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Best Things To Do in Madrid – 3-Day Itinerary

Things To Do in Madrid for 3 Days

Those who’ve been there aren’t kidding when they say you could spend a full year and Madrid and still find new things to fascinate you. The possibilities to fill your Madrid itinerary are practically endless of things to do in Madrid. Most of us, though, have at most a few days to take everything in. So where will you go when you’re in Madrid? We laid out the perfect 3 days in Madrid itinerary for you!

Day 1: Immerse with the Culture

Madrid, like the rest of Spain, is best understood in the context of its culture. These are not just pretty sights around you — they are manifestations of thousands of years of history. Understanding this provides not only a meaningful entry into Madrid, but also a perfect setup to make better sense of the remaining two days!

Go on a Museum Trip

Madrid has a lot of awesome museums. Highly recommended is the Prado Museum, which houses some of the best Spanish artwork ever created. There’s also the National Archaeological Museum, which showcases important relics from Madrid’s past.

Short distance view of the Prado Museum with pedestrians and visitors walking around
What To Do in Madrid – Prado Museum

Go People Watching

If you made your way to Prado, don’t miss the Retiro Park, one of the most famous parks in the city and one that offers a decent level of breathing space. There are a lot of locals here, so you can just sit around and observe. Or better yet, take a boat and row your way through the park’s IG-worthy lake.

Visit a Mercado

In Madrid, food is as much a part of the culture as anything else. If you’re coming from the Archaeological Museum, visit the Mercado de la Paz, a traditional food bazaar. Or, if you’re still hovering around the Retiro, hop over to Mercado de Anton Martin and enjoy various cuisines! You can also check out the El Corte Ingles (a department store, of all places) which houses the El Gourmet Experience. This is a budget-friendly take on luxury dining.

By the way, lunch in Madrid starts at 2PM, so time your visits accordingly! Places that do not serve lunch shut down for it.

Tour a Neighborhood

Take a good afternoon walk in any of Madrid’s picturesque neighborhoods, with their many plazas and colorful structures. The Malasña neighborhood is one such place, where you can rub elbows with locals and maybe strike up a conversation.

There’s also La Latina, right in the middle of Madrid. This neighborhood is as raw as Madrid gets to be, but it’s not without its surprises — find out how many plazas you can wander into on your tour! It’s also great for a little side food-tripping, seeing as the place is packed with tapas bars.

Take a Food Tour

Place of fresh proscuitto with seasoned nuts on top
What To Do in Madrid – Devour Madrid

If you still have enough energy after the day, a food tour is a good way to cap off your exploration of the Madrileño culture. Devour Madrid comes highly recommended — aside from taking you to the heart of the tapas scene, it also showcases some Spanish traditions such as Flamenco and interesting historical points.

Day 2: The Crown and the Cross

Much of Spanish history is shaped by the combined forces of two superpowers — the king’s edict, and the Church’s preachings. Your second day is a perfect way to explore their indelible influence in Madrid!

Visit the Royal Palace

Fountain and large statue of the Plaza de Espana
Places to Visit in Madrid – Plaza de Espana

Arrive as early as you can, to avoid the rush of people. The Royal Family no longer lives here, but you can still see clear evidence of kingly and queenly lifestyle. Walk through the rooms where crystal chandeliers deck the gilded ceilings, and where masterpieces adorn the walls amidst the velvet furniture. The Palace is still used for ceremonies, and you can’t say you’ve been to Madrid without being here.

Visit the Almudena Cathedral

This is the perfect twin to the Palace, and showcases just as much opulence. One interesting point here is that the Cathedral has been finished only in 1993 — it has been in construction for more than 100 years! It was the wedding place of the current King and Queen of Spain, so expect to see royal trappings here, too.

Visit the Cibeles Palace

Empty yard and front view of the Cibeles Palace
Madrid Itinerary – Cibeles Palace

The Cibeles Palace, with its remarkable Plaza, is also a must-see. It is the current home of the City Hall, and is also a cultural center. As such, it also shows vestiges of power and prestige. For some of the most amazing views you will encounter on your trip, head over to the rooftop where you can see an unrivaled panorama of Madrid!

Ride the Teleférico

Speaking of magnificent views, cap off your second day with a tour via the Teleférico cable car. Aside from the vista, you will also have an audio guide that narrates what you’re seeing.

Day 3: Living the Tourist Life

Now that you’ve seen Madrid’s essence, it’s time to enjoy the icing on the cake!

Visit the Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor is the most famous square in Madrid, and home to over 2,000 balconies. There’s lots of tourists here late in the day, so head here early! There are also plenty of street performers here, though whether you enjoy them is entirely up to your preferences.

Visit Puerta del Sol

Gorgeous sunset reflecting into the pond at Retiro Park
3 Days in Madrid – Sunset at Retiro Park

All Spanish roads lead to Puerta del Sol! Well, almost literally. Aside from being a major transit point, the plaque at the center of the square is where all of the county’s radial freeways are measured. It’s Spain’s exact center!

Wine, dine, and shop

For the quintessential Madrid souvenir, head to Antigua Casa Crespo and bring home a pair of alpargatas (espadrilles). For some awesome wine (or something stronger) and a memorable egg-onion-potato tortilla, head over to the century-old Bodega de la Ardosa. Or, you could just wander around, see where your feet takes you, and dine in some unusual hole-in-the-wall only to find yourself a hidden treasure of tapas and wine!

Madrid is definitely one city to keep in your memory forever. This 3-day itinerary is just one of an endless variety you could do, but it’s one of the best to give the city justice. It’s also one that would make you want to come back to Madrid again and again!

What To Do in Madrid for 3 Days was written by Karina Angela Ramos.

Things To Do in Madrid for 3 Days – Pin for Later


Sunday 15th of January 2023

Great 3 day itinerary for Madrid! Another must-do activity is to book a pub crawl, there are a lot of great pub crawls in Madrid that will take you to some of the best bars and pubs in the city. It's a great way to experience the nightlife and meet new people while you're in Madrid. Don't miss out on this fun and exciting experience!

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