Wondering what to do in Madrid and only have a few days? I've got you covered with my 2 days in Madrid Itinerary. I've listed Madrid attractions, sights, where to go, what to do, and the best order to see them in to use your time efficiently. A first-time visitor could easily spend a week in this city, but many tourists often allot just 2 or 3 days before moving to the next city. Don't worry If you find yourself crunched for time, you can easily see all the mains sights and Madrid attractions in just 2 days.
Madrid has become a vibrant European capital with plenty to offer residents and tourists alike. In recent years the city has become more livable with its new squares, pedestrian friendly streets, and parks. Questionable areas have turned hip and trendy. Food halls, hipster coffee shops, museums, charming streets, high-end shopping…this city truly has it all!
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2 Days in Madrid - Must See Madrid Attractions
Day 1 in Madrid
TOP MADRID ATTRACTIONS FOR YOUR FIRST DAY IN MADRID
1. Puerta del Sol
The center of Madrid and the perfect place to start your first day. Every major sight is less than 20 minutes away by foot from this square which makes it a great home base when picking a hotel. Here you will find the famous Kilometer Zero (the center of Spain) and the statue of the bear and the madroño tree (a symbol of Madrid).
2. Eat Churros and Chocolate at Chocolatería San Ginés
Walk 3 minutes to try the best churros in Madrid! Don’t fret if there is a line,
3. Plaza Mayor
Right next door is one of the most famous and photographed Madrid attractions. You will recognize Plaza Mayor the moment you walk to the center and see the bright red walls and statue of Philip III. Be sure to stop in La To
4. Visit the best food Market in Madrid - Mercado San Miguel
My personal favorite and one of the best food markets in Madrid! Be prepared for crowds as Mercado San Miguel is a very popular spot. Grab some croquettes, jamon and manchego, or mini open-faced sandwiches. Save dessert for our next stop.
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5. Find the secret Cookies made by hidden nuns
Yes, I’m serious. Finding these sweets is as much for the experience as it is for the actual treats. How to find these secret nun cookies in Madrid you ask? Walk to the Monastery of Corpus Christi and look for the wall with the big No. 3 tile. An arrow on the tile points you in the right direction.
A few steps past the No. 3 tile will be a door with a buzzer and a sign that says "Horario: Venta de Dulces". Press the buzzer that says “monjas” and say “dulces” when one of the nuns responds. Go through the door once it unlocks and follow the sign to the “torno”. This is the lazy susan that allows the nuns to sell the cookies without being seen.
The shortbread cookies are the most popular. The actual address is #3 Calle del Codo. Hours are Monday – Saturday 9:30-1:00 and 4:00-6:30. If this isn't one of the most unique Madrid attractions I don't know what is.
6. Royal Palace of Madrid
One of my favorite European palaces and definitely one of the top Madrid attractions. The details and grandeur are remarkable. Make sure to get tickets in advance as you will find a very long line for those waiting to buy tickets. Allow at least 4 hours to explore the palace and gardens. Skip the guided tour which can be dry and slow and grab the audio guide instead. Pictures are not allowed, and they do enforce this. I may or may not have hidden behind Jake as I snapped a few forbidden shots. This is a must to include on any Madrid itinerary.
7. Take a break at Café de Oriente
Rest your feet and grab a coffee, tea, or dessert at Cafe de Oriente. Try their specialty dessert, Torrija típica del Café de Oriente.
8. Sunset views at the Temple of Depod
The Temple of Depod is one of the most ancient Madrid attractions. It's an Egyptian temple that dates back to 200 B.C. and makes for the perfect sunset spot. The park location offers beautiful views of the city.
9. Dinner at Plaza de España
Make your way back to the city center via Plaza de Espana. This popular square has many restaurant options for dinner and is the perfect place to end the 1st of your 2 days in Madrid. If you are up for a little more walking, go an extra 10 minutes to walk down Gran Via, the place to go for shopping, eating, and entertainment.
Day 2 in Madrid
TOP MADRID ATTRACTIONS FOR YOUR second DAY IN MADRID
1. Museo del Prado
Start your second day in Madrid at Museo del Prado, one of the most well-known Madrid attractions. Buy your tickets in advance and grab an audio guide. Once you’ve gotten your fill of Goya, Diego Velazquez, and other renowned Spanish, Flemish, and Italian painters, head outside for a break.
If you need coffee before I recommend Acid Café or Plenti. Both are less than 10 minutes from the Prado. Plenti is the better option if you need something to eat as the avocado toast and homemade quiche are great. See my post on the Best Coffee Shops in Madrid for more options within the city.
2. Retiro Park
Retiro park is high on the list of most popular and photographed Madrid attractions. You will find tourists and locals enjoying this 300-acre park. It’s a popular jogging area as well if you want to fit a workout in. Be sure to stop by Retiro Park Lake (Estanque grande del Retiro). If the weather is nice rent a rowboat and enjoy closeup views of the Alfonso XII Monument. Madrid’s triumphal arch, the Puerta de Alcalá, is located at the Northwest corner of the park. A visit to Retiro park is must during your 2 days in Madrid
3. Tapas lunch at Platea
Platea is a theater turned market. It's a posh take on the food market and the perfect spot for a late lunch. If you’re lucky, free entertainment such as Flamenco dancing or live music, will accompany your meal of tapas and wine. Stick to the ground floor (El Patio) for the traditional food hall set-up.
4. Shop in the Salamanca Barrio
After your meal of tapas and sangria at Platea, wander around the Salamanca area. This is the most posh and glamorous neighborhood in Madrid and is the spot for designer boutique shopping.
5. Wander the Malasaña Barrio
Take the metro or walk to the Malasana district to get a completely different feel from Salamanca. This area is hip and trendy. Bakeries, coffee shops, vintage clothing stores, and graffiti art dominate the streets. Stop by Toma café for a coffee break. Lonely Planet has a wonderful guide to this barrio.
6. Tapas Crawl down Calle Cava Baja
Finish your 2 days in Madrid itinerary with a tapas crawl along one of the most lively dining streets. If eating is considered a tourist attraction then Calle Cava Baja should definitely make the list of top Madrid attractions. Have a tapas or two at each place that grabs your attention. I recommend Taberna Tempranilo, Taberna La Concha, and Díaz y Larrouy. Another amazing option around the corner from Calle Cava Baja is Juana La Loca. Get the foie gras tapas if it’s on special.
Have more than 2 days in Madrid? I highly recommend booking a day trip to Toledo or Segovia. Both are about a 30 minute train ride away.
Other popular tours and activities in Madrid.
How would you spend 2 days in Madrid? Let me know your favorite Madrid attractions in the comments below!
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