Europe holds a plethora of cultures, traditions and secrets. It’s a beautiful content and one that we must take advantage of to explore, enjoy and learn from. Spain in particular is one of my favourite countries. The culture, the food and the people continue to draw me to it, so here’s my little travel guide for a trip to the capital – Madrid.
3 Day Travel Guide To Madrid
We visited Madrid for a long weekend, three and a half days in total. There’s so much to visit in the city that you can’t achieve it all in one trip. Hopefully the below guide will inspire you and provide some tips on what’s worth your time and what’s not.
Getting from the airport to the centre of Madrid couldn’t be easier. You hop on the underground (pink line) which takes 10 minutes to the central station and costs just €8 with a tourist day card which you can buy at the machine. For the following days we bought a card with 10 trips on it which worked perfectly for us. This cost around €12.50 each.
There are also a number of tourist cards that you can buy for a 24h, 48h or 72h period such as the Madrid Card. This gives you “free” entry into a number of the key tourist destinations such a The Prado Museum and also use of their transport system, metro, buses etc. However it depends on how many attractions you intend to cram in as to whether the card is worth it or not. We decided that it wasn’t.
We stayed at the Barceló Empearitz Hotel which is north east of the centre of Madrid. You can either walk into the centre which takes about 30 minutes or get the metro which takes about 10 minutes. We found it a great location for everything that we wanted to do and it was slightly outside the hustle and bustle of the city which suited us well.
We arrived in Madrid at about 2pm, so we decided that the best way for us to find our bearings was with a free walking tour. In my opinion they’re a great way to get to know a city quickly when you’re only visiting for a short time and Sandemans is my go to company.
Afterwards we wandered around ourselves and stopped off at Freedom Cakes, a plant based bakery for a not so healthy dinner before heading back to the hotel.
On our second day in Madrid we headed straight to Catedral de la Almudena which is free to enter. It’s a stunning cathedral and very colourful inside. It was only recently finished and the high ceilings make it very airy and light.
Next we walked over to The Royal Palace. It cost us €13 each to get in and you get to see around 30 rooms. Apparently if you have a EU passport you can get in for free between Monday and Thursday. The interior is so opulent. Think gold coving and vibrant coloured walls such as purple, red and blue. It was much more decadent than Drottningholm Palace that we visited in Stockholm recently.
From the palace it’s about a 15 minute walk to Templo de Debod, which is an Egyptian monument. We didn’t bother going in but it’s nice enough to look at from the outside.
From here you can head to Plaza de Espana, which is currently under renovation before walking to Gran Via. Gran Via is the main shopping street and also where you’ll find the club store for Real Madrid. It’s not worth buying anything in there though as it’s three times the price to buy the same thing in El Corte Inglés.
For dinner we went to the Lavapiés area to a bar called El Atrakon. In honesty the food was very dry and all round not great so I wouldn’t go here. However the Lavapiés area had a really good vibe and lots of nice looking restaurants and bars. We just chose badly.
There are lots of day trips that you can do from Madrid but the one that we opted for was to Avila and Segovia. Avila is just 1h 15 minutes away from Madrid so not far at all.
We opted to do a tour which we bought through Viator. Link here. Our guide Manolo was brilliant and we were lucky to have a very small group – just six of us so we didn’t feel rushed at all.
Avila and Segovia are Roman towns. The walls of Segovia are some of the best kept Medieval walls in Europe alongside those of Carcasonne in France. There are also lots of palaces that have been made into hotels which looked beautiful to stay in.
Segovia is where you’ll find the impressive Roman aqueduct. It’s quite something to behold.
On our final day in Madrid we visited the Prado Museum. You’ll find art by Goya, Poussin, Velazquez and others in the Prado. It costs €15 for adults to get in, but they do have free entry between certain times on a Sunday if you look online. We spent about an hour and a half in here but you could easily spend much longer.
From the Prado it’s a short walk to Retiro Park, where you can row on the lake or simply stroll through the gardens. When the weather is good it’s the perfect place to take a picnic and relax in the sun.
Of course you’ll know that Madrid is home of the Santiago Bernebau Stadium, the ground of Real Madrid. As Real Madrid was playing Villarreal we got some tickets to round off our trip to Madrid.
Top tip: it is worth checking whether there are any matches on when you visit. You can get tickets for as little as £30 and the atmosphere is phenomenal, even for someone who isn’t really into football.
Madrid is a culture packed city to visit. We took it easy in terms of ticking off all of the tourist attractions. Instead we spent a lot of time strolling around the city and sitting in cafes which suited us well, however if that’s not for you then you could fit in much more in three and a half days.
If you have any recommendations for others visiting Madrid then post them in the comments below.