Madrid was the last stop on our first Europe trip, and what better place to have the closing ceremony to our dream extravaganza than the Spanish capital itself? So here’s my endeavor to bring to you the best of what to do in Madrid in 2 days.
Many people told us that there is nothing to do beyond the palace, well what can I say? Either their expectations are way beyond my humble standards or maybe they didn’t know what to explore. Outstanding architecture, great museums, idyllic parks, and some amazing day trip destinations – Madrid has it all. So go through our Madrid itinerary and decide for yourself.
While this may seem a lot, thanks to the amazing transport network, if you choose the right place to stay, you can cover them all. You may swap one of these with Railway museum tour or a tour to Real Madrid football stadium depending on your interest.
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Plan: Madrid Palace, Almudena Cathedral, Royal Monastery, West Park, Temple of Debod, Plaza de Mayor
A travelogue of Madrid won’t be complete without the mention of these fabulous musicians who are kind enough to entertain us for free, near the Palace, at the public squares, and at the metro stations.
This is one of the free- entrance public parks in Madrid where people come in the evening with their family and pets to stroll, run and rewind. Exploring the gorgeous public parks is one of the best things to do in Madrid in 2 days. There are many more important sites in the park which include the cable car, rose garden for the annual exhibition, Institute of ceramic technology and many more. Studded with evergreen trees on lush green slopes, the park is famous for its essentially English landscape.
As the warm sunny day came to a close we walked into the throbbing city center (Main square)at Plaza Mayor. The construction of Plaza Mayor began in 1617 during King Phillip’ III’s reign. If you want to experience Madrid’s culture, food, and lifestyle, this is the place to be. It is the social and cultural hub of Madrid. It is speckled with bakeries, chocolate shops, restaurants, flea market, and live performances. This is where we had our first taste of authentic seafood paella in a quaint underground restaurant. On our way back we walked to another famous plaza nearby, the Puerto del Sol from where we took a metro back to our hotel.
Plan: A day trip from Madrid
Plan: Museums, Retiro Park, Alcala Gate, Flamenco Show
When in Retiro Park do not miss the Palacio de Velázquez (named after its architect) and Crystal Palace of Madrid. They are both stunning pieces of architecture and adds to the charm of the park’s landscape
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you buy something through these, Backpack & Explore is eligible for a commission from the seller, without any cost to you. You will get all the discounts and offers through these links that are available otherwise. P.S. I didn’t forget to mention bull-fighting. It’s an integral part of Madrid’s culture, but I’m just ethically against it. (As I’m against quite a few things in my own culture).
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Madrid is the capital and most accessible city in Spain, so reaching it is not difficult. You can visit there with your Schengen Visa, the details of which can be checked on my post How to plan your Europe Trip. You can apply for your visa here.
We stayed in the IBIS budget hotel which was standard and pocket-friendly. It’s a large city, so choose to stay near the metro station for ease of conveyance.
Madrid has warmer weather all year round compared to other West European cities. Since walking is the best way to explore this city, you would prefer time with lower precipitation and not too hot temperatures. So Spring from March to May is the best time to visit. When we visited in the first week of May it was sunny and windy at the same time. It was very pleasant to walk around the city although we could sense the temperature ramping up for the upcoming summers.
Madrid is a foodie’s paradise. The best place to eat is in Plaza de Mayor which is lit up with beautiful dinners at night. Tapas and Paella are the two most popular Spanish dishes. We loved the seafood Paella here. Funny thing is most mid-range restaurants charge the same for a glass of coke and a glass of champagne or Sangria. So even though we aren’t into alcoholic beverages we ended up trying Champagne. The food in Madrid is cheaper than other Western European capitals.
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I've never been to Madrid, which is surprising since I feel like I've hit up every Western European capital, but it looks amazing! I'd love to check out the palace and the gate of the sun!
After reading your post, I so want to go to Spain. If I ever make it to there, I will definitely visit the capital city.
Goodness. You managed to cram soooo much into your two days in Madrid!
I have only visited the city for a couple of nights for a business trip. I did manage to eat amazing food, and walk around the pretty streets in the evening, but I missed almost all of these sights! (Oops!)
Toledo sounds like a lovely place to explore too…So I guess I need to go back to both!
It sounds like we have similar interests, I would LOVE to go to that Archaeological Museum (I've been studying prehistoric Gaul, randomly) – and try all the local desserts! What kind of special cookies and chocolate are local to Madrid?
Well, I don't understand why people said there's nothing beyond the palace. You proved them wrong. I've never been to Spain, but maybe people said that because all those huildings aren't as grande as the ones in Toledo or Seville?
Wow, you packed quite a bit in for only two days. I love your detailed itinerary of what to do in Spain. Visiting the palace in Madrid and hanging out at Casa de campo would be two experiences I'd love to have. Beautiful pictures and very inspirational. Can't wait to go back to Spain soon.
Great post as we are going to Spain next April. Yes on a tour however we do have extra time in Madrid.
Spain is one place in my list for long, but could never make it happen.
Thabks for the insights. Will keep an eye for next opportunity.
Madrid and Barcelona are high on my list. Next year, maybe!
Really superrb…. amazing trip in pics
Prawn kichuri.. Haha. First time I'm hearing that in my life as a description for Paella.
Lovely indepth article.
Thanks for your comment. I think they compare it to Barcelona which is the other big city with a busy airport and indeed has a lot to offer.
Surely.. We stayed in spain for 7 days on our Europe trip and loved it. For any questions on Madrid or Barcelona I'm just a ping away
Haha.. I know, but somehow we came up with this analogy and it stuck with us. I have started putting prawns in our khicdi these days
Toledo is awesome for a day trip. I could have stayed there for one night too if I had known earlier that it would be this beautiful
I've never been to Madrid and this comes like a super handy guide after reading your experience. Thanks for sharing. #dewreads
Oh! Madrid is beautiful, love the way you have explained it in your post. Looks so real. @gleefulreads #MyFriendAlexa
Thanks so much Josy. It's difficult to cram so much on business tours. We had the whole day to ourselves. I still feel we missed so much bcoz we were a little tired in the last lap of our 15 day packed euro trip
Thanks a lot.glad that u liked it
We just spent 4 days a bit further south in Granada and Málaga. It was so beautiful, I'd love to go back and explore Madrid.
I’d love to go to Madrid. It’s one of few European capitals left on my list. How about going to a football match? I’m crazy about football and Madrid is one of the best cities in the world for that?
I also hate it when people automatically say there’s nothing to see – you found plenty in Madrid! The Egyptian temple looks gorgeous – so a shame that it was closed. I’ve been to a few flamenco shows and I think they’re generally in questionable looking places! But you’ve got to see one.
I love Madrid! It's like my second home, and I always love to return. Retiro Park and the views from there are memorable. And as it the Templo de Debod; always a stunning sight to see, and with so much history behind it too.
Thanks so much for sharing your suggested itinerary for Madrid in two days. It's a city I once visited a few decades ago but really want to revisit as I don't have very strong memories and my husband hasn't been at all. On the first day, I think we'd follow similar to you to do the palace, cathedral, monastery and Egyptian temple. I think we would likely leave Toledo for another trip or move on there after Madrid, so I think your day 3 would be good for our day 2, but I might skip the football club! I think some time in local food markets would be essential for me!
So many things to do in Madrit! It's a shame but I have been all around Spain but never in the capital. I would go for the boats for sure, they look like such a romantic experience
I only got to visit Madrid for a day and basically did what you did on Day 1 of your trip. There’s obviously so much more to do and see than that, so I’d love to go back and get the full experience. One thing I’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance to while I was in Spain was to watch a Flamenco show! So cool that you got to do that and sounds like such a fun and special experience.
Thanks Diana. Yes, the trip was amazing and Flamenco was a peak
wow you have covered a lot in 2 days and have shared some amaizng fun experiences. This will save a lot of time for everyone who is planning a trip to Madrid.
I've seen a lot of Madrid itineraries lately, but you guys seemed to pack in a LOT of sightseeing in such a short amount of time! I've never been to Madrid myself yet, but only a few of these were on my list. Clearly I need to update it! Not sure why, but the Puerto Del Alcala drew me in the most. Just simply beautiful and soaked in history. Great tips!
Of the many times I've been to Madrid, I still haven't visited Palacio Real! I have however, been many times to Retiro Park and Plaza Mayor. It's a wonderful city with so much rich history. I also never tire of seeing Templo de Rebod; it's always stunning!
It is normal you can't visit everything in a city, especially cities like Madrid. You will always miss something. Btw, in my experience, the museums are most time consuming destinations. I always try to plan at least 3-4 hours for a museum, especially if it is a big museum. Anyway, what you have visited and seen is quite a lot! 🙂
Madrid is also the city I wish to explore because it is connected to our Filipino heritage. We are colonized by Spain for the last 300years and we consider Spain as our former Motherland. It would be lovely to pay a visit and learn more about many places.
I have visited Madrid before but still found this post on Toledo quite fascinating. I even learned a few new things. It's a great decision to spend more time in Toledo and appreciate this beautiful part of the historical city. Covering so many places in 2 days is really impressive! I think this article is a must-read for anyone planning to visit Madrid
Funny, my husband and I were talking today about finally going to Madrid to visit a friend soon. We spent one day there a couple years ago to catch a flight and it was just enough to see the main sights, but we didn't see half of what you shared. Your post will definitely come in handy on our next trip!
O wow…such a useful and interesting post as usual,Sinjana. The captures do complete justice to an ancient place like madrid. The symbol of Madrid and the Bells of Sol Gate pic is quite interesting. I also would have headed straight to the Archaeological museum for sure.I am sure you must have had a great time there 🙂
I really enjoyed your article. We have visited Madrid twice and still have not done everything. Your article has brought back memories, I enjoyed Retiro Park wandering around escaping from the heat. I also enjoy the Markets when I visit. Thanks for the map as well.
Wow! So much to see in Madrid. A good friend of mine who lives here California is from Madrid, and is moving back next month. I have promised to visit her. And now I’m getting excited! The palace looks amazing and I think I would enjoy visiting the museum as well. I always knew Madrid is a cool city but never really knew what is there to see.
Love this amazing guide. Madrid and Barcelona are on my list for 2019. Let’s see how quickly I plan them.
Love this itinerary! I’m coming to Spain around August and this is definitely handy for my visit in Madrid.
We were in Madrid in October and loved it. We definitely saw many of the sights you mentioned. I would highly recommend the Prado and Reina Sofia Museum for art lovers–their collections are awesome.
It has been 10 years since I visited Madrid! This post took me back to all the wonderful things this city has to offer!
I hate to admit it but I’ve never been to Madrid. I hope once the world returns to normal that it will be a place I am able to visit. Your guide is very informative.