Madrid is a sensational city for foodies, art lovers, night owls, and football fans alike. In three days, you’ll have time to see the city’s highlights, explore your personal interests, and get out into the countryside for a day trip. Here are some options to ensure you make the most of your time in Spain’s vibrant capital.
Day 1: Art & Culture
Start your time in Madrid with a morning overview of its top attractions. Take a ride on a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus to see a vast array of highlights in a short amount of time, or join a guided walking, biking, bus, or Segway tour for a more in-depth experience with commentary from a local. After lunch (consider grabbing a bite to go from San Miguel Market), spend the afternoon touring Madrid’s cultural icons: the Royal Palace and the Prado Museum. In the evening, take in more culture with a walking food tour through Old Madrid to sample traditional tapas and wine or a flamenco-and-dinner show in one of the city’s legendary flamenco venues (tablaos).
Day 2: Special Interests
Now that you’ve gotten a feel for the city, spend the day diving deep into what interests you the most. Foodies could opt for a market tour and interactive cooking class to learn how to create traditional Spanish favorites back home. Sports fans won’t want to miss a behind-the-scenes tour of Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the legendary football pitch of Real Madrid, where you can see a museum, a trophy room, and the locker room of one of Spain’s best teams. In the evening, step and clap your way through a flamenco lesson, taught by some of Madrid’s best dancers. If dancing’s not your thing, opt for an evening of wine tasting to hone your palate and get a feel for the Spanish terroir.
Day 3: Day Trips from Madrid
With three days in Madrid, you’ll have have time to explore a destination further afield on a convenient day trip with round-trip transportation. Tour the UNESCO World Heritage–listed cities of Segovia and Avila to see the giant Roman aqueduct and Alcazar fortress, or make your way to Toledo, Spain’s “city of three cultures,” where Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities coexisted for centuries. Alternatively, discover El Escorial Monastery, what some consider the eighth wonder of the world, before touring the Valley of the Fallen—a monument to those who died during the Spanish Civil War.