A tour through the beautiful Madrid in three days

There is always something to discover in Madrid, so getting to know this city completely could take a lifetime. However, if you only have three days in which to walk around the capital, you should certainly take into account some essential ones. If you have some time to spare, the towns around Madrid have many hidden charms. Are you wearing comfortable shoes?

What to do in Madrid – Day 1

Puerta del Sol

madrid in three days
Puerta del Sol | Shutterstock

There is no trip to Madrid without visiting the Puerta del Sol, the heart of the Spanish capital. It is the meeting point of many saraos, shops, restaurants, public transport... You could even pass through the Puerta del Sol without it being your main destination. However, it is worth stopping there and looking at all its details.

On the one hand, there is the emblematic building of the Casa de Correos, which houses the Puerta del Sol clock, the protagonist of New Year’s Eve in Spain every year. In front of it is the Kilometer Zero plaque. This point establishes the origin of the six national radial roads. They all start their journey from Madrid to Galicia, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Valencia, Andalusia and Extremadura. Nor should you miss the opportunity to have your photo taken with the emblematic advertising poster of the Tío Pepe winery, which has been in the Puerta del Sol since 1935.

Madrid in three days
Bear and the Strawberry Tree and Tio Pepe poster | Shutterstock

On the other hand, there is nothing that symbolises Madrid better than the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry tree, the city’s coat of arms. During the Middle Ages, many bears were seen in the surrounding mountains. However, there are other important statues in the square, such as the Mariblanca, a replica of the 1625 statue on display in the Casa de la Villa, and the equestrian statue of Charles III, located in the centre of the square.

Finally, the Mallorquina bakery is a classic of the city and dates back to 1894. The Napolitanas are one of its most popular products, ideal to buy to go and eat while you continue to discover everything to do in Madrid these three days. Calle Preciados, Plaza del Callao and Gran Vía with their shops, as well as the Telefónica building are other points of interest to take into account.

Calle Alcalá

Calle Alcalá | Shutterstock

We will continue the tour on Alcalá Street, the longest street in Madrid. Walking along part of its route we will be able to see important buildings and monuments. In the part of the route where Alcalá street meets Gran Vía we will be able to enjoy two beautiful buildings. First, the Metrópolis building, one of the most admired and photographed in the city, especially at night. With its characteristic French-inspired architecture, the dome and the statue of the Victoria Alada that presides over it stand out. Second, the Círculo de Bellas Artes, a space where cultural activities and exhibitions are usually organized. The best thing about this building is the view from the roof. Although you have to buy a ticket to go up, the price is very cheap.

Cibeles Fountain and Madrid City Hall | Shutterstock

If we continue to ascend we reach another of the symbols of the city, the Cibeles fountain. It dates from 1782 and is surrounded by buildings with beautiful facades as the Palace of Communications, which was the former headquarters of the Post Office and now is the City Council of Madrid. Also highlights the Buenavista Palace (now Army Headquarters), the Linares Palace (Casa de America) and the Bank of Spain.

Puerta de Alcalá | Shutterstock

As part of everything to do in Madrid in three days, we continue up the street to the monumental Puerta de Alcalá, in the Plaza de la Independencia. In the past there were five royal gates through which you could enter Madrid. This is one of them. It was opened in 1778 and is located next to the Retiro Park, another mandatory visit that will start the second day.

What to do in Madrid – Day 2

Retiro Park

Pond at El Retiro | Shutterstock

The Retiro Park has different entrances. It is a plan to do in Madrid with friends, as a couple or enjoying a good book by yourself. If you enter the park by the closest to the Puerta de Alcalá, one of the first points of interest you will find inside is the Estanque Grande del Retiro. Philip IV had it built to recreate naval battles. Nowadays, it is possible to navigate thanks to the little boats that can be rented in the pond. The Monument to Alfonso XII is impressive.

Glass Palace | Shutterstock

Another essential point of interest in this park in the Salamanca area is the Glass Palace, with the ceramics of Daniel Zuloaga. Also the Paseo de la Argentina, popularly called the Paseo de las Estatuas. Here are represented the images of all the Spanish monarchs. Also, the fountain with the statue of the Fallen Angel is a must see.

Paseo del Prado

Prado Museum

Once we leave Retiro Park, if we take the exit that leads to the Cuesta de los Moyanos, Atocha will be very close. There you can see the monument to the victims of 11-M, the great central train station and near the Panteón de Hombres Ilustres, a free plan in Madrid.

From Atocha we will go to the Paseo del Prado, which houses three of the most important museums in Madrid: the Prado, the Thyssen and the Reina Sofia. It is possible to visit some of these museums for free, although if you do not want to spend the time required to visit large museums like these, their facades are also very characteristic and worth the walk.

Madrid in three days
Congreso de los Diputados

In this area we must highlight the presence of the Royal Botanical Garden, the most important herbarium in Spain, as well as the fountain of Neptune, in the Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo. The Congreso de los Diputados is also located here, known for the two lions that guard its entrance.

What to do in Madrid – Day 3

Plaza mayor

Plaza Mayor

Among all the things to do in Madrid in three days, it is also not possible to miss the magnificent Plaza Mayor. In the heart of Habsburg Madrid, this arcaded square has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest for over 400 years. Historically, it has been a space for meetings and civil celebrations. Here you can see the Statue of Philip III, the Casa de la Panadería and the Arco de Cuchilleros.

San Miguel Market

The Plaza Mayor is also the meeting point of many bars and restaurants where you can taste the local cuisine, such as those located in the same square and where it is typical to eat a squid sandwich. In the different streets that converge in the Plaza Mayor there is also a varied gastronomic offer. If tapas and pinchos are your thing, nearby is the famous San Miguel Market, an old market that has now been restored.

Near the main square you can also get to Ópera, where the Teatro Real is located. In one of the nearby streets is the mythical chocolate factory of San Ginés, where you can taste its delicious churros with chocolate. If it is lunchtime you can also try a good menu in one of the oldest restaurants in Madrid, El Botín.

Royal Palace and La Almudena Cathedral

La Almudena Cathedral

At the end of the Calle Mayor, the Almudena Cathedral rises up before us, whose architectural style includes a mixture of neo-Gothic, neo-Romanesque and neo-Classical. Its construction began in 1883. Its ceiling and colorful stained-glass windows are striking

Royal Palace from the Sabatini Gardens

Next to it is the Royal Palace of Madrid. Home of kings from Charles III to Alfonso XIII, is currently the official residence of the King and Queen even if they do not live there. If you have time, its interior is really interesting, with a main staircase of more than 70 steps, the Throne Room, the Gasparini Room… You can also visit the Royal Kitchen, one of the best preserved among the European royal residences

Next to the Royal Palace are the Sabatini Gardens and the Campo del Moro. With their palatial style, they are established as two perfect natural spaces for disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of the streets of Madrid.

Plaza de España and Debod Temple

Plaza España

The Plaza de España is home to some of the most outstanding buildings in Madrid, as well as being a famous space in itself. The tower of Madrid and the España building rise up around the square. Both were once one of the tallest buildings in Spain. In the middle of the square is a fountain in memory of the Alcalá de Henares writer Miguel de Cervantes and his famous character, Don Quixote.

Debod Temple

About 10 minutes from the Plaza de España is the temple of Debod, which we recommend visiting at sunset. It is one of the most beautiful sunsets in Madrid, in which this Egyptian temple from the 2nd century BC acquires beautiful hues. It is currently restored and some of its parts have been rebuilt. In addition, several of its rooms can be visited.

Madrid’s most emblematic districts, shall we have something to eat?


Plaza del Dos de Mayo

We can access the Malasaña area from the back of the España building, from Fuencarral street to Conde Duque. Malasaña is one of the most popular districts of Madrid, with its urban art, the Plaza del Dos de Mayo, book shops, picturesque cafes, restaurants of all styles of cuisine … Some of its most important streets are San Vicente Ferrer, the aforementioned Fuencarral, Calle del Pez or the Espíritu Santo. A maze of roads where you can get lost and eat in luxury.


Chamberí Station

To the north of Malasaña is the Chamberí district, known for its gastronomy and nightlife. If you have some time to spare, the underground of Madrid also hides many interesting secrets, such as the Chamberí ghost station. An ideal area for night plans.

La Latina

Barley Market

It is convenient to visit the area of La Latina taking advantage of the fact that one is in the Plaza Mayor. Nearby is this area full of narrow streets with its characteristic bars, cafes and, of course, the market of the Barley.


Rastro in Madrid

If there is one thing that distinguishes the Lavapiés district, it is its multiculturalism and the many leisure activities on offer. In addition to restaurants where you can taste exotic recipes, Madrid’s famous rastro market takes place in the surrounding area on Sunday mornings.


Las Letras district

From Lavapiés we can walk to Huertas, also known as Las Letras district. Many writers of the Spanish Golden Age, such as Lope de Vega or Quevedo, lived in this neighborhood. Some of its most emblematic spaces are the Santa Ana square, the Lope de Vega house-museum or some of the phrases of these writers that are outlined on the floor. It is also a district where you can have a drink or enjoy a traditional menu. If there is an afternoon-night left over, it is an indispensable place.


National Library

If we are in Gran Vía and have some time we can visit the Chueca district, very related to the LGTBI community of Madrid. Through its streets we will find the San Anton Market, another of the most popular markets in Madrid, the wax museum, the museum of Romanticism and walking we can reach the Paseo de Recoletos and see the National Library. Here there are also bars and restaurants where you can have a drink or a meal.

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