With less than a week in Spain’s capital city, you’ll have to carefully plan your Madrid itinerary. Madrid is the biggest city in Spain by far, so strategizing your schedule can be a bit of a task.
I recently spent time in the capital of Spain, and I was so glad that I built a solid Madrid itinerary before I arrived. Honestly, I would’ve likely missed out on the best things to do in Madrid without it. So, to help you plan your trip, I’m here to pass on my Madrid itinerary to you.
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6-Day Madrid Itinerary
Day 1 – Plaza Mayor, Gran Via, And The Royal Palace
On your first morning in Madrid, sit down at La Rollerie on Calle Mayor and order the restaurant’s Iberian Brunch.
Next, walk five minutes away to Plaza Mayor, one of the most iconic attractions in Madrid. After a little people-watching, check out Puerta del Sol five minutes away and its famous statue of a bear and a tree.
👉 Pro Tip: Puerta del Sol is right in the city center, so it’s a great place to stay in Madrid. Hotel Moderno Puerta del Sol is one of the best hotels in this area.
In the afternoon, take a stroll through Madrid 15 minutes away to Gran Via, Madrid’s most famous street. Wander and shop around the busy avenue before stopping for a tapas lunch at Desengaño 13.
Then, swing by Santa Eulalia about 10 minutes away from the restaurant to pick up some sweet baked goods to bring with you for later.
When you have your baking, head over to the Royal Palace of Madrid next to the gardens, the official residence of the Spanish royal family. While you can technically explore by yourself, I recommend you take this Madrid royal palace expert guided tour to finish the afternoon.
At dusk, take a walk around Campo Del Moro Gardens right next to the Royal Palace, or hang out on a bench in Sabatini Gardens to munch on your pastries.
For dinner, reserve a table at Restaurante Amicis, and make sure you try the duck tacos (I can confirm they’re delicious). After the meal, sip down a cocktail or two at Bad Company 1920.
Day 2 – Retiro Park, Art Museums, and Nightlife
Give yourself a little boost on your second morning in Madrid with coffee and a croissant from Misión Café in the Malasaña neighborhood. After breakfast, walk just five minutes away to Plaza de España to see its statues and gardens.
Next, take a taxi or the bus over to Museo del Prado, one of the best museums in Spain. Here you’ll wander through one of the best collections of European art by masters like El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya. Then, hit the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, again, just a five-minute walk away.
For lunch, head to East 47 Restaurant- Bar, and don’t leave without ordering the tuna tataki. When you’ve finished your meal, walk 10 minutes to Plaza de la Independencia where you’ll see the famous Puerta de Alcalá landmark of Madrid.
Then, head inside El Retiro Park right next to the plaza to explore the greenery, rose gardens, and the Palacio de Cristal. Once you’ve taken a stroll around the grounds, rent a rowboat at the Great Pond of El Retiro and paddle away.
In the evening, catch an opera performance at the famed Teatro Real that’s been in operation since 1850. After the show, relax at El miniBAR for a few hours and order a spread of 5 to 10 tapas dishes with drinks.
At around midnight, go to Planet Club to get some more drinks and go dancing into the wee hours of the morning. Then, keep the party going at Opium Madrid.
Finish off the evening at the 129-year-old Chocolateria San Gines for churros dipped in thick, rich chocolate. It’s open 24 hours a day over the weekend, so it’ll be available no matter what time you’re done partying.
Day 3 – Toledo Day Trip
With only a few days of your itinerary left, it’s time to take a day trip from Madrid to an incredible city called Toledo.
Arrive at Puerta de Atocha Train Station early in the morning and check out the Madrid station’s botanical garden. Then, catch the train from Madrid to Toledo for around $16 and take the 35-minute ride.
Upon arrival in the ancient city of Toledo, either take a 25-minute walk or a 10-minute cab ride to the Old Town. Walk over to Teteria Dar Al Chai, a traditional teahouse, for hot Indian tea and crepes.
After breakfast, check out Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo and its impressive art collection that includes works by Caravaggio, Raphael, and more. Then, pay a visit to the Museum of Manchego Cheese just a minute away for a cheese tasting and tour.
Five minutes away from the cheese museum, purchase tickets to Alcázar de Toledo and explore the 16th-century royal palace. Then take a 15-minute walk through the Old Town to reach Museo del Greco and get a feel for the famous painter El Greco.
Next, munch on a surprisingly affordable lunch at the Michelin star Restaurante La Orza. Following the delicious meal, take photos at San Martin’s Bridge over the Tagus River and stroll across.
Then, get a taxi up to Mirador del Valle to relax, see panoramic views of Toledo, and take photos of the surrounding area.
Hop on the train from Toledo back to Madrid in the early evening. Take the metro back toward the city center and pop into Taberna El Sur, one of the best restaurants in Madrid. Order the octopus, the specialty ropa vieja dish, and one of the restaurant’s many wine options.
After the meal, go to Las Carboneras Tablao Flamenco and watch a performance of the traditional Spanish dance style. Grab a nightcap from Wanderlust Bar just a few streets over to finish off the night.
Day 4 – Malasaña, La Latina, And Lavapiés
On day four, let’s get to know Madrid’s neighborhoods a little deeper. In the morning, go to the Malasaña neighborhood for brunch and a mimosa from Zenith Brunch & Cocktails.
After taking your time at brunch, briefly stroll around the neighborhood past Plaza del Dos de Mayo and Liria Palace. Get a good look at the neighborhood and its street art in the daytime (don’t worry, you’ll be back later).
Take the metro over to the Barrio de La Latina neighborhood and browse around the El Rastro Flea Market for unique souvenirs. The market is only available on Sundays.
Next, take a walk along Calle de la Cava Baja for an afternoon tapas crawl. Pop into any place that catches your eye, but make sure to stop by La Perejila and Casa Lucio along the way.
Then, learn a little bit about the local history at the quaint, yet extremely interesting Saint Isidore Museum in La Latina.
Right before dusk make your way over to Las Vistillas Garden for superb views of Madrid’s pinky-orange sunset.
🛏️ Need A Hotel? The La Latina district is one of the nicest areas to stay in Madrid. There are quite a few hotels, but I’d recommend booking a room at L&H La Latina Selection. It’s very affordable and offers a variety of rooms that can fit up to four people.
Take a taxi over to the Lavapiés neighborhood for a break from the Spanish food with an Italian dinner at Bresca. There is even a vegan menu available if you’re getting tired of meat-heavy dishes in Spain.
With a filling meal in your belly, stop by Chinaski Lavapiés for a pint of beer in a really cool, colorful brewery space.
Return to Malasaña to experience the district after dark. Start by having an expertly-made cocktail at 1862 Dry Bar. Then, find the lesser-known, more intimate La Analógica speak-easy-style bar hidden under some stairs.
For the party animals reading this, spend the rest of the evening dancing at Tempo Club. At the end of the night, grab a sandwich from Bocadillos Oink, which is open 24/7.
Day 5 – Ávila and Segovia Day Trip
On day 5, it’s time to take another day trip, this time to Avila and Segovia. You can do this trip independently, but for the sake of time, book this Full Day Tour of Ávila and Segovia from Madrid.
Meet your guide near the Malasaña neighborhood at 9 in the morning and relax on the ride in a luxury, air-conditioned bus. You’ll pass the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains along the way.
Upon arrival in Avila, go to the city’s most well-known attraction, the Walls of Avila. Then, head to the Cathedral of Avila, the Iglesia-Convento de Santa Teresa, and the Basilica de San Vicente.
Afterward, you’ll head to Segovia to snap photos of the massive Aqueduct of Segovia and the Cathedral of Segovia. Finish the morning off by exploring the Alcázar of Segovia with your guide and learn about the World Heritage Site.
After returning back to Madrid, go outside of the city center to Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in the Chamartín neighborhood. Take a guided tour of the facilities to gain insights into the country’s most revered sport and see the stadium’s museum.
Next, sit down at Ochenta Grados Castellana for a high-end lunch. Then, get a ticket to Sweet Space near the Salamanca neighborhood to explore the colorful modern art installation.
Get an early dinner at CEBO in the center of the city and get the tasting menu with the wine pairing. Then, take a nice little 10-minute walk through Madrid to Mistura for a cup of creamy ice cream.
End the night early and get a good night’s sleep after a long day of exploring the nearby towns.
Day 6 – Spa Day And Local Markets
Start the last day of your Madrid itinerary with a cappuccino and a baked good from Ruda Café in the La Latina neighborhood.
After enjoying a light breakfast, go to a session at Hammam Al Ándalus thermal spa in Central Madrid. Get an hour-long massage and take a long dip in their baths to fully recharge after an eventful few days in Madrid.
After the spa, it’s time for a self-guided Madrid food tour through the local markets. First, make your way to Mercado San Antón around a 15-minute walk from the spa. Then, wander through the gourmet food vendors and buy anything that looks yummy.
Once you had your fun exploring every inch of Mercado San Anton, hail a cab and go to the 107-year-old Mercado San Miguel near Plaza Mayor. Walk through the rows of delectable offerings and pick up a little bit of everything.
Digest all the delicious treats while going on a walk through the city center to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Spend the rest of the afternoon discovering the renowned work at this contemporary art museum.
Start your last evening in Madrid with an indulgent meal at one of the city’s top fine dining establishments – DSTAgE. Order the otherworldly 14-course tasting menu and the wine pairing that goes with it.
Once you’re stuffed with one of the best meals available in Madrid, embark on a little bar crawl through the city.
First, pop into the Macera Taller Bar just down the road to try their signature Pantera Rosa or Picante de la Casa cocktails. Next, catch a live Spanish rock and roll performance at the Honky Tonk Bar Room.
Finally, take a taxi to the Barrio de las Letras neighborhood and stop at Salmon Guru near Plaza de Santa Ana, ranked as the 15th best bar in the world. Sip on artfully-designed cocktails and eat flavorful international bites in the playful atmosphere.
Once you’re fully satisfied with food and drinks, return back to your accommodations and get a much-needed rest after an eventful six days in Madrid.
Where to Stay in Madrid
There are a lot of options for where to stay in Madrid. The hotels in Madrid are eclectic and range from high-end luxury to extreme budget accommodations:
- 🛌 Budget – Hotel Nuevo Boston
- 🏨 Mid-Range – Hotel Liabeny
- ✨ Luxury – Pestana Plaza Mayor
- 🛎️ Boutique – Only YOU Boutique Hotel
- 💻 Business – Vincci Capitol
- 👪 For Families – Dear Hotel Madrid
Best Neighborhoods & Areas
One of the great things about Madrid being such a big city is that there is a wide variety of interesting neighborhoods to stay in:
- Malasaña (Search apartments in Malasaña) – A lively neighborhood just outside the busy city center tourist attractions. This district is rich in street art, cute cafes, and one of the best nightlife scenes in all of Madrid.
- Barrio de la Latina (Search apartments in Barrio de la Latina) – A historic neighborhood that’s one of the oldest districts in Madrid. The La Latina neighborhood is home to great shopping at El Rastro Flea Market and old-school bars with local specialties.
- Lavapiés (Search apartments in Lavapiés) – An aesthetic little neighborhood ideally located between La Latina and El Retiro Park. Lavapies is filled with gorgeous street art and museums, like Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
- Chuenca (Search apartments in Chuenca) – An inclusive, LGBTQ+-friendly neighborhood on the outskirts of the city center with a chill, yet fun atmosphere. Chuenca features adorable shops, delicious tapas bars, and lots of bars with live music.
How to Get Around in Madrid
🚶♀️ Walking – One of the easiest and most affordable ways to get around Madrid is on foot. Even though Madrid is the biggest city in Spain, it’s also very pedestrian-friendly. The main attractions are situated around the city center within walking distance from each other.
🚇 Public Transportation – Madrid has terrific public transportation with efficient metro lines, buses, and bike-sharing available. It costs around 1.50€ for a single ride on Madrid’s metro or buses. Use BiciMAD for € 2 for the first hour.
🚕 Taxi/Ride Sharing – There are more than 15,000 taxis carrying passengers around Madrid every day. The most commonly used taxi apps in Madrid are Cabify, FreeNow, and Uber.
🚗 Driving – It’s recommended to avoid driving in Madrid if possible and rely on public transportation, especially with only a few days in Madrid. The roads in Madrid can be quite hectic and nerve-wracking for newbies. There is also limited parking around the city.
Madrid Itinerary Planning Tips
Tip #1 – Don’t Miss Madrid’s Parks
There are over 40 different amazing parks around Madrid, taking up 12 square miles of greenery to enjoy.
Make sure you spend some time walking around Madrid’s parks, such as El Retiro, Casa de Campo, the Royal Botanical Garden, and Parque Juan Carlos I.
Tip #2 – Appreciate The Gorgeous Architecture In Madrid
One of the big reasons that people love Madrid is its exquisite architecture. Don’t get so laser-focused on your Madrid itinerary that you don’t stop to look around at the city’s breathtaking buildings. You never know what you might stumble on.
Tip #3 – Use Madrid’s Public Transportation To Get Around Cheaply
The Spanish capital offers visitors a reliable metro and bus system that’s way cheaper than taking taxis everywhere. Practically everywhere you’ll need to go in Madrid is accessible with a quick metro ride.
Tip #4 – Avoid The Restaurants Around Plaza Mayor
Everyone visits Plaza Mayor because it’s one of Madrid’s most recognizable sites, but you shouldn’t sit down and eat there. Plaza Mayor is swarming with tourist crowds and the food tends to be less authentic and more expensive.
Instead, opt to eat at restaurants slightly outside the city center for a more genuine Spanish food experience without all the chaos.
Tip #5 – Take A Tour
It can be difficult to get a feel for a big city like Madrid, which is why first-time visitors should join a guided tour. Participating in a walking tour makes you more familiar with your surroundings and teaches you the history of Madrid.
I’d recommend this Madrid Walking Tour because it’s affordable and it comes with skip-the-line access to the famous Royal Palace of Madrid.
Tip #6 – Visit Madrid Museums During Free Entry Hours
Madrid is home to some of the best museums and art galleries in the world, so take advantage and visit at least one or two.
The most famous museums in Madrid are the Prado Museum, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum. The National Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Decorative Arts are also great options.
👉 Pro Tip: Visit the Prado Museum for free Monday to Saturday From 6 pm to 8 pm and Sundays from 5 pm to 7 pm. Get into the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum for free on Mondays from noon until 4 pm.
Tip #6 – Add At Least One Day Trip To Your Madrid Itinerary
There are so many convenient and fun day trips from Madrid that you have to pack at least one into your itinerary.
Places like Toledo, Avila, Segovia, and more are all easily accessible on Spain’s public transportation. These places only take around an hour to reach from Madrid. Day trips are the perfect way to beef up your Madrid itinerary when you’ve already seen all the city’s big sites.
Tip #7 – Grab Lunch From Local Markets During Your Days In Madrid
A travel hack to make your days in Madrid a little bit cheaper is turning to the local markets for lunch. There is an assortment of exciting markets in Madrid, like Mercado San Miguel, Mercado San Antón, Mercado de la Paz, and more.
These markets give you a peek at daily life in Madrid. Plus it’s perfect for groups who all want different things, and it’s usually a bit cheaper than eating at restaurants.
Tip #8 – Reserve A Table At One Of Madrid’s Fine Dining Restaurants
Use your extra cash from eating inexpensive lunch at the markets to treat yourself to a fancy dinner at one of Madrid’s many fine-dining restaurants. Some of the best fine-dining restaurants in Madrid are Coque, Ramón Freixa Madrid, DTAgE, and DiverXO.
Even though these places are high-end, the food isn’t as crazy expensive as you’d think for the quality. It’s definitely worth splurging for it at least once on a Madrid trip.
Tip #9 – Check out Live Shows
One way to turn an evening in Madrid into an unforgettable memory is by attending one of the live events throughout the city. There are a variety of performances to catch throughout Madrid, such as Flamenco shows and live concerts.
You can find an updated list of official venues and links to their upcoming schedule on the Madrid Tourism website. Alternatively, you can check out sites like EventBrite or BandsInTown to find shows around Madrid.
Tip #10 – Consider Your Madrid Itinerary Priorities
Do you want to get into the art and culture scene at places like the Royal Palace and Prado Museum? Do you want to spend your days in Madrid diving into the local food or nightlife scene? Answer these questions carefully.
Madrid is a big city with lots of different things to do depending on your preferences. Make sure you analyze your priorities for your days in Madrid, so you don’t miss out on anything you really wanted to experience.
Tip #11 – Be Flexible With Your Itinerary
No matter how much research you put into your Madrid itinerary, there is always a local who knows about a cool spot you’d never find without their help. My Airbnb host in Madrid recommended this cool viewpoint over the city called Faro de Moncloa, for example.
Leave enough room in your itinerary to go on some unexpected excursions. Then, go out on a limb and ask a local for their top Madrid recommendations.
Madrid Itinerary Map
Here is a Google Map with all the stops, attractions, and hotels mentioned in this post.
Madrid Itinerary FAQs
How many days should I plan for Madrid?
Plan to spend at least six days in Madrid to get a true feel for the city, its attractions, and its surroundings. Six days is enough time to actually settle into the city and get a feel for everyday life, the metro, and even find a favorite restaurant or two.
What are the top sites in Madrid?
The top sites in Madrid are the Royal Palace of Madrid, Plaza Mayor, Parque del Buen Retiro, Puerta del Sol, Puerta de Alcalá, and the Prado Museum. These sites are all very different, but they are by far the most-visited attractions in the Spanish capital.
Is Madrid a walkable city?
Madrid is a walkable city around the city center. You can reach the main sites and navigate between several of Madrid’s big neighborhoods on foot. You may need to take public transportation or a taxi to reach the outskirts of the city. Madrid has an exceptional transportation system and several cab apps, like Cabify, FreeNow, and even Uber.
Is Madrid expensive?
Madrid is one of the most expensive cities in Spain. It costs around $120 per day on average to visit Madrid, including accommodations, entertainment, and food. Budget-conscious travelers can manage to spend as little as $70 per day in Madrid. While it’s one of Spain’s most expensive cities, it’s still much cheaper than other major European cities.
Thanks for reading my complete Madrid itinerary. One way to ensure your trip goes smoothly is by staying in the best neighborhood for you. To learn more, check out my Spain packing list. Have fun visiting Madrid!
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