3 Days in Madrid | Step-by-step itinerary (+ maps)

Are you wondering how to explore Madrid in 3 days and make the most of your time? Look no further! With this detailed itinerary, you will discover the best of what the Spanish capital has to offer. From historic landmarks to vibrant neighborhoods, Madrid has something for everyone.

So put on some comfortable shoes, and get ready to discover the city’s rich history and culture. Let’s dive into my 3-day Madrid itinerary!

How to visit Madrid in 3 days: Day 1

Day 1 | Morning Itinerary

Stop 1: Typical Spanish breakfast

Breakfast for your day in Madrid

Start your first day in Madrid by having a traditional Spanish breakfast at the famous Chocolatería San Ginés. Indulge in some delicious chocolate con churros, a sweet treat that will give you the energy you need to explore the city.

Choosing a well-located accommodation is essential to make the most of your trip, check out my post with the best places to stay in Madrid.

Stop 2: Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol at Christmas

After breakfast, head to Puerta del Sol, the bustling central square of Madrid. Take in the sights of the La Mariblanca statue, the Tio Pepe neon sign, and the mounted statue of King Charles III of Spain in the center of the square.

Don’t forget to snap a picture with the Kilometer 0 plaque, which marks the starting point of the entire Spanish road network. Marvel at the El Oso y el Madroño sculpture, which represents the coat of arms of the capital of Spain.

The House of the Post Office is a historic building that dates back to the 18th century. It is known for its iconic clock tower, which is the main attraction during the countdown to the New Year. Thousands of people gather in the square to celebrate New Year’s Eve and participate in the tradition of eating twelve grapes at midnight, symbolizing good luck for each of the twelve months of the coming year.

Stop 3: Las Letras neighborhood

Santa Ana square is must if you are in Madrid for 2 days

From Puerta del Sol, walk along Espoz y Mina and Álvarez Gato streets until you reach the picturesque Santa Ana Square in the Las Letras neighborhood. Here, you’ll find the historic Español Theater and the beautiful Reina Victoria Hotel.

Stop 4: Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is a must-see attraction

Next, head to Plaza Mayor, one of Madrid’s most famous and historic squares. Admire the stunning architecture of the surrounding buildings and the bronze equestrian statue of King Philip III from 1616 in the middle of the square.

Take a stroll around the square and soak in the lively atmosphere. Plaza Mayor is a must-visit spot to sample one of Madrid’s most popular food specialties, the calamari sandwich. If your stomach is already grumbling, head over to the iconic La Campana or La Ideal restaurants, where you can indulge in this famous appetizer.

Stop 5: San Miguel Market

San Miguel Market has become one of the most well-known Madrid landmarks

Just a short walk from Plaza Mayor is the San Miguel Market, a must-visit food market in Madrid. Sample some of the delicious local specialties and grab a quick snack before continuing your exploration of the city.

It was constructed in 1916 and still preserves an outstanding iron frame. Thousands of locals and tourists come to this market to sample the delicious tapas, wines, and beers, and this is a must-visit spot if you visit Madrid in 3 days.

Stop 6: Plaza de la Villa

Plaza de la Villa for Madrid in 2 days

Make your way to the charming Plaza de la Villa, a beautiful square that is home to some of Madrid’s oldest buildings. Admire the architecture of the Casa de la Villa, Casa y Torre de los Lujanes, and the Casa de Cisneros, three of the most impressive buildings in the square.

In my opinion, Plaza de la Villa is one of the most historic and charming attractions in Madrid.

Stop 7: La Latina

Casa Lucio in La Latina

Finish up your morning in the trendy La Latina neighborhood, known for its vibrant atmosphere and lively nightlife. Explore the narrow streets and alleys lined with bars and restaurants, and get a taste of the local culture.

Cava Baja Street is the perfect place to get some rest and have lunch. My recommendation is Casa Lucio, one of the most acclaimed restaurants in Madrid. Remember to book a table in advance to avoid waiting times and make the most of your 3 days in Madrid.

Day 1 | Afternoon Itinerary

Stop 8: San Francisco el Grande

San Francisco el Grande Church

After lunch, continue the visit to Madrid in 3 days walking around the area near La Cebada Market. Later, head to the San Francisco el Grande church, a stunning Baroque-style church with a beautiful dome that offers incredible views of the city.

The schedule is quite tight, so let´s continue with this 3-day Madrid itinerary.

Stop 9: La Almudena Cathedral

La Almudena dome offers stunning views of Madrid’s Royal Palace

Next, visit the La Almudena Cathedral, a modern cathedral that blends contemporary and traditional architectural styles.

It was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993, and it is dedicated to the Virgin of the Almudena, the patron saint of Madrid. At a height of more than 70 meters, the dome offers stunning views of the city.

Stop 10: Royal Palace

Madrid Royal Palace

Just a short walk from the cathedral is the Royal Palace of Madrid. This stunning palace is one of the most important landmarks in the city and offers a glimpse into the rich history of Spain.

Although nowadays it is not the royal family’s home, it continues to be their official residence. The Changing of the Guard takes place every Wednesday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In my opinion, if you spend 3 days in Madrid, you have enough time to visit the interior of the palace. The visit will take you around one hour, and you can save time by booking a skip-the-line ticket or a guided tour.

Stop 11: Plaza de Oriente

What to see in Madrid in a day

Now take a stroll through the beautiful Plaza de Oriente, a square located in front of the Palace. Admire the stunning sculptures, gardens, and fountains that decorate the square, and take in the beautiful views of the palace and the city.

In the middle of the square, there is a 17th-century bronze monument dedicated to Philip IV. It was the first equestrian statue supported only by the hind legs.

Stop 12: Palace Gardens

Sabatini Gardens are considered some of the best parks in Madrid Spain

Take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful Sabatini and Campo del Moro Gardens, both located near the Royal Palace. Enjoy the tranquility and peacefulness of these beautiful green spaces. They are also a great spot to admire a beautiful sunset in Madrid.

At this point, you will be pretty close to Plaza España. So if you still have some time before dinner, on the ground floor of the Edificio España you will find the largest store of the famous Spanish brand Zara.

And on the 27th floor you will find one of the most breathtaking rooftop terraces in the city, it is the perfect Instagram spot!

Riu Plaza España

3-day Madrid itinerary: Day 2

Day 2 | Morning Itinerary

Stop 1: Plaza de España

Plaza de España

Start your day in the bustling Plaza de España. Admire the grandiose monument to Miguel de Cervantes, the famous Spanish writer, and take a stroll around the beautiful gardens.

Stop 2: Gran Vía

best free views of Madrid from El Corte Ingles

From Plaza de España, head towards Gran Vía, Madrid’s main commercial avenue. Marvel at the impressive architecture of historic buildings such as the Capitol, Metropolis, and Telefónica. This iconic avenue is full of theaters, shops, and restaurants.

Stop 3: Chueca

Terraces in Chueca Madrid

Next, make your way to the trendy neighborhood of Chueca, known for its lively atmosphere, eclectic boutiques, and gay-friendly vibe. The neighborhood is especially busy every July when the Madrid Gay Pride week takes place.

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the popular Fuencarral Street and the trendy Malasaña neighborhood.

Stop 4: Cibeles

Cibeles fountain

Take a leisurely stroll down Gran Vía and Alcalá Streets and admire the stunning Cibeles Palace, home to the City Hall and a symbol of Madrid’s grandeur and elegance. The Cibeles Fountain is famous worldwide, as it is the place where Real Madrid fans gather to celebrate the team’s victories.

Stop 5: Paseo del Prado (1)

Paseo del Prado

Finally, reach the Paseo del Prado, one of Madrid’s most emblematic streets. Paseo del Prado is unique in the world because it houses the top three museums in Madrid in less than one mile: the Prado, the Reina Sofia National Art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museums.

Start at the Neptune Fountain and walk towards the Prado Museum, taking in the beautiful buildings and landmarks along the way.

Stop 6: Huertas Street

End your morning route in the charming Huertas Street, a popular area for tapas and lunch. Take your pick from the numerous bars and restaurants and enjoy some traditional Spanish cuisine.

Day 2 | Afternoon Itinerary

Stop 7: El Prado Museum

Prado Museum is one of my top 3 art favorite galleries in Madrid

In the afternoon, head back to the Paseo del Prado and spend a few hours exploring the world-renowned Prado Museum, home to an impressive collection of Spanish and European art.

El Prado Museum is a must-see if you visit Madrid in 3 days. It is home to one of the world’s most extensive art collections, including works by Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco de Goya, among others. My advice is, in order to make the most of your stay, purchase the skip-the-line ticket or book a guided tour.

Stop 8: Paseo del Prado (2)

San Jeronimo el Real

After exploring the museum, continue along the Paseo del Prado towards El Retiro Park. Admire the beautiful buildings and gardens along the way, including San Jeronimo el Real church, the Botanical Garden, and the CaixaForum Madrid vertical garden.

Stop 9: El Retiro Park

Rent a boat in El Retiro Park

Spend some time wandering through the lush gardens of El Retiro Park, one of Madrid’s most beloved green spaces. Highlights include the crystal palace, the boating lake, and the statue of the Fallen Angel.

This unique park is a popular spot among locals, to work out or to take a stroll and slow down after a busy day. The Big Pond is one of the most popular spots in El Retiro Park where many locals and tourists rent rowboats and have fun while enjoying the sunny weather in the city.

When exploring Madrid in 3 days you have enough time to rent a boat and have some fun, follow my guide to get the tickets easily.

Stop 10: Puerta de Alcalá

Puerta de Alcalá

Next, head to the majestic Puerta de Alcalá, an iconic symbol of Madrid and one of the city’s most impressive landmarks. It was the first of its kind to be built after the fall of the Roman Empire, making it even older than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Stop 11: Plaza de Colón

Columbus square

From the Puerta de Alcalá, make your way to Columbus Square, a large square named after Christopher Columbus. Here you will find the National Library and the impressive Columbus Monument. The square is also been home to the world’s largest Spanish flag.

Stop 12: Salamanca neighborhood (1)

End your day with a stroll through the luxurious Salamanca neighborhood, also known as the Golden Mile. This upscale area is home to designer boutiques, art galleries, and some of the city’s best restaurants to have dinner.

Itinerary for 3 days in Madrid: Day 3

Day 3 | Morning Itinerary

Stop 1: Reina Sofía Museum

I know that it is quite hard to explore Madrid in 3 days but come on, this is your last day!

Let´s start the day by visiting the Reina Sofía Museum, another must-see art gallery in Madrid, known for its collection of modern and contemporary art. One of the museum’s highlights is Picasso’s famous painting, “Guernica“.

Stop 2: Lavapiés neighborhood

Madrid street art

Lavapiés is a multicultural neighborhood that is full of energy and life. It’s a great place to wander and discover street art, unique shops, and delicious food.

Stop 3: Madrid Río

Madrid Río can be considered one of the best parks in Madrid due to the numerous and impressive bridges such as Toledo, Arganzuela, or the twin bridges

Our next stop is the Madrid Rio Park, on a route that passes near the Toledo Gate and the Toledo Bridge. Madrid Río is one of the best Madrid´s urban parks and home to plenty of facilities for family recreation.

Day 3 | Afternoon Itinerary

Stop 4: Temple of Debod

Debod temple is one of the best spots in Madrid for watching sunsets

Enjoy a pleasant walk through Madrid Rio Park to Legazpi Station and take the metro (line 3) to Plaza de España. Now walk to the Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple that was gifted to Spain in 1968. It is located in the beautiful Oeste Park and offers stunning views of the city.

Now let´s follow the 3-day Madrid itinerary walking along Alberto Aguilera Street until you reach the Plaza de Colon. You can also take the metro from Argüelles station (Line 4) to Colon station.

Stop 5: Salamanca neighborhood (2)

Barrio Salamanca is an exclusive area for shopping in Madrid Spain

Dedicate some time to continue exploring the Salamanca neighborhood. It is the perfect place to stroll and admire the beautiful architecture and high-end shops.

If you want to go shopping in Madrid, one of the highlights of this neighborhood is Ortega y Gasset Street, where you can find designer boutiques such as Chanel, Gucci, and Prada. The Salamanca neighborhood is an excellent spot for foodies too, with plenty of top-rated restaurants offering a variety of cuisine.

Stop 6: Paseo de la Castellana

If you spend 3 days in Madrid, a visit to Paseo de la Castellana is a must. Walk along the wide avenue to see some of the city’s iconic landmarks:

  • A must-see attraction along this avenue is the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, the home of the legendary Real Madrid soccer team. Enjoying a Real Madrid soccer match is one of the most popular tourist attractions.
  • Plaza Castilla is an important square easily recognizable due to the two distinctive leaning towers known as the Kio Towers. The Plaza Castilla is an interesting spot to visit for those who want to see a different side of Madrid, beyond the historic city center.
  • The Cuatro Torres Business Area is a modern complex located in the northern part of Madrid, consisting of four impressive skyscrapers, each with a unique design. These buildings are home to several multinational corporations, making it one of the most important business centers in the city.

Final Words

If you happen to have some extra time during your 3-day stay in Madrid, an excellent option is to take a day trip to the unique places located around Madrid.

Some of the most popular destinations for a day trip include Toledo, Segovia, Avila, Aranjuez, and San Lorenzo del Escorial. Each of these places offers a glimpse into Spain’s rich history and culture, with impressive architecture, stunning landscapes, and delicious local cuisine.

Roman Aqueduct in Segovia

Whether you’re interested in exploring medieval castles, ancient walls, or Roman aqueducts, you’re sure to find something that will captivate you on a day trip from Madrid.

That’s the end of the 3-day itinerary for Madrid. I hope it helps you plan your trip and enjoy all the amazing attractions and neighborhoods that Madrid has to offer!

Depending on the final duration of your stay, you could be interested in checking out the following related posts:


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