Planning on spending 2 days in Madrid? Well, as the city with the third-largest population in Europe, Madrid definitely does not fall short of things to offer you during your two-day visit! With its stunning architecture, delicious local cuisine, and vibrant nightlife – a quick weekend getaway to Madrid is always a great idea!
I’ve recently just come back from a monthlong trip to Spain, and absolutely fell in love with the incredible Spanish Captial. I’ve thrown together a perfect little travel guide and itinerary for a 48-hour trip that is ideal for first time visitor’s to the city. I’m sure you’ll find it plenty useful, and hope you enjoy Madrid just as much I do!
Also, be sure to read my article, “Top 20 Music Festivals in Madrid to Experience Before You Die” to see if any cool events are happening during your 2 days in Madrid!!
Where to Stay in Madrid for 2+ Days
Madrid (for being a capital city with a large population) has a relatively small and walkable city center, but there are a ton of different fun neighborhoods that would be great to stay in. Since you’ve only got two days in Madrid, I’d probably recommend staying close to the Madrid central station, or in the central Latin quarter! Here are a few options to look into:
- Flat Right in the Center, with Screen Projector & Netflix: At an affordable price, this Airbnb is seriously to die for! It’s what I’ve listed to be the Best Airbnb Madrid rentals, and would be a top highlight of your Spain getaway!
- SUNGATE ONE – Perfect for Budget Travelers. If you are a backpacker and want social hostel to meet fun people and make friends, SUNGATE ONE is definitely a great hostel to choose. It’s rated 9.7 on Hostelworld and offers FREE ‘family’ dinners in the evenings, organised social drinking games, great AC and no bunk beds either! It’s located centrally with easy access to the metro lines and at easy walking distance to most major attractions. There is also an 11:30PM quiet rule which means if you aren’t into partying all night, you will still be able to get a good nights sleep.
- Arizonica Suites Apartment – Perfect for Couples & Families. Close to public transport links, popular tapas bars and many parks; Arizonica Suites is perfect for families wanting a care-free stay right in the city center. This property is rated on booking.com as one best stays in Madrid with kids, and even better it’s also rated as Best Value in Madrid. With free parking, spacious suites and at a very affordable price, this place is definitely ideal for the families who are looking to spend 2 days in Madrid. The free parking is essential if you’ve got a car rental too because that’s always a pain in Madrid!
Getting Around Madrid
When I was visiting Madrid, favored getting around the city on foot. As previously mentioned, the central city areas are generally quite compact, and it’s also by far the best way to see all the sites and get the local experience in new city. You’ll definitely get a much deeper understanding of Madrid if you simply walk around the city while sightseeing.
However, if you are tight on time then Madrid also offers many practical and extremely inexpensive public transport options such as Metro, Bus and Taxi.
You can use a rechargeable Tarjeta Multi (pick up at the airport or at the station), and you simply ‘swipe’ on and off of any public transport you use. There is also the option of purchasing a Tarjeta Turística (Tourist Pass) too, which you can use for unlimited travel on all public transport around Madrid. These are available for 1, 2, 3, 5 & 7 days and range from 8.40 Euro to 35.40 Euro each. These can be a pretty great deal for short visits to Madrid!
You could also sign up for one of the many scooter & bike rental apps (which you’ll see tons of scooters along the streets), which can be a fun way to get around the city! As well, I’d also taking a Scenic Madrid City Cycling Tour, as it’s a very friendly city to bike around, and would be a great way to introduce yourself in the city, and get used to the city!
What To Do in Madrid In Two Days
Being the capital of Spain, Madrid is absolutely packed with epic things to do, so you’ll want to get a bright and early start to make sure you can fit in everything you want to see!
Puerta del Sol – (The Sun Gate)
The biggest plaza in Madrid! Puerta del Sol is always packed with street performers, tourists and is home to the most symbolic statue in Madrid; The Bear and the Strawberry Tree.
I’d definitely recommend this location as a start to your day in Madrid as it’s in a central location and is also the busiest square in Madrid with easy access leading out to everywhere else around the city center. It’s also a fantastic square to chill in at night, enjoy a few beers, and people watch! It’s always a pretty lively place, and one of my favorite touristy spots in the city!
Palacio Real and Jardins de Sabatini – (Madrid Royal Palace and Gardens)
Perhaps the main attraction of Madrid, the Royal Palace sits where the old city fortress used to stand.
The Royal Palace offers an interesting story within history and was interestingly inspired by The Louvre, which in tern resulted in the gorgeous gardens and fountains that surround the palace grounds. It’s one of the most visited historic buildings in Spain and is definitely not to be missed during your Madrid trip.
Fair warning though – it tends to be extremely busy! So I’d advise getting there really early on in the day, or you can book one of these: “Royal Palace Skip-the-Line Guided Tour“, which will be a great way to save time, and learn all about the history!
“Enjoy a guided 2-hour tour of Madrid’s Royal Palace, home to Spanish Royals past and present. Explore the palace at a peaceful time of day with early access to the popular tourist attraction, while taking in pieces by Velázquez and Goya.”
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“Begun in 1879 but inaugurated in 1993, the cathedral is Neo-Gothic with chapels and statues of contemporary artists. The Neo-Romanesque crypt houses a 16th century image of the “Virgen de la Almudena.”
At just a short walk from the Royal Palace, this should definitely be your next stop on your itinerary! While it may not be the oldest or most historically significant building in Madrid, I think it’s definitely one of the most beautiful!
Inspired by 18th Century French Gothic architecture, it visually stands out within the city, which is otherwise full of older architecture. It has a really interesting story, is gorgeous to look at, and is also a very prominent part of Madrid’s city impressive skyline. I absolutely recommend you stop by at Almundena Cathedral to learn all about it, take some photos, and be mesmerized by the inside!
The Debod Temple – An Original Egyptian Temple!
Funny story – I accidentally just stumbled across this awesome and completely original Egyptian Temple!
Located right in the middle of the city, this temple dates back all the way to the 2nd century BC. It was transported to Madrid’s Cuartel de la Montana Park after being donated by the Egyptian Government in order to save it from floods after the construction of the great Aswan Dam. It is definitely worth seeing this ancient temple, and the area is also a fantastic place to watch the sunset!
Every night you’ll see groups of people enjoying bottles of wine in the nearby park, listening to the live musicians, watching the sun dip beneath the horizon in the distance as the sky lights up into various shades of pink and orange!
Experience Plaza Mayor – Madrid’s Grand Central Square
Closely located to the previously mentioned Plaza (Puerta del Sol), Plaza Mayor is one of the only large open spaces available within the otherwise very tightly squeezed streets of Central Madrid.
It features a stunning and colorful combination of buildings, the main tourist office for the city, and is also home to Madrid’s Christmas Markets in December (which is particularly awesome if you happen to be in Europe during Winter)!
“The Plaza Mayor, as we know it today is the work of the architect Juan de Villanueva who was entrusted with its reconstruction in 1790 after a spate of big fires. The statue of Philip III dates to 1616, but it was not placed in the center of the square until 1848.”
Plaza de Espana
Conveniently located at the intersection of Gran Vía and Princesa streets (two massive and main strees in Madrid), you’ll find Plaza de Espana and the Cervantes Monument, a popular tourist spot in the city! The Monument was made by Rafael Martínez Zapatero and Lorenzo Cullaut Valera, representing the legendary author Miguel de Cervantes (the author of Don Quixote).
It’s very hard to miss and also has a nice variety of interesting spots around the area too; such as the stunning House of Gallardo (one of the key pieces of the final stages of the Madrid Modernism), and the Torre de Madrid (which is the tallest building in Madrid).
2019 Update: Due to a major refurbishment of the square which is expected to last till February 2021, both the gardens and the square may be partly closed off to the public.
Take a Leisurely Stroll through Retiro Park
My favorite place in all of Madrid!
The largest central park in Madrid, Retiro Park, is absolutely gorgeous, super relaxing, and spans over 120 acres! It’s the perfect place for a leisurely stroll (or bike ride) and afternoon beer. Spend some time exploring the different paths, monuments, and the beautiful Crystal Palace! Sit down, relax, and just soak up the views of the massively scenic lake right in the middle of the park (and rent a paddleboat if you’re up for it).
Retiro Park is filled with different gardens, small tourist cafes, the Valasquez Palace, and is also a pretty awesome place to be at during the sunset. While you can’t really see the sun, the golden hour lighting through the trees and monuments is gorgeous, and I loved watching the street performers and just chilling out surrounded by the great atmosphere!
View the Iconic Monument, Puerta de Alcalá!
A popular spot just outside one of the entrance’s of Retiro park is the famous Puerta de Alcalá, which is a triumphant neoclassical monumental arch and one of Madrid’s most iconic landmarks!
It was built in 1778 and was actually once the main entrance to the city. It reminded me a little of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and is definitely must-see before entering or leaving Retiro Park! The entire roundabout surrounding the Puerta de Alcalá is lovely, and has some really great restaurants that would be great for dinners or drinks!
Museo Nacional del Prado – (Prado Museum)
“Welcome to the Museo del Prado, an institution dating back almost 200 years and one whose origins and unique nature are largely due to the collecting tastes of Spain’s 16th- and 17th-century monarchs.”
Located right in central Madrid, Padro Museum is officially known as the main Spanish National Art Museum. It is considered to have one of the worlds finest collections of European Artwork, with works dating from the 12th Century all the way to the 20th Century. It was founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture in 1819, and has over 7600 paintings, and 1000 sculptures in the museum’s collection!
“The Museo del Prado is one of three museums in Madrid that make up the Golden Triangle of Art. The other two museums are Museo Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.”
But Trust me – you’ll WANT to purchase one of these Skip-the-Line Prado Museum Entrance Tickets or else you might be stuck waiting in line for a while to get in! It’s pretty much always busy! But just make sure you don’t purchase this on a day where the museum is free to enter, lol.
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Enjoy a Traditional Flamenco Show at Torres Barmejas!
No trip to Spain is complete without attending one of the most popular evening entertainment experiences throughout the country, a Flamenco Show!
This popular Spanish dance is filled with passion, rhythm, and flow, and is guaranteed to put you in a trance! The dancers and singers are always super talented and have such fiery energy to them. There are many venues throughout Madrid where you can watch a Flamenco show, but personally, I went to the Torre Barmejas and really loved it there. I think it’s one of the best things to do while in Madrid, and will be an unforgettable experience during your two days!
- Live Flamenco Show and Food and Drinks Options: “Feel the passion of flamenco music and dance at a legendary tablao in Madrid. Watch a unique show in a venue inspired by the Bermejas towers of Granada’s Alhambra. Choose from a variety of dining options to upgrade your experience.”
- Price: 35 Euro (Read Reviews & Check Availability NOW)
Food & Drink Recommendations For 2 Days in Madrid
Since Madrid is full of so many beautifully decorated, traditional and authentic restaurants to eat at. I have decided to list just a few of the best individual places where you can find the most popular dishes or famous food items available. Enjoy!
For the Spanish food lovers out there, I’d suggest giving a quick read through this, “The 38 Essential Madrid Restaurants; Where to find classic tapas, fresh-caught seafood, and chocolate-dunked churros“, as it’s a pretty awesome article that will definitely have your mouth-watering!!
- Try Suckling Pig at Sobrino de Botín (the oldest restaurant in the world!): If you’re in Madrid, you absolutely have to try the traditional delicacy of Suckling Pig. This is a slow-cooked tender meat dish with a very crispy and slim crackled skin. Traditionally the pig shouldn’t be older than 2-3 weeks and it should have been only milk-fed. Additionally, the BEST place to find this delicious meal is at the oldest (still in operation) restaurant in the world; Sobrino de Botín. Founded in 1725, the restaurant still uses its original recipes and has also kept the flame in the flame burning oven on continuously, which is apparently never to be extinguished!
- Enjoy Tortilla at Juana La Loca! Juana La Loca, located in La Latina neighborhood is always busy, and for good reason. It serves some of the most delicious dishes I have ever tried in Spain. Famous for its tortilla de patatas dish, it’s the perfect place to try your first ever Tortilla in Madrid.
- Finish off with the Sweetest Churros at Chocolateria San Gines! If it’s a sweet treat you want, then you absolutely have to try one of the most popular sweets in Madrid; Churros! A Churro is a fried dough pastry that can be eat for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner or just as an afternoon snack. My favourite place to get Churrus in Madrid was at Chocolateria San Gines, the most famous and authentic place you can find them.
Nightlife For 2 Days In Madrid
“When I came to Spain, and I saw people party, I told to myself: What the f*ck!? All day, all night All day, all night
Viva la fiesta, viva la noche.”
Madrid, known for its huge clubs and as a city that never sleeps – There really are tons of options available when it comes to going out for the night in Madrid. Although I couldn’t possibly list all of them, here a few of the more popular nightlife options available in this amazing city.
Fabrik – A Spanisch Techno Mega-Club
If you’re looking for underground electronic music, big crowds, and a vibrant atmosphere – then I’m pretty sure you’ll have a pretty unbelievable night out at Fabrik! It may be located around 30 km Southwest of Madrid in a little town called Fuenlabrada, but trust me -it is well worth the trip. It feels like the clubs of Ibiza, often features world-famous DJ artists and is only a 30 minutes bus ride from the city centre. If you are looking for a big club expire in Madrid, then Fabrik is the place to be!
“Fabrik is a 4000 capacity club located just on the outskirts of Madrid. It hosts some of Spain’s largest techno, house, and trance nights. The club itself is composed of two sizeable hangars, featuring large-scale lighting rigs and ice machines to fill the giant space with smoke. Also part of the spectacle are laser shows and six video projection screens. In addition to the cavernous indoor space, Fabrik also features an outdoor terrace with its own river. The stage is triple-decker to accommodate large numbers of eager dancers, while the club’s location on the outskirts of the city means that the music can get pretty loud.
Check out the Fabrik Facebook Upcoming Events
Teatro Kapital – 7 Different Styles on 7 Different Floors!
Another HUGE club in Madrid that I have to mention is Teatro Kapital! I went to this club once back in 2010, and it was tons of fun! It’s located right in the city center, and would definitely recommend it to party-seekers!
Known for having a diverse selection of music ranging from Hip-Hop, EDM, Reggae, and more – it even has a karaoke room on floor 2 – perfect for a laugh with friends! In Teatro Kapital you will have lots to explore and no doubt have many different experiences all in one big club!
Check the Teatro Kapital Facebook for Upcoming Events & Tickets
Opium – The Most Exclusive Club in Madrid
With bottle service, beautiful decor and often visited by celebrities; Opium is listed as one of Madrid’s most luxurious clubs. If you go along to Opium, you are better off dressing a bit more smart casual or elegant in style as they will treat you like a VIP guest. It’s good to know this place is a restaurant as well as a club, so you could also plan to enjoy a dinner here before the parties begin. I have noticed that Opium generally has many mixed reviews; some people love it and some people hate it. But overall it is considered as one of the top clubs in Madrid, therefore I think it is well worth checking out.
It’s also worth noting it’s open 7 days a week, so perfect for people who are visiting Madrid Sunday- Thursday!
Madrid Travel Tips!
Take a Free Walking Tour: By far the best way to discover a new city is by turning up to one of the many FREE walking tours available throughout the city. Usually meeting in the late morning and lasting around 2-3 hours, a walking tour will take you through all the major highlights of the city. From the Royal Palace to the Plaza Mayor, your guide will not only lead you around the city offering loads of valuable information about the cities history, traditions and local insider tips. But they will also be there to answer any questions you might have about getting around or giving you recommendations for additional places to visit or more local things to do in the evening for example.
I always like to go a walking tour my first day in a new city, as it gives me a great general idea of how to get around the city ,or what I might want to do with my additional days in the city thereafter! Also, the tour guides (who work for tips BTW), are always super helpful and passionate about their city tours, and a tour in Madrid is a must (since there is so much history!)
- Understand the Spanish Working Hours: Unlike most European cities which will wake up at the crack of dawn. Spain is on a different timescale altogether. Coffee shops don’t tend to open until at last as 9AM in the morning, so be prepared to start your day a little later than normally. Most Spanish people don’t enjoy lunch until 3 or 4 PM and often won’t eat dinner until 9 or 10 PM at night! Also keep in mind that although it is not so prominent in the big cities, Spain does still operate a siesta time during the day. Small businesses and restaurants will often close between 12 noon and 4PM. It’s a good idea to plan your day around this by visiting a museum or wondering through the park at those times.
- Be Aware of the Photograph Scam: One thing I did notice in Madrid was that there will be lots of people standing around dressed in various popular cartoon character costumes. They tend to capture the attention of kids and tourists, offering to take a photo with you. However, they will expect that you pay them some money immediately afterwards. So bare this in mind, especially when traveling with children who may innocently want a photo taken with their favorite cartoon character.
Am I Missing Anything from My 2-Day Madrid Itinerary?
While I trust my itinerary has given you some fun ideas on the best ways to spend your short visit to Madrid, there really is so much more that this city has to offer! If you’ve visited Madrid recently and have a restaurant, tour, or fun thing to do that you think I need to add to my list, please do reach out to me and let me know!
I’m actually hoping to make it back to Spain sometime this year myself, and really looking forward to getting to know Madrid on a deeper level!
PLANNING A TRIP TO SPAIN & EUROPE…?
I’ve spent a lot of time living and working in different parts of Europe, and my website is filled with helpful travel itineries, things to do, destination guides, festival roundups, and much more! Check out a few of my favorite articles below, and as always, please do email me if you’ve got any questions about anything you’ve read! I love helping people plan their travel as much as possible!
- Top 22 Music Festivals in Barcelona To Experience Before You Die
- 12 Music Festivals in Spain To Experience Before You Die
- 10 Awesome Things to do in Paris, France
- 2 Days in Copenhagen | The Best 48 Hours/ Weekend Guide to Copenhagen
- Flashpacking Finland | My Northern Lights Bucket List Adventure
- The 20 Best Techno Festivals in Europe to Experience This Summer
- 2 Days in Budapest | The Ultimate 48 Hour Weekend Guide to Budapest
- 2 Days In Berlin itinerary | How to Explore Berlin in 48 Hours
- 2 Days in Prague | What to See & Do in Prague in 48 Hours’
- 2 Days in Athens | The Best 48 Hours Guide to Athens
- The 20 Best Music Festivals in Sweden
- The Ultimate Weekend in Rome Itinerary
- The 10 Best Things To Do in Port Ercole
- 30 Music Festivals in Europe to Experience Before You Die
Looking for Day Trips from Madrid…?
While the Spanish capital definitely has heaps to offer, there are SO MANY amazing places within a two-hours drive that would be amazing if you have a few more days in the area! Check out a few of my top recommendations below!
- Toledo & Segovia Tour from Madrid with Alcázar Ticket: “Visit Toledo and Segovia on a tour by air-conditioned vehicle and admire the main attractions of these two cities. Visit the Alcázar of Segovia, the inspiration for Walt Disney’s famous castle.
- Toledo: Full Day Trip From Madrid: “Enjoy a comprehensive visit to the magical city of Toledo, a UNESCO world heritage site famous for narrow medieval streets, beautiful architecture and rich history. Mixing diverse Christian, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds, this city is known as the Imperial City for having been the seat of the court of King Charles I and associated with the life and works of Miguel de Cervantes. Discover the architecture and history of this city, exploring the Jewish Quarter as well as every essential monument and building.”
Full-Day Avila and Segovia Tour from Madrid: “Take an excursion to visit two of Spain’s oldest cities on a full-day coach trip from Madrid. Avila and Segovia are known as Spain’s “Heritage of Mankind” cities, rich in history and featuring centuries-old monuments.
I have not been to Madrid till now. And I can bet i will fall in love with this city when I visit Madrid. Especially after reading your article I want to pack my bags and go to Madrid immediately.
Pls tell me more about the “strawberry tree” in Sol (the symbol of the city) 😂
It’s called “Madroño”, which is a tree, unlike strawberries, which are not.