Madrid in 48 Hours
Updated: Jul 18, 2021
Madrid is easily my favorite city in Spain.
Though a metropolitan area, it's still rich in culture, authentic cuisine and activities. I've now gotten the chance to go twice (both ~48 hour trips), and while there's so much to see, it can be done! So here is my Madrid travel guide.
When in doubt, go to the market. Spanish markets often have some of the best food in that city and offer a larger variety than any restaurant.
Mercado de San Miguel—This is a fan-favorite for anyone who visits. The Mercado de San Miguel is a great place to swing by for lunch, dinner or just a snack! In the spirit of Spanish culture and eating "tapas," I recommend getting a little bit of everything from different stands (see my plate above for reference).
Mercado de San Anton—Another great market stop, The Mercado de San Anton is less known than the Mercado de San Miguel but is equally as good! There's a rooftop restaurant that you can't miss out on, even if you're just going for a drink.
Takos al Pastor—I know what you're thinking, tacos aren't Spanish, they're Mexican. You're right, but these tacos are worth the stop, especially if you're wallet needs a break from all the expensive meals. Takos al Pastor has €1 tacos that you simply can't say no to, but be warned, the line can get pretty lengthy.
La Mallorquina—This is an amazing stop first thing in the morning (or for an afternoon pick-me-up). La Mallorquina has some of the best pastries in Madrid, and it shouldn't be missed.
Tinto de verano. Tinto de verano. Tinto de verano.
Secret Rooftop Garden—Whether you're in need of a fun drink, a quick snack, a sit-down meal or just a fun environment, you must stop at this rooftop lounge. Though not the easiest to find, the Secret Rooftop Garden (or Jardin Secreto) can be found by entering the Salvador Bachiller store and taking the escalators all the way up.
Federal Café—This coffee shop is just a few blocks from Gran Via and is well worth the short walk. Iced coffee is not the easiest to come by in Europe so if you've got a craving for it, Federal Café is your place!
Chocolatería San Ginés—This is a chocolate-lovers must-eat. Chocolatería San Ginés was opened in 1894, and, today, is open 24 hours a day. It's the perfect place to get your Spanish chocolate con churros.
El Parque del Retiro—This park is well-known, to say the least, and it's no wonder why. It's over 300 acres large and filled with beautiful gardens, vendors and a large lake in the middle, where you can rent a row boat.
Plaza Mayor & Puerto del Sol—Two of the most famous and popular plazas in Madrid, Plaza Mayor and Puerto del Sol are actually about a five-minute walk from each other, so you can visit both in the same day easily!
Gran Via—Gran Via is a long street in central Madrid lined with shops, theaters and restaurants, making for a perfect place to see a Flamenco show or head to the famous Teatro Kapital, which is a seven-story nightclub, cinema and restaurant all in one.
The Reina Sofia Museum—This museum has a wide collection of beautiful artwork but is highly regarded for its Picasso works. The Reina Sofia also offers free admission on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday after 7 p.m. and Sunday after 1:30 p.m.
The Royal Palace of Madrid & the Catedral de la Almudena—Even if you decide not to pay for admission into the Royal Palace of Madrid (which is only about €12), you can still get an amazing view from visiting the outside. Plus, the Catedral de la Almudena is right next to it!
Where should I stay in Madrid?
Hotel Los Condes - This is probably one of the best places to stay in Madrid on a budget near Gran Via. If you're traveling on a budget but want to be near the action, Hotel Los Condes is a great option!
AirBnb - Madrid has tons of AirBnb properties to choose from, but in my most recent visit, I stayed at this little, cute, inexpensive AirBnb just off Calle de Toledo.
What is the best way to get around Madrid?
MyTaxi - Taxi's are still a reliable way to get around. I suggest downloading the MyTaxi app to call them at your convenience.
Rideshare - Madrid uses both Uber and Lyft throughout the city, but Uber is slightly more accessible.
God created such a beautiful world, it would be a shame not to explore, preserve + appreciate it.
Explore: the Parque del Retiro. This park is so large, you could truly get lost in it for a day. If you're only visiting for 48 hours, you don't have that kind of time, but you should definitely set aside a few hours to explore the gardens (you might even run into some peacocks along the way)!
Preserve: the streets. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It's important to do your part to reduce & recycle. I recommend bringing your own water bottle to Spain and filling it up throughout your journey in one of the various public fountains that are both clean and safe vs. buying several plastic water bottles a day.
Appreciate: the culture. Spanish culture is rich in history, from eating tapas to admiring the Royal Palace of Madrid, and it deserves to be appreciated.