2 Days in Madrid: The Perfect Itinerary (First Time Visit)


How to spend 2 Days in Madrid: The Best Itinerary + Where to Stay

You’re going to visit Madrid for 2 days and you’re looking for the best itinerary?

You’re at the right place!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared for you the perfect 2-day itinerary in Madrid.

I will start this guide with my best tips to avoid the long waiting lines (often more than 2 hours!) in front of the most visited tourist sites such as the Prado Museum or the Royal Palace.

Then, I will give you my optimized 2-day itinerary to make the most of your stay in the Madrid.

In addition to the best places to visit and activities for each stage of your itinerary, I will also give you all my best tips and accommodation suggestions depending on your budget.

So, what are the best things to do in Madrid in 2 days? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

My best Tips to Save Time at Madrid’s Must-See Attractions

Alongside Seville and Barcelona, Madrid is one of Spain’s most touristic cities.

There’s often a long queue stretching in front of famous attractions and museums like Reina Sofia and the Prado.

If you’re used to traveling in major European cities like Rome, Vienna or London, for example, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

And when you only have 2 days to visit, the last thing you want is to stand around for 2 hours before seeing each place!

Fortunately, I have two solutions to save you time during your 2-day visit to Madrid:

1. The Madrid City Pass

To optimize your 2-day trip to Madrid, the first possibility I suggest is purchasing the Madrid City Pass.

This type of pass is super convenient for avoiding queues as it gives you priority access to several sites.

Plus, it can save you money!

Another specific advantage of the Madrid City Pass: the skip-the-line tickets are sent directly to your email.

There’s no need to exchange them for a “real” card or to print them; you just need to have them on your smartphone.

For visiting Madrid in 2 days, it’s really an excellent solution!

Here’s what the Madrid City Pass includes:

  • Skip-the-line ticket for the Royal Palace of Madrid (part of the first day’s program) – You’ll be asked to choose a date and approximate time.
  • Skip-the-line ticket for the Prado Museum (to visit on the second day) + an audio guide to download on your mobile – Here too, date + time are needed.
  • A ticket for the Hop On Hop Off bus valid for a full day + audio guide included
  • An audio guide to download for a self-guided city tour.

When booking, you can also choose an additional option to get a private transfer from the airport to your accommodation + a 3-day public transport card.

Lastly, after ordering your Madrid City Pass, you’ll receive a 10% discount code valid for an unlimited number of tours* such as the Thyssen Museum, Reina Sofia or even Real Madrid’s Bernabeu Stadium.

*You will need to book your tours on the same website to use the promo code.

Buy your Madrid city pass now by clicking the button below:

2. Skip-the-Line Tickets for Madrid’s Tourist Attractions

If you don’t want to get the Madrid City Pass, depending on your sightseeing itinerary, you can also buy your skip-the-line tickets individually.

This will also allow you to have quick access to the museums or tourist sites you plan to visit and there’s also a wide range of activities to do during these 2 days in Madrid.

To make things easier for you, I have listed all the tickets corresponding to the 48-hour itinerary in Madrid that I propose just after.

You just have to click on the orange links to book them now and I will also include them throughout the article.

2 Days in Madrid: Must-See Attractions:

Voyage Tips - Advice

Don’t hesitate to check out all the available tickets by clicking here: Book your tickets and guided tours in Madrid.

One Last Tip for a Perfect 2-Day Stay in Madrid

If you already know your travel dates (or as soon as you will have them!), you should really book your accommodation.

As Madrid is one of the most touristic cities in the world, the hotels offering the best value for money are often fully booked months in advance.

As a seasoned traveler, I can assure you that it’s always by planning as far in advance as possible that I’ve found the best hotels or apartments deals.

You agree that it would be a shame to somewhat ruin your stay in Madrid by ending up in a not-so-great hotel that costed you a fortune, right? 😅

So your best bet is to take 5 minutes now to have a look at traveler’s favorite hotels in Madrid.

And if you like one of the hotels you find, book it!

It’s fast, it’s easy and most accommodation offer free cancellation. That’s the best way to protect yourself from the inconvenience of finding nothing but mediocre rooms at exorbitant prices.

To check the best hotels deals in Madrid, simply click on the green button below:

After securing your dream stay, it’s time to continue reading this guide!

2 Days in Madrid: The Best Itinerary

Let’s now see how to visit Madrid in 2 days.

For each day, I will give you an optimized itinerary with all the details you need for your visits, along with a map of Madrid. This will help you optimize your trip and enjoy a stress-free stay in the city!

I assume that you will be staying in Madrid for 2 full days and that you have purchased your Madrid City Pass or skip-the-line tickets in advance. This way, you will be able to see as many places as possible during your 2 day stay!

If you still have questions after reading this guide (or need help organizing your holiday), don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section located at the very end of this article.

I will be glad to help you plan your trip 😄.

So, what are the best places to visit in Madrid in 2 days?

Day 1 of this Madrid Itinerary

2 days in Madrid - Day 1 itinerary
2 days in Madrid – Day 1 itinerary

Sites to visit on day 1:

A. Plaza Mayor
B. San Miguel Market
C. The Cathedral
D. Royal Palace
E. Royal Theatre
F. San Gines Chocolatería
G. Temple of Amon
H. Flamenco Show

A. Plaza Mayor

To start your 2-day visit to Madrid, the best is to begin with Plaza Mayor, which is the heart of the city.

Built in 1690, it’s a popular meeting place for locals and visitors who come here to stroll, drink coffee, or dine on the terrace.

In the center of the square is the statue of Philip III on his horse, with the square being constructed during his reign.

Plaza Mayor is surrounded by numerous arches leading into buildings with remarkable architecture, such as the Bakery House, the Butchery House, or the Cutlers’ Arch.

This lively and festive place is therefore an excellent starting point to discover the capital.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you want to get a map of the city, you can visit the Madrid tourist information office located in the square, inside the old Casa de la Panaderia (Bakery House).

Plaza Mayor Madrid
Start your 2 days in Madrid itinerary at Plaza Mayor

B. San Miguel Market

Just a short walk from Plaza Mayor (less than 2 minutes on foot), San Miguel Market is an old traditional market.

Today, it has been transformed into a trendy spot to discover local cuisine with a very interesting concept: customers can taste products for free (or sometimes for less than one euro) before buying them. Plus, there are plenty of delicious tapas!

Mercado de San Miguel is a must-visit when exploring Madrid for the first time. Treat yourself to the delicious local products and do a bit of shopping under the bright glass and steel structure of this covered market.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you’re not very hungry at this point, no worries, the market is open every day from 10 AM to midnight, and even later on weekends. You’ll surely have the chance to come back during your 2-day itinerary in Madrid!

Mercado de San Miguel
Mercado de San Miguel

C. Almudena Cathedral

You can reach Almudena Cathedral in 5-6 minutes on foot from the market by walking up Calle Mayor.

This monument is among the absolute must-sees for a weekend in Madrid. The cathedral is also accessible to everyone since its entry price is only 1 euro.

This remarkable religious edifice is unique as it combines two styles of architecture, giving it a unique and original style. The classical exterior is indeed a striking contrast to the Gothic style of the interior of the monument.

Inside, you can admire beautiful stained glass windows and ceiling frescoes.

It’s worth noting that it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993, making it one of the most recent cathedrals in Europe and the only one consecrated by a pope in Spain.

The cathedral also includes a small museum about the history of the building (entrance at 6€).

Madrid Cathedral Almudena
La Almudena Cathedral

D. Royal Palace of Madrid

Let’s continue this 2-day stay in Madrid with a visit to the magnificent Royal Palace (locally known as Palacio Real).

It’s located just a few meters away from Almudena Cathedral.

Built in the 17th century, the Royal Palace of Madrid was the former official residence of the Spanish royalty and is now recognized as one of the most beautiful European palaces. It’s a visit I highly recommend, which will enchant both adults and children.

You can discover the most beautiful rooms:

  • The Royal Armory, with its impressive collection of weapons and armors
  • The official salons, such as the throne room and the ballroom
  • The Royal Chapel, which houses Stradivarius violins
  • The Royal Kitchen
  • The Pharmacy
  • The Painting Gallery, with 70 artworks by renowned Spanish masters.

Also, don’t miss out on visiting the palace grounds, including the wonderful Sabatini and Campo del Moro Gardens.

Voyage Tips - Advice

The skip-the-line ticket for the Royal Palace of Madrid is included in the Madrid City Pass.

To learn as much as possible about the history of the palace, you can also opt for a guided tour. And you know what? This guided tour is so good, it comes with a “satisfied or refunded” guarantee!

Book using the green button below:

Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid – 2 days in Madrid

E. The Royal Theatre

Teatro Real (or Royal Opera House) is also a major tourist site to visit during your two days in Madrid.

It’s located right across from the Royal Palace, on Plaza de Oriente. This is one of the largest opera houses in Europe.

Indeed, the venue boasts an exceptional acoustic quality and each year welcomes the greatest international opera artists.

If you’re keen to see a performance at Teatro Real, you can check out the schedule on its official website. Just know that to really enjoy it, you may have to pay a higher price as the cheapest seats don’t allow for a full view of the stage.

Teatro Real can also be visited outside of opera performances. So, you can opt for a daytime visit (preferably with an audio guide), which will allow you to explore the various halls, boxes, and exhibitions.

Tickets can be booked directly by clicking here.

Royal Theatre of Madrid
The Royal Theatre of Madrid

F. A Sweet Break at San Ginès Chocolate Shop

Your 48-hour journey in Madrid is well underway, and I suggest you now take a little gourmet break to rest a bit and recharge your batteries.

Indeed, it’s the perfect time since the highly popular San Ginès chocolate shop is just 5 minutes walk from the royal theatre. It’s the perfect chance to taste one of the most iconic Spanish specialties: Chocolate Churros. I can see you drooling already!

San Ginès Chocolatería, open since 1894, serves some of the best Churros that you can dip into a thick and deliciously flowing chocolate.

Plus, the chocolate shop is open 24/7, so those with a sweet tooth can return at any moment…

chocolate churros
Yum! Chocolate churros, the ultimate Spanish gourmet pause

G. The Temple of Amon

After a well-deserved snack, head to the remarkable Temple of Debod (also known as the Temple of Amon) to discover Ancient Egypt right in the heart of Madrid.

For that, go through one of the other famous squares in the city, Plaza de España, before entering the Parque de la Montaña.

The temple is a genuine Egyptian temple that has been imported and reassembled in Madrid. Surrounded by water, it displays Egyptian relics dating back over 2000 years and gives a true glimpse into the Egyptian civilization thanks to the small museum set up inside.

It also offers a chance to take spectacular photos, especially at dusk when it’s lit up and you can see its reflection in the water.

Admission to the Temple of Debod is free.

Voyage Tips - Advice

Don’t hesitate to take a walk in the park to enjoy beautiful views of Madrid, especially of the royal palace. During sunset, it’s really quite nice!

Temple of Debod in Madrid

H. Enjoy a Flamenco Show

Your first day in Madrid is coming to an end and I highly recommend experiencing a flamenco show this evening.

It would indeed be a shame to spend two days in Madrid without enjoying a performance of this traditional Spanish dance, which is also considered part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Flamenco shows mainly take place in tablaos, such as Tablao Torres Bermejas, which is one of the city’s most famous venues. The room where the show is held is beautiful, with a design inspired by the Alhambra in Granada.

The place is quite popular, and booking in advance is absolutely necessary. You will have a choice of several timings for the one-hour show.

To book your flamenco evening show in Madrid, just click here:

Voyage Tips - Advice

If there are no seats left at this tablao, I also recommend another renowned venue: Café Zyriab. They offer a high quality show, and the setting is more intimate.

Tickets can be booked right here! 

Flamenco in Madrid

Second Day in Madrid: What to Do and See?

2 days in Madrid itinerary day 2
2 days in Madrid itinerary day 2

Day 2 Visits:

A. Reina Sofia Museum
B. The Royal Botanical Garden
C. Retiro Park
D. The Prado National Museum / The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
E. Cybele Palace
F. Circulo de Bellas Artes

A. The Reina Sofia Museum

Let’s kick off the continuation of this two-day Madrid getaway.

To start your day of exploration, I suggest discovering one of the three most prestigious museums in Madrid: the national art center Reina Sofia (el Centro de Arte Reina Sofia).

This museum houses a rich collection of Spanish and international works from the 19th century to today, with highlights including the famous painting “Guernica” by Picasso.

Consider getting a skip-the-line ticket to avoid waiting for hours at the entrance:

And if you prefer to take a guided tour of the museum for full insights on the works, just click here:

Picasso's Guernica at the Reina Sofia National Art Center Museum
Guernica, the famous painting by Picasso that you can see at the Reina Sofia Museum

B. The Royal Botanical Garden

About 1 km away from the Reina Sofia Museum, you’ll find the Royal Botanical Garden (Real Jardin Botànico).

It’s a magnificent garden that you absolutely must visit during your weekend in Madrid, especially if you’re a botany enthusiast. Entry costs 6 euros.

Here, you’ll discover hundreds of plants and trees from all over the world, including a greenhouse sheltering rare exotic species. A real breath of fresh air to rejuvenate and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Royal Botanical Garden Madrid

C. Retiro Park

After a morning of sightseeing, I suggest you take a stroll through Retiro Park (Parque El Retiro).

Formerly reserved exclusively for the king (in the 18th century), it later became public and accessible to everyone for free. It’s Madrid’s great green lung and the ideal place to wander, relax, or enjoy a picnic with a loved one or family.

During your walk, you’ll come across various monuments as well as several bodies of water and statues. Don’t miss admiring:

  • Velázquez Palace, an annex of the Reina Sofia Museum that also hosts exhibitions and is free to enter
  • The Crystal Palace
  • Monument to Alfonso XII.

Voyage Tips - Advice

A segway guided tour is a fun and original way to discover all the nooks and crannies of Retiro. The guide is super friendly and makes sure you don’t miss any of the most beautiful spots in the park.

You can book this activity by clicking on the button below:

Retiro Park Madrid

D. The Prado National Museum or The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

I now suggest we continue this 2-day itinerary in Madrid with a choice of museum:

1) The Prado Museum, one of the largest in the world, displays an immense collection of paintings from the 14th to the 19th century (from Francisco Goya to Diego Velázquez, and Hieronymus Bosch).

You can also admire over 6400 drawings and 3000 prints.

2) The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is another must-see art museum in the city.

It houses works dating from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.

Skip-the-line tickets for the Thyssen Museum are available directly here.

These two museums, along with the Reina Sofia Museum, are among the three most important museums in Madrid. They are absolutely worth seeing during a trip to Madrid but it will be hard to visit both in one day, so you’ll need to choose based on your preferences.

Voyage Tips - Advice

Skip-the-line ticket for the Prado Museum is included in the Madrid City Pass.

If you don’t have the pass, it’s best to buy your admission ticket in advance by clicking on the button below:

What to do in Madrid Prado Museum
Prado Museum – An essential part of a 2-day itinerary in Madrid

E. Cybele Palace

Upon leaving the museum, make a detour by Cybele Palace (walking up the Paseo del Prado).

It’s one of the prettiest monuments in Madrid and also offers two beautiful viewpoints of the city from the 6th-floor terrace and the lookout two floors higher (entry at 3€).

Voyage Tips - Advice

 Cybele Palace is also a cultural center with free exhibitions,, so if you feel like it, you can also take the opportunity to discover them.

Cybele Palace
Cybele Palace

F. Circulo de Bellas Artes

After this wonderful dose of culture, I suggest you get a view from above by heading to Circulo de Bellas Artes to enjoy another stunning 360° view of Madrid.

This private cultural space located right in the city center showcases interesting artistic works. But the main attraction is its rooftop terrace, renowned for having the most beautiful view of the city.

You can enjoy a drink or even dine at the rooftop restaurant while marveling at the city lights, if you want to treat yourself at the end of your 2-day journey in Madrid.

Entry, including access to the exhibitions and rooftop terrace, costs 5 euros.

Circulo de Bellas Artes
View from Circulo de Bellas Artes

Where to Stay in Madrid

You now have all the information you need to understand how to visit Madrid in 2 days!

For those wondering where to stay during this weekend in Madrid, it’s time to book your hotel!

To assist you, I’ve made a selection of the best hotels to stay in Madrid:

  • OK Hostel Madrid: Youth hostel located 700 meters from Plaza Mayor and 200 meters from a metro station. Dormitory beds starting from 16€ a night, breakfast at 3€. Strong points: ideal location, very friendly welcome, cleanliness and modernity of the dorms, option for a meal at 10€. In short, nothing to complain about, it’s our top pick for value! Note that the hostel also offers double rooms starting at 75€ a night.
  • Ibis Madrid Centro Las Ventas: Located next to the famous Madrid bullring and 100 meters from a metro station. Spacious and modern room starting at 60€ a night, breakfast for an extra 7.95€. Strong points: view of the bullring from the rooms, very ample buffet breakfast.
  • B&B Hotel Puerta del Sol: Ideally located 100 meters from Puerta del Sol and 400 meters from Plaza Mayor. Very quiet and comfortable room starting at 89€ a night, including a breakfast bag (water, fruit, and chocolate pastries) every morning. Strong points: free drinks and fruits available 24h, ideal location, and lovely staff.
  • Only YOU Hotel Atocha:  Located right next to Retiro Park. Comfortable, spacious, and stylish double room starting at 190€ a night, breakfast at 21€. Strong points: beautiful hotel, attentive staff, huge variety at breakfast, location (10-minute walk from the center and an airport shuttle 5 minutes away), decoration, ambiance. It’s the perfect choice for a luxury stay in Madrid! 

Voyage Tips - Advice

In case these hotels are fully booked, you can find a wider range of hotels sorted by area and budget in my other article: The best hotels to stay in Madrid.

2 Days in Madrid with Family

Are you planning to visit Madrid with your family for 2 days?

No worries, Madrid is perfectly suited for a trip with kids. An added bonus is that Spain’s capital is very walkable, with all major attractions close to one another.

During this weekend in Madrid, your children will enjoy numerous activities such as:

  • Tasting treats at the San Miguel Market
  • Visiting the impressive Royal Palace, where the armory fascinates both young and old
  • Strolling through Retiro Park
  • The Botanical Garden and its rare plants
  • Tasting churros and chocolate.

If you like, you can also take them to the Madrid Zoo Aquarium where they can observe the giant pandas. You can buy your tickets for Madrid Zoo directly here!

Another choice is to spend a day at Parque Warner, an amusement park near Madrid. For information and booking, click here!

Mercado de San Miguel Madrid
A stall at Mercado San Miguel

More Things to Do and See in Madrid in 2 Days

If you prefer to slightly modify this 2-day itinerary in Madrid, change the route or add more visits or activities, I recommend using my comprehensive guide to the Spanish capital.

It’s a very complete guide to the city, with all the things to do. You’ll find plenty of additional ideas like visiting the bullring or the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium of Real Madrid.

To read it, just click on the following link: What to do in Madrid? The ultimate guide!

Map of Your 2-Day Itinerary in Madrid

To help you visualize your itineraries over these 2 days in Madrid, I’ve created a map listing the places to visit day by day. You can display the legend of the map by clicking on the button in the top left corner with a small arrow. This will show you the routes for each day.

Traveling to Madrid for 2 Days: Flight Prices

Since flight prices to Madrid can vary greatly, it’s a good idea to compare them as soon as possible. To do this, you can use our flight comparison tool, in partnership with Skyscanner. It’s the best way to ensure the lowest price.

Do you need help organizing your 2-day itinerary in Madrid? Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments.

Book your trip now and save money!

You’re traveling in Spain? These articles will help you!

Discover all my articles about Spain: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Spain are listed there.

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Best places to visit in Madrid in 2 days
Best places to visit in Madrid in 2 days

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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