Guides Madrid The Keys to a Perfect Madrid Stay, From 2 Days to a Week

The Keys to a Perfect Madrid Stay, From 2 Days to a Week

City Guide April 14, 2024



Planning the perfect Madrid stay and looking at how to spend one week in Madrid? It can be exciting yet daunting for a fast-paced weekend or a leisurely week. Madrid, Spain's central capital, has elegant boulevards, expansive parks, and rich repositories of European art. From the bustling Gran Vía to the regal Royal Palace of Madrid, many sights exist to explore. In this guide, we'll walk you through how to enjoy every moment of your visit—whether you're spending just 48 hours or a full seven days in this vibrant city. We'll ensure you know the best spots to visit, eat, and relax to make your Madrid stay unforgettable.

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Two Days in Madrid: A Weekend Getaway

Day 1: Heart of the City



Royal Palace of Madrid: Begin your day at this majestic residence of the Spanish royal family. As one of the largest palaces in Western Europe, it boasts over 3,000 opulent rooms adorned with valuable art and exquisite decor. Highlights include the Throne Room, the Hall of Mirrors, and the Royal Armoury. Be sure to stroll through the Campo del Moro and the Sabatini Gardens, which offer serene views and beautifully landscaped grounds.

Almudena Cathedral: Just steps away from the Royal Palace, this cathedral is a testament to Neo-Gothic architecture with a modern twist. Inside, it features a vibrant mix of colors and styles. The ceiling paintings and the crypt are particularly noteworthy. The cathedral offers an insightful look into Madrid's religious significance and artistic heritage.


Lunch at Mercado de San Miguel

Located near Plaza Mayor, the Mercado de San Miguel is an ideal place to experience Madrid’s culinary delights. This indoor market features an array of gourmet tapas bars and stalls selling everything from fresh seafood to traditional Spanish omelettes and exotic fruits. Savor local and international cuisine flavors with choices like Iberian ham, manchego cheese, croquettes, and calamari rings. Pair your meal with a glass of Spanish wine or a refreshing sangria for the perfect midday feast.



Plaza Mayor: A short walk from Mercado de San Miguel, Plaza Mayor is an iconic rectangular square enclosed by historic red buildings dating back to the Habsburg period. Over the centuries, it has hosted markets, bullfights, symphonies, and tournaments. Today, it's filled with cafes and shops and is ideal for people-watching and enjoying the lively atmosphere.

Puerta del Sol: This bustling square is the beating heart of Madrid and one of the city’s most well-known landmarks. It is home to the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes on New Year's Eve. Key sights include the Bear and the Strawberry Tree statue, a symbol of Madrid, and the Kilometer Zero stone slab, marking Spain’s geographical center.



Gran Vía: As the sun sets, head to Gran Vía, Madrid’s premier boulevard, known for its grandeur and vibrancy. This street has theaters, shops, and historic buildings boasting impressive architecture from the early 20th century.

Teatro Real: Just off Plaza Mayor, you can catch an opera or ballet performance at the Teatro Real, one of Spain's most important cultural institutions. The theater offers a range of performances, including classic operas and contemporary musicals.

Explore and Shop: Wander through the numerous shops along Gran Vía, from high-end boutiques to popular global retailers, or enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants offering everything from traditional Spanish dishes to international cuisine.



Day 2: Art and Park Life



Prado Museum: Start your morning with a visit to one of the world's most renowned museums. The Prado Museum houses an impressive collection of European art, highlighted by masterpieces from the Spanish Royal Collection. Notable works include Velázquez's "Las Meninas" and Goya's "Saturn Devouring His Son", alongside paintings by Titian, Bosch, and Rubens. Take your time to explore the rooms dedicated to different periods and styles, from the Renaissance to the Baroque.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum: A short walk from the Prado, this museum complements its neighbor by filling in the historical gaps with an extensive array of works from the Renaissance to Modern Art. Its collection includes pieces by Dürer, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Picasso, and many others, providing a comprehensive overview of European painting history.


Lunch in Retiro Park

After a morning of art, relax in Madrid’s green heart, Retiro Park. Enjoy a leisurely picnic by the lake or dine at a café while enjoying the scenic views. Be sure to visit the Crystal Palace, a striking glass and metal structure that hosts rotating art exhibitions and offers picturesque views of the park.



Retiro Park: Spend your afternoon immersed in the tranquility of Retiro Park. Rent a rowboat and paddle around the peaceful Retiro Pond, marvel at the elaborate Monument to Alfonso XII, and stroll through the various landscaped gardens, including the romantic Rosaleda (rose garden).



La Latina: For your evening, head to the lively neighborhood of La Latina, well-known for its vibrant tapas bars and bustling nightlife. Start with dinner at a traditional tavern, sampling local dishes such as patatas bravas and gambas al ajillo, followed by a night exploring the energetic bars and pubs. La Latina's narrow streets and festive atmosphere provide a perfect backdrop for ending your day.


Extending Your Stay: Up to One Week

Day 3: Local Life and Royal Splendors



La Latina revisited: If it’s Sunday, don’t miss El Rastro, Madrid’s famous flea market. It’s a fantastic place for finding unique items and souvenirs, from vintage clothes and antiques to handmade crafts. The market is a shopper’s paradise and a lively area to soak up Madrid’s local color and enjoy street performers.



Palacio de Cristal del Retiro: Often confused with the Crystal Palace, the Palacio de Cristal del Retiro is another stunning glasshouse within Retiro Park, albeit often hosting contemporary art installations from the Reina Sofia Museum. Its structure is magnificent when it catches the afternoon sunlight, creating a shimmering mirage reflected by the surrounding pond.



Flamenco Night: Conclude your day with dinner at one of Madrid’s classic restaurants, followed by a flamenco show. This traditional Spanish dance is known for its emotional intensity and rhythmic footwork; seeing a live performance is mesmerizing. Venues like Casa Patas and Cardamom are famed for their nightly shows that capture the spirit of flamenco.



Day 4 - Day Trip Opportunities

Madrid's central location within Spain makes it an ideal base for exploring the rich cultural tapestry and diverse landscapes surrounding the city. Consider these day trip options to discover the historical and architectural wonders just a short train ride away:


Options to Consider


Often referred to as the "City of Three Cultures," Toledo is a captivating UNESCO World Heritage site once home to a harmonious coexistence of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities. The city's rich history is reflected in the diverse architectural styles and art that adorn it.

Travel: Toledo is just 30 minutes from Madrid by high-speed train, making it an easily accessible destination for a day trip. Trains depart frequently from Atocha station.

What to See and Do:

  • Toledo Cathedral: This impressive Gothic structure stands at the heart of Toledo and is famous for its stunning interior. It includes a high altar that depicts scenes from the New Testament, beautifully executed in polychrome wood.
  • El Greco Museum: Dedicated to the life and works of El Greco, who spent much of his life in Toledo, this museum is housed in a restored 16th-century palace and contains some of his greatest paintings.



Segovia is a historical treasure trove known for its well-preserved monuments from the Roman era through the Middle Ages. Its iconic Roman aqueduct, stunning Gothic cathedral, and Alcázar of Segovia make it a must-visit location.

Travel: Segovia is approximately 30 minutes from Madrid via the high-speed AVANT train, departing from Chamartín station.

What to See and Do:

  • Roman Aqueduct: One of the best-preserved elevated Roman aqueducts in the world, this ancient structure still proudly arches across Plaza del Azoguejo and is Segovia’s most recognizable landmark.
  • Segovia Cathedral: Located in the city’s main square, it's known as "The Lady of Cathedrals" for its size and elegance. This Gothic church captivates visitors with its intricate stained glass windows and the towering spires that dominate Segovia’s skyline.


Days 5-7 - Explore More or Relax

As your stay in Madrid extends, take the opportunity to delve deeper into the city's offerings or take some time to unwind and reflect on the experiences you've had so far. Here are some tailored suggestions to make the most of your final days:


Ideas for the Last Days

Shopping in Salamanca

The Salamanca district is known for its refined grid of streets lined with classical architecture, high-end boutiques, and luxury fashion houses. It's the perfect destination for those looking to indulge in upscale shopping or explore chic local boutiques.

What to Explore:

  • Calle de Serrano: This street is famed for housing some of the world's most prestigious brands. It's a fashionista's paradise, from international designers like Gucci and Prada to Spanish luxury brands like Loewe.
  • Calle de José Ortega y Gasset: Another hotspot for luxury shopping, this street features more upscale brands and several high-end Spanish designers.


More Museums

Madrid's cultural scene is vast and varied. Having explored the Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza, consider visiting other notable museums.


  • Reina Sofía Museum: Dive into Spain's modern art movements with works by Picasso, Dalí, and Miró, including the renowned "Guernica" by Picasso.
  • Sorolla Museum: Dedicated to the works of Joaquín Sorolla, the museum is also his former home and studio. It offers a personal look at the artist's life and beautiful, light-filled paintings.
  • Naval Museum: Uncover Spain's maritime past through well-curated exhibits detailing the history of the Spanish Navy, featuring historic ship models, maps, and navigational instruments.


Culinary Delights

Spanish cuisine is rich and diverse. Take the opportunity to learn how to create some of the country's traditional dishes.


  • Cooking Classes: Take a cooking class and learn to make staples like paella, tortilla española (Spanish omelette), and various tapas. Classes typically include a market visit to choose fresh ingredients.
  • Wine Tasting: Explore Spanish wines through guided tastings to help you appreciate Spain's regional variances and rich wine heritage.



Relax in Hammams

  • Overview: After days of walking and exploring, visiting a traditional Arab bath or hammam offers a perfect way to unwind.
  • Arab Baths: Madrid hosts several hammams that recreate the traditional bathing rituals with options for steam rooms, hot baths, and massages. Popular choices include Hammam Al Ándalus Madrid, located near the Plaza Mayor.


Additional Relaxation Options

  • Parks and Gardens: Spend a leisurely day at El Capricho Park or the Royal Botanical Garden, where you can enjoy nature, beautiful landscapes, and quiet reading spots.
  • Day Trips for Relaxation: Consider a day trip to nearby towns like Chinchón or Aranjuez, where the slower pace of life and beautiful gardens provide a tranquil retreat from the city.

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