Perfect 2-Day Madrid Itinerary

Madrid is the capital of Spain and it truly feels like the center of the country. And, not just in terms of location, but when you get there, it feels like a major hub connecting you to everywhere you need to go. The vibe is less touristy and more like a place where people are working and hustling. Madrid reminded me of my days of living in NYC, but with much better architecture! Here is the perfect 2-day Madrid Itinerary.

If you’re trying to make the most of the city in a short amount of time, two days will be perfect for your stay. Here is an interactive map of all the places you’ll be visiting in this itinerary:

Tip: Keep in mind restaurants don’t open up until around 8pm so it is normal to have a late start to your day and enjoy your nights later than usual. If you’re an early riser then you can beat the crowds at the tourist spots but be sure to have a siesta mid-afternoon if you don’t want to be completely burnt out by the end of your vacation.

Now let’s get started!


Day One:


Blue pins on the Madrid Itinerary map [above]


Puerto del sol
Royal Palace of Madrid
Temple of Debod
Malasaña Neighborhood
Calle Gran Via
Círculo de Bellas Artes
La Primera


Puerto del Sol

Puerto Del Sol in Madrid
Puerto del Sol

This is the center of Madrid, which makes it the perfect area to start your day.. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, cafes and shops to explore. Don’t forget to look up and appreciate the gorgeous architecture all around. Some big monuments you’ll see are the Statues of El Oso y El Madrono and Carlos III of Spain. Also, make sure to check out the awesome old post office and don’t forget to just sit on a bench, take it all in and people watch!


Royal Palace of Madrid

Royal Palace of Madrid
Royal Palace of Madrid

About a 10-minute walk west, you’ll see the Royal Palace of Madrid. It’s absolutely breathtaking. Be sure to take some pictures before going in. You’ll pay about 10 euros to get in.


  • Winter hours (October to March) 10:00am – 6:00pm
  • Summer hours (April to September) 10:00am – 8:00pm


Temple of Debod

Temple of Debod in Madrid
Temple of Debod

Now walk north about 15 minutes and you’ll find yourself at Temple of Debod. This is an Ancient Egyptian temple that was gifted to Spain from Egypt in 1968 when it was about to be torn down, but Spain saved it. Spain rebuilt it and opened it to the public in 1972.


Malsaña Neighborhood

You’re probably starting to get pretty hungry. Head over to Malsaña neighborhood for some delicious tapas. This neighborhood is full of trendy cafes and restaurants so it’s the perfect place to feel like a local. Key here is to look for Tabernas for some delicious food. Try a Pincho de Tortilla. It’s Spain’s most common dish. Basically a Spanish omelette that is eaten any time of the day made with eggs and potatoes.


Gran Via

Gran Via in Madrid
Gran Via

Let’s walk off those tapas! Nearby, you’ll find Calle Gran Via. A very popular street in Madrid, perfect for finding gorgeous architecture and for some shopping! You can even catch a show here like Lion King or Cirque du Soleil.


Círculo de Bellas Artes

Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid
Círculo de Bellas Artes

For some gorgeous views of Madrid, I highly suggest you check out the rooftop at Círculo de Bellas Artes. The entrance is 3 euros. The perfect time to go is sunset. Grab a cold drink and enjoy the views!


La Primera Restaurant

Time for Dinner! For some delicious authentic Spanish food, you have to check out La Primera. You can order entrees, but I suggest to order multiple tapas and try a little bit of everything. The food is absolutely delicious! Click here to make a reservation.

Feel free to bar hop on your way home, tomorrow is going to be fun!

Day Two


Red Pins on the Madrid Itinerary map [above]


El Retiro Park
Palacio de Cristal
Estanque grande del Retiro
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
  • Museo Nacional del Prado
  • Reina Sofia
Chocolat Madrid
San Miguel Market
Plaza Mayor
La Latina Neighborhood


El Retiro Park

With the bustling city all around you, take a step away from it all and head to El Retiro Park with a picnic basket. Grab some Boccadillos para llevar [to go]. Once you step into the park, you’ll feel like you’re not even in a major city anymore. The beauty of the greenery, the sounds of the waterfalls and birds, even the freshness in the air you’ll breathe is enough to make you feel instantly relaxed.


Palacio de Cristal

Palacio de Cristal in Madrid
Palacio de Cristal

If I were you, I’d find a spot to have a picnic near Palacio de Cristal. Yup, that’s exactly what it is. A beautiful glass palace. You can walk in and see the gorgeous architecture from the inside, but you’ll see the beauty even walking all around it.

Rock Photo Op

Photo Op: When you’re facing the palace, there is a ledge with a rock to the left side up the hill.


Estanque grande del Retiro

El Retiro Lake in Madrid
Retiro Lake

If it’s a nice sunny day, you have to head over to the lake and row a boat! If you go during the week Monday-Friday its 6 euros. On the weekends and public holidays it’s 8 euros. Or you can share a solar boar for just 2 euros! You’ll be rowing in front of the Aldonso XII Monument, which is absolutely gorgeous! Click here for more information!


Visit an Art Museum

Madrid has a ton of museums! There are so many great ones to choose from but if I had to recommend my favorites, it’ll be these:

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Museo Nacional del Prado

Reina Sofia

If you want to check out all three, you can purchase the art walk here. For 30.40 euros, you’ll have access to all three museums.



Chocolat in Madrid

You simply can’t come to Madrid and not have churros con chocolat. I’ve had some in Barcelona, but have to say the ones in Madrid are the BEST churros I’ve had in my life. Yes, that is a bold statement. Now, the most popular spot is Chocolateria San Gines, which I’ve heard is amazing. However, I’m not a big fan of long lines and like to find hidden gems. Which is why I highly recommend Chocolat. There were no lines and the place was still consistently packed, so you know it’s good. I mean, just look at these churros and porras.


Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid
San Miquel Market

I know, I know, dessert before lunch is a bit taboo but hey, you’re on vacation. Why not live a little? Head over to the famous market, Mercado de San Miguel. I would call it more of a gourmet market. It isn’t the cheapest but you’ll find amazing quality for food and snacks here. Grab some vino and tapas and enjoy the awesome vibes!


Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor in Madrid
Plaza Mayor

One of the most famous squares in the city, and rightfully so. It’s so beautiful and vibrant and fun! There are a ton of restaurants in the plaza so take your pick and grab some wine. It is the perfect place to people watch!


La Latina Neighborhood

Keep the night going in the trendy La Latina neighborhood. There are a ton of great restaurants and tapas in this area and you really can’t go wrong with just popping into some and trying different things.

That concludes our Madrid Itinerary. Hope you had an amazing time!


Know Before You Go


Best time to visit
Getting Around
Important Spanish Phrases


Best Time to Visit

Between May to September. It may get pretty warm but not crazy hot. We went in April and had lots of rainy days.

It doesn’t ever get too cold so you could really go any time. Just make sure to check the weather and pack accordingly!

Getting Around

Madrid is a super walkable city. So much so that walking takes almost the same time as taking the subway. If you don’t enjoy walking a lot, the metro system is really easy to use! Plus, it runs until 2am so definitely great to use all evening long! The only downside to the subway is that the pricing is a bit complicated. There are different prices for different zones and they charge by number of stops. So make sure you read all the information available before buying a subway pass! Make sure to use the Madrid Itinerary map above to help you get around!


Madrid uses the Euro and at the time of writing this post, the exchange rate to USD is .89 Euro to $1USD. Which is almost 1:1 so that’s pretty good. Everything was really reasonably priced too! Wine & Coffees are between 2-3 euros per cup. Tapas are between 3-5 euros each and our average dinners were about 25 euros for the both of us!

Important Spanish Phrases

Hola– Hello

Adiós– Bye

Gracias- Thank You

De Nada- No Problem

La Cuenta, por favor– Check, please

Buenos dias/tardes/noches– Good morning/afternoon/night

– Yes

No- No

Hola, me llamo…– Hello, my name is…

Cómo Ustéd?– How are you?

Bien– Good

Qué Tal– What’s up [Used as a greeting]

Para llevar– To go

Vale– Okay/Good

Cuánto Cuesta?– How much?

A Donde…. – Where is…

Yo no comprendo– I don’t understand

Lo siento– I’m sorry

Hope you liked this Madrid Itinerary! If you’re visiting Barcelona, I also have the perfect 3-Day Barcelona Itinerary you can check out here.

As always, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments as well and I’d love to help you plan your trip!


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  • Shreya Saha

    You have listed all the must-sees of Madrid in one. This is a great itinerary to follow for the first-timers. I was there in 2017 and have visited most of the places from your list. However, my choice of restaurants were different, myself being a vegan. If have more days in hand, it’s great to do day-tour to Toledo from Madrid.

  • Candy

    I would love to visit Madrid! Looks like there is so much to see and do there and I like your description that it’s like NYC but with better architecture 🙂 Good to know to avoid April cuz I hate the rain.

  • Medha

    I am so excited because I’ll be in Madrid in less than 3 weeks! Unfortunately, I’ll have only 1 day before I head to the South of Spain. I had decided to visit Plaza Mayor and San Miguel Market but I also see that Puerto del Sol looks like a great place to start and the Royal Palace looks great too, I love the architecture! Maybe I can add those two to the list, hoping that I’ll have enough time.

  • Nicole Hunter

    I went with a bunch of my closest girlfriends to Madrid for a birthday a couple of years back. Many of your recommendations and photos (which are gorgeous) remind me of what an amazing time we had. Madrid is such a vibrant, historically and culturally rich, non touristy city in Spain. I would go back in a heart beat.

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic list!! Managed to see most of these last month and agree on the weather. May June would have been better but loved my time in Madrid. Nice job on this blog. Perfect list of essential Spanish words too.

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