Madrid: 3 Days Itinerary - Discover the Capital's Heart and Soul

Madrid, Spain’s effervescent capital, offers a rich tapestry of history, art, and vibrant street life. It’s a city where medieval architecture sits alongside modern skyscrapers, and traditional tapas bars co-exist with trendy cafes. The soul of Madrid lies in its endless energy and its people.
Pro Tip:For a true Madrid experience, go to a Flamenco show in the late evening; it’s life-changing!

Day 1: Get Acquainted with Madrid's Classics

Royal Palace of Madrid

Explore the grandeur of Spain’s Royal Palace, known for its opulent architecture and beautiful gardens. It’s one of the most lavish palaces in Europe.

  • Why: Witness the regal lifestyle of Spanish kings.
  • How to Reach: Easy walk from the Opera metro station.
  • Pro Tip: Arrive early to beat the crowds and take your time to soak in the decor.

Plaza Mayor

From there, head to Plaza Mayor, a historic square surrounded by eye-catching architecture, only a 10-minute walk away.

  • Why: It’s a hub of activity and the heart of Madrid.
  • How to Reach: 10-minute walk from the Royal Palace.
  • Pro Tip: Try a calamari sandwich from one of the local cafes around the square.

Puerta del Sol

Your next stop is Puerta del Sol, known as the “center of Spain” and always bustling with life.

  • Why: You can’t say you’ve visited Madrid without stopping by here.
  • How to Reach: 5-minute walk from Plaza Mayor.
  • Pro Tip: Look for the “Kilometer Zero” plaque on the pavement.

Mercado San Miguel

Wrap up your day at this food lover’s paradise, just a short walk from Puerta del Sol.

  • Why: Sample Madrid’s best tapas.
  • How to Reach: 5-minute walk from Puerta del Sol.
  • Pro Tip: Go for the Jamón Ibérico; it’s a Madrid specialty.
Madrid, Spain

Day 2: Dive into Madrid's Artistic Soul in 3 Days

Museo del Prado

Start your day at one of the world’s greatest art museums.

  • Why: Home to European art dating back to the 12th century.
  • How to Reach: Take the metro to Banco de España.
  • Pro Tip: Save time by buying your ticket online.

Retiro Park

Head next to this green oasis in the middle of the city.

  • Why: Perfect for a peaceful stroll or a boat ride on the lake.
  • How to Reach: 10-minute walk from Museo del Prado.
  • Pro Tip: Don’t miss the Glass Palace, it’s Instagram-worthy.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

This museum is a must-see for art aficionados.

  • Why: Offers an overview of art from the 13th century to the late 20th century.
  • How to Reach: 5-minute walk from Retiro Park.
  • Pro Tip: Check out their temporary exhibitions, often featuring contemporary artists.

Chocolatería San Ginés

End your day with the best churros in town, drenched in thick chocolate.

  • Why: Indulge in a Madrid culinary tradition.
  • How to Reach: Short metro ride to Opera station, then a 5-minute walk.
  • Pro Tip: It’s open 24/7, but it’s best enjoyed after a long day of sightseeing.


Need ideas on how to extend our itinerary? Here are top 10 places to visit in Madrid guide to help your city explore.

Madrid, Spain

Day 3: End Your Madrid 3 Days Adventure with Local Flavor

El Retiro Park

  • The emerald heart of Madrid, El Retiro Park is a must-see. Row a boat on the lake, admire the numerous sculptures, or simply enjoy a picnic on the grass.
    • Why Go: To experience Madrid’s green soul.
    • How to Reach: A 15-minute walk from Reina Sofia.
    • Pro Tip: Don’t miss the Crystal Palace, a stunning glasshouse that’s Instagram-worthy and also hosts rotating art exhibits.


Mercado San Miguel

  • A food paradise next to Plaza Mayor, Mercado San Miguel offers a smorgasbord of Spanish gastronomy.
    • Why Go: For a culinary feast.
    • How to Reach: A 10-minute walk west from El Retiro Park.
    • Pro Tip: The paella is a must-try, and save room for churros dipped in chocolate.


Gran Vía

  • Known as the Broadway of Madrid, Gran Vía is a bustling hub for shopping, theatres, and cafes.
    • Why Go: To soak in the cosmopolitan atmosphere.
    • How to Reach: Just a 15-minute walk from Mercado San Miguel.
    • Pro Tip: Check out the Telefónica Building, one of the most remarkable examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture.


Chueca District

  • As Madrid’s LGBTQ+ hub, Chueca offers trendy boutiques, cafes, and a lively atmosphere for everyone.
    • Why Go: For the inclusive, energetic vibes.
    • How to Reach: A quick 10-minute walk north from Gran Vía.
    • Pro Tip: Stop by San Antón Market for a rooftop drink with a panoramic view.

Have an extra day? Visit Toledo located nearby. Here is our selected list of the top 10 attractions in Toledo.

Best areas to stay and to avoid

Best Areas to Live in Madrid

  1. Salamanca: Affluent area, great shopping and dining.
    • Why: High-quality accommodations, close to many attractions.
    • Pro Tip: Ideal for luxury travelers.
  2. La Latina: Known for its tapas bars and Sunday flea market.
    • Why: A charming area with a traditional Spanish feel.
    • Pro Tip: Best for foodies.
  3. Chueca: LGBTQ+ friendly, vibrant nightlife, and trendy shops.
    • Why: Dynamic and inclusive.
    • Pro Tip: Perfect for younger travelers or anyone looking to enjoy Madrid’s nightlife.
  4. Malasaña: Bohemian and artsy, known for its vintage shops.
    • Why: Hip and happening, lots of cultural spots.
    • Pro Tip: Ideal if you’re into arts and culture.
  5. Chamberí: More residential but still offers plenty to see and do.
    • Why: Quiet yet convenient.
    • Pro Tip: Suitable for families or those looking for a more relaxed stay.


Areas to Avoid

  1. Usera: Lacks tourist amenities.
    • Why: Far from the city center and main attractions.
    • Pro Tip: Only consider if you’re on a tight budget.
  2. San Blas: Mostly residential, not much to see or do.
    • Why: Isolated from Madrid’s main sights.
    • Pro Tip: Better options available closer to the city.
  3. Puente de Vallecas: Has some safety concerns.
    • Why: Higher crime rates compared to other areas.
    • Pro Tip: Always stay alert if you choose to stay here.
  4. Villaverde: Primarily a working-class district.
    • Why: Lacks the charm or amenities for tourists.
    • Pro Tip: Not recommended for short stays.
  5. Barajas: Close to the airport but far from everything else.
    • Why: Inconvenient for sightseeing.
    • Pro Tip: Consider only if you have an early flight.