What to see in Madrid in 3 days
It is not easy to explore a cosmopolitan city like Madrid in just three days. In fact, it is the minimum amount of time you need to start moving around confidently. To start with, we suggest you focus on the historic quarter and visit the Royal Palace, the La Almudena Cathedral and the main square Plaza Mayor. After these iconic spots, you can move on to museums such as El Prado, which houses the finest collection of Spanish art in the world. Naturally, this itinerary allows you time to explore the capital city’s gourmet markets and its best restaurants.
After such intensive days of sightseeing, we’re sure you will be totally fascinated by this capital city with its wealth of monuments, its enormously varied cuisine and its extremely friendly and welcoming inhabitants.
Itinerary day 1
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
The Royal Palace, built on the orders of Philip V, has stood majestically in the Plaza de Oriente since the eighteenth century. The best way to see it is to join a guided tour. The La Almudena Cathedral is right next to the Royal Palace, so it is a good opportunity to see that too.
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
Close to the Royal Palace are the romantic Sabatini Gardens, but they will seem tiny in comparison with those of the Campo del Moro, which could not be part of the Palace complex due to the steep slope of the land. See if you can spot the beautiful peacocks.
1:45 PM - 2:30 PM
This huge landscaped space is surrounded by iconic skyscrapers such as the Edificio España and the Torre de Madrid. The Cervantes monument presides over this constantly-changing scene which has become the site of several five-star hotels.
2:45 PM - 4:00 PM
Thanks to its fine architecture and its offer of multiple delicatessen options, this gourmet market is the perfect place to stop off for lunch. On its stalls, you will find tapas ranging from the most traditional to oysters, caviar and sushi as well as fine vermouths, wines and beers.
4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
The Plaza has witnessed so much of Madrid’s history over the past 400 years, and since the time of Philip III, kings and commoners alike have passed through its colonnades. This vast Baroque square is a place to relax, shop and enjoy a drink on one of the terraces.
5:45 PM - 7:30 PM
In the centre of Madrid, in the strand between Sol and Gran Vía, you will find several large stores and individual shops where you can buy all kinds of things. It is an area buzzing with life, and frequented by an array of street musicians and various other performers.
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
In Chueca, you will find all kinds of restaurants and two gourmet markets: San Ildefonso and San Antón. Foodies will think they have gone to heaven. If you choose the San Antón market, your gourmet side certainly won’t feel cheated.
10:30 PM - 3:00 AM
This is an area with great nightlife, as you will discover for yourself. Get the evening off to a good start with a cocktail at Museo Chicote, before moving on to Black & White, Sala Libertad 8, Teatro Barceló TClub or Sala Ocho y Medio.
Itinerary day 2
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
It is considered the best art gallery in the country, thanks to its wide collection of Spanish art. There are several possible tours, depending on the time you have available; choose the one that appeals to you most, but do not miss the great works by masters such as Velázquez and Goya.
12:00 PM - 12:30 PM
When you leave the museum, continue walking along the avenue called the Paseo del Prado, where there are other art establishments and monuments, including the Museo Thyssen, the CaixaForum Madrid, the Naval Museum and the Fountain of Neptune.
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
This is one of Madrid’s busiest nerve centres. Dominated by the Fountain of the goddess Cybele, the square is surrounded by iconic edifices such as the Palacio de Cibeles, the headquarters of the City Council; this building also houses a cultural centre, which is open to the public.
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
The Palacio de Cibeles restaurant, located on the 6th floor, is run by the chef Adolfo Muñoz of the Adolfo restaurant (Toledo). Take the opportunity to admire the fine panoramic view of the Plaza de Cibeles from the top terrace.
4:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Thanks to its location and imposing presence, the Puerta de Alcalá cannot be ignored. This was one of the five royal gates to the walled city of Madrid. This great triumphal arch was built in the Neo-classical style, and was designed by Francisco Sabatini.
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Located close to the Puerta de Alcalá, this is the vast green lung of the capital and the favourite place for families to relax and have fun. Here you can rest, skate, go on a boat trip or visit the Palacio de Cristal or the Palacio de Velázquez.
6:15 PM - 8:30 PM
If you enjoy shopping, the axis formed by Calle Serrano, Calle Velázquez and Calle Claudio Coello is a focal point for exclusive and glamorous brands. Scattered among the shops are numerous cafés and quality restaurants.
9:00 PM - 11:30 PM
The city is considered the capital of flamenco thanks to the excellence of its tablaos. Visit the Corral de la Morería, one of the best flamenco establishments in the city. Attend a dinner-show because it’s an unforgettable experience.
Itinerary day 3
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
El Rastro, the traditional street market, only takes place on Sunday mornings. Although the stalls used to deal in antiques, nowadays you can buy almost anything there. Another possibility is to spend the morning exploring the Real Madrid football stadium.
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
What would Sunday be without a vermouth or a couple of beers in La Latina? This is the favourite area for Madrid’s residents to barhop for tapas, or to be caressed by the sun’s rays on one of the district’s many terraces.
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM
Boasting the best, undisputed views of Gran Via from the rooftop of the Barceló Torre de Madrid Hotel, this restaurant serves up beautifully prepared local and national cuisine, with an international twist.
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Along what is known as the Paseo del Arte there are three magnificent art galleries: The Prado, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen. We suggest you visit the Museo Thyssen, with its splendid collection of ancient art works, or the Reina Sofía, the modern art museum.
8:30 PM - 10:30 PM
Madrid’s gastronomic universe is studded with star chefs who run restaurants boasting several Michelin stars, including DiverXO, Santceloni, La Terraza del Casino, Ramón Freixa Madrid, DSTAgE and Coque. You will need to reserve in advance.
11:00 PM - 3:00 AM
Start at the 1862 Dry Bar, a cocktail bar set in a mansion dating from 1862. From then on, you can really begin to enjoy the night, for there’s a very good reason why they say that “Madrid never sleeps”.