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2 Days in Madrid: Seeing the Touristy and Non Touristy Madrid in 48 Hours

by Or Amir

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With so many things to do and see in Spain‘s capital, planning a trip of 2 days in Madrid can be challenging. Also, if you are anything like me, you’ll probably want to see both the touristy and non touristy side of Madrid. Lucky for you, here I have a fantastic itinerary only waiting for you to steal it!

 

2 days in Madrid travel itinerary: things to do in Madrid Spain in 48 hours

 

Do you love European city break itineraries? Check out my 4-day Vienna itinerary and 2-day Brussels itinerary!



PRACTICAL INFO FOR SEEING THE BEST OF MADRID IN 2 DAYS

Besides all the things you need to know before traveling to Spain, check out my full list with all the things you need to know before traveling to Madrid and everything you need to pack!

 

WHERE TO STAY FOR 2 NIGHTS MADRID

I stayed at Hostal Maria Cristina (Calle de Fuencarral, 20). Apart from the perfect location near Gran Via Street, it ticked all the boxes for me, and I think you get excellent value for your money. The room was spacious, super clean, and comfortable, and the staff was always welcoming (the reception works 24/7). It really is a great place to stay for a few days in Madrid. Browse the latest prices and availability.

I also stayed at Hostal Ivor (Calle del Arenal, 24) near Puerta del Sol. It offers simple, clean, and comfortable rooms, so if you’re looking for basic and central accommodation, this could be a good choice. Hostal Ivor’s reception works 24/7, and each and every one of the staff was friendly and helpful. Browse the latest prices and availability.

Having said that, it’s important to know that you don’t have to find accommodation right on Gran Via Street or near Puerta del Sol. Madrid’s city center is enormous, and as I’ve mentioned, Madrid’s metro is everywhere. Browse other accommodation options here or read my full guide to the best areas to stay in Madrid.

 

GETTING FROM THE AIRPORT AND GETTING AROUND MADRID

There are several easy ways to get from Madrid’s airport to the city center, and the city itself is seriously so easy to get around. Its Metro system is well-organized, and there’s a Metro station on every other corner and all the way to the airport. This itinerary is very walkable, so I don’t think you’ll need a 10-journey Metro ticket (a few single tickets will probably be enough), but it’s good to know that it’s an option.

 

PRICES IN MADRID

You can enjoy Madrid at almost any budget. Apart from accommodations for all budgets, you can eat amazing food in Madrid at any price from 1 Euro to 30+ Euros. Also, many attractions are free to visit or offer free admission on certain days.

 

2 day in Madrid - Plaza de la Villa

 



2 DAYS IN MADRID – DAY ONE

BREAKFAST – PASTRIES AT LA MALLORQUINA BAKERY (CALLE MAYOR, 2)

Every local knows La Mallorquina bakery. Not only does it serve amazing pastries but it is also an institution in Madrid with great historical importance. That’s why there’s no better way to start your day than with a cup of coffee and freshly baked goods at La Mallorquina (the vanilla ‘napolitana’ is a must!).

 

PUERTA DEL SOL

Puerta del Sol is one of the most bustling squares in Madrid and a must-see spot in the city.

You may also like:  20 Essential Tips for Visiting Madrid Like a Total Pro

What to see in Puerta del Sol and around it:

  • The statue of ‘El Oso y El Madroño’ (‘The Bear and the Strawberry Tree’) – a representation of the coat of arms of Madrid.
  • A statue of Carlos III of Spain.
  • The old post office building.
  • Kilometro Cero – a plaque on the ground symbolizing the center of Spain.
  • Street performances.

The entire area is also filled with cafes, restaurants, and shops, so you can enjoy them as well.

 

PLAZA DE ORIENTE, SABATINI GARDENS, AND PALACIO REAL

On your way from Sol to the Royal Palace, you can pass through Plaza de Oriente which is a stunning monumental square. Here you can find statues of the Spanish kings as well as beautiful gardens.

After spending some time in the square, explore the Sabatini Gardens for a while. The gardens are located near the northern facade of the palace, and you can enter them for free.

 

what to see in madrid spain in 2 days - Plaza Oriente

 

Finally, you can start your visit to the Royal Palace, one of the most famous landmarks in Spain. It is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family in Madrid, but it is only used for ceremonies.

Inside, you’ll see different rooms like the library, the armory room, and the crown room. The palace is truly spectacular, so it is a must-see place when you only have 48 hours in Madrid.

Important to know: The visits to the Royal Palace are limited. To visit the palace, you can either book a guided tour or purchase a ticket for an unguided visit with a specific timeslot.

Opening hours of the Royal Palace: October-March, all days, 10 AM-6 PM. April-September, all days, 10 AM-8 PM.

Tip: From Monday to Thursday from 4 PM to 6 PM (October to March) and 6 PM to 8 PM (April to September), the entrance is free for EU citizens and Latin American citizens. However, it can get very crowded during these hours, and it doesn’t apply to guided tours.

 

things to see in Madrid in 2 days - Palacio Real

El Palacio Real

 

CATEDRAL DE LA ALMUDENA

The Almudena Cathedral is located right next to the Royal Palace. Its building plans had started over 100 years ago, but due to a long battled history, it was only completed in 1993. It mixes a variety of architectural styles, so although I’m not much of a cathedrals person, I think it is a nice addition to a 2-day Madrid itinerary.

 

LUNCH – MERCADO DE SAN MIGUEL

San Miguel Market is an indoor food market loved by both locals and tourists. I would say that the prices are mid-range (not cheap eats but not overly expensive), and the atmosphere is vibrant and fun. The market tends to be packed during lunchtime, so just be prepared and be patient.

Recommended food: I loved the croquettes stand because they had vegetarian options. With a beer on the side, it was a nice quick lunch.

 

DESSERT – CHURROS CON CHOCOLATE AT CHOCOLATERIA SAN GINES

I’m always a bit suspicious when it comes to the most famous places to eat in a particular destination. Most of the times they just don’t live up to the expectations.

However, Chocolateria San Gines is truly my favorite place to eat churros with hot chocolate. Their churros are hot and crispy, and their chocolate is not too sweet, so together they form the perfect bite. Do you know what the best part is? It’s open 24/7!

Bonus tip: There’s even a churros and chocolate walking tour you can take in Madrid! Read all about and book it here.

 

visit Madrid in2 days - churros at San Gines

My favorite churros at Chocolateria San Gines

 

PLAZA MAYOR AND LA LATINA NEIGHBORHOOD

Plaza Mayor is one of the most famous squares in Madrid. It houses a statue of King Felipe the 3rd as well as many restaurants and cafes. From Plaza Mayor, you can continue and explore the entire neighborhood, La Latina.

You may also like:  A Walking Tour in Madrid: 6 Awesome Tours You'll Love

It showcases the traditional side of Madrid, and you can wander through its beautiful streets and squares (this is just a taste of La Latina neighborhood, so feel free to explore it some more):

  • Cava Baja and Cava Alta Streets
  • Plaza Paja
  • Plaza de los Carros
  • Cuchilleros Street
  • Plaza de Puerta Cerrada
  • Arco de Cuchilleros
  • Plaza Conde Barajas
  • Plaza de la Villa

 

Madrid what to do in 2 days - Plaza Mayor
places to visit in Madrid in 2 days - La Latina

 

PARQUE DEL OESTE AND SUNSET AT TEMPLO DE DEBOD

Parque del Oeste is only one of the many beautiful parks in Madrid. Apart from walking and relaxing in the park, you should watch the sunset near Templo de Debod, an Egyptian temple dated back to the 2nd century BC. During sunset time, the temple is lit, and the whole scenery becomes soft and romantic.

 

DINNER – BACK TO LA LATINA NEIGHBORHOOD

You cannot miss an evening of tapas and drinks in La Latina, especially if you only have 2 days in Madrid! Evenings and weekends are the busiest times in this neighborhood since both locals and tourists are in search of good food and drinks. Read this guide for the best places to eat in La Latina.

 



2 DAYS IN MADRID – DAY TWO

BREAKFAST – MALASAÑA NEIGHBORHOOD

Malasaña is the hipster neighborhood of street art, trendy cafes, and concept stores that many tourists don’t bother to explore. So do yourself a favor and kickstart your morning in one of Malasaña’s many stylish and irresistible cafes like Ojala or HanSo Cafe.

 

top things to do in Madrid in 2 days - Malasana

 

CONTINUE TO EXPLORE MALASAÑA

After you have your amazing breakfast, wander the streets of this colorful neighborhood, and you’ll fall in love with it in a second. Some of the streets and squares I recommend exploring:

  • Calle del Pez
  • Plaza del Dos de Mayo
  • Calle del Espiritu Santo
  • Calle de la Palma

 

places to see in madrid in 2 days - street art

Street art in Malasaña

 

A REFRESHING TREAT – LOLO POLOS ARTESANOS (CALLE DEL ESPIRITU SANTO, 16)

If you’re visiting Malasaña when the weather is warm (or even if it’s not), treat yourself with artisanal popsicles at Lolo Polos Artesanos. From orange and lemon to mango and cardamon to strawberry and plum, they offer a variety of fruity combinations perfect for a sunny day.

 

GRAN VIA STREET

Perhaps the most famous street in Madrid, you have to walk along the Gran Via. Besides cafes, restaurants, and shops, the avenue itself is architectural and beautiful. Some of the impressive buildings you can see in this street are the Metropolis Building, the Capitol Building, and the Telefonica Building.

 

what to do in Madrid for 2 days - Gran Via

Gran Via street

 

OPTION 2 FOR THE FIRST HALF DAY – BARRIO DE LAS LETRAS

Another neighborhood you can explore is Barrio de las Letras. Besides its undeniable beauty, this area has a huge cultural and historical importance. Many literary icons like Cervantes and Lope de Vega have lived here at one point or another, and you can see quite a lot of statues, streets, and other landmarks dedicated to them.

 

Barrio de las Letras

A beautiful street in Barrio de las Letras

 

If you want to make the most of your time in this neighborhood, take this free walking tour that will introduce you to the history of Barrio de las Letras in the most fun way. You will hear the best stories about some of the most important people in the history of literature, and your visit will be a lot more meaningful because of it. It was a highlight in my trip, and I think that it’s one of the best tours in Madrid.

You may also like:  20 Places to Enjoy the Best Breakfast and Brunch in Madrid

 

a building in Madrid
statue of Lorca

 

If you’re not into tours, I still recommend wandering around this charming area on your own. Some of the streets and squares you should see:

  • Plaza de Santa Ana
  • Calle Huertas
  • Calle de Alvarez Gato
  • Plaza de Jacinto Benavente
  • Calle de Lope de Vega
  • Calle de Cervantes

 

LUNCH – CASA ALBERTO (CALLE DE LAS HUERTAS, 18)

Don’t be overwhelmed by the noise or the number of people in this place because that’s exactly why you should have lunch here. Whether you’re sitting at a table or nibbling on some tapas and beer at the bar (a very recommended and very Spanish experience), you’ll enjoy both the food and the authentic atmosphere of Casa Alberto.

 

Casa Alberto

 

THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA MUSEUM / PRADO MUSEUM / REINA SOFIA MUSEUM

Visiting an art museum is one of the top things to do in Madrid in 2 days. No trip to Madrid is complete without exploring these famous museums, but since they are enormous, I would focus on just one.

They are all quite close to each other, so you can decide which one to visit while you’re there. If you’re not an art fan, you can skip this one out, but I personally recommend not to.

Skip the lines and get your tickets in advance:

Tip #1: Each museum offers free admission on specific days and hours. However, it can get very crowded during these times.

Tip #2: If you REALLY love art and want to visit all three museums, you can purchase a combo-ticket or book a guided tour of all three museums and skip the lines at the ticket office.

 

EL RETIRO PARK

You can’t spend two days in Madrid and not spend a couple of hours in El Retiro Park. Honestly, I’m not always a fan of the most famous landmarks of a particular city because they can be overrated. However, El Retiro has won me over.

 

Madrid itinerary 2 days - Palacio del Cristal

Palacio de Cristal

 

You can easily spend 3 hours in this park, exploring both its green areas and its monuments:

  • Casita del Pescador (‘Fisherman’s House’).
  • Palacio de Cristal (‘The Crystal Palace’).
  • Retiro Park Lake and the monument of Alfonso XII.
  • Fountain of the Fallen Angel.

 

Retiro Park

 

PUERTA DE ALCALA AND PLAZA DE CIBELES

On the corner of the park, you’ll find Puerta de Alcala, a neoclassical triumphal arch that was one of five main entrances to the city.

Not too far from there, you can also visit the impressive Plaza de Cibeles. It is surrounded by four remarkable buildings when the most iconic one is the Palacio de Cibeles, which is now functioning as the seat of the City Council of Madrid.

 

DINNER – CASA TONI (CALLE DE LA CRUZ, 14)

Let me start by saying – don’t judge a tapas bar by its cover. It may not seem like that on the outside, but Casa Toni is an incredible place to have dinner.

Even vegetarians (and vegans) will love it because it offers quite a variety of vegetarian tapas including grilled mushrooms that prove that Heaven is a place on Earth. We even got some tapas and shots on the house, so I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

 

I hope that my itinerary has shown you that if you want to visit Madrid in two days, it’s not impossible. It only means that you need to prioritize, but you can still enjoy and see the best of this marvelous city!



Want to know more about Madrid? Continue reading all my posts about it here.

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2 days in Madrid travel itinerary: things to do in Madrid Spain in 48 hours

 

10 comments

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10 comments

Paol September 13, 2019 - 8:59 pm

So helpfull!!!

Reply
or September 15, 2019 - 10:08 am

Thank you, Paol! I appreciate it!

Reply
Maayan June 26, 2019 - 9:52 am

Great article! Great tips, really helped me have the best weekend in Madrid!

Reply
or June 26, 2019 - 11:54 am

Thanks! I’m glad this post is helpful 🙂

Reply
Malaki Musheinesh May 30, 2019 - 8:36 pm

Love your blog I am planning to spend 2 days in Madrid. can you tell me on average how much to spend in 2 days with the listed activites and transportation

Reply
or May 31, 2019 - 6:57 pm

Hi Malaki 🙂 It really depends on what is more interesting to you. You can spend a few hours in the Prado or only one hour. Same for any other activity.
The easiest way to get around the city is by Metro, and there are more than enough Metro stations that it only takes a few minutes to get from one place to another. This itinerary can also be done by walking.
Let me know if you need more information, and have fun on your trip!

Reply
Maria September 6, 2019 - 7:35 pm

I’m so happy I stumbled upon your blog..it’s such a gem!! We’re going to Madrid on October and can’t wait to visit & try your recommendations. Thank you!! Your photos are beautiful! !

Reply
or September 7, 2019 - 8:19 pm

Hi Maria! Thank you so much for the sweet words (you made my day)! I’d love to hear about your trip when you get back 🙂

Reply
Emily Stevens April 7, 2019 - 4:41 am

I asked on another page of yours about specific streets to browse in La Latina. i found my answer here so feel free to ignore my question I left earlier. 🙂 Once again, I am loving your blog.

Reply
or April 7, 2019 - 7:15 pm

You just made my day! I really appreciate all your sweet words! Since you found this helpful, I’ll probably add these recommendations to the other post, so thanks for your feedback 🙂

Reply

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