Planning to visit Madrid and wondering how many days you should stay in Madrid? I personally think 3 days in Madrid is enough time to see the main attractions, try the essential experiences, indulge in local food and have fun while you are there.
Madrid is a city of elegant boulevards, architectural gems, oh, and rich repositories of European art, including the Prado Museum’s works by Goya, Velázquez, and other Spanish masters. In the heart of the city, you will find Plaza Mayor – a vibrant square filled with life and good energy – the true essence of Spanish culture. And let’s not forget about Retiro Park – Madrid’s largest and liveliest park. Wondering what is the best way to do it all?
In this travel guide, you will find your perfect itinerary for 3 days in Madrid, Spain. I want you to use your time in Madrid wisely, so keep reading!
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Where to stay in Madrid?
If you are planning to follow this itinerary for 3 days in Madrid, I highly suggest booking your hotel or apartment nearby the Royal Palace of Madrid. That’s where our apartment was located and it had great access to all these locations.
For reference, we stayed in Oriente Palace Apartments and choose a room with a view of the Royal Palace.
When I travel, I always prefer to stay central, so I don’t have to spend my time on public transport or money on a taxi. I rather pay more for accommodation and walk everywhere from there.
Itinerary for a day 1 in Madrid
Let’s start with essentials. On your first day in Madrid, I want you to visit the main attractions, try the local food and see the best views over Madrid.
I suggest you wake up early and visit Catedral Almudena. This way you can see the square without big crowds and avoid the heat if you are visiting in summer. Also, you can take some amazing photos, so you can give up a bit of your beauty sleep, right?
This stunning gem of Madrid is located next to the Royal Palace of Madrid, so that will be your next step. Just a simple walk around Royal Palace is enjoyable, but you can visit inside as well. It is partially open to the public and inside you will find the work of many important Spanish artists. The visit can take up to 1 hour.
Once you are done with Royal Palace, take a walk in the Las Vistillas Gardens and head to the most iconic breakfast place of Madrid – Chocolateria San Gines. It is Madrid’s oldest chocolate shop and it serves combinations made in heaven: chocolate and churros.
Right now you are very close to Plaza Mayor, so don’t miss a chance to see the pearl of Madrid. Admire the details of Casa de la Panadería and Casa de la Carnicería, sit down for a sangria and enjoy the famous Spanish Jamon. In the square, you will find Museo del Jamon, which is considered a local landmark for ham. If you are not hungry, order tapas or a bocadillo, but make sure you try this place.
After lunch you can take some time to rest and later in the afternoon I suggest you head to Puerta del Sol. In this square, you will find the emblem of Madrid – the statue of a bear and Madroño Tree. It symbolizes the resiliency and strength of the industry of Madrileños. Also, originally, Madrid was named Ursa, which means “bear” in Latin.
After you can enjoy the walk on Gran Via – a popular touristic street filled with entertainment, shops, and restaurants. Make sure you visit Corte Ingles on your way – they have a beautiful rooftop terrace and offer amazing views over Madrid. The street is long, so it can take you a couple of hours or even more if you decide to visit every single shop.
I advise putting La Bola as your final destination from Puerta del Sol and having dinner in this famous Madrillian restaurant. You deserve a nice meal after such a great day in Madrid!
Itinerary for a day 2 in Madrid
On the second day, you should start with the Prado museum. It opens at 10 am, so you can even visit San Jerónimo el Real – an amazing church right next to the Prado museum.
Plan to spend here from 2 to 3 hours in this museum. The “Paseo del Arte” pass offers a fast-track entry and the opportunity to visit the Prado Museum. Click here to check prices, updated opening times, and buy your tickets online.
For lunch, I highly advise you to visit Sobrino de Botin. It has been cooking delicacies in the same wood-fired oven since 1725 and holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest restaurant in the world. The menu is not big, but then again, you don’t even need a menu, because you must order their famous Cochinillo Asado (roast suckling pig). The service was excellent as well and the owner was there to make a little tour around his restaurant! I can honestly say that this was the highlight of my time in Madrid.
You will need to take a taxi to get here from the Prado museum.
The afternoon of your second day in Madrid, I want you to dedicate to El Retiro Park. I think you can combine El Retiro Park with Fuente de Cibeles and Puerta de Acalà, so make sure you stop here before or after your visit.
I’m sure that you have heard about El Retiro Park before even planning your visit to Madrid. That’s because it is one of the biggest parks in Spain and it is one of the main attractions of Madrid. Make sure you visit Crystal Palace, Estanque (Lake), Velázquez Palace, Paseo de la Argentina and Monument to King Alfonso XII. Renting a boat in the park is a cool experience, but seems like they don’t have a proper schedule, so I can’t guarantee it’s going to be open.
If you are feeling hungry, you can visit 100 Montaditos for tapas and drinks. It is not a fancy place, in fact, I would say it is budget-friendly, but it is a fun restaurant for a quick bite.
Itinerary for a day 3 in Madrid
Most of us start our day with coffee, right? If the answer is yes, I highly suggest you to spend your morning with Rocío. A local coffee expert who takes you around Madrid, shares her knowledge about coffee traditions and makes you try some of the best coffee of your life. If this sounds interesting to you, click here to read more and book this experience. Highly recommended!
Once you are done with your experience, you can use your time to visit Teatro Real, Calle Major, and Calle Cava Baja. Calle Cava Baja used to have cool decorations, but it seems like they are currently removed. However, the street still deserves a visit and has a lot of interesting restaurants & street art.
Lunch in San Miguel Market is another thing that you have to do in Madrid! It is one of the liveliest culinary spots in the city and it has something for every taste and every budget. Don’t miss it!
Since your trip is coming to an end, you still have some things that you haven’t seen. Sabatini Garden, Campo del Moro, Parque de Atenas, Plaza de España. I suggest that you visit the gardens around the Royal Palace of Madrid and then head to Plaza de España.
Nearby you will find Hotel Riu with a hip rooftop terrace – great locations for drinks, food, and sunset view over Madrid. I have to warn you that there is an entrance fee (unless you are a hotel guest), but the views are worth 10 euro, especially if you want to visit for a sunset.
Looking for a day trip options from Madrid?
If you have more than 3 days in Madrid and you want to make a day trip from Madrid, make sure you visit Toledo. It is a one-hour train ride away from Madrid which makes it an appealing option for most travelers. If you like small towns and cute villages, you must visit Toledo and I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.
I hope this article helps you to plan your perfect itinerary for 3 days in Madrid and make the most of your time. Make sure you take a moment to spot and enjoy the atmosphere around you – because that’s the essence of Spain.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.