Things to do in Madrid

3-Day Madrid Itinerary | The Definitive Guide

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Described as a golden metropolis with an artistic pedigree that's hard to find elsewhere, Madrid is a traveler's paradise. Often forgotten because of its more famous northern neighbor Barcelona, the capital city boasts beautiful architecture, world-class art galleries, delectable food choices and a thriving nightlife that stands out in stark contrast to the subdued fine arts and dining prospects of the day.

And while the city doesn't have an equivalent of the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum, it's teeming with medieval mansions and stunning royal palaces along with beautiful instances of modern Spanish architecture. You'll find countless opportunities for an unforgettable weekend in Madrid with must-visit highlights including Prado Museum, Royal Palace Puerta del Sol, Mercado San Miguel, Basilica de San Francisco El Grande and more!

The third largest city in Spain, Madrid features an attractive and unique blend of tradition and modernity. If you have 3 days in Madrid, we have put together the perfect itinerary to give you the best experience in the city.

How to Spend 3 Days in Madrid Under 210 Euros


Looking to explore Madrid on a budget? Headout with us and we'll show you how!

Day 1 : Reina Sofia Museum, Royal Palace, El Retiro Park, Gondola Ride
€90
Day 2 : Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Wanda Metropolitano Stadium; Madrid Cable Car
€49
Day 3 : Day Trip to Toledo and Segovia
€62

Total

€201

Book your Madrid Attractions tickets on Headout, and spend just €201 on your 3 day vacation in Madrid! Hit up all the prime attractions in the city and save more while you explore more. Read on to see our detailed 3-day Madrid Itinerary and learn more about visiting each of these attractions.

Day 1

Exploring Madrid's Museums

Reina Sofia Museum | Prado and The Royal Palace | Plaza Mayor | El Retiro Park
Madrid Itinerary
Morning
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Reina Sofia Museum and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Paseo del Arte)

Begin your Madrid adventure by visiting two of the most iconic museums in the city; Reina Sofia Museum and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. After breakfast, make your way to the Thyssen-Bornemisza, which is amongst the largest and most precious privately held art collections in the world. Spanning multiple centuries worth of art, including pieces from the Baroque and Rococo era, the Renaissance, the age of Romanticism and the eventual evolution into the Modernist and Impressionist era. Art from renowned artists like Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, and others is on display here.

After exploring Thyssen-Bornemisza, make your way to the Reina Sofia Museum. This hospital-turned museum is the national Spanish museum for 20th-century art and houses what is believed to be the greatest collection of art by 20th-century icons, Picasso, Miro, and Dali. The revered 'Guernica' by Pablo Picasso is also housed in this museum, apart from 1652 other paintings. Apart from the artwork, the museum itself is like a painting with beautiful corridors and stunning hallways.

Madrid Prado Royal Palace
Afternoon
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Prado and The Royal Palace

Next up, you'll get to tour the famous Prado Museum. To get to the museum, you'll have to walk down the glorious Paseo del Prado, an avenue filled with lined with trees and ornate fountains. After the refreshing walk, enter the Prado Museum for a deep-dive into the cultural and artistic history of Europe. The main Spanish national art museum, this mecca of art houses the finest collection of European art from the 12th to the 20th century. Some of the artists whose work is showcased here include Francisco Goya, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens and many others.

Next, you'll get to explore another iconic Madrid landmark, the Royal Palace. The official residence of the royal family of Spain, the Royal Palace is a must-visit for the beauty and splendor on display here. During your tour, you'll get to witness pieces from the royal art collection, and other objects of historic and artistic significance. At the end of your tour, visit the picturesque vantage point and admire the stunning views of Madrid.

Madrid El Retiro Park
Evening
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Plaza Mayor and El Retiro Park

A public space in the middle of Madrid, the Plaza Mayor is the perfect place to shop, eat, walk around and just enjoy the outdoors. The plaza was constructed during the Habsburg period of Philip III's reign during 1580 to 1619. Plaza Mayor is a massive open space, perfect for a breezy evening break from museums and art galleries.

Continue your journey through Madrid by visiting the heart of the city's greenery, El Retiro Park. This green oasis is spread across 125 hectares and is home to more than 15000 trees! Apart from the greenery, the park also houses monuments and gardens including Jardin de Vivaces, Rosaleda Rose Garden, Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios, Parterre Frances and more. During the weekends, you can also catch a live puppet show at the Teatro de Titeres.

Day 2

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

Santiago Bernaneu Stadium | Wanda Metropolitano Stadium | Madrid Cable Car
Madrid Itinerary
Morning
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Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

A football stadium in Madrid, the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium has been the home stadium of Real Madrid since 1947. A must-visit for fans of the football club, the stadium has a seating capacity of 81,044. Your tour of the stadium will include visits to iconic sites like the tunnels, press room, presidential box and even the locker rooms! Explore the iconic stadium at your own pace as you learn about its history.

Madrid El Retiro Park
Afternoon
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Wanda Metropolitano Stadium Tour

Continue your Madrid stadium tour by visiting the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. The new home stadium of Atletico Madrid, Wanda Metropolitano derived its name from the primary sponsor, Wanda. The stadium opened in September 2017 and is scheduled to host the 2019 Champions League final. Your guided tour of the stadium includes visits to important facilities such as the changing rooms and the press room. You'll also get to see the many trophies housed in the museum cabinets.

Madrid Cable Car
Evening
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Madrid Cable Car

End your second day in Madrid by going on a fun ride at the Teleférico de Madrid, the city's only cable car attraction. Presently one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, the cable car opened to the public in 1969 after much complications. The Teleferico comprises of 80 cabins, each with a capacity of 80. The ride runs between Parque Oeste and Casa de Campo and offers breathtaking views of the city. The attraction closes at 7:00 PM to make sure you reach the starting location, Paseo del Pintor Rosales, on time.

Day 3

Day Trip to Toledo and Segovia

Madrid
Madrid Itinerary
Full Day
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Day Trip to Toledo and Segovia

End your time in the city by going on an epic one-day adventure to Toledo and Segovia, beautiful European cities located close to Madrid. Your trip will begin in Madrid where a comfortable AC bus will take you to Toledo. Upon reaching Toledo, be prepared for an unforgettable visual experience which is similar to traveling back in time. Elegant Renaissance and Gothic buildings dot the narrow lanes of the city, creating a beautiful symphony of old-school architecture. Some of the popular attractions in Toledo include the Alcazar of Toledo, Toledo Cathedral, Santa Cruz Hospital and others.

After exploring Toledo, you'll head to Segovia, which is named after the medieval Alcazar located in the city. Your guided tour of the city will include stops at the Segovia Cathedral, the 2000-year old Roman Aqueduct, the Alcazar of Segovia and more! After your engaging and eventful 11-hour tour ends, you'll be driver back to Madrid.

Best Time to Visit Madrid


Madrid Itinerary

Keeping the overall temperature in mind, the fall (September to November) and spring (March to May) months are generally considered the best time to visit Madrid. The average temperature remains balmy, hitting the sweet spot between hot and cold. From September to November, the average temperature remains in the 13-26°C range while in March-May, the temperature remains in the 15 to 22°C range.

Given how the city deserves to be explored on foot, the pleasant weather works as additional motivation for a leisurely stroll through the streets of Madrid. In the months of October and November, you can also participate in the Autumn Festival. From March to May, Madrid hosts events like the Madrid Marathon, Fiesta de San Isidro, Feria del Libro and more!

Getting Around Madrid


Madrid Itinerary

Madrid features a robust public transport system and you can get around pretty easily without overspending. Here are your top transport choices:

Taxi

  • While not really public transport, taxis are a comfortable option if you don't want the hassles of figuring out routes and waiting for the right bus or train.
  • Taxis in Madrid are painted white with a red stripe, the city's crest and their license number on the side.
  • You can hail a taxi in the street if the green light is on or you can find one at the nearest taxi rank. Alternatively, you can book a taxi from your phone using the radio taxi service.

Metro

  • Easily the fastest and most efficient way to get around in Madrid, the metro is a godsend. With 13 color coded lines and a massive network of 300+ stations, the Madrid metro can get you almost everywhere in the city.
  • Metro service is available from 6:00 AM to 1:30 AM and you'll have to wait for just 3-4 minutes for the train to arrive at the platform.
  • During office hours, the metro is exceptionally crowded so keep that in mind when planning your journey. You can get tickets for your journey at any metro station.

Train

  • Madrid's commuter train network, called Cercanias, connects the entirety of the city and is operated by the national rail service, Renfe. What's convenient about the train network is that most of the downtown stations are also connected to the metro, making travel even more seamless.
  • Trains in the city run everyday from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, within a gap of 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the route.
  • Train is a great option if you want to explore places on the outskirts of Madrid. Tickets are available at electronic machines available at the cercanias stations.

Bus

  • The last major mode of public transport in Madrid is the bus network run by a local company, EMT.
  • The city is blessed with over 200 buses that serve more than 200 lines. During the day, buses are available from 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM while a limited nocturnal bus service (buhos/owls) runs from 11:45 PM to 6:00 AM.
  • If you wish you purchase tickets for a single journey, you can do so at the bus itself. You can opt for a public transport pass as well to get access to all modes of public transport with a single card.

From the Airport

  • Many tourists look for public transport to travel from the city centre to the airport and fortunately, there are many feasible options to choose from.
  • You can take the Airport Express bus from the Atocha train station and Plaza de Cibeles. You can also get to the airport using line 8 of the metro which starts at Nuevos Ministerios.
  • Take the C1 line on the cercanias to get to the airport on commuter train.

Guided Tours

If figuring out transport options is your least favourite part of traveling, a guided tour of the city is tailor-made for you. You can explore Madrid in all its glory through a pre-planned tour which would be led by an expert guide. During the course of your tour, you'll not only get to explore all the important parts of Madrid but learn interesting insights about them through the guide.

Where to Stay in Madrid


Madrid Itinerary

The quality of your trip is majorly dependent on where you stay and the hotel you pick. If you're unsure about where to stay in Madrid, don't fret. We have done the homework for you. Here are some areas and recommended hotels you can consider:

Centro

Like the name suggests, this locality is the geographical and cultural heart of Madrid. Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace, and Gran Via are all located here, ensuring you don't have to travel too much to experience the important parts of the city.

Accomodation: Only YOU Boutique Hotel Madrid, Safestay Madrid, Hotel Europa, etc.

La Latina

Considered Madrid's top locality for tapas, mojitos and terraces, La Latina offers authentic Spanish flavours unlike anywhere else in the city. The place gets incredibly crowded during the weekends and most bars and restaurants are jam-packed. La Latina is also home to many beautiful churches and basilicas, hidden away in narrow streets.

Accomodation: Ganivet Hotel, Apartamentos Palacio Real, THC Latina Hostel, etc.

Lavapiés

Located next to La Latina, Lavapies is another important neighborhood in the city. Located just a short walk away from Retiro Park and many of Madrid's prominent art museums, Lavapies is an edgy and offbeat neighborhood. The locality shares the El Rastro flea market with La Latina and is renowned for its ethnically diverse eateries and trendy bars.

Accomodation: OK Hostel Madrid, Artrip Hotel, 2060 The Newton Hostel, etc.

Los Austrias

Officially the most historic neighbourhood in Madrid, Los Austrias houses the secrets of the great monarchs who called the monuments, churches and palaces their home. The neighborhood houses many attractions including Plaza Mayor, Almudena Cathedral and more.

Accomodation: Hotel Francisco I, The Hat, Hotel Preciados, etc.

What to Eat in Madrid


Madrid Food

Part of the fun of exploring a new place is all the local food you get to try. Madrid has no dearth of delectable food options for you to gorge on. Here's our list of top picks:

Huevos Rotos

Literally translating to broken eggs, huevos rotos is a tantalising place of fried potatoes tossed in sea salt and topped with over-easy eggs. Available at Taberna Los Huevos de Lucio in the La Latine district.

Callos a la Madrilena

Typically served in a clay dish, this flavorsome stew features strips of beef tripe, chunks of chorizo, slices of blood sausage, and a dash of paprika. Available at Lhardy in Jeronimo.

Cocido Madrileño

Another classic Spanish stew, cocido madrileño is prepared with vegetables, chorizo sausage, pork and chickpeas, and generally served over three courses. Available at Taberna La Bola.

Bocadillo de Calamares

Considered the city's most famous sandwich, bocadillo de calamares is made from crusty bread topped with deep-fried rings of squid. Available at the side streets around the Plaza Mayor.

Churros

End your food voyage on a sweet note by trying freshly fried churros with a cup of hot, thick chocolate sauce. Available at San Gines.

Handy Tips for Your Visit


Madrid Food
  1. The first thing you need to be aware of while touring Madrid is that Spaniards are very peculiar about their afternoon siesta. Many small and family-run shops will remain closed between 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. So, plan your shopping around these siesta hours.
  2. Certain museums in Madrid offer free entry during specific hours of the day. For instance, you can visit the Prado Museum for free from Monday to Saturday between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM. Free hours for the Reina Sofia Museum are 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM on Mondays, and Wednesday to Saturday. The museum remains closed on Tuesday.
  3. While you can get by in Madrid with English, make your experience memorable by learning a bit of Spanish before the trip. Your effort to learn the language will definitely be appreciated by locals and you'll be treated much better.
  4. Avoid eating at popular landmarks like the Plaza Mayor. Many tourist places like the Plaza are lined with outdoor cafes and restaurants. The quality of food and the price of the dishes don't go hand in hand and you won't even get to sample the best of what Madrid has to offer.
  5. Madrid is a great city to explore on a bike and also allows you to save on transport costs. You can join the BiciMad bike program and explore the city at your own pace.
  6. You can take a taxi from the airport to anywhere in central Madrid for a flat fee of 30€. Make sure you're not charged extra unless there are multiple stops during the journey in which case the meter will be restarted after every stop.
  7. Madrid (and the rest of Spain) is known for its superior quality wine. There are many wine options unique to the region that you can try including Rioja, Garnacha, Albarino, Verdejo and many others. Many bars serve free tapas with your drinks so you can take advantage of that as well!
  8. While deciding on what to do in the city for three days, set some time aside to just walk around the city and explore it on foot. The beauty of Madrid is better appreciated when you're not rushing to the next stop and have some time to actually notice everything the city is offering.

Frequently Asked Questions


Where can skip the line tickets for the Royal Palace be purchased?

Where can I get a map of the metro routes and stops?

What is the time of the metro's last trip for the day?

Is entry to the Prado Museum free? Can we still rent an audio guide or book a guide?

What is the coldest month in Madrid?

Is Madrid safe for tourists?

Can I wear shorts in Madrid?

Is it safe to walk at night in Madrid?

Is Madrid walkable?

Is it safe to drink tap water in Madrid?

Madrid Essentials


Here are few detailed guides on Madrid that will help you plan your day efficiently. Happy exploring!

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