How to Spend 2 Days in Madrid – Perfect City Break Guide!

Want to know how to spend 2 days in Madrid? This is the perfect city break guide to Madrid whether you come for a weekend or even longer! The itinerary includes where to stay, where to see the best views and sights, and most importantly how to indulge in the best food!

Madrid's most instagrammable book store is Libros
Madrid is the perfect city break – learn all the best things to do in this guide!
Madrid in 2 days - perfect city break guide

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How many days to spend in Madrid?

Madrid is a big city and to explore it all you may need 4 to 5 days but if you just want to see the highlights then 2 days in Madrid is a good amount of time to explore the bustling city especially if you come for a weekend break. For those who are history buffs and museum lovers then a longer time may be warranted. This city break guide will show you how to see the best of Madrid in a short time.

Is Madrid Worth Visiting?

It is absolutely worth visiting Madrid! There is so much to offer here especially if you love history, food, and architecture. You’ll find world-class museums like the Prado, stunning royal palaces, beautiful parks, and a lively culinary scene. Whether it’s exploring historic neighborhoods like La Latina, experiencing the energy of Puerta del Sol, or enjoying delicious tapas, Madrid offers something for every traveler.

Where to stay for 2 days in Madrid

Stay in the most instagrammable hotel in Madrid with sights over the city!

I stayed at Dear Hotel which was a cute boutique hotel with the most amazing view ever. This is probably one of the most instagrammable places to stay in Madrid.

Dear Hotel is situated on Gran Via, the most famous street in Madrid. It is full of shopping, restaurants, and nightlife and almost reminds me of Regent Street in London because of how busy it is with tourists. The hotel is conveniently located right in front of the Plaza de España Metro Station making getting around the city in a short time easy. Click here to check the latest prices & book

Here are some pictures of the rooftop pool & view:

Madrid in 2 days: the best place to stay is Dear Madrid with an infinity pool and scenic rooftop view
Madrid in 2 days: the best place to stay is Dear Hotel Madrid with an infinity pool and scenic rooftop view
Madrid in 2 days: the most instagrammable place to stay is Dear Hotel
Dear Hotel, The Most Instagrammable Place to Stay in Madrid

Another boutique hotel option in Madrid

Only YOU hotel: This dreamy hotel is in a restored palace from the 19th century! Its beautiful interiors will have you in awe. The relaxed environment, great cocktails, and lovely atmosphere will have you feeling right at home. The location is also on point, situated in the trendy Chueca area in Madrid. Click here to check the latest prices & book

Budget hostels in Madrid for Solo or Budget Travelers

I traveled to Madrid alone! It is one of my favorite places for solo travel in Spain. And, by the way, I felt completely safe as Madrid is one of the safest solo female travel destinations. Solo travel can become expensive so if you’re on a tight budget, these are the best places to stay. They are the most stylish hostels you will ever see for a budget trip to Madrid on a short weekend stay.

  1. Generator: The Generator is a social hostel located on Gran Via and has a rooftop view and two hot tubs! The cafe is also designed for you to meet friends and relax after a long day exploring the city. Click here to check the latest prices & book
  2. The Hat: If you’re traveling to Madrid in only 2 days, you will want to be in the heart of the city so you can hit the main sights quickly. The Hat is perfect for that as it’s literally next to Plaza Mayor Square. It’s also beautifully decorated and you can easily get to La Latina District (in 10 minutes)  for some vibrant nightlife. Click here to check the latest prices & book

And remember, just because it’s a hostel doesn’t mean you have to share a room with someone. You can get a private room and still have the benefits of meeting other travelers during your stay and like-minded people. Hostels often have events and communal areas to bring everyone together for a fun time! Read my best solo travel tips here.

Top Things to do in Madrid in 2 days

1. See the gorgeous view at Circulo De Bellas Artes!

What draws me into most cities are the beautiful views & the top places to see a view has to be at Circulo De Bellas Artes. (Also, as I mentioned before, Dear Hotel, which I stayed at also had an incredible view). Circulo De Bellas Artes is a unique piece of architecture housing over 1,200 works of art and spanning 52 meters above the main street of Calle de Alcalá. You can take the glass elevator up to the rooftop terrace and have a drink admiring the wonderful surroundings and atmosphere.

Address: Calle de Alcalá, 42, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Entry: €5
Hours: Monday to Friday between 9 am to 10:30 pm; Weekends between 11am to 10:30pm.

2 days in Madrid itinerary. For the best view in Madrid, go to Circulo De Bellas Artes!
For the best view in Madrid, go to Circulo De Bellas Artes!

2. Go to Food Markets for Tapas

2 days in Madrid. The most popular food market in Madrid is the San Miguel Food Market
The most popular food market in Madrid is the San Miguel Food Market

San Miguel Food Market

I am always down for eating, especially amazing tapas. The most touristic and crowded one is Mercado de San Miguel but there are also many more that won’t draw in as large of a crowd as San Miguel and where you might find more locals! However, I really enjoyed San Miguel and had some of the most amazing croquettes from Arzabal’s stand. I also tried some mozzarella on bread which was very delicious. Don’t forget to try the Jamon. The foodie options are endless!

Address: Plaza de San Miguel, 28005 Madrid
Hours: 7 days a week, 10 am to 12 am (1 am on weekends)

Best Food Markets in Madrid (Less touristic options than San Miguel):

You can book a tapas bar crawl tour which takes you to non-touristy places, from hidden bodegas to some of the most historical local bars.

  • Mercado de San Anton: go to the top for a view & a nice restaurant called La Cocina de San Anton
  • Mallorca Market: a delicatessen, bakery, restaurant and gourmet market – everything you need to not go hungry!
  • Platea: a trendy place near Salamanca converted from an old cinema. While not the most budget friendly food market, its well worth a visit in case you want to eat amongst some of the best Spanish chefs and six Michelin star dining. 
  • Mercado de la Paz: a neighborhood market and one of the oldest markets in Madrid.

Also, the tapas neighborhood is called Barrio de la Latina.

3. Try churros at Chocolatería San Ginés

Churros are an amazing Spanish treat featuring fried dough (similar to a donut but even better!) dipped in delicious hot chocolate. Cinnamon sugar is also often sprinkled on top. Chocolatería San Ginés is a famous spot to try some of the best churros in town while visiting Madrid. This place is super special because it’s Madrid’s oldest Chocolatería – open since 1894.

Address: Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5, 28013 Madrid
Hours: 7 days a week between 8 am–11:30 pm

where to try the best churros in Madrid at Chocolateria San Gines

4. Stroll through the most famous landmarks: Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, and Madrid City Hall

2 days in Madrid. Top things to do include visiting Plaza Mayor
2 days in Madrid highlights include visiting Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor is a beautiful square dating back to the 15th century in the heart of Madrid. It’s only a few blocks away from another famous square and meeting point, Puerta del Sol. The square contains a famous clock and was originally known as a gate in the medieval walls that wrapped around the city. Also, Madrid’s City Hall (Casa del Ayuntamiento) is simply stunning.

5. Visit the Royal Palace of Madrid

Royal Palace of Madrid, a great stop for 2 days in Madrid
Royal Palace of Madrid, a great stop for 2 days in Madrid

The Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish royal family at the city of Madrid. It is the largest Royal Palace in all of Europe with over 3,000 rooms. The interiors are simply stunning making it worth a visit.

Address: Calle de Bailén, s/n, 28071 Madrid, Spain
Entry:
€12, Tickets can be purchased here.
Hours:
The Palace is open Monday to Saturday from 10 AM to 7 PM and Sundays through 4 PM.

6. Take a walk through Retiro Park

This massive park is worth walking through – be sure to stop by the Palacio de Cristal, which is a conservatory in the center of the park.

Puerta de Alcala is a beautiful monument at the corner of the park, pictured here.

Puerta de Alcala - A must see spot for 2 days in Madrid
Puerta de Alcala – A must-see spot for 2 days in Madrid

7. Window shop in Salamanca

This fancy area has many posh shops and it’s nice to take a stroll by unless you have a lot of money to splurge! Barrio de Salamanca is Madrid’s most stylish district, lined with luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. The main shopping streets include Serrano Street and Ortega y Gasset Street but there are many other side streets with a plethora of boutiques.

8. See a Flamenco show

Flamenco is a Spanish dance form. Even though it’s more prolific in the South of Spain, there are many places to see it in Madrid and it’s a really great experience making for an entertaining evening full of lively music and dancing. Corral de la Morería is the oldest establishment in Madrid where you can see performances nearly every day. Cardamomo is also another great place to see a show and is located in the heart of Madrid.

If you want to see a show, I actually recommend pre-booking this Flamenco show, which only costs $23 and if you want to add a selection of tapas its $60.

The best places to eat for your 2 days in Madrid

One thing to note about eating in Madrid is that they eat LATE 😉
Lunch is at 2 pm typically & dinner is at 10. You will find most places either closed or very quiet earlier on.

I love food especially brunch and ☕coffee shops. These are some of the best ones I found. I did not try them all as that would have been impossible no matter how much I love food 🙂

Best restaraunts in Madrid

Habanera: instagrammable restaurant with Cuban staples.
El perro y la galleta: super cute inside. Didn’t have a reservation though and they were all booked!
Santita Fuencarral: I was craving Mexican and this hit the spot! Fresh guacamole and some amazing thing that resembled a quesadilla.
Casa Alberto: Great place for tapas with a historic bar.
Cafe Commercial: One of the city’s oldest cafes founded in 1987.

Best Brunch & Coffee Shops in Madrid

La Carmencita: had an amazing brunch here: an egg & avocado Benedict with the most perfect potatoes ever.
Federal Cafe: It’s an Australian cafe so don’t be fooled but it was pretty darn good. I love Australian brunch!
Toma Cafe: Cute coffee shop, also has brunch
Mur Cafe:  A trendy cafe with a fantastic outdoor terrace.
Caffe del Arte This coffee shop has pop-up art exhibitions.
La Bicicleta: With exposed brick and bikes hanging on the walls, a funky coffee shop to relax at.
HanSo Cafe: A vintage-style cafe, a perfect spot for coffee and cake.

Other foodie spots

Chocolatería San Ginés: churros!
Casa Gonzalez: sells regional cheeses, wines & delicatessen products.

Take a day trip outside of Madrid

If you decide to extend your trip for more than 2 days in Madrid, I highly recommend taking a day trip. There are many great day trips you can take outside of Madrid. I am all about finding hidden gems that are less visited and not as touristy than major cities like Madrid. I often pair a big city with a smaller town each time I visit.

The best day trips from Madrid include:

Toledo

2 days in Madrid; best day trips from Madrid is Toledo, Spain
Toledo is a hidden gem in Spain and a great day trip from Madrid

Visit this ancient walled city perched on the top of a hill in central Spain. It is a quick day trip from Madrid as you only need to hop on the train from Madrid-Puerta De Atocha and get there in 30 minutes. This unique city is known for its Christian, Arab and Jewish monuments.

Valencia

Valencia is a great day trip from Madrid
Valencia is a great day trip from Madrid

If you love arts and sciences you will fall in love with Valencia, Spain’s third largest city. Located in Spain’s southeastern coast, Valencia is around 2 hours from Madrid by high-speed train. There is a lot to do in this wonderful town, including the breathtaking beaches, the city’s Old Town, and the amazing architechture and street art.

Segovia

Segovia, Spain a wonderful hidden gem outside of Madrid. 2 days in Madrid
Segovia, Spain a wonderful hidden gem outside of Madrid

Another great day trip from Madrid, as it’s only 1 hour by train away making the journey simple and fast. Be sure to visit the famous Segovia aqueduct, a water-conveyance structure built under the Roman emperor Trajanwhich during the second half of the 1st century A.D. Other famous landmarks include Segovia’s Gothic Cathedral as well as Segovia’s Castle which Disney Cinderella castle was modeled after. The city center has been on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1985 for a good reason.

Hope you enjoyed reading about the best things to do in Madrid for a 2-day city break! Leave a comment if you have anything to add and join the convo!

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Want to know how to spend 2 days in Madrid? This is the perfect weekend guide and itinerary includes where to stay, where to see the best views and sights, and most importantly how to indulge in the best food!
Want to know how to spend 2 days in Madrid, Spain? This is the perfect weekend guide and itinerary includes where to stay, where to see the best views and sights, and most importantly how to indulge in the best food!

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