line, Guided Tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid Royal Palace of Madrid and Retiro Park: Skip-the-Line Tour Segway Tour in the Old Town
  • Lunch at La Mallorquina (Get directions), tapas dinner in Barrio La Latina (Get directions)

2 day

1 - Morning: The Museums of Paseo del Prado

By metro (stops: Banco de España and Atocha) or the bus (lines 9, 10, 14, 19, 27, 34, 37 and 45) we arrive at Paseo del Prado, one of the most important streets in Madrid where the most important museums.
Impossible to visit all 3 in one morning, the advice is to choose one or at most 2. In fact, the museums open at 10:00, and we suggest you dedicate at least 2 hours to each one.

Prado Museum (opening 10: 00-19: 00, guided tour and purchase of priority ticket recommended), where you can admire works by the greats of European art, such as Raphael's The Holy Family, Dürer's Self-portrait , Artemisia by Rembrandt, Emperor Charles V by Titian, The Three Graces by Rubens.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (opening 10: 00-19: 00, Monday 12: 00-16: 00, book your ticket online to avoid queues), offers visitors a collection of around 1.000 works, ranging from the th century to to contemporary art. Here you can admire works from the Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Expressionism and Pop Art.

Finally, the Reina Sofia Museum (opening 10: 00-19: 00, closed on Tuesdays, priority entrance is recommended), a museum of modern and contemporary art. The main attraction is undoubtedly the Guernica by Picasso. It offers a permanent collection with works by Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Jorge Oteiza, Andy Warhol.

2 - Afternoon: Lunch + Parque del Retiro

With the metro line 2 you arrive in a few minutes at the Retiro stop. Before diving into the beauties of the park, we suggest one short lunch break in one of the many kiosks present: with an average cost of € 5,00-7,00 you can enjoy a nice plate of Tortillas de Patatas (potato omelette).

At the Retiro Park (open from 6:00 to 23:00, suggested visit time about 2 hours), you can enjoy walks and total relaxation among paths, tree-lined meadows, ponds. Not to be missed The Rose Garden, a splendid 1915 rose garden with over 4.000 roses of different varieties, the Velàzquez Palace, made with bricks of two different shades, takes its name from the architect who built it, the Crystal Palace, building entirely made with glass, crystal and metal by the architect Velàzquez, il Wood of the Disappeared, consisting of 192 trees, is dedicated to the victims of the attacks of 11 March 2004, the Fountain of the Fallen Angel, representing Lucifer during his fall, a cult place for esoteric enthusiasts, and the Monument to Alfonso XII, a sculptural complex created by over twenty artists, symbol of the Retiro Park.

3 - Evening: Salamanca district + Dinner

In 10 minutes on foot from the Retiro Park metro station, you arrive in the Salamanca district, the most luxurious district of Madrid, perfect for those who want to shop. It also offers some interesting attractions such as Las Ventas and Plaza Colon.
Sales (open from 10:00 to 17:30, recommended visit time one hour) is the most important bullring in Spain, la third largest in the world. This huge amphitheater was designed and developed according to particular characteristics as an arena dedicated to the construction of bullfights. Occasionally it becomes the theater of shows and musical concerts.

For dinner, this time we recommend a traditional restaurant for fish lovers, namely La Trainera in calle de Lagasca 60, one of the most popular marisqueríe in Madrid - Get directions

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,4 km / 31 min
  • Places visited: Prado Museum (full € 15,00, reduced € 7,50), Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (full € 12,00, reduced € 8,00), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (€ 10,00), Parque del Retiro (free), Salamanca district, Las Ventas (€ 14,90 full, € 11,90 reduced, € 5,90 under 12).
  • Skip-the-line entrance to the Prado Museum without queuing Entrance and tour to the Reina Sofìa Museum Tickets for the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum Segway ride to the Retiro Park
  • lunch in the kiosks near the Retiro Park, dinner at "La Trainera" - Get directions

3 day

1 - Morning: Plaza de Cibeles

With the metro line 2, Banco de España stop, you arrive at Plaza de Cibeles (suggested visit time 2 hours).
There is perhaps no view more impressive than that of Plaza de Cibeles, thanks to the stupendous fountain and the Grand Cibeles Palace. The latter, once the headquarters of the Spanish postal service, is now the seat of the Town Hall, as well as an important cultural center open to the public. If you are in town during an important Real Madrid football match, should the team win, don't miss the traditional celebrations right here.

2 - Afternoon: Santiago Bernabéu Stadium + Lunch

With the metro line 10, femata Santiago Bernabeu, or by bus lines 14, 27, 40, 43, 120, 147 and 150, you get to the Madrid stadium (weekdays from 10:00 to 19:00, holidays from 13:30 at 18:30, recommended visit time 2 hours, with the purchase of the hop-on hop-off bus the tour of the stadium is included).
All football fans cannot miss a visit to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, the "home" of one of the most important teams ever.

Football, which for the Spaniards, as well as for the Italians, is an institution, is one of the reasons that has allowed the Madrid city to gain notoriety all over the world. The football sports club Real Madrid Football Club, is among the most sought after. Almost all the best players have played in its ranks: starting with the historians Di Stefano and Puskàs up to the multi-awarded with the Golden Ball Cristiano Ronaldo, Via Zidane, the other Ronaldo (the phenomenon, so to speak), and Raùl.

At the end of the visit it is time to indulge in a lunch. We suggest Realcafé BERNABÉU, located at Avda. Concha Espina, 1, Puerta 30. It is not particularly known for its cheap prices, however fixed menus of the day are offered from € 18,00 per person - Get directions

For those not in the least interested in football and therefore in visiting the Bernabeu, alternatively we suggest to dedicate the afternoon to visit one of the three museums of Paseo del Prado.

3 - Evening: Malasaña neighborhood, Plaza del Dos de Mayo + Dinner

By Metro (L1-L4, Bilbao stop / L2-L4, San Bernardo stop / L1-L10, Tribunal stop) we arrive at May two, the heart and soul of the eclectic neighborhood of Malasaña of Madrid, a place full of cafes and shops, playgrounds, outdoor terraces, and often home to fairs and flea markets. This is the perfect place to grab a caña or a tinto de verano (popular version of the well-known sangria), while mingling with the locals.

For dinner, again Tapas! Make a note of La Musa, Calle Manuela Malasaña, 18. Average prices between € 4,00 and € 7,00 for Tapas - Get directions

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 9,9 km / 28 min
  • Places visited: Plaza de Cibeles, Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (€ 25,00 full, € 10,00 under 14), Malasaña district
  • Tickets for the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium tour
  • lunch at Realcafé BERNABÉU (Get directions), dinner at La Musa (Get directions)

What to do in the evening? Movida and nightlife in the Chueca district

"Madrid me mata" is the recurring phrase among Madrid boys for the intense nightlife that is experienced in the Spanish capital, an exasperating energy that is difficult to keep up with.
In fact, Madrid never seems to sleep, also because Madrid's fun evenings start very late and last until dawn; at any time, day or night, there are people around, from typical bars, to the most fashionable clubs ... wherever there is life!

Entrance to discos, which don't close before 6 am, is often free, you pay for the drinks; cinemas give shows even after midnight and the theaters are close to bars and restaurants, which are also open until morning.
In recent years, the topical places have changed a bit: today sleepless nights are lived in the heart of Chueca.

To get to Chueca, Take metro, line 5 (Green) Chueca stop - Get directions

Before leaving: useful tips

  • When to visit Madrid: the best times are spring and summer, especially the month of May - find out more about when to go to Madrid
  • Madrid is connected with Barajas International Airport, with direct flights from major European cities and Italy - Compare flights to Madrid
  • Getting around: easy to get around on foot or by public transport (metro, bus and tram) - find out more about getting around Madrid
  • like all big cities, the central districts are the most expensive, but they allow you to have everything at your fingertips. However, there are excellent solutions in hostels or b & b even from € 50,00 per night -
  • What is the Madrid Card: for a flash holiday of only three days it is your ace in the hole. The iVenture Card is a tourist card that offers discounts for transport, entrances, drinks and clubs. You can also buy it online here.

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