Madrid in two days: discover the capital of Spain in 48 hours
Madrid is one of the hippest and trendiest destinations in Europe, and once you visit it, you’ll know why! Spain’s capital is one of those cities that never sleeps. No matter the time of the day, the madrileños always have something to do on the streets. Drinking cañas, eating tapas, visiting museums, going to the theatre, or just hanging out with friends are the favorite activities in this dynamic city! In this week’s post, The Touring Pandas will go through the city’s must-sees and help you make the most of your 48 hours in Madrid.
If you follow our tips and organise your schedule well, you’ll get to see the most famous highlights of Madrid in two days. It’s not much time, but just enough to discover the best of this vibrant destination. Get ready to enjoy Madrid in 48 hours!
Madrid in two days: day 1 – morning
El Retiro Park, Art Walk and the Prado Museum
El Retiro is one of the most beautiful places in Madrid and also a good place to start your two days trip. Enter the park from Plaza de la Independencia, where you’ll find the famous Puerta de Alcalá. This imposing monument used to be the noble entrance to Madrid in the past, but now it’s just outside the city center. Once inside the park, you can’t skip the lake, the Crystal Palace, the rose garden (La Rosaleda), and the Ángel Caído, one of the few sculptures in the world representing Lucifer. As a curious data, this gloomy statue is situated exactly at 666 meter over the sea level: the number of the devil in Western cultures!
After exploring El Retiro, we recommend to continue your plan strolling around the Art Walk. In the Paseo del Arte, as locals call it, you’ll encounter landmarks like the Cibeles Palace and Fountain. The Cibeles Palace is nowadays Madrid’s City Hall. And the Fountain is the place where Real Madrid, one of the world’s best football clubs, celebrates victories with the fans. But besides architecture and sculptures, this walk boasts three of the most important museums in Europe: Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofía.
With just 48 hours in Madrid, and although this is a painful decision, if you have to pick one museum, it has be the Prado. The Prado Museum is the temple where the great masterpieces of Spanish Art are kept. Apart from the famous Meninas, you’ll find the largest collection of Goya works, including the incredible Black Paintings. But it’s not only Spanish brushes that you’ll spot around the corridors, but also great European classics like the famous Garden of Delights, by El Bosco. This is one of the largest museums in the world, so make sure to save at least two hours to explore the highlights of the Prado.
There is a lot of history and a lot to see and to learn between the Retiro Park, the Art Walk and the Prado Museum. If you want to discover every detail of these magical places, we recommend you to have a look at our Art Walk & Prado Museum Tour. Our expert guides will walk you through the very best of Madrid in your selected language: English, Japanese, Korean or Chinese.
After a few hours of walking, you may as well be hungry! A good place near the Prado Museum and well located to continue exploring Madrid afterwards is Vinitus. Located at the begining of the Gran Via, this is an excellent place for tapas and paella.
Madrid in two days: day 1 – afternoon
Puerta del Sol, Habsburgs Madrid and Royal Palace
Now that you have a full belly, you’re ready to continue enjoying your trip. Visiting Madrid in two days is an ambitious task, since the city is quite big and there is a lot to see. But one thing you don’t want to miss is the very center of Spain: the Puerta del Sol! This is one of the most beloved plazas in the country because it’s the most popular place to celebrate the New Year’s Eve. Every 31st of December, thousands of people gather here to welcome the new year and eat 12 pieces of grape. They say you can ask one desire with each of them, so make sure to have your checklist!
Another famous item at the Puerta del Sol is Spain’s Km0, where all the roads begin. This famous geographic landmark is right in front of the Madrid Tourism Office: you’ll probably spot some visitors taking selfies! The Tio Pepe comercial and the Oso y Madroño statue are also icons in the plaza that you’ll probably recognise from the travel guides. Once you’ve taken some good shots of all the classics on Puerta del Sol, you’re off to explore the Habsburgs Madrid.
The Habsburgs were a dinasty of kings who reigned in Madrid during several centuries. It was during their command that Madrid became the capital of Spain and became a splendorous city with noble buildings and monuments. In this area you’ll find some of the most picturesque corners of Madrid, like the Plaza Mayor. But also gastronomic Meccas like San Ginés, a legendary place to enjoy the famous churros con chocolate! The cherry on the cake in the Habsburgs Madrid is the Royal Palace.
This majestic building is no less than the largest palace in Europe, with more than 3.000 rooms. If you want to discover all the details about Madrid and the Habsburg, we recommend you to take our Royal Palace of Madrid and Habsburgs tour. In this itinerary of two hours through the old town of Madrid, you’ll learn all the anecdotes about the royal families. And at the end, you’ll get a fast-track ticket to skip the long lines to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid!
Madrid in two days: day 1 – evening
Flamenco and tapas
What a better way to round up your first day in Madrid than enjoying a traditional flamenco show? You’ve probably been dreaming about seeing this beautiful performances and we have the right recommendations. The most renowned tablao in town is Corral de la Morería. Apart from an outstanding quality standard in their performances, they have a restaurant with a Michelin star. So the place is also great to feast on otherworldly Spanish delights. Another option offering good value for money is Café de Chinitas, which is also more affordable and still a really good show.
If you’d rather have food on a local bar or restaurant, Madrid’s gastronomic scene just rocks it. The city center is full of tapas bars and bistrots where you’ll find all the basics of the Spanish menu. Tortilla de patatas, bocata de calamares, croquetas… you name it, Madrid has it! Plaza Santa Ana is a good area to look for food in the evening. Two of our favourite places are Casa Alberto and Lateral: make sure to have a reservation! After savouring the genuine flavours of Spain, you’ll feel like you’ve made it through Madrid in the best way possible!
If you are lazy to get everything planned for your first day in Madrid, don’t hesitate to check out our Full Day Tour in Madrid in English, Japanese, Korean or Chinese. We include all those must-sees which have been mentioned above in this amazingly organized day tour. Just follow our professional tour guide and you don’t need to worry about missing out any of the most important sights of this lively city. And what even better is this day tour offers you a free full-course lunch at Thyssen Museum!
Madrid in two days: day 2 – morning
Gran Vía and Barrio de Salamanca
After spending an intense first day in Madrid, why don‘t we slow down our rhythm and make the second day relaxing? As the capital of Spain, in Madrid, you can find all kinds of fashion you want to buy here, which is a good way for travellers to relax.
Let’s start our day from Plaza España, where you can find the famous statue of Cervantes and those two characters he created, Don Quijote and Sancho Panza. Here is also the start of the most famous Madrid’s boulevard, Gran Via. It is the busiest, most popular street in Madrid. It’s 1300m long and more than 100 years old, and it’s lined with some of the most sought-after retail shops in town – a true open-air shopping mall, drawing over 10 million people every year.
While heading east, one of the remarkable buildings you can find on Gran Via is the Capitol building and its Schweppes neon sign. Around it, you can find lots of gift shops where visitors can find the right souvenirs to take back home, along with a tremendous amount of trending fashion retailers, such as Bershka and Stradivarius, which are affordable for any pockets.
When you get to the end of Gran Via, you will find yourself at Cibeles Square again. Take a look at the marvelous fountain and Madrid City Hall. What an impressive view! And now turn left and head north, you will enter the center of Barrio de Salamanca. Here is Madrid’s most stylish district, featuring a great variety of exclusive shops. It gathers almost all the most well-known international luxury brands, popular fashion shops and traditional stores. Find the fanciest streets for a shopping spree in this area, with a secret or two unveiled…
Madrid in two days: day 2 – afternoon
Bernabéu and Temple of Debod
Did you get satisfied from the amazing shopping experience in the morning? Not far away from Barrio de Salamanca, there’s one other must-see place that you cannot miss in your 48 hours in Madrid. If you are a football fan, this will thrill you! Our last part of two days trip in Madrid starts here, the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium!
Real Madrid is one of the most professional football teams in Spain and holds multiple European and international titles. The Santiago Bernabeu, home for Real Madrid, was inaugurated in 1947 and can hold over 80,000 spectators and has 245 VIP boxes. The club opens its doors 363 days a year for fans to explore its historic stadium, an absolute must on your trip to Madrid. During the official stadium tour, you will be able to visit the field, the changing rooms and a museum where trophies are exhibited. Price is 25€ per person.
Did you know there is an original 2.200 year’s old Egyptian Temple in Madrid? It’s kind of strange, but it was a present Egypt offered Spain for helping to save Abu Simbel. Here’s the last stop of our two days trip, the temple of Debod, where you can reach by metro after visiting Bernabeu.
Works on the temple began at the beginning of the 2nd century BC and it had been decorated with high reliefs. In the 6th century AD, following a conversion to Christianity, the temple was sealed off and abandoned. In the 20th century, owing to the construction of the dam, the Egyptian government gave the temple as a gift to Madrid and it was transported and rebuilt stone by stone in its current location.
Other than a historically exotic spot in this city, Temple of Debod is also the best place to watch the sunset. Enjoy the great views and observe the greatness of a real Egypt’s monument to end your perfect trip in Madrid, for free!!
We hope this post will help you decide what you should prioritise in your visit to Madrid in two days. If you have some more time, we have also designed plans for one day. Do you think we missed something important? Was this information useful to you? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts! We really look forward to hearing from your dreamed two days in Madrid!
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