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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!
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.
WHEN TO VISIT
Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Madrid. In summer, it’s very hot, but at least it’s not humid, so you can definitely visit Madrid in July and August if you want. This city is also an underrated winter break destination in Europe, and you’ll be rewarded with much fewer crowds.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum tickets.
- Prado Museum tickets or a Prado guided tour.
- Reina Sofia Museum tickets or a Reina Sofia guided tour.
Tip #1: Each museum offers free admission on specific days and hours. However, it can get very crowded during these times.
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.
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.
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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