A Locals Guide for the Perfect Madrid 2 Days Itinerary

A Locals Guide for the Perfect Madrid 2 Days Itinerary

The Spanish capital of Madrid is the perfect destination for a European short city break. Use this Madrid 2 days itinerary to help plan your perfect trip. There’s always something going on in this exciting city, regardless of when you visit. 

For this Madrid itinerary, I interviewed a local. Naturally, they have included some of the top tourist attractions in Madrid, but also some more off-the-beaten-track and lesser-known places that the guide books don’t tell you; things that only an insider would know about. 

So, grab yourself a brew (or a glass of sangria!) and let’s discover your complete Madrid in 2 days itinerary.

What you can expect in this article...

An insiders guide for the perfect Madrid 2 days itinerary complete with MAP and CHECKLIST find out how to see all the highlights in 48 hours in Madrid.

This post may contain affiliate links. To find out what this means and more information visit my disclosure page.

Don’t forget your travel insurance.

If you’re planning a trip to Madrid, be sure to check that your insurance policy covers you if you were to have an accident, something gets lost or stolen, or if things get cancelled last minute.

Two great companies that specilise in travel are True Traveller (although they only cover EU citizens) or World Nomads (all nationalities). Take a look at both for a competitive quote.

Of you could take a look at this travel insurance comparison table to find the best company for you.

Not enough time to read this 2 days in Madrid itinerary now? No worries, why not pin it for later.

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If you want to explore a part of Spain a little further afield, then you could tie in a trip to Valencia from Madrid.

Meet Your Local Guide

Sue is a well seasoned traveller having lived in China and Spain, she’s rarely in her home country of England anymore. An enthusiast of different cultures and getting the low-down from locals about the best spots, she knows how to make the most out of the places she visits.

 

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For the past 6 years she has been living in Madrid so has some great insights into the city and loves passing on this knowledge of a truly understated capital with so much to offer.

“Two days is enough to scratch the surface of this wonderful city, if you can stay a bit longer I’d highly recommend it and encourage visitors to discover more than just churros con chocolate (which is also a must!). Madrid has everything! Gastronomy, art and culture, beautiful mountain walks a short train ride away, historical buildings, all-night clubs and bars, street parties and events from spring all the way through to autumn, and so much more. However, if you can only manage two days in Madrid, this is what I would suggest as some of the city’s top offerings”

Madrid 2 days itinerary - Useful Information

What are the top things to see in Madrid in 2 days?

Here’s a list of the places you’ll see in the this Madrid two day itinerary.  You can find them all on this handy map here.

      • Puerta del Sol
      • Plaza Major
      • Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid)
      • Almudena Cathedral (Santa María la Real de La Almudena)
      • Jardines de Sabatini (Sabatini Gardens)
      • Malasaña District
      • Museo Nacional del Prado
      • Temple of Debod
      • Parque El Retiro
      • Palacio de Crystal
      • Puerta de Alcalá
      • Palacio de Cibeles
      • Atocha Station
.

How do I get from the Airport to Madrid centre?

Madrid–Barajas Airport is located about 18km outside of the centre of Madrid. You can get to the city centre by taking the Line 8 Metro to the Nuevos Ministerios Metro station. 

However, if you’re unsure then the easier option is to book a private transfer from Madrid airport in advance to take you directly to your hotel. 

To save getting stung at the airport with hefty taxi fares, it’s a good idea to book your transfer in advnace.

Prebook now: Private Transfer From Madrid Airport

Is 2 days in Madrid enough to see everything?

You’re never going to be able to see everything with just two days in Madrid. I’ve lived here for years, and I’m always discovering new things. However, in this Madrid two day itinerary, I’m going to tell you how to see the highlights in the most efficient way (trust me, I’ve tried and tested this so many times) along with a few hidden gems that most tourists miss out on.

If you’re worried about not having enough time, then a quicker way to see Madrid is on a guided bike tour.

Prebook now: Madrid Highlights Guided Bike Tour

When is the best time to visit Madrid?

You’ll find plenty of things to do in Madrid all year round, even if you choose to visit Madrid in winter

With regards to the weather, the best time to visit Madrid is from late March (approx 16°C) through to early June (approx 28°C) and then from September (approx 26°C) through to October (approx 19°C). July and August (30°C+) can get suffocatingly hot in the city so it can be tiresome walking about and sightseeing, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t like the heat.

Peak crowds and prices coincide with the school holidays. This includes the two weeks over the Easter Holidays (April-ish) and the Summer holidays (July-August). Also, Christmas and New Year can be pricey.

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Do you have any top tips for visiting Madrid?

      • Madrid is a sprawling city with places of interest dotted all over. Make the most of the efficient and affordable public transport system for getting about, this includes the bus, metro and bicycles – my personal favourite is the Metro.
      • This itinerary for Madrid will give you a full-on-jam-packed 2 days of sightseeing. If this feels too rushed for you I suggest picking just a couple of my suggestions for each of the days instead. It’s a great excuse to come back to Madrid another time – not that I’m biased.  
      • Make sure you’re wearing a comfortable pair of shoes and take a secure backpack like this. All cities, including Madrid, has pickpockets, especially in tourist areas.
      • If you want the easy way to see the main highlights while getting some insights into the history of Madrid, then the Madrid City Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour could be a great option.
      • Some of the museums offer free entry on certain days or times. Check the specific museum website to find out when these are.
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2 days in madrid itinerary - DAY 1

Day 1 - Morning

Puerta del Sol

The first day of your Madrid 2 day itinerary starts in the 18th century Puerta del Sol. This is the heart of Madrid also known as Point Zero. You’ll find a little paving detail on the floor which tells you exactly where the centre of Madrid is.

Puerta del Sol is a buzzing part of the city, whichever way you look you’ll find a mixture of ornate buildings, plush department stores all dotted with little tapas bars. If you look up, you’ll no doubt see one of the most iconic landmarks here, the Tio Pepe sign. This is an old Spanish sherry brand.

Gran Via

From Puerta del Sol, head along Calle de la Monterra and out to Gran Via. Once on Gran Via, head towards the Callao Metro Station and look upwards at another iconic landmark, the Schweppes Building.

From the Schweppes Building head towards the Metro Station, Santo Domingo and take Line 2 to San Bernardo. From the station walk to Plaza Dos de Mayo – this is a great place to stop and grab a Cerveza (beer) and tapas!

LOCALS TIP 

Take a detour from Plaza Dos de Mayo and head towards Malasaña. This is one of the hippest areas of the city, filled with cute vintage shops and Insta-worthy cafes. It’s also a great area for street photography because of the colourful tiles dating back to the early 1900s.

An insiders guide for the perfect Madrid 2 days itinerary complete with MAP and CHECKLIST find out how to see all the highlights in 48 hours in Madrid | Madrid Spain | Madrid Itinerary 2 days | 2 days in Madrid Itinerary | Things to do in Madrid | visiting Madrid | what to see in Madrid | Madrid itinerary | City break to Madrid | Madrid itinerary map #Spain #Madird #VisitMadrid

Day 1 - Afternoon

Estación de Chamberí

From Plaza Dos de Mayo head towards the Estación de Chamberí Anden 0 Metro Museum. This disused station used to be a stop along Line 1 and ran from the early 1900s until the 1960s. It was then closed off to the public and forgotten about.

It remained closed for nearly 50 years until it was restored and opened to the public. It’s just like a time capsule, filled with the old artefacts and advertisements from a bygone era. It’s a little bit creepy to hear trains whurring in the distance. Line 1 is still in use, so occasionally Metro trains whizz past this long-forgotten station.

It’s worthwhile checking opening times before visiting.

Temple of Debod

From here either you could walk (approx 30 minutes) or take a taxi to the Temple of Debod. The Temple of Debod is an ancient Egyptian temple which was dismantled before being rebuilt in Madrid. The park is a great escape from the bustle of the city, especially if you’re visiting in the height of summer.

From the Temple of Debod, you’re in a great location to take the Teleférico (cable car)  to Casa de Campo. This is a perfect place to watch the sunset.

An insiders guide for the perfect Madrid 2 days itinerary complete with MAP and CHECKLIST find out how to see all the highlights in 48 hours in Madrid | Madrid Spain | Madrid Itinerary 2 days | 2 days in Madrid Itinerary | Things to do in Madrid | visiting Madrid | what to see in Madrid | Madrid itinerary | City break to Madrid | Madrid itinerary map #Spain #Madird #VisitMadrid

Day 1 - Evening

Traditional Flamenco Show

You’ll struggle to get more quintessentially Spanish than a night watching the fancy footwork of a traditional flamenco show with tapas.

The intimate venue of Café Ziryab was founded by a flamenco dancer back in 2015 where nightly shows take place to live guitar music.

Cafe Ziryab is a small venue, so be sure to book in advance.

Prebook now: Flamenco Show at Café Ziryab

2 days in madrid itinerary - DAY 2

Day 2 - Morning

Parque El Retiro (Retiro Park)

No trip to Madrid would be complete without a visit to Parque El Retiro. This sprawling park used to belong to the Spanish Monarchy and became a public park in the late 19th century. There is a boating lake in the middle of the park as well as a couple of museums; Palacio de Crystal, Casa de Vacas and Palacio de Velazquez.

Retiro Park is big, and although it’s great to stroll around, if you’re pushed for time you’ll see a lot more of it on a set of wheels.

Prebook now: Retiro Park By Segway

An insiders guide for the perfect Madrid 2 days itinerary complete with MAP and CHECKLIST find out how to see all the highlights in 48 hours in Madrid | Madrid Spain | Madrid Itinerary 2 days | 2 days in Madrid Itinerary | Things to do in Madrid | visiting Madrid | what to see in Madrid | Madrid itinerary | City break to Madrid | Madrid itinerary map #Spain #Madird #VisitMadrid

Puerta de Alcalá

Head out of Parque El Retiro and the Puerta de Alcalá. The gigantic Neo-classical five arched structure is located in the Plaza de la Independencia. The gate was built in 1778 and used to be the entrance to the city.

An insiders guide for the perfect Madrid 2 days itinerary complete with MAP and CHECKLIST find out how to see all the highlights in 48 hours in Madrid | Madrid Spain | Madrid Itinerary 2 days | 2 days in Madrid Itinerary | Things to do in Madrid | visiting Madrid | what to see in Madrid | Madrid itinerary | City break to Madrid | Madrid itinerary map #Spain #Madird #VisitMadrid

Palacio de Cibeles (Centro/Centro Museum)

From the arc head towards Palacio de Cibeles. Centro/Centro is a museum located within this building. The exhibitions are mostly free, however the building itself is something to marvel over – both inside and out are stunning. The Art Deco Palacio de Cibeles was built in 1919 and used to house the Madrids telecommunications and postal service. The interior still has lots of original features in place. 

An insiders guide for the perfect Madrid 2 days itinerary complete with MAP and CHECKLIST find out how to see all the highlights in 48 hours in Madrid | Madrid Spain | Madrid Itinerary 2 days | 2 days in Madrid Itinerary | Things to do in Madrid | visiting Madrid | what to see in Madrid | Madrid itinerary | City break to Madrid | Madrid itinerary map #Spain #Madird #VisitMadrid

Museo Nacional del Prado (Prado Museum)

Next head to Madrid’s most famous museum, Museo Nacional del Prado. This first-class museum is said to house one of the best collections of European art in the world, with works dating from the 12th to the 20th century.

 

If you’re into classical art then it’s worthwhile, then to make the most of your time book in advance and skip the line.

Prebook now: Skip-the-Line Prado Museum Guided Tour

Atocha Station

After vising the Prado Museum, head towards Atocha Station. This is the largest railway station in Madrid. The building is stunning and looks more like a palace than a station if you have the time you could wander inside the large atrium-like structure with the trees making it look like a giant greenhouse.

An insiders guide for the perfect Madrid 2 days itinerary complete with MAP and CHECKLIST find out how to see all the highlights in 48 hours in Madrid | Madrid Spain | Madrid Itinerary 2 days | 2 days in Madrid Itinerary | Things to do in Madrid | visiting Madrid | what to see in Madrid | Madrid itinerary | City break to Madrid | Madrid itinerary map #Spain #Madird #VisitMadrid

Day 2 - Afternoon

Plaza Major

From Atocha Station, catch the nearby metro ‘Estacion del Arte’ to ‘Tirso de Molina’. Get off here and then it’s just a short walk to Plaza Major. This major public square was once the centre of Old Madrid dating back to the late 1500s. The Plaza Major was originally named Plaza del Arrabal and was home to Madrid’s main market.

An insiders guide for the perfect Madrid 2 days itinerary complete with MAP and CHECKLIST find out how to see all the highlights in 48 hours in Madrid | Madrid Spain | Madrid Itinerary 2 days | 2 days in Madrid Itinerary | Things to do in Madrid | visiting Madrid | what to see in Madrid | Madrid itinerary | City break to Madrid | Madrid itinerary map #Spain #Madird #VisitMadrid

Almudena Cathedral (Santa Maria la Real de La Almudena)

Exit Plaza Major and head towards Almudena Cathedral (Santa María la Real de La Almudena) and Palacio Real. The two buildings stand opposite each other. The construction of the cathedral started in 1879, however, it wasn’t completed until 1993! It’s certainly worth taking a look inside, it’s airy and colourful with a slight pop-art feel to it.

An insiders guide for the perfect Madrid 2 days itinerary complete with MAP and CHECKLIST find out how to see all the highlights in 48 hours in Madrid | Madrid Spain | Madrid Itinerary 2 days | 2 days in Madrid Itinerary | Things to do in Madrid | visiting Madrid | what to see in Madrid | Madrid itinerary | City break to Madrid | Madrid itinerary map #Spain #Madird #VisitMadrid

Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid)

From the cathedral head to the unmissable building opposite, the Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real de Madrid). This is the official residence of the Spanish Royal family although today it’s only used for state ceremonies. The palace was built between 1738 and 1755 on the site of a 9th century Moorish Alcazar.

Thinking of going inside the Royal Palace? Then save yourself some time by booking a Skip-the-Line ticket

Prebook now: Madrid Royal Palace Skip the Line Ticket

Jardines de Sabatini (Sabatini Gardens)

Your final stop on your Madrid 2 days itinerary is the Jardines de Sabatini (Sabatini Gardens) these form part of the Royal Palace and until 1978, were closed to the public. Construction of the gardens started in 1933 on the old site of the Palace stables.

.

Day 2 - Evening

Eat delicious local food

In the evening, head to an area called Opera (it’s a 2 minute walk from the palace), it’s a very lively area close to the city’s biggest opera house – hence the name! You’ll know you’re in the correct place as it has a statue of Reina Isabel II in the middle.

Alternatively, if you’re a food lover, you could try out some of the food markets.

Either San Fernando in Lavapiés or the more hipster one San Miguel which is next to Plaza Mayor. There’s also another one with a divine cupcake stall called San Anton in the Chueca district.

If you want a guided tour of the best in Spanish cuisine, here are three great tours to tantalise your tastebuds.

Prebook now: Madrid Traditional Wine and Ham Tour

Prebook now: Market Bites and Tapas Culinary Tour with Rooftop Drink

Prebook now: Madrid Tapas Experience Walking Tour

Where to stay in Madrid

    • On a budget: 2060 The Newton Hostel is centrally located with possibly the cutest and quirkiest rooms (seriously go take a look at the bedrooms!). It’s also got a sun terrace filled with seating overlooking the city, loads of indoor social space AND an on-site spa. I was actually shocked by how little it costs to stay here.
    • Mid-Budget: Hostal Central Palace Madrid don’t be deceived by the name, although it offers a few dorm rooms this place is predominately private rooms. Whatsmore, it can’t be in a better location. It overlooks the gardens of The Grand Palace. This is a great mid-range option and considering the location, reviews and how big the rooms are it’s a great price.
    • Blow the Budget: Gran Hotel Inglés is a stunning 5star hotel, centrally located in a 19th-century building. Just 350 yards from Puerta del Sol and only 650 yards from the main museums. The decor screams luxury in an opulent art-decó style. Go take a look a the lounge! There’s even an onsite gym, spa and wellness centre and some rooms come with an outdoor hot tub. 

If hotels aren’t your thing, then check out some of the great apartments in Madrid with Airbnb.

Final notes on this Madrid 2 days guide

Firstly, I’d like to thank Sue for her fabulous insiders knoweldge on visiting Madrid.

I hope you agree that Madrid doesn’t half pack a punch when it comes to city breaks and why it’s a great city for a perfect short break. It’s been great getting some insider information on things to do in Madrid in 2 days from a local perspective.

There’s more than enough stuff to do in Madrid on a two-day break, however, if you have a bit longer, then I highly recommend a day trip to the nearby city of Segovia to see the stunning Roman aqueduct and walled city.

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Are you planning a trip to Madrid or Spain, then why not pin it for future reference.

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Becki from Meet Me In Departures

Adventure travel blogger with a big addiction to the World. An ex-rat-racer who was fed up with sleep-work-eat-repeat materialistic mentality that plagues modern living. I love anything to do with off-beat travel, abandoned places, temples & ruins, street art, wildlife in its natural habitat, adventure sport.....basically anything but the 9-5!

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