3 Day Madrid Itinerary – 3 Epic Days in the Spanish Capital!
Madrid is full of good energy, and I guarantee you will fall in love with the Spanish capital the minute you get there. You can spend weeks in the gorgeous city or dip your toes in with this 3-day Madrid itinerary.
As most of you already know, I’m not encouraging travel during this time. We need to stay home. What I am doing is inspiring your wanderlust for future trips after this is all over.
The Spanish capital of Madrid is bursting with energy. It’s literally overflowing with good vibes. Situated in the heart of Spain, you can’t miss spending atleast a couple of days in Madrid during any trip to Spain. 3 days is a great amount of time to see everything in a jam-packed itinerary, but if you want to have more time to just take in the city (which you will want to once you get there!), I recommend spending some more time in Madrid.
Madrid has its art scene, it’s nightlife, it’s food and its charm to thank for cementing its place as a top city amongst its European neighbours. Charming is probably one of the best ways to describe Madrid, and you’ll soon realise it the minute you step foot outside your hotel.
So, let’s get in to this 3 day Madrid itinerary, packed with all the must do things to see and do, the best places to eat and of course, where to sit back and sip on a cocktail while overlooking the city. And, like I said before, if you can give yourself more time in the city, do yourself a favour and stay a little longer!
Interested in reading more about travel in Spain?
How to Spend an Unforgettable 3 Days in Madrid
Ok, let’s get into this jam-packed itinerary!
Madrid Itinerary Day 1
- Highlights: Gran Via
Yay, you’ve arrived in Madrid! Don’t waste any time, and get out to spend the afternoon exploring the famous Gran Via. Madrid’s famously photographed street, you’ll recognise it easily and find just about anything here. It’s a shopping hub, with department stores lining the street amongst beautifully designed buildings (make sure to look up so to not miss anything!).
Amongst the boutique high end stores, you’ll find one of the largest Primark’s, which is worth a trip inside just to admire the design. Spend the afternoon shopping and admiring the architecture and feel of central Madrid.
The scene of Gran Via changes by night. You can expect to see people more dressed up – ready for a fancy dinner, a show, or for a big night out. You just can’t miss a night on Gran Via.
There’s endless spots for dinner and a drink along Gran Via and the surrounding areas, so pick somewhere that takes your fancy! No matter where you go, make sure you head to Circulo de Bellas Artes 7thfloor bar, where you will find incredible views of Gran Via, which is the perfect place for a cocktail to finish the night.
Madrid Itinerary Day 2
- Highlights: The Prado Museum and El Retiro Park
If there’s one thing you can’t miss in Madrid, it’s The Prado Museum. It’s one of the most impressive museums in all of Europe. Even if you aren’t a big art lover, you can’t miss it. Featuring the likes of Botticelli, El Greco, Bosch, and notably, a huge collection of works from the Spanish Romanticist Goya.
Allow at least a couple of hours at The Prado. Tickets are 15Euro.
Next, head to El Retiro Park, which is just a 10minute walk from The Pardo. Stop for lunch, with many great options in the area such as Restaurante Adrede and Harina.
El Retiro Park is a haven in the middle of the bustling Madrid, spanning over 125 hectares filled with gardens, lakes, fountains, and even a couple of palaces. Make sure to see the Palacio de Velazquez and Palacio de Cristal palaces, and of course the boating lake.
There’s plenty of spots to relax in either the shade or sun and have a picnic. There’s also plenty of spots to stop for a coffee, cake or drink in the park, and if you are looking for a proper meal, head to Florida Retiro, which has a rooftop dining area and a bar.
For dinner, it’s time to enjoy some tapas! Estado Puro is an extremely well renowned tapas bar, and you can’t miss a meal here to truly experience Spanish tapas. The atmosphere is casual yet cool, and they serve up some truly unique dishes.
Madrid Itinerary Day 3
- Highlights: Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, Choclateria de San Gines and Mercardo San Miguel
Time for another full day of adventuring Madrid, mostly on foot! Start the day off at the Royal Palace. Jump on the metro and get off at the Opera Station, where you will find the Royal Palace just a 5-minute walk from there. Madrid’s Royal Palace Is actually the largest in Western Europe, and was built during the 1700’s.
It is still the official residence of the royal family although they don’t actually live there. Instead, they just use it for official ceremonies and occasions. You can admire the Palace and its beautiful gardens from outside, or opt for the full experience by heading in for a tour of the Royal Palace.
Next, make your way to Chocolateria de San Gines, a 10-minute walk from the Royal Palace. The most famous chocolate shop in Madrid, it’s open 24 hours a day and serves up decadent hot chocolate and churros! You certainly can’t miss it.
Head to Plaza Mayor next, just 5 minutes from the Chocolateria, stopping to browse the souvenir shops on the way. You’ll also find Mercardo San Miguel nearby, a gorgeous marketplace which dates right back to 1916. It’s the perfect spot to try some local eats, with endless Tapas on offer. Even if you aren’t hungry, it’s worth popping in to experience the lively and authentic Spanish market.
Plaza Mayor is one of Madrid’s iconic spots, and it’s certainly worth a visit. The renaissance square is made of up of beautifully painted 3 storey residential buildings, with endless café’s restaurants and shops lining the ground floor. The centre piece is a statue of King Phillip III, which is over 400 years old. It’s the perfect place to relax on one of the terraces of the many bars or restaurants with a sangria in hand.
And that finishes off this 3 day Madrid itinerary! Trust me, you won’t want to leave and will be wishing you spent more time in the heart of Spain.
Things To Know Before You Visit Madrid, Spain
Where to stay in Madrid
There’s no shortage of accommodation options in Madrid, and there really is something for everyone!
Novotel Madrid Centre
Just a 5-minute walk from the nearest Metro stop, stay close to the action at the Novotel. The hotel is impressive, with a rooftop bar and pool, a gym, and a second bar and restaurant located on the ground floor. The hotel also serves up one of the most delicious buffet breakfasts you can find!
The Pavilions Madrid
Located close to all the action, you won’t miss anything at this modern boutique hotel. Featuring gorgeous rooms and a great design throughout, the hotel also offers an onsite bar and restaurant, and is the perfect place if you don’t like the feel of ‘big’ hotels.
Hostel One Madrid
You can opt for both dorm or private rooms here, and along with being centrally located, the atmosphere is great and you’ll feel right at home. It’s easy to make friends here as well, with the hostel offering family dinners and day trips.
Getting around Madrid
Getting around Madrid is extremely easy thanks to its excellent metro system. Not only is it easy to use, but also affordable. You can find several options for metro tourist passes available, with 2 and 3 day cards, and also a 10-trip option.
You’ll also find metro stops conveniently located near all major sites around the city, making it a piece of cake to get around. You can also grab a taxi from just about anywhere in the city easy enough.
Getting to and from Madrid
Flights in to Madrid are frequent from just about anywhere. Check for the best deals on flights on Skyscanner. If you are coming from somewhere in Spain, such as Barcelona or Valencia, or a neighbouring country, you can’t go past the fast trains. Quick, easy and affordable – you can’t go wrong!
The currency in Spain is the Euro. Credit card is widely accepted, but make sure to always carry small amounts of cash for smaller purchases, markets and tipping. ATM’s are readily available throughout all of Madrid, as are banks and currency exchanges.
Best time to visit Madrid
The high season in Madrid is June through August, and this is also summer, with temperatures often soaring. Although there are more tourists around, this is still a great time to visit, just make sure to book accommodation well in advance. I’ve personally visited in the summer, and loved the hot weather. The tourists also didn’t bother me much either!
March through May and September and October are considered the ‘shoulder’ seasons, where temperatures aren’t as high, and there are less crowds. Expect warm but not hot days. The colder months (November through February) offer even less crowds in Madrid, but the weather can get much colder. An exception to this is Christmas, where more people tend to visit.
Siesta time in Madrid
Some businesses in Madrid still use Siesta time, which is a daily closure between 2 and 5pm. Although most big businesses no longer use this, it can be worth considering for small, family owned businesses.
Madrid also runs on a much later schedule than most of the world, similar to the rest of Spain. For locals, lunch isn’t until 2 or 3pm, and some restaurants might not even open for dinner until 8:30 or 9pm. Many places open earlier for both lunch and dinner, but try to wait a little later for your meals.