There is many a thing to do in Madrid as you might expect. However, in my experience, three days is a good amount of time to get the highlights done without feeling too rushed.
Madrid is the perfect destination for those who love art and architecture combined with a bit of sun and some superb restaurants and bustling bars.
My first tip is that I recommend getting a taxi from Madrid Barajas Airport for the flat rate fare of 30euro. This is quick, stress free and will leave you right at the door of your chosen hotel. There are no doubt cheaper ways to get into the city, but for the sake of €30 it takes the stress out of it.
When I visited, I stayed in the Petit Palace Preciados hotel just off Callao (one of Madrid’s busiest streets) and I would highly recommend it. The hotel is ideally situated, clean and has really helpful staff. They also give you a cute little welcome pack including things like cosmetics etc. which for someone like me who LOVES minis, is a welcome bonus.
Get up early and treat yourself to a hearty (unhealthy) breakfast of croissants and churros con chocolate at one of the many cafes just off Callao. You can’t go to Spain and not indulge in such things.
After fuelling for the day, I recommend making your way toward Gran Via to pick up a ticket for the Hop On Hop Off tour bus for less than £20 (a must do to get your bearings in any city). Hop off at the very impressive and opulent Palacio Real (Royal Palaces) and spend some time exploring inside. You can pick a general admission ticket up for €10.
After exploring the lavish palaces, migrate across to the Catedral de la Almudena which is right next door. The cathedral is well worth exploring as it is a real melting pot of different styles and has many impressive statues and artworks to marvel. Plus it can be a nice place to cool down in the searing heat if you go in the depths of Summer.
After soaking up some culture, make a pit stop for lunch at a charming taverna (we found one 10 minutes from the Royal Palace). Order up a huge plate of lobster paella and wash it down with ice cold Mahous (Madrid’s famous beer). You won’t regret it.
Afterwards wonder toward the tourist favourite Plaza Mayor, once host to bullfights and even executions, stopping by several of the cute gift shops as you go.
Jump back on for another loop of the HOHO bus which will see you back at Gran Via (to visit the very large,well stocked NYX or Kiko store for the beauty obsessed) before heading back to the hotel for a quick siesta before dinner that evening.
Head to a nice tapas bar to load up on some jamón ibérico and manchego cheese and wash it down with a nice bottle of Spanish red. Tourist favourite Casa Gonsález is a nice safe bet and if you can nab a window seat, you’ll be able to while away hours people watching.
Another early rise to visit El Corte Ingles on Callao. Travel to the very top floor where you can have a delicious breakfast with the most beautiful and breathtaking view of the city.
Next on the itinerary is a trip to the Bernabéu, home of the wonderful Real Madrid football team. A simple and inexpensive metro journey left us right at the stadium in 10 minutes from Gran Via. The tour was self guided and showcases the ridiculous amount of trophies held by the club and allows for plenty of photo opportunities along the way. Highly recommended. Tickets start at €18.
The tour takes around 3.5 hours so you may want to grab a spot of lunch before heading back to your hotel for a little siesta before a late night dinner at one of Madrid’s best restaurants- La Cabaña Argentina. This Argentinian steakhouse was recommended to me by my other half’s aunt who works as a translator in Madrid and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Cuts of Argentinian beef are imported twice a week in vacuum sealed packs for freshness and cooked to perfection on the grill. Wash this down with plenty of wine and don’t forget to try and leave space for dessert – dulce de leche ice cream- divine.
Start the morning with a trip to the Prado museum for the art lovers. With over 3000 works of art from Greats such as Velazquez and de Ribera to name a few, you won’t be stuck for something to see.
After this head for El Retiro park to enjoy the outdoors and the many leisure activities on offer. Hire a little row boat and paddle away in the lake with a loved one or take a walk along the lush botanical trail to explore. After this I would suggest cracking open a picnic for lunch in the shade. You can easily pick up affordable picnic supplies from El Corte Ingles such as bread, cheese, jamón and fruit. Alternatively, take the hassle out of it and use a service such as Picnic Madrid who will bring your picnic and supplies to your chosen destination.
Head back to the hotel (via Sephora in my case) for yet another siesta or to start getting ready for your last evening in the city. Check out some of Madrid’s bustling bars and enjoy a sumptuous cocktail of two at Del Diego. Let the evening take you wherever it may and crash out exhausted in your hotel before an early rise home the next day!
Have you ever visited Madrid? What are your tips?