Planning a weekend trip to Madrid and want to make the most of it? It’s an awesome Spanish city filled with so many things to see, do, explore, and eat! Fortunately, you can fit a lot of the best things to do in Madrid in 3 days. I was lucky enough to have a “local” show me around, so I got the inside scoop 😉
Read on to learn how to have an awesome weekend in Madrid, Spain…
Tour the Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace was one of my favorite things to see in Madrid! The rooms are extraordinarily decorated. You aren’t allowed a camera in most of the places in the palace, but trust me, this one is definitely worth seeing.
Visit the Almudena Cathedral
The Almudena Cathedral is across from the Royal Palace and worth checking out since you are already there. It is free to enter, though donations to the church are encouraged.
Just look how incredibly ornate and beautiful the Catedral de Almudena is inside:
Take a Walk in El Retiro Park
El Retiro Park in Madrid covers over 125 hectacres and boasts more than 15,000 trees! It’s a beautiful park and makes for a great afternoon or morning walk.
The Retiro Pond is a large artificial lake in the middle of the park. You can rent boats and paddle around, or just relax and sit along the edge enjoying the view.
The park is also home to a number of fountains, some more than 100 years old!
My favorite part of Retiro Park is next up on the list…
Visit Palacio de Cristal
The Crystal Palace (Palacio de Cristal) is located in Retiro Park, not too far from the pond. It’s a beautiful all-glass building that was built in 1887.
Entry is free, though you may have to wait in line. It is very popular with tourists and photographers, and it’s not hard to see why!
Stroll Down Gran Via
Grand Via is a major street located in central Madrid and is home to some of the best shopping in the city, many large hotels, and countless restaurants.
It is said Gran Vía is like the Champs de Elysees of Madrid and is also often called the “Spanish Broadway.” One of the most famous buildings on Gran Vía is the Metropolis Building:
Explore Plaza Mayor
In the heart of Madrid, the Plaza Mayor is a major public square with several restaurants and shops in the area. It’s worth a quick stop while touring around Madrid.
Grab a Bite at Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel is one of the oldest markets in Madrid — it’s over 100 years old! Located near Plaza Mayor, it’s one of the most popular markets with tourists.
It’s a great place to grab lunch or a snack, as it has over 30 vendors that sell freshly prepared tapas, hams, olives, baked goods, beer, wine, and more.
Try Allllll the Tapas
On the topic of markets and food… When in Spain, you HAVE to try all the tapas! Some of the most popular are: Patatas Bravas, Croquetas, Jamón Ibérico, Tortilla Española, manchego, chorizo, and pulpo. You cannot leave Spain and not have the Jamón Ibérico, it’s hands down my favorite!
Drink like a Spaniard
Anytime I travel I like to try not only the food of the place I’m visiting, but also the drinks too! Gin and tonics are huge in Madrid, and there are so many different combinations and recipes. If you go to any bar in the city, they will usually have at least 8 different gin’s available. Order Nordés if you want to try a local gin!
Of course, you have to try the Spanish beers too! The most notable are: Estrella Damm (my favorite), Estrella Galacia, Mahou, and Alhambra. When ordering, ask for a cerveza caña if you want a small, and cerveza doble if you want a large (or double).
Visit a World Famous Art Museum
Museo del Prado is considered to have one of the best collections of European art in the world. It has thousands and thousands of works of art, including pieces from Diego Velazquez, Francisco Goya, and more!
Reina Sofía Museum, another hugely popular art museum in Madrid, boasts around 20,000 pieces of art. In fact, it is Spain’s national museum of the 20th-century art! It includes pieces from Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.
Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum is the third museum that makes up Madrid’s “Golden Triangle of Art.” It has over 1,600 paintings and was once the second largest private collection in the world! They also have a great little cafe that is great for a post museum beer 😉
Stroll through Plaza de Cibeles
Plaza de Cibeles holds one of the most iconic buildings in Madrid (pictured below). Believe it or not, it was once the city’s main post office! It’s a beautiful square definitely worth walking through on a weekend trip to Madrid.
Hang at Rooftop Bar at Sunset
You MUST enjoy a drink at a rooftop bar in Madrid, preferably at sunset. It is a great way to enjoy the views of the whole city!
We went to Casa Suecia and it was great! There is a fee to get up to the rooftop, but it covers your drink and some tapas.
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I will miss the rooftop drinks in Madrid at sunset! . I’m so behind posting content from this trip 🙈 have been trying to be more in the moment plus balancing working remotely for my full time job. I’m curious — do you prefer travel content all together from one destination or do you care if it bounces around? Like would you rather all my Madrid photos in a row or do you not care if it’s a mix of different places?
Check out the Temple of Debod
Temple of Debod is a Egyptian shrine that was originally erected in Egypt itself in the early 2nd century BC. In the 1960s, to save the temple from being destroyed by flooding, it was relocated and rebuilt in one of Madrid’s parks, Parque del Oeste.
When I was visiting, all the water around the Temple of Debod was drained, but the photo above is what it normally looks like. Everyone says the best time to visit is at Sunset.
Visit Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is literally the center of Madrid and is one of the busiest places in the city! It’s filled with shops, restaurants, monuments, fountains, etc.
Explore Malasaña Neighborhood
Malasana is a cool, hipster neighborhood in Madrid full of unique shops, trendy restaurants and cafes, and lots of urban street art!
Enjoy Some Luxury in The Salamanca Neighborhood
If you’re interested in doing some luxury shopping, check out Madrid’s Salamanca neighborhood! It also has some great dining options too!
Eat at the Oldest Restaurant in the World
Casa Botín is the oldest restaurant in the world! It has been open since 1752 and is most known for it’s roast suckling pig. Definitely book ahead of time if you want to eat here on your Madrid trip!
Catch a Real Madrid futbol game
It’s no secret Spaniards are crazy about their futbol! If it’s futbol season, try and catch a Real Madrid game at the famous Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
Hope this post was help while planning your weekend trip to Madrid! Was there anything else you would add? Let me know in the comments!