After living in Madrid for a year and experiencing the city for all it has to give, I knew I wanted to share my Madrid in 2 days itinerary. The Spanish capital is a beautiful place but it can be difficult to pack so much into a short stay. This guide on the best way to see Madrid in 2 days will help you fit in as much as possible during your stay so you can hopefully enjoy it as much as I did! So let’s jump right into the itinerary…
This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Emily Carter.
Day 1 of the Madrid in 2 Days Itinerary
Early morning: Arriving in Madrid
There’s no better way to start your trip than to do some exploring. But make sure you’re wearing some comfortable shoes as you’ll definitely be reaching your 10,000 steps today! From the airport, you’ll either get the metro which will take around 45 minutes and you’ll make two changes, or you can get a taxi. Work out which is cheaper as if there is four of you and you fill a taxi then this may be the best mode of transport and it’s much quicker too!
After your journey from the airport, checking into your hotel and getting sorted out, you’ll more than likely find yourself near Sol, the heart of Madrid. The square of Sol is surrounded by shops, bars and restaurants and definitely an unmissable stop on the city tour.
Have a little look around, see Oso y el Madroño, the famous statue of a bear and a tree, then stop for a pastry in La Mallorquina. You won’t be disappointed. Their pastries are delicious.
Early morning: Plaza Mayor
Head to Plaza Mayor which is only a couple of minutes away. This is the main square in Madrid and ironically translates direct to “main square” from Spanish to English. There is so much going on here from street performers to locals and tourists exploring, so you should stop for a glass of sangria or two and watch the world go by.
Late morning: Mercado de San Miguel
Next up, Mercado de San Miguel! Although it’s a little expensive, it’s a lovely food market where you can try the different pieces of the Spanish cuisine from each stall. And of course, get another Sangria! This food market is incredibly popular so you can struggle to find a seat, but don’t be disappointed if you can’t get a seat. Just around the corner is an amazing tapas bar called El Minibar. It’s quite small and underground but don’t judge a book by its cover, because you won’t be disappointed with your meal.
If you end up at El Minibar, make sure you get the “Queso a la plancha con costra caliente fundido sobre mermelade de tomate y acite de cilantro” which, if I remember correctly, is the last dish on the menu. A little sad I know, and it’s been a while, but when I say this is an unmissable dish, you remember exactly where it is on the menu!
It’s melted goats’ cheese and a sweet jam which sounds simple, but it’s won a few tapas awards so don’t let the picture on the menu put you off! I assume you’re getting into it now and realising the running theme of Sangria. El Minibar also does a great sangria. It’s served in a huge gin glass and for only €2.95 it’s also a bargain!
You’ll soon learn that this tour will include a lot of sangria and tapas stops but what better way to embrace the Spanish culture?
Early afternoon: The Royal Palace of Madrid and the Almudena Cathedral
After a bite to eat, head towards the Royal Palace of Madrid and the Almudena Cathedral. Situated right next to each other, they’re both beautiful buildings which you can go inside. The cathedral is free all day, while the Royal Palce is not. But if you time it right, the palace is free Monday to Thursday, from 4 pm to 6 pm (October to March) and from 6 pm to 8 pm (April to September).
Just around the back of the palace is its gardens. They are also incredibly beautiful, with wild peacocks roaming their paths. It’s a great way to see the Royal Palace from another perspective so get ready to take a few photographs!
Late afternoon: The Temple of Debod
Next on the agenda, the Temple of Debod. The temple itself is in the middle of some gardens. These gardens look over part of the city so you can also see some great views. And if your timing is right, it’s a perfect spot for sunset.
Early evening: Dinner
My absolute favourite place to have dinner in Madrid is El Sur. Small and with a rustic feel, it looks like a typical Spanish restaurant but don’t let that put you off. It has a wide range of food on the menu, so you’ll be able to find something that you fancy. After multiple visits and trying most of the menu, I’ve never had a disappointing meal but make sure you make a booking as it’s a very popular place!
Late evening: Rooftop bar crawl
You’ll learn very quickly that everything happens at night in Spain, and Madrid is no different. After dinner, your next stop needs to be a rooftop bar to see the bright lights of Madrid. There are quite a few to choose from so I’ll give you a couple of options:
Círculo de Bellas Artes was my personal favourite, especially if you want to spend a couple of hours there. Although there is an entrance fee, it is only €5 or €3 for students and it’s definitely worth it. The drinks, once you’re up there, are fairly reasonable, especially in comparison to other rooftops bars. Their cocktails are €10, and their sangria and beers are around €5 a glass.
Radio ME was another lovely rooftop bar on top of a hotel but with slightly less of a view. It is free to enter but the drinks were all around €10 and cocktails nearly double. They have DJs and other live music regularly and it’s a great place for a couple of drinks. It’s also a little more central and in the perfect location to go bar hopping afterwards with the locals. Around the area of Radio ME are lots of small bars which are almost like clubs and this is where most of the locals spend their evenings. They entice you in with a free drink and being the student I was, myself and my friends spent many nights going from bar to bar claiming our free drinks!
Day 2 of the Madrid in 2 Days Itinerary
Early morning: Breakfast
As for your second breakfast in Madrid, you’ll more than likely need something a bit more substantial after a night of bar hopping. I’d recommend either Plenti, Café Federal or Brunch Club. Again, be sure to book as they’re all very popular places and they fill up quickly!
Late morning: Gran Vía
After a delicious breakfast, head towards Gran Vía, a large street full of shops, hotels and bars. On route, you’ll go down one of three busy high streets full of shops. I couldn’t mention Gran Vía without mentioning its HUGE Primark. It’s basically a monument in itself. It’s five stories and the biggest in Europe, but it’s much nicer than the Primark’s back home so definitely take a look.
Early afternoon: Plaza de Cibeles
Next head down past the casino and towards Plaza de Cibeles. Take a look inside the casino as well because the building is incredible. After looking at the beautiful casino building, pop into Mercado de la Reina. It’s a lovely pitstop for a sangria or two and you also get some free tapas that come with your drinks!
Late afternoon: Prado Museum and El Retiro Park
If you continue in the same direction you’ll find yourself on route to El Retiro Park. On your way, you’ll pass the Prado Museum, which is free to all Monday to Saturday from 6 pm to 8 pm and on Sundays. Otherwise, it’s €12 for adults, or free for students and those under 18. It’s a well-known museum and home of some very famous paintings so take a look inside if this is your kind of thing.
Now to El Retiro Park! With over 350 acres, it’s easy to get lost but if you head to the very centre there is a lovely lake where you can hire a rowing boat for only €6. You can also fit up to 4 people in there so it’s a very cheap activity.
What am I going to say next? Of course, sangria. Well, there is a couple of cute cafés in Retiro Park just in case!
Early evening: Dinner
On your route back to the centre of Madrid, there is a lovely restaurant called Tinto y Tapas that you should stop in for a snack! A typical Spanish joint, all their tapas dishes are very simple but delicious. After all your exploring, eating and drinking, you’ll probably fit right in with a well-needed siesta to recharge ready for the evening.
Throughout this article, it’s been very difficult to narrow down my favourite places to eat in Madrid so for your second night I’ll give you a few options so you can choose what you fancy.
My favourite places to eat in Madrid
- Rosi La Loca. With their entrance covered in flowers, it’s a pretty place and the staff are incredibly friendly. If you’d like a suggestion of what to order, then you must get the Burrata! It’s incredible. And if you’re a steak lover, they do an amazing sharing steak for only €35 which is also delicious.
- Ástor. This is a fancier place and a little more expensive but very nice. Remember to book as it will definitely be full!
- Oven Mozzarella. An incredible Italian that also boasts a great burrata! There are a couple around the city so have a Google to see which one is in the best location for you.
My favourite places to drink in Madrid
- Salmon Guru. You may have to queue, but that just means it’s really good, right? They do some amazing themed cocktails!
- 1862 Dry Bar. A little expensive but a very fancy bar for a nice drink!
- Macera Taller Bar. In here you can create your own gin with various flavours and mixers which is great fun. It gets very busy so you may have to wait to get in.
- Garden of Salvador Bachiller. A wonderful ‘secret’ green rooftop bar, you have to go through a shop and use their lift to get up to the bar!
- Ojalá. This has a beach bar downstairs! You’ll need to book but it’s lovely.
- Sala Equis. This used to be an old cinema, but it has live music regularly and a very nice vibe.
Late evening: A night out
After some drinks, you might fancy a night ‘out out’ to end your Madrid 2 day itinerary on a high. In Madrid, you’re in the right place as there are plenty of nightclubs. There is a nightclub called Teatro Kapital which is absolutely HUGE and definitely the place to go on a Friday or Saturday night. Although be sure to keep hold of your friends because with seven floors, I can tell you now it’s easy to get lost.
If you’re planning on visiting Madrid for a weekend, I hope you have a wonderful trip and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or would like any more recommendations to add to your Madrid 2 day itinerary! I’d love to hear all about how you spend your 2 days in Madrid as I’ll certainly be heading back as soon as possible.