If you’re heading to Spain, Madrid is a must see city and to help with trip planning we’ve created the perfect Madrid 3-day itinerary. As the capital of Spain, Madrid is filled with rich history, incredible architecture as well as delicious tapas and sangria. This city is the perfect long weekend destination or weekend stopover en route to another European city.
For everything you need to know prior to your visit, keep reading for our complete Madrid 3-day itinerary.
Is three days enough to see Madrid?
Determining how many days to spend in Madrid will be specific to what kind traveler you are, however 2-4 days is sufficient amount of time for anyone. When compared to other European cities, Madrid is on the smaller size and one can easily see all the sights in 3 days.
With our Madrid 3-day itinerary you will be able to see everything the city has to offer and even opt for a day trip to Segovia.
How do you get around Madrid?
The historic areas of Madrid are close together, but the city itself is sprawling. One of the best ways to see the city is using the metro and then walking. We would metro to a specific destination, such as a museum, and then walk around the area to other attractions.
There are also buses in their public transportation system which is always nice and allows you to see the city while you travel to your destination. Lastly, there are taxis and ride shares, such as Uber and Cabify.
Madrid 3-Day Itinerary Overview:
- Day 1 morning | Royal Palace of Madrid
- Day 1 afternoon |Plaza Mayor + Puerta del Sol
- Day 1 evening |San Miguel Market for dinner
- Day 2 morning|Museo Nacional del Prado
- Day 2 afternoon |Botanical Garden of Madrid + Palacio de Cristal + Plaza de Cibeles
- Day 2 evening |Oven Mozzarella for dinner + Circulo Gran Via Casino
- Day 3 morning |Matadero Madrid
- Day 3 afternoon |Reina Sofía museum
- Day 3 evening |Soccer match at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
Madrid 3-Day Itinerary
Day one will start with sight-seeing some of the best architecture in Madrid, which will continue into the afternoon.
Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace is the official home of the Spanish royals, however it is only used for state ceremonies at this time. The Royal Palace is incredible from both the outside and the inside. With the exception of state ceremonies, the palace is open to the public. For 13 euros/ person, you can wander around the inside of the palace and see how the royals had lived at one point.
Plaza Mayor is the perfect spot to head to for some lunch and an afternoon coffee break. The plaza is a must visit, however the cafes and restaurants that line the plaza should not be skipped. Head to one of the many restaurants here for lunch and then continue on with exploring the plaza and surrounding streets.
Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is another square in Madrid that is a must see. This plaza is a public square and one of the busiest in the city. Here you will be swallowed up by crowds, peddlers and incredible architecture. This square also has the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of a new year, so makes sure to seek this out.
San Miguel Market for dinner
For your first dinner in Spain, we recommend heading to the famous San Miguel Market. This is a gourmet food market filled with delicious food stands who serve tapas style. Come here to try several different foods and don’t leave until you’ve had some dessert.
After a jam packed first day, we’ll head into day two of the Madrid 3-day itinerary with a more relaxed start.
Museo Nacional del Prado
After starting your morning with breakfast, our preference is always at a cafe with plenty of people watching, head over to Museo Nacional del Prado. Museo Nacional del Prado, also known as The Prado Museum, is the main Spanish art museum. Inside the museum you can find both sculptures and painting that date back as far as the 12th century. Furthermore, many believe that The Prado Museum is home to one of the finest collections of European art.
Tip: we recommend booking timed tickets in advance, tickets 15 euros/ person and can be bought directly on their website.
Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid
Spend the afternoon wandering around the Royal Botanical Gardens. These grounds were founded in 1755 by King Ferdinand VI and have since been upkept to become a popular place for tourists to wander. Today the gardens are filled with thousands of types of flowers, trees and greenery. Wander around and enjoy this little escape from the city.
Palacio de Cristal
Within the Royal Botanical Gardens is the Palacio de Cristal, also known as the Crystal Palace or Glass Palace. This palace was built in 1887 as a greenhouse and today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace was built with glass plates and cast iron, making the exterior breathtaking. To visit you don’t need to book in advance or pay for tickets as everything is free.
Plaza de Cibeles
As you head out of the gardens, walk towards the Plaza de Cibeles. Plaza de Cibeles is a famous plaza in the heart of Madrid. From the incredible fountain, marble statues and the Cybele Palace – this plaza has become symbolic for Madrid and is stunning to visit. We recommend walking towards this plaza on your way out of the gardens, taking some photos and then heading on with your afternoon.
Tip: you can visit inside Cybele Palace, specifically for 2 euros/ person you can head to the observation deck and enjoy the panoramic views of Madrid.
For dinner head over to Oven Mozzarella for an incredible pasta or pizza meal. The wine selection here is huge and all the waiters have excellent recommendations. You are able to make a reservation in advance, which we recommend as this place is popular.
Casino de Madrid
Circulo Gran Via is a hotel apart of the Marriott autograph collection, however attached to it is Casino de Madrid. The Casino is open to non-hotel guests and is a fun way to spend an evening in Madrid. We recommend at least coming for an evening cocktail and to enjoy the stunning architecture. If you opt to try your hand at gambling, good luck!
Matadero Madrid currently is a contemporary arts centre, however it was once a slaughterhouse – Municipal Slaughterhouse and Cattle Market. This is not a typical tourism location in the city, however if you are a fan of contemporary art or looking to head off the beaten trail then this is the spot for you. This centre is a bit of a trek outside the main city center, so another great morning option is to have a relaxing morning and wander the streets of Madrid.
Reina Sofía Museum
Reina Sofia is the other popular art museum in Madrid. This museum opened in 1992 and was named in honor of Queen Sofia. Similar to The Prado Museum, this museum also houses a lot of modern and contemporary art, however most notably this is home to Picasso’s Guernica. The collection at this museum is smaller, however the Picasso makes the visit well worth your time.
Soccer match at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
An incredible, and truly unique to Madrid, way to end your trip would be to see a soccer (football) match at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Real Madrid plays here and the atmosphere during their games is unmatched in any other sport. It can be challenging to get tickets for these games, so if that’s not possible it can still be worth the trek out to see the stadium.
Lastly, if you’re looking to spend your third day of the Madrid 3-day itinerary on a day trip then we highly recommend heading to Segovia. Segovia is about an hour outside of Madrid, filled with history and incredibly unique architecture – check out our day trip guide to Segovia for further details.