Only have two days in Madrid? Although a weekend in Madrid will fly by, it will undoubtedly also leave many imprints in your memory, and you’ll be surprised by how much ground you can cover. Having lived in Madrid for 6 months, I can say with confidence that the city is a cultural gem that has something to offer travelers of all types.
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If you’re ready for awe-inspiring arts and architecture, globally recognized cuisine, and rich history, then a weekend trip to Madrid is for you. Read on for a detailed look at how to spend a weekend in Madrid.
Day 1 in Madrid
With a 2 day itinerary in Madrid, you can still manage to see the core sights, indulge in some local delicacies, and immerse yourself in the arts.
Wake up and smell the coffee. Start your weekend in Madrid off right by visiting a cafe in the neighborhoods of La Latina, or in the artsy Malasaña. Ubers in Spain are easy to come by, but you can also get around Madrid by metro, bus, or by foot. All of these are great options, it just depends on how many steps you want to get!
Order some coffee and food to fuel your morning adventure, in addition to this, I highly recommend that you try the freshly squeezed orange juice that’s omnipresent in Madrid’s cafes. Check out Nomade Cafe to start your day off.
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Fully caffeinated, you can start your afternoon by experiencing some of Spain’s more famous dishes. Whether you opt for some paella, tapas, (such as Spanish omelette and patatas bravas), or a glass of sangria, Madrid’s food and drink choices won’t disappoint.
There’s no better way to enjoy such delicacies than going to El Mercado de San Miguel. The architecture alone is worth the stop, but the food in this centrally located market is the main draw.
This collection of restaurants is more a place to order cooked food, rather than to buy raw ingredients, and will appease every appetite. Try some famous Jamon Iberico, (Iberian Ham), for a unique taste of Spain.
Make sure to fill up at the market, because for the rest of your afternoon in Madrid, you can scope the must-see sights on this biking tour.
The first half of the tour is all about the iconic tourist attractions of Spain; from the Plaza Mayor to the Royal Palace, and everything in between.
The second half of the tour will take you off the beaten track and will provide you with a more intimate impression of the neighborhoods of Madrid.
Finally, you’ll wrap up the tour with a glass of wine and some tapas – a welcome and recurring theme for activities in Madrid. Just like that, you’ll have hit the mainstays of any weekend trip to Madrid.
Keep in mind that “evening time” in Madrid may be very different from what you’re used to. In fact, most locals of Madrid, (“Madrilenos”), don’t eat dinner until 10pm.
Furthermore, clubs aren’t typically filled up until around 2:30am, so if you’re hoping to make the most of your morning, you may decide to skip out – no judgment.
Now that you’ve been adequately warned, let’s dive into some of the best restaurants for dinner in Madrid.
Coming out on top as the best place to eat in Madrid, (and anywhere for that matter), is Botin – the oldest restaurant in the world. Having opened in 1725, Botin is world-renowned for its suckling pig, which is tender enough to be cut with a plate. This historic spot was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway’s, which adds to its charm.
Another great option is Meson del Champinon. Located right by the Plaza Mayor, this restaurant will wow you with its robust dishes and specials such as mushrooms and delicious fried green peppers.
If you’re trying to avoid the tourist-laden Plaza Mayor, I recommend going to Restaurante Sacha for dinner. Named after its proprietor, this intimate bistro is a great place to unwind with a pleasant culinary experience after a long day.
Day 2 in Madrid
The first day in Madrid covers some of the major sites and tastes of Madrid. Let’s dive into what’s next for your weekend in Madrid.
Start your second day in Madrid by ducking into any coffee shop to fuel up for the morning. If the nightlife got the best of you, take this morning at a leisurely pace by checking out one of Madrid’s many museums.
Here are some options for museums in Madrid that are open in the morning.
The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte specializes in 20th-century Spanish art. The museum only opened in 1992, but it holds some of the most famous works of the 20th century, including pieces by Pablo Picasso. Learn about Spain’s recent history with this impressive collection of modern works.
Another powerhouse art museum is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Whilst the Prado and Nacional Centro de Arte focus on Spanish works, this museum expands its collection to reach all corners of the globe. This museum is part of the “Golden Triangle of Art” in Madrid.
Branching off from canvases and oil paintings is the National Archaeological Museum, which shares its walls with the National Library of Spain. Located in the posh Salamanca district, the National Archaeological Museum is home to everything from Greek pottery to Spanish-Islamic artifacts.
Now that you’ve kicked off day two in Madrid with a leisurely but captivating stroll through one of its many museums, you’re ready to make your way towards another great afternoon in Madrid.
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By your second day in Madrid, you’ll certainly be in a calorie surplus from all of the delicious food and wine. Why not burn some of that off by learning how to dance Flamenco? For around $40, you’ll take an hour-long class to learn the basic steps that all Flamenco dancers master to celebrate this cherished art.
Of course, you could always skip getting active and keep on eating – nobody will blame you. Pack a picnic and head to Retiro Park to basque in the ornate gardens and landmarks, whilst nibbling on local foods picked up from a nearby market.
Make sure to save time for the Prado Art Museum – the national art museum of Spain. This immense collection is largely a grouping of works that were owned by Spanish royalty in centuries past. From Goya to El Greco, you can get out of the midday heat and marvel at some of the most iconic Spanish artworks.
Whether you combine each of these activities or focus on one, you’ll have a memorable afternoon during your weekend break in Madrid.
To soak up your last night in Madrid, I’ll give you a couple of restaurant and activity suggestions so you can pick and choose to build your ideal itinerary yourself.
A live Flamenco show is a fantastic option for an authentic experience in Madrid. Taking place in a 100-year-old brick cellar in a historic cave, the atmosphere here compliments the acoustics perfectly. The capacity is limited, (this particular performance seats 60), so make sure you book this award-winning show in advance.
Watching a flamenco show is one of the more romantic things to do in Madrid (it’s also a great option if you’re looking for a date night in Barcelona).
If you’re still committed to trying more tapas, then join a Tapas tour! Make sure you’re hungry, as you’ll enjoy many different tapas.
Maybe you want to hone your cooking skills so you can enjoy delicious Spanish food at home. This paella cooking class is the best way to do exactly that.
Using local, seasonal ingredients, you’ll whip up a delicious paella by learning step-by-step from a highly-rated and dedicated teacher – all whilst sipping Spanish wines along the way. Another great option is this cooking class which includes a trip to the market, making 4 tapas and paella!
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Great Restaurants in Madrid
If you’re feeling tired from your two days in Madrid, a sit-down dinner might be the best option for your last evening. Below are a handful of notable restaurants in Madrid.
El Cisne Azul is a strong contender to Mesón del Champiñon and offers distinct mushroom dishes. With its understated facade, you wouldn’t likely notice this unassuming restaurant by walking past. However, those lucky enough to venture inside are promised a memorable meal.
Another option is La Taberna de El Pimiento Verde. Located halfway between the Royal Palace and La Plaza Mayor, this upscale tavern creates refreshing takes on typical tavern food from Northern Spain.
If you still have a taste for tapas, then head to La Perejila in the neighborhood of La Latina. This cozy spot focuses on the foods of Andalusia, (a southern state in Spain), known for its small plate dishes. This spot is the perfect place to sample a variety of Spain’s most famous dishes.
If you have a more adventurous palette can check out La Tasquería. This casual eatery describes its style as “visceral” and “avant-garde”, offering non-traditional dishes like beef tongue, which ironically tastes similar to pork. Chances are, eating here will change any answers to the question “What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?”
A weekend in Madrid is full of variety. Between the activities and countless restaurant options available, you can build your ideal itinerary to best suit your kind of adventure.
Tips for a Weekend Trip to Madrid
Here are a few tips to make your trip to Madrid even more enjoyable.
1. Don’t Get Too Caught Up in the Nightlife
I personally feel that two days in Madrid isn’t enough time to stay out at the clubs until the Metro opens again at 6am. Whilst you may want to observe the local customs and hit the clubs, you’ll likely cut into the second day by doing so.
Of course, if nightlife is your thing, go ahead and party until the sun comes up, (be sure to take note of the coffee stops mentioned in the list above!).
2. Trust the Metro
Madrid’s Metro system is clean and efficient. You don’t need to take a cab unless the metro itself is closed, (1:30am – 6am daily). As a bonus, most of the things to see and do in Madrid for a weekend are centrally located. It’s easy and cheap to get around Madrid.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk
As mentioned before, the Metro is a great means of transportation. However, a lot of the main draws of Madrid are walkable.
The nucleus of Madrid is Puerta del Sol, and strolling through the ornate streets not only gives you the visual pleasure of soaking up the architecture, but it ensures the pleasure of ducking into a random cafe or bar for tapas and coffee.
4. Keep a Close Eye on Your Valuables
An unfortunate reality for many European cities is the threat of pickpocketing. Having something stolen from you can easily impede on your weekend trip to Madrid.
Try to keep your personal items to a minimum, and keep them with you at all times. As with any kind of travel, following these basic security practices can prevent any unfortunate thefts.
How to Get to Madrid
There are a few ways to get to the city. Here are the most popular.
Fly into Madrid Barajas airport, (MAD). The best airlines for getting into Madrid are Iberia and Air Europa. From MAD, take any number of the Metro lines to your destination.
The less popular airport choice is the Cuatro Vientos Airport. Chances are, you won’t land here, but you’re still close enough to reach Madrid by Metro if you do.
The Madrid Atocha Train Station drops you off right by the Royal Botanical Garden and Retiro Park, creating an unforgettable entry to the city.
The train station itself has an indoor tropical garden, so your sightseeing can start as soon as you arrive.
Madrid’s main bus station is the Estación Sur, (South Station). It’s also known as Méndez Álvaro, which is the name of the neighborhood it’s in.
Nearly every Metro line services the bus station, so you won’t have to transfer between many lines and it’s easy to reach.
Driving into any city may not be ideal, but you can take the A-1, A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5, and A-6 to get to Madrid. There are certain “low emission zones” where driving and parking are restricted. Learn more in the transportation information section of the government’s site.
Where to Stay With 2 Days in Madrid
If you’re staying in Madrid for the weekend, it helps to have a great location to cut down on travel around the city. Here are some options for areas to stay and great accommodations for your stay in Madrid.
Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in Madrid
At the top of the list is Sol, home to the Puerta del Sol, which is the center of the city. In Sol, you’ll have instant access to restaurants, theaters, clubs, cafes, and more. Here’s a great accommodation option that’s in Sol, Madrid.
If you know you’re going to be bar-hopping, the area of Malasaña is your spot. Immediately north of Sol, you’ll be spoiled with options for things to do at night in Madrid. This beautiful accommodation will please any travelers who are into nightlife.
La Latina is a small but lively maze of narrow streets and delicious food. On Sundays, La Latina hosts “El Rastro”, a famous flea market. Fill up on tapas, then go grab some souvenirs! Here’s an awesome accommodation with rave reviews in La Latina.
FAQs About a Weekend Getaway in Madrid
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Madrid.
You’ll be busy, but 2 days in Madrid will give you enough time to see the big tourist attractions and enjoy some authentic tours and experiences too. You can easily see the best parts of Madrid in two days. You won’t be able to do any day trips out of Madrid, however.
Between the walkable streets and the highly performant Metro, all of the hotspots for a visit to Madrid are close to one another. Even though you’ll only have 2 days in Madrid, you’ll cover a lot.
Here are some of the best neighborhoods to stay in during a weekend trip to Madrid: Sol, the heart of the city that has everything to offer. Malasaña, a modern area with exciting nightlife. La Latina, the foodie’s paradise. Retiro, the charming area east of Retiro Park
Personally, I’d spend 2 days in Madrid sightseeing, walking everywhere and eating as much as possible! Join this walking tapas tour to combine getting orientated with the city, and filling your stomach. Some of the must-see sights in Madrid include the Prado Museum, El Mercado de San Miguel, and the Rastro Flea Market.
Two days in Madrid doesn’t leave a lot of time for siestas, but you should jump at any opportunity to explore this incredible city.
Madrid is easy to get around, and a lot of the sights are centrally located. Touring major architectural landmarks, sipping on fine Spanish wines, and gawking at world-renowned art is more than achievable in a weekend in Madrid.
So, soak in the scenery, fuel up on tapas and paella, and enjoy your trip!
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