Madrid, the capital of Spain, offers a wide range of attractions and activities for those visiting it for the first time. You will love the local neighborhoods and grand boulevards that are dotted with dining, entertainment, and sightseeing options, all promising fun and exciting activities to try. The city has an energetic and friendly vibe, thanks to the locals who are truly proud of their culture and always more than happy to have visitors fully experience it.
Most travellers would want to stay in Spain’s capital city for at least a week but you can cover all the highlights in 4 days. In the Madrid itinerary featured below you will visit churches, historical landmarks, public parks, world-class museums, and even a real Egyptian temple, in addition to a day tour to a historic city. You’ll also have opportunities to watch a flamenco show and satisfy your taste buds with the mouthwatering local cuisine!
Day 1 – Reina Sofia Museum, Retiro Park, and a Flamenco Show
Start your first day of sightseeing in Madrid with a trip to one of its most popular attractions, the Reina Sofia Museum, locally known as the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Featuring a fabulous collection of 20th century art, the world-class museum is famous for housing works by masters like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Joan Miro. A must-see in the museum is Guernica, Picasso’s most influential painting, one he created after the bombing of the Basque town Guernica. The widely acclaimed oil painting helped draw global attention to the civil war in Spain.
After spending a few hours admiring the artworks at the Reina Sofia Museum, take a 15 minute walk towards Retiro Park, one of the largest parks in the city. Intended as a royal park, the sprawling green space is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. They go there to relax, engage in fitness activities, or to have a picnic. There is also a peaceful lake in the middle of the park, perfect for a quick boat ride.
The flamenco, Spain’s most famous dance, may have originated in Andalucia but it is also very popular in Madrid. If you haven’t watched a flamenco show yet, then by all means check out Corral de la Moreria. The restaurant is highlighted by one of the best flamenco houses in Madrid, if not the whole Spain. Dinner service is also provided so you might want to take advantage of that and indulge in delicious tapas and an assortment of traditional Spanish dishes. Another flamenco house that’s worth a visit is Las Carboneras. The venue offers nightly flamenco shows. It is a 20-minute walk from Retiro Park.
Experience the best of Madrid with the Madrid iVenture Attraction Pass. With this value pass, you will have access to top-notch attractions in Madrid, join guided tours, and watch the Las Carboneras flamenco show, plus other perks and benefits.
Day 2 – Temple of Debod, Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, and Gran Via
Your second day in Madrid will be spent exploring landmark attractions and enjoying more of the local cuisine.
The first attraction you will visit is the Temple of Debod, a real ancient Egyptian temple that was originally built it Southern Egypt. Egypt gave the temple to Spain as a token of gratitude for the help Spain provided in saving the magnificent temples of Abu Simbel when the Great Dam of Aswan was built. The Temple of Debod is located in Madrid’s West Park.
From the Temple of Debod, just head down the street and you’ll reach the Royal Palace of Madrid, one of the most remarkable royal palaces in Western Europe. At 135,000 square metres, the palace is definitely the biggest building in Madrid. Watch out for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Next, proceed to Plaza Mayor, a historic public square that’s just within walking distance from the Royal Palace. The expansive main square, brimming with tourists and buskers, was once the centre of Old Madrid and dates back to the 15th century.
If you need to grab a bite to eat, there are many bars and restaurants near Plaza Mayor, whether you’re looking to have a quick snack or have a solid meal. Try menu regulars patatas bravas, manchego cheese, gambas al ajillo, and bocata de calamares – all four will not disappoint!
Soon after, it is time for your next stop for the day, Puerta del Sol, the original site of Madrid’s east-facing gate. Puerta del Sol is where you will find some of the most iconic landmarks in the city, the clock tower of Real Casa de Correos, as well as the El Oso y El Madroño, the official emblem of Madrid. Do not forget to have your picture taken in front of the bronze “bear and the strawberry tree” statue. You’ll also find a statue of King Carlos III within the square.
No trip to Madrid is complete without spending time exploring Gran Via, a boulevard lined with splendid architecture and numerous bars, restaurants, stores, cinemas, and so much more. Gran Via is a very crowded, touristy street but you need to experience it nonetheless. The vibrant atmosphere in Gran Via is infectious and night spots there close when the sun is about to come up so expect to party the night away.
Book the Madrid Highlights and Royal Palace Tour and a bilingual guide will make sure that you’ll have the best of Old Madrid, the Royal Palace, and Gran Via. Transportation, entrance tickets and guided tour to the Royal Palace, and a free drink at Hard Rock Café are included in the package.
Day 3 – El Rastro, Prado Museum, Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, and Madrid Cable Car
If you’re visiting Madrid on a long weekend, then kick off your third day in Madrid with a visit to El Rastro, the oldest and most popular flea market in the city. Open on Sundays and holidays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., El Rastro is the place to be if you’re looking for great deals on just about everything from jewellery, artworks, clothing, vintage items, and even rare books.
Since the flea market is within La Latina, take time to explore the neighbourhood as well. The area is home to authentic local restaurants and El Mercado de la Cebada, a food market frequented by locals. It is a great place to grab a hearty seafood lunch.
From the La Latina neighbourhood, visit the Prado Museum to discover one of the greatest collections of European art in the whole world. The Prado Museum, along with the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum, make up Madrid’s Golden Art Triangle. The museum houses thousands of drawings, paintings, prints, and sculptures, including the works of Goya, El Greco, and Diego Velasquez.
After spending a few hours admiring European art, take a taxi or a bus to Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home to the Real Madrid Football Club. The stadium is open daily and admission tickets will allow you to tour the stadium and even the players’ locker rooms, provided no game is scheduled on the day of your visit. Tours of the stadium are allowed until 5 hours before scheduled football matches.
The Madrid Cable Car is one of the most popular attractions in the city. Best done at sunset, the 11-minute cable car ride from West Park to Casa de Campo Park will let you enjoy spectacular views of Madrid’s cityscape.
Bypass queues when exploring the Prado Museum with the Skip the Line: Prado Museum Tour. The tour also includes the services of a multilingual guide who will provide a detailed commentary about the works of Goya, El Greco, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio, among others.
Day 4 – Day Tour to Toledo
Of the best things about Madrid is that it makes for a great starting point to many noteworthy destinations in Spain. So on your last day in Madrid, you will be visiting Toledo, the “City of the Three Cultures.” Set on the hills overlooking Central Spain’s region of Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo is one of the oldest towns in Europe. Its historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the whole town takes pride in its rich cultural heritage that’s a result of three distinct cultural influences – Christian, Jewish, and Muslim.
In Toledo, walk through Toledo Old Town and marvel at the amazing architecture of its collection of religious structures, from synagogues to mosques and churches. See the stunning Santa Maria Cathedral de Toledo and admire its Spanish Gothic architectural style and exquisite interiors adorned with artworks by masters such as El Greco and Caravaggio. A must-see in Toledo is El Greco’s masterpiece, “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.” Located in the chapel of the Parish Church of Santo Tomé, the painting looms over the tomb of the Count of Orgaz.
Other attractions you won’t want to miss out on while in Toledo include the Puerta de Bisagra, Synagogue de Santa Maria la Blanca, Alcazár army museum, the El Greco museum, the Jewish Quarter, the Arabic Baths, and the Mosque El Cristo de la Luz.
The Toledo Full Day Tour is the tour to take if you want to step away from the hectic pace of Madrid for a day. The package is inclusive of entrance tickets to five of Toledo’s top attractions, transportation, lunch, and the services of a bilingual guide.