Probably by now you know my obsession with finding travel gems in Europe for those long weekends. Because, when you are working full time, the holidays are limited, and you want to make use of every long weekend available. You probably already read about Alsace, Kiev, and Ibiza as some of my suggestion for a 3 to 4 days trip within Europe. And recently, I took my husband to the beautiful city of Madrid as part of his birthday plans. We both were never in Madrid and I knew he wanted to go there for a while. So finally, it happened in May 2019, and here we were in the capital of España.
We had three and a half days in the city which was nice amount of time to get the feel of the city. Madrid is very hip, chilled out and relaxed in its vibe. People are very nice and everywhere you walk, you will find things that will grab your attention. And of course, the street art and the general architecture cannot be missed.
From timing perspective, end of May/June is pretty good time to visit as it is still not holiday season, but still warm enough to enjoy those endless walking you would do in the city. Same goes for September.
A bit about Madrid:
It is the capital city of Spain with around 3.3 million people. It is also the 3rdlargest city in the EU (after London and Paris). Before Madrid, Toledo was the capital of Spain up until 1560.
And for the ones who think it is always warm and sunny in Madrid, please note that it gets pretty cold in winters here. This is why I cancelled the initial plan of traveling here in December.
So, let’s get started with how you can spend 3 days in Madrid!
Let me answer one of the most important questions first.
WHERE TO STAY?
Now to answer this, you should know that most of the attractions are literally 30 mins walk away in all directions from the city center. We stayed in the neighborhood called “La Latina”. It is a neighborhood where you will see a lot of locals and also will experience the famous Sunday flee market. You can walk almost everywhere from here.
But another neighborhood that I loved was “Malasaña” and if I return, I will pick this as my base. Just because I loved that alternative and hip vibe of this neighborhood.
We decided to cover one of the biggest attractions of Madrid on Day 1 which is the “Park Retiro”. From La Latina, it is around 30 minutes’ walk away. The park is huge and some of the places to see in the park:
- Palacio de Cristal
- Palacio de Valazquez
- Lake (Estanque Grande del Retiro)
- Puerta de Alcala
Right next to the park is the main station of Madrid called “Atocha”. The station is famous for a super cute indoor botanical garden. You can have a look on Day1 or wait for it till the end of the post as you might be taking a train from here on an optional Day4 plan – surprise, surprise ;).
After the park, you can walk to the main square of Madrid called Plaza de Cibeles where the city council building is and some other extra huge architectural marvels which you can tell costed huge renovation budgets. From here, you can then walk to Plaza Mayor for chilling out.
Madrid is all about walking and you will see amazing buildings anywhere you will turn.
Later in the evening, you can explore the La Chueca and La Malasaña neighborhoods. You also have a choice to book dinner with Spanish dance (flamenco). We skipped that as we have seen that in Seville.
On day two we went to the west side of the city to see the Palacio Real (Royal Palace). It is huge and the queues for entrance ticket are also very long. We did not go inside as I have visited some palaces around Europe and after few, you just get more impressed from the building then looking at the furniture inside (at least in my case). Also, it is super touristic and hundreds of people outside the palace clicking photos all around. I just wanted to capture the view of the palace building and leave.
The palace has its own cathedral (Almudena). I would recommend visiting that even if you do not visit the palace.
After this, we went to visit an Egyptian temple (Debod) which is walking distance from the Royal palace.
Later you can take a stroll at the famous street Gran Via where one of the landmark buildings of Madrid is (Metropolis). And can visit Basilica de San Miguel.
In the evening, enjoy the La Latina neighborhood and a good street to spend your time and get the Spanish eves feeling in the neighborhood around “Plaza Paja”.
Day 3: MUSEUM DAY
Day 3 was kept for the museums. This can also be done if you have half a day (like we did).
Madrid has 3 famous art museums:
- Museo Del Prado
- Museo Reina Sofia
- Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
I am not a museum hopping person so one art museum for the whole trip was enough. And they are big, so you do need time. We picked “Museo Reina Sofia” because it also has some modern art area as well. We were not disappointed.
Now you must be wondering that where did one more day go from my trip 😉
So, I did not skip that, but kept the cherry not on the top but at the bottom.
This was Day3 for us as we did museum on Day4 (so you can decide for yourself). But what we did, we made a day trip to the amazingly nice and old town of “Toledo” (former Spanish capital and a city of 3 cultures). The train takes around 40 minutes from Madrid’s Atocha station. It is something “NOT-TO-BE-MISSED”. And, I cover the reasons in my Toledo post. Check it out!
How did I miss the most important part for me? And if you know me by now, it is of course “the food”. So where to eat in Madrid!!!
I am listing some of my top favorite places below. Each one of them is a must try (trust me)…
- Rosi La Loca Taberna (do reservation and do not miss)
- La Bodega de los Secretos (a hidden gem and a place with a lot of history – reservation is must)
- La Musa
- Mercado de San Anton (food market)
- La Chusquery
Hope you enjoyed the blog and especially the images. Do let me know in the comments. Thanks, and more coming soon!
P.S. The whole Madrid trip can be visualised on my Instagram Story Highlights @beetravelista!