Madrid - Plaza de Cibeles
How many days in Madrid

Globetrotters

2 days

Vacationers

3 days

Culture buffs

4 days

Globetrotters – 48 hours in Madrid

DAY 1

Morning Plaza Mayor
Afternoon Plaza del Oriente
Evening Austrias
Madrid - Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

Many often comment that Madrid is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of place, and if you’re a Globetrotter, chances are this won’t be the only destination in S
pain you visit. Those with a particular interest in art and museums are in for a feast, but otherwise you might find that it pales a little in comparison to other Spanish destinations on the tourist radar. A couple of days will be a good length to make up your own mind about this city that incites such differing opinions from Globetrotters.

Start your first day at Madrid’s central square Puerta del Sol, known as Spain’s ‘spiritual center’. Get a pic with the iconic ‘Bear and the Strawberry Tree’ sculpture near the Metro exit. A short walk away is Madrid’s other most famous square, Plaza Mayor, which can be quite tranquil in the morning and a good place to have a coffee. You can’t miss the statue of Felipe III on his horse in the middle. As an option you may want to consider booking onto a historical walking tour from here.

After taking in this beautiful square, after 10am the Mercado de San Miguel opens and is just one block away. Wonder further west to Plaza del Oriente where you’ll find a trio of sights: the Royal Palace (or Palacio Real) whose rooms you can wander through, the Catedral de la Almudena, and the Campo del Moro gardens. Make a brief detour down Calle Bailén to visit the imposing San Francisco el Grande Basilica which has a stunning interior.

In the late afternoon and evening stick around the Austrias District and perhaps stop by the Chocolatería San Ginés, which has been serving delicious churros since 1894.

DAY 2

Morning Parque del Retiro
Afternoon Gran Via
Evening Gran Via / Malasaña

Madrid - Plaza de Cibeles

Plaza de Cibeles


If you’re in Madrid in summer, walking around and exploring Parque del Retiro is best done before the day heats up. You can hire a boat, check out the many fountains, monuments, walk around on the numerous paths or just relax. After taking in as much as you like of this beautiful park, head down Calle de Alcalá to Puerta de Alcalá, an ancient archway to the city. Further along is Madrid’s most famous and recognizable fountain at Plaza de Cibeles. With the Palacio de las Comunicaciones (Madrid Post Office) immediately behind it’s one of the most picturesque scenes in Madrid.

The iconic ‘Metrópolis’ building marks the start of Gran Via and provides just a hint of the grandiose buildings you’ll encounter all the way along this popular street. Gran Via is Madrid’s premier shopping and entertainment street always brimming with activity and tourists. Spend the afternoon wandering along, checking out the shops and continue making your way towards Plaza de España.

For the evening, you will now be close to the Malasaña neighborhood where there is a cluster of hip and alternative bars, restaurants and clubs. Or you could see a musical just off Gran Via.

DAY 3

If you’re an art buff then you most likely won’t want to leave Madrid without stepping into at least one of it’s art museums, namely the Prado, Reina Sofía (modern art) or Thyssen-Bornemisza (classic and modern art). If you’re pushed for time you can probably squeeze one of these in on Day 2, or allow another half day if one or more of these museums take your interest.

Vacationers – 72 hours in Madrid

Follow the Globetrotters itinerary for Days 1-2.

DAY 3

Morning Art, art and art
Afternoon Real Jardin Botanico
Evening Huertas
Madrid - Gran Via

Gran Via

As a Vacationeer, you most likely can afford the time to check out at least one of the aforementioned art museums: Prado, Reina Sofía or Thyssen-Bornemisza. They are all located within a short walk of each other. The Prado has one of Europe’s largest collections of art so a few hours is probably the least you could spend there.

After you’ve seen all the art that you can handle, just across from the Prado is the blissful Real Jardin Botanico (Botanical Garden). Check out the Atocha train station if you haven’t transited via there yet, as it’s a sight in itself. Inside there is a memorial to victims of the bombings that occurred in the station in 2004.

Head to the Huertas barrio in the evening, which is another pocket of the city popular for it’s nightlife. Whilst in Spain you need to see at least one flamenco show.

Culture buffs

DAYS 4-5

Read the Vacationers itinerary for Days 1-3.

Madrid is a city with so much culture, art, and many museums, so a culture buff will easily fill another 1-2 days at a minimum. Take your pic from the following sights that are often on a culture buffs checklist when visiting Madrid:

Art buffs:
Convento de las Descalzas (convent with good art collection)
Madrid’s CaixaForum
Museo Lazaro Galdiano
Museum of Romanticism

History buffs:
Templo de Debod (an ancient Egyptian temple)
La Muralla Arabe (Arab Wall, Madrid’s oldest sight)

Museum of Antropology
National Library
Naval Museum
Cervantes House
Museo Municipal

Got more time? Consider these day trips

Thanks to the high speed AVE train there’s many great options for day trips from Madrid. After seeing all the sights around town, if you have more time up your sleeve, take a break from the bustling city life and look into the following:

- Toledo. Charming and hilly medieval town with city walls and cobblestone alleyways.
- Segovia. Check out a Gothic cathedral and Roman aqueduct.
- Avila . For those who like their churches, cathedrals and city walls.
- Cordoba. Although a fair distance from Madrid, this will give you a taste of southern Spain. Check out the Mezquita and an ancient Jewish quarter.

Days mapped out

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