Madrid is the bustling capital of Spain and is a joy to visit. Although I spent a week here; if you’re savvy you can cover most of the main sights in three days. True, three days in Madrid will not be long enough to experience everything. But whether you spend ten days, a month, or just a few hours in this wonderful city, it will certainly leave a lasting impression!
And if your upcoming visit to Spain is part of your first European vacation, then you’re in for a real treat! The Spanish people are bright, happy and welcoming. Spain is well-prepared for travelers and tourists alike and as such, the country is a joy and a breeze in which to travel.
The Spanish food culture is something we could all take after. A drink with lunch? Yes, please. Be sure to try a calamari sandwich with garlic mayonnaise. Soft toasted bread with battered calamari rings topped off with a big dollop of garlic mayo. It was truly my favorite dish in Madrid.
Without further ado, here is a guide on what to do in Madrid in three days.
Day 1: Explore the Royal Palace
The plan for Day One in Madrid starts before you even land. Remember to try your best to book flight tickets that see you land in Madrid early in the morning; with only three days available to you to explore Madrid every minute counts. Remember that you should always account for an extra two hours after you land before getting out an exploring. Sometimes the immigration queues are long, and getting into the city takes awhile. Additionally you have to find, check-in to your hotel, and freshen up.
After checking in and showering, the next thing to think about is food. Fear not, there are no shortages of places to eat in Madrid. On every street you will find a cafe, bistro or restaurant. Like I said before, I highly recommend a calamari sandwich. Or, go all out and order a paella, Spain’s most famous and most loved dish.
After lunch I recommend heading to Royal Palace of Madrid. The Royal Palace of Madrid is a leading example of Spanish grandeur and opulence and arguably the most impressive palace Spain has to offer. A trip to the Royal Palace of Madrid will take around 2 hours if you adopt a leisurely pace, which is to be expected after an early morning flight.
Be sure to check out Almudena Cathedral just a few minutes’ walk away.
Day 2: Enjoy Parks, Plaza de Cibeles, and More
So, your first full day in Madrid; exciting times indeed. Start the day with a stroll down the Gran Via. The Gran Via runs from east to west in the very heart of Madrid’s city center. It’s home to all the major High Street brands and some more luxury boutiques too. The Gran Via is a fashionista’s paradise.
If you’re in town when Madrid’s fútbol team is in town, do try to see a game. Madrid loves their Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, also known as just “Real”).
Be sure to visit Plaza de Cibeles. The Plaza de Cibeles offers the chance to take some wonderful panoramic photos of Madrid’s urban cityscape.
I absolutely love Retiro Park can cannot recommend it highly enough. Retiro Park is at the heart of Madrid and is a welcome escape from the busy and noisy city streets. Retiro Park has many a pond to sit down next to and relax and lots of grass to lie down on and sunbathe.
Tonight, be sure to hit the town. There are so many brilliant bars and clubs in Madrid that I won’t recommend any, for part of the fun is finding your own best kept secret spot, right?
Day 3: Mingle in the Markets
I hope you’re not nursing a bit of a hangover today. That may well be the case because Spanish sangria packs a punch. On this, your last day in Madrid, be sure to pick up some souvenirs and mementos to take away with you.
I recommend heading to the San Anton Market. Little visited by tourists, the San Anton Market has everything you can dream of and more, especially when it comes to food.
The San Anton Market has been recently renovated and is a great place to meet local people and try your hand at making conversation in Spanish. The San Anton Market has lots of great little tapas bars so make sure you get your fill.
Before you leave, a must-visit is the Prado National Museum. You could spend all three days here, but enjoy whatever you can manage.
If you want a taste of classic Madrid before you depart then head over to the Plaza del Dos de Mayo. This little square is a great place to sit with a glass of fine Spanish wine, cava, sidra, or tinto de verano and watch the world go by!
Whether you’re departing by plane, train or by bus, be sure to leave plenty of time to get to the airport or station. Grid-lock is not an uncommon sight in Madrid.
It will be hard to pull yourself away from Madrid after just three days. Know there is plenty more to explore when you return. I’ll be back, and I’m sure you will be too.
-The cover photo shows the Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple that was dismantled and re-built in Madrid.