3 Days in Madrid: Savour the Sights, Sounds, and Flavours of Spain's Capital

Madeleine Robertson | Live the World

April 3, 2023

An unmissable itinerary to unpack the vibrant city

Spain’s capital and cosmopolitan city of Madrid has everything you’d want out of a European city. With markets, trendy restaurants and historically engaging sites, there is nothing that Madrid can’t offer its visitors. If you are on the hunt for a Royal Place, let's say, a bit of shopping down the Calle Fuencarral, or a bite to eat at one of the many markets, Madrid has it all.

In fact, the buzzing city centre never sleeps; madrileños gather in trendy bars in central Plazas, cool marketplaces or interesting museums, creating a harmonious atmosphere for locals and visitors alike. Get to know the hotspots of the city, such as the Prado Museum, whilst also frequenting those places adored by locals, such as the trendy cultural hotspot, Matadero.

A view of Madrid

Day One

On your first day in Madrid, you can discover the main hotspots that the city has to offer, from the Royal Palace to the famous Bernabeu stadium. Amongst visiting the famous sites and wandering through the vibrant streets, take some time to admire the colour street art that Madrid exhibits as well as the fresh produce and goods available straight from the markets!

Julia de la Fuente

Julia de la Fuente is a sculpture installation in central Madrid created by artist Juan Cristóbal. The sculpture depicts the form of a girl, which pays homage to the poem Julia de la Fuente by author Julia de Burgos. The statue is a symbol of female empowerment as a reminder of the importance of education for women. The statue has now become the meeting place for many feminist demonstrations in Madrid. Visit this historical spot to gain knowledge on Spain’s feminist history.,

Prado Museum

The Prado Museum, founded by King Ferdinand VII of Spain with the purpose of housing his art collection, is now one of the most impressive collections of artwork in the world. Featuring work from artists such as Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez, and Peter Paul Rubens, this museum is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. The Neoclassical building is enough a reason to visit the museum; a central atrium that floods the museum with light, creating a relaxing atmosphere along with the symmetrical design of the building. Book tickets here to scout out this incredible museum, it’s hands down my must-see when you’re in Madrid.

Palacio Real de Madrid

Royal Palace

Palacio Real de Madrid is home to the Spanish Royal Family but is open for the public to visit. The grand building was built for King Philip V and features many elements of baroque and neoclassical architecture, featuring numerous balconies and staircases and a central courtyard. The palace offers an insight into Spanish Royalty with rooms dedicated solely to porcelain and its very own chapel. Book tickets here to organize your trip beforehand so you won’t have to worry about it running out!

Markets

Throughout Madrid, there are many markets offering delicious food that exhibits both local and foreign cuisine. Mercado de San Miguel is an indoor market located in the centre where you can find a variety of fresh produce as well as delightful food stalls serving prepared dishes. Alternatively, visit the trendy Chueca neighbourhood where you’ll find Mercado de San Antón. This market also has a range of interesting food stalls, serving a range of dishes. Additionally, the terrace located at the top of the market serves as the perfect location for a post-meal drink.

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is the home playing field of Real Madrid. Designed by the architect Manuel Muñoz Monasterio, the famous stadium is one of the most iconic playing fields in the world and is equally known for having some of the best views. Get your tickets in advance here to avoid a stressful visit. Built in 1947, the stadium has been the location for many famous football games, most recently the 2010 UEFA Champions League final. Tour the famous grounds and learn more about Spain’s close relationship with football.

Street Art

It is not surprising that in Madrid, a city full of art and culture, there are streets and neighbourhoods filled with vibrant street art. Visit the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Malasaña where many young artists frequent to discuss, create and display their art. Book tickets here for a tour of these special areas and learn more about the art itself! Calle Espiritu Santo is a particularly inspiring street where vibrantly coloured murals adorn the walls. Take a trip down here for the perfect insta pic or to gain some artistic inspiration.

Toledo

Toledo

Toledo, an official UNESCO heritage site, is the former capital of Spain. The region is located just 70km outside of Madrid and has an interesting history that dates back to the Roman Empire. It was not until the 16th century that Madrid then became the capital of Spain. However, the town features many Arabic influences from the Moors. The city itself is located atop a hill, offering visitors a panoramic view over the Spanish countryside. Book a ticket here for a wholesome day trip to one of the most historically rich towns in Spain with beautiful views over the countryside.

Reina Sofía

The Reina Sofia museum, named after the former Queen of Spain, features a variety of contemporary art. The gallery hosts an extensive collection, including works by artists such as Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, which are must-visits! The gallery doesn’t just exhibit paintings but also sculpture, video art and even odd installation. Book tickets here to ensure a smooth tour of the famous museum!

Where to Stay

Budget - New Go

Inn is just 500m away from Gran Via and a short walk away from main attractions. Stay here for somewhere cheap and cheerful!

Mid-range - Room007 Select Sol

A sleek and airy hotel located right by the Madrid’s Plaza Mayor!

Luxury - Preciados

A modern and luxurious hotel ideally located just 5 minutes away from the Puerta del Sol

After gathering your bearings on day one, explore some of the most famous sites Madrid has to offer, and take a break from the stress of city life by relaxing in the famous Retiro Park. Once you have had your daily dose of Vitamin D and fresh air, why not learn about Spanish sports by visiting the famous bullfighting ring Las Ventas. Finish the day off with a bit of shopping in Madrid’s shopping district and grab a glass of tinto in one of the many bars around this lively area!

Retiro Park

Retiro Park

In the centre of Madrid, you will find the beautiful and expansive Retiro Park. Despite being a cosmopolitan city, Retiro Park offers residents and visitors of Madrid with a little respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. The park was built in 1868 and houses a variety of flora as well as ornate fountains and an elaborate, intricate crystal palace. In the summer months, Retiro is used as a concert location and other interesting events are held here. Relax on the grounds of Retiro Park after wandering the city all day. Perhaps even take a relaxing paddle boat ride on the tranquil lake located on the park grounds.

Las Ventas Bullring

If you are looking to learn more about Spanish Culture, it is important to understand something so core to the nation; bullfighting. Las Ventas Bullring is one of the largest bullrings in the world and has more than 80 years of history to tell for itself. Despite not being as popular a sport in recent years, it is equally important to visit the site where this tradition was once watched by over 25,000 people. Tour the red brick building with beautiful tiles and learn more about Spanish traditional sports. Book tickets here to secure tickets in advance!

Flamenco dancers

Flamenco Show

Despite not originally originating from the Madrid region of Spain, Flamenco dancing is a must-see spectacle when visiting Spain. Watch a live flamenco show at a venue inspired by the Alhambra, Torres Bermejas tablao in the heart of Madrid. Here you can sit back and enjoy classic Spanish music with a drink in hand. Book tickets in advance here to ensure a smooth evening enjoying Spanish music, dance and culture!

Tapas

It is required when visiting Spain that you taste the local cuisine; tapas. The word tapas derives from the verb tapar, meaning to cover. It is said that bars would provide customers with a slice of bread or food to cover their drink to avoid flies entering. Therefore, the word tapas was born to describe the food commonly enjoyed with drinks and usually in small amounts. Throughout Madrid, there are a variety of commendable tapas restaurants, such as El miniBAR near San Miguel and Taberna LA CONCHA, serving tapas of course and homemade vermouth!

El Rastro

El Rastro

One of the largest flea markets in Europe occurs in the centre of Madrid every Sunday. El Rastro, meaning ‘trace’ and ‘trail’ is a historical reference to the animals who would leave trails of dung in the market. However, nowadays, the market place is home to trendy youngsters looking for iconic vintage pieces for a steal or furniture enthusiasts looking for an antique to place in their home. If you are looking to come away from Madrid with a souvenir, visit El Rastro in the La Latina neighbourhood of Madrid to find a unique piece.

Círculo de Bellas Artes

Círculo de Bellas Artes is a cultural hub located in central Madrid that was founded by artists and intellectuals with the aim of making Spain’s cultural influence and talent known by locals and visitors. The institution is the place of many film screenings, exhibitions and performances throughout the year. Indulge in Spanish culture in art and after, visit the rooftop terrace where you can enjoy panoramic views over Madrid.

Matadero

Matadero

Matadero, a former slaughterhouse, is a cultural hotspot where a variety of interesting events take place. located in the Arganzuela district of Madrid, Matadero features many temporary exhibitions, screenings and talks from a range of interesting individuals involved in arts and culture. The aim of the centre was to boost arts and culture in Madrid, and the mission has been successful with the building being the meeting place for artists, hipsters and anyone else who is interested in Spanish culture.

Calle Fuencarral

If you’re looking to do a bit of shopping during your trip to Madrid, look no further than Calle Fuencarral. The street stretches over 1 kilometre, where it eventually meets Gran Vía, Madrid’s main thoroughfare. Here you will find a variety of boutique shops, from high-street brands to Spanish own brands. Enter the likes of Brownie, Maje and Guess to find yourself a new outfit and after enjoying a café con leche or vino tinto in the surrounding bars.

Where to Stay

Budget -Ok Hostel

Madrid is a sleek and new hostel located 200 m from La Latina Metro Station. The perfect place to stay for a short break!

Mid-range -Erase un Hotel

A stylish hotel located in the quiet financial district of Madrid. Escape the noise by staying in this great spot.

Luxury - One Shot Fortuny 07

A luxury boutique hotel equipped with a terrace and bar, ensuring guests a pleasant stay.

On your final day in Madrid, you will have exhausted the main sites of the city. So, opt for the quirkier hidden gems found in Madrid by visiting the oldest restaurant in the world as well as another lesser-known art museum dedicated to the work of Valencian painter Joaquin Sorrola. Finish your trip of with a walk about the beautiful El Capricho Park where you can rejuvenate before you head home!

Kilometre 0

Kilometre 0

In the middle of Madrid’s Puerta del Sol you will find an interesting stone slab laid in the ground outside the clock tower on the old Post Office building. The stone slab is the official marker from where distances are measured in Spain. From this point, the main motorways from A-1 to A-6 are based off. Pass this interesting historical spot when in the centre!

World’s Oldest Restaurant

Just of Plaza Mayor you will find Restaurant Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world, founded in 1724. Casa Botín specializes in serving traditional Spanish food, making it the perfect palace to visit during a short cultural trip. Segovia suckling pigs and lamb are just a few options that Casa Botín offer on their delicious menu. The meat is slow-cooked by master chefs in an oven fed by oak wood. The result of this technique is deliciously tender and smoky meat that you will never have tried before!

Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida

Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida

Built in the late 18th century by the architect Francisco Bayeu is the beautiful chapel of Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida. The Chapel, named after Saint Anthony of Padua (the patron saint of lost items) is home to some of the most beautifully painted frescos by the famous painter Goya. The impressive ceiling frescoes demonstrate Goya’s range of medium and depict various scenes of Saint Anthony from the bible. If you are looking to enjoy some religious art or even enter into a beautifully built chapel, Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida is the perfect palace for your next pilgrimage!

Sorolla Museum

Joaquin Sorolla is a famous painter originally born in Valencia, Spain. It was in the city of Madrid that Sorolla’s work first became appreciated by the public. Sorolla produced over 2000 pieces of impressionist art, which is available to view in his museum. The Sorolla Museum is located in his former home, which he lived in during his painting career in the Chamberív district of Madrid. Here lies a large collection of his impressionist paintings as well as some of his personal belongings. If you are looking to appreciate some tranquil landscapes or seascapes, look no further than the Sorolla exhibition!

Liria Palace

Liria Palace

Liria Palace, built during the 18th century, is a large manor originally built for a significant Spanish Royal Family. The building was designed by French and Spanish architects Louis Guilbert and Ventura Rodríguez in the Spanish Baroque and Neoclassical style. Within the Palace, you will find a large personal collection of artwork from famous painters such as Goya, Federico de Madrazo, and Joaquín Sorolla. The palace grounds are equally astonishing, with rolling green lawns decorated with marble fountains and perfectly posed flow beds. Visit this impressive manor, admiring the numerous pieces of art that fill the grand rooms and, after, relax in the grassy gardens with a book in hand.

El Capricho Park

El Capricho Park was built between 1787 and 1839 for the Duke of Osuna. The park is located in the Alameda de Osuna area of Madrid and covers over 14 hectares of ground. Within the grounds of the park, you will find a quaint chapel, a lake and ornately designs sculptures, making it the perfect location for a tranquil walk. In fact, there remain a few bunkers and air raid shelters in El Capricho Park that remain from the Spanish Civil War. Whilst wandering around the gardens or post-reading your book, take a peek at this piece of history that lies in plain view! After a tiring few days of touring the capital, there seems no better place to relax and unwind!

Librería Bardón

Librería Bardón

Located on Plaza Saint Martin, you will find the elaborate Librería Bardón. Founded more than 70 years ago, this library specializes in limited edition books from XVIII to XIX centuries. As you enter, books hug the walks from floor to ceiling. Equally, each spine of each book is beautifully decoded in gold gilded paper, red or green leather and the scent of old books linger around. If you are looking to grab yourself a limited edition of Don Quijote, look no further than Liberería Bardón!

Atocha Train Station

Atocha Train Station

Atocha Train Station, located near the centre of Madrid, is one of the largest train stations in Spain. Built during the late 19th century, the building features a beautiful red brick facade with intricate glass and ironwork design. However, the most impressive aspect of the station is the indoor tropical garden, exhibiting a variety of plants in the centre of Madrid. The gardens even have live birds and turtles that peacefully live in this greenhouse. Whether you are waiting to hop on a train or simply want to enjoy some architecture, look no further than Atocha Train Station.

Where to Stay

Budget -Hostal Evoke Madrid

A chic and stylish hotel located in the heart of Madrid. Choose here for a relaxing stay!

Mid-range - Hotel Nuevo Boston

Aboutique hotel located in the centre of Madrid. Stay here for an affordable yet luxurious trip.

Luxury - Hotel Cortezo

Just 200m away from Madrid’s main plaza. With a perfect location and terrace, this is the place to stay and relax!

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