We have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you have chosen the perfect city for a getaway. Madrid is the nerve centre of culture and leisure. Everything happens in the Spanish capital.
The bad news is that 48 hours is not all the hours you really need to enjoy everything Madrid has to offer, but we're going to make a big effort to make the most of it.
Maybe we'll even manage to change your mind and you'll stay at least one more day. But there's no time to waste, ready to see Madrid in record time?
Arrival in Madrid
Bearing in mind that both the train and bus stop in the city centre, we're going to give you some quick tips on how to get to the city centre from Barajas Airport.
Arrival at Barajas Airport
-Metro: Our destination is Nuevos Ministerios station, as this is where the main lines and the suburban train depart from. It takes half an hour and costs just under five euros.
-Train: For 3€ you can get to Puerta del Sol, Nuevos Ministerios and Atocha stations. It's very comfortable and fast, and in 20 minutes you'll be in the centre of Madrid.
-Bus: From terminals T1, T2 and T4 you can take the Airport Express, which has a 24-hour non-stop service. It will cost you around €5 and takes around 45 minutes.
-Taxi: The price is fixed at 30 euros and the time depends a lot on traffic and the time of day.
48 hours in Madrid
Day 1 in Madrid
This is our route today, crossing Madrid from East to West:
1. Bolsa de Madrid
2. Plaza de la Lealtad
3. Fuente de Neptuno
4. Museo del Prado
5. Real Jardín Botánico
6. Estación de Atocha zona
7. Plaza Mayor
8. Catedral de la Almudena
9. Palacio Real
10. Plaza de Oriente
- Monumento Felipe IV
- Teatro Real
11. Jardines Sabatini
Let's start our route by taking a bath in culture, enjoying truly unique works of art, we are going to the Prado Museum. One of the best museums in Madrid. We recommend you take a look at their website to get your tickets and special discounts.
However, if you want to stretch your legs a bit before going in, although we warn you that you'll be walking quite a bit inside the museum, you can always start your morning at the door of the Madrid Stock Exchange.
Just opposite you'll see the Monument to the Fallen for Spain, in honour of the May 2nd uprising, located in the Plaza de la Lealtad. A few metres from there you'll see the Neptuno Fountain, a place of pilgrimage for Atlético de Madrid fans every time they celebrate a title.
We remind you that the Prado is just one of the many museums in the Spanish capital. In particular, and next to it, you can find the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Museo Nacional Thyseen-Bornemisza, the CaixaForum or the Museo Naval.
When you leave the Prado Museum on your tour, which lasts at least a couple of hours, don't miss the opportunity to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, which are full of life and absolutely priceless.
Let's take a look at a little piece of Madrid's daily life, part of its heart and soul; the Atocha Station. Impressive both inside and out. And now we leave the ball on your court, do you want to take the metro to our next stop or go for a walk?
Our next destination is the Plaza Mayor. If you choose to walk, it will be half an hour of discovering corners and if not, in just ten minutes, and thanks to line C3, you'll be at Puerta de Sol to go to Plaza Mayor.
If when you get out of the metro you can't help but go crazy taking pictures of everything around you in Puerta del Sol, we don't blame you although this stop is scheduled for tomorrow. But hey, you're the boss!
Once you step into Plaza Mayor, one of the essential attractions in Madrid, you can say hello to the equestrian statue of the great Felipe III, which presides over the square. This is the perfect place to take photos and, of course, try the calamari sandwich, one of the things you can´t miss at all in Madrid.
You can have a drink in the Plaza enjoying the architecture and the atmosphere or wander around the surrounding area where other great gastronomic options are hidden. Whatever you choose, it's going to be the right choice.
With our feet rested and our bellies full, let's go to the most impressive, most royal and most Catholic part of Madrid. On the way to the Cathedral of Santa María la Real de la Almudena, known to all as the Almudena Cathedral.
Isn't it something impressive? Neoclassical style that took more than a hundred years of effort to erect until the last stone was laid at the end of the 20th century. Don't think the interior is any less spectacular.
And, as if that wasn't enough, right next to the façade stands the grand Royal Palace. This architectural marvel used to be the residence of the royal family, but is now used for institutional and official functions. It has 3,418 rooms and measures 135,000 square metres.
Nearby is the Plaza de Oriente, watched over by another equestrian statue, in this case of King Philip IV "The Great". And behind it, the Royal Theatre, which we recommend you visit.
So many emotions, so many monuments, so much history concentrated in such a short distance. Let's put an end to our first day in Madrid in the Sabatini Gardens, right in front of the north façade of the Royal Palace. Enjoy its two and a half hectares and its peace. More to come tomorrow.
Day 2 in Madrid
This is the route we will follow today:
1. Parque de El Retiro
- -Palacio de Cristal
- -Monumento a Alfonso XII y su mirador
- -El Estanque
- -La Fuente de los Galápagos
- -El Paseo de Argentina
- -La Fuente de la Alcachofa
- -Los Jardines del Parterre
- -La Fuente del Ángel Caído
2. Puerta de Alcalá
3. Fuente de Cibeles
- -Plaza de Cibeles
- -Palacio de Cibeles
- -Palacio de Linares
- -Palacio de Buenavista
- -Banco de España
4. Calle Alcalá
- -Edificio Metropolitano
- -Azotea del Círculo de Bellas Artes
5. Puerta del Sol
- -Real Casa de Correos
- -Kilómetro Cero
- -Estatua Oso y el Madroño
- -Estatua Carlos III
- -Cartel Tío Pepe
6. Plaza Callao y Gran Vía
- -Edificio Carrión
7. Mirador Hotel Riu
8. Templo de Debod
Charged batteries? I'm sure. We start our day with a walk full of famous places, we go to El Retiro Park.
If you are a runner, this is, without a doubt, the best place to start the day. In its 125 hectares you'll be able to enjoy beautiful views and pleasant routes.
Trainers or not, you have to visit the unique Crystal Palace, the monument to Alfonso XII with its viewpoint, the navigable pond (from 6€ to 8€), the Paseo de Argentina, the Fountain of the Galapagos, the Parterre Gardens and the Fountain of the Fallen Angel.
When you want to leave the park, I don't think I need to tell you the best place to do so. Exactly, right where you see the eternal Puerta de Alcalá. It is forbidden to leave Madrid without seeing it.
But wait, this has only just begun, I hope you have a full battery in your phone because you're going to need it for all the photos that are coming.
Next stop; Cibeles fountain. If yesterday we were talking about the Atlético de Madrid fans, today it's Real Madrid. The reason is that this is where they come to celebrate many of their titles. But the fountain is not only known for that, but for everything that surrounds it.
The Palacio de Cibeles, although it is still known as the Post Office building, the Palacio de Linares, site of the Casa de América, the Palacio de Buenavista and the Banco de España, all within a few metres. All within a few metres.
And now, yes, what we promised is a promise; the Puerta del Sol. We warned yesterday that we would be back, and here we go. On the way there, you will walk along one of the most famous streets, even more so if you are a fan of the classic Monopoly, Calle Alcalá.
You'll come across the recognisable Metropolis building on our way to Puerta del Sol. Once here, you'll have the feeling you've been here before. You've seen its monuments a million times; the kilometre zero of Spanish roads, the Real Casa de Correos, where the new year is welcomed, the equestrian statue of Carlos III, the Tío Pepe sign or the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, symbol of the city. Why do all this look so familiar? Because you have been seeing them ages on TV, Madrid has always been in our series and films. Do you want a proof? Check this out.
Plaza Callao awaits us a little further north with another recognisable view of the city; the Carrión building with its unmistakable Schweppes sign. Don't you feel like you're in a movie?
On the way to our last stop, the Templo de Debod, we come across an obligatory stop; the Plaza de España. Here we will pay homage to the great master Miguel de Cervantes.
At the Temple of Debod, which was a gift from Egypt to Spain, you'll be able to enjoy a magnificent sunset. And to make it even more special, how about an even more privileged spot? We recommend Mirador de la Montaña. The perfect prelude to a dinner in the capital.
Day 3 in Madrid
We know, we're not wrong, you've only come for a short two-day getaway. 48 hours at full throttle to try to get the pulse of the Spanish capital. But what if you could stay one more day?
Whether you can or not, here is what you could do on a hypothetical third day, so you can combine the days as you wish. Have you seen how nice we are?
A very common option is to dedicate a full day to visiting museums and having a leisurely lunch. The combination of art and gastronomy is usually a very good bet.
Another is the flea markets. Spending at least a morning at one of the many street markets in the capital is as typical as a squid sandwich. One of the best known is the one in the Embajadores neighbourhood. Here you have the best flea markets in Madrid.
If you want another route to visit a different area of Madrid, this time a shorter one, we recommend the business area. On the Paseo de la Castellana we will find the famous four towers of Madrid: Cuatro Torres Business Area (CTBA).
Continuing our walk along the well-known avenue you will come across another recognisable monument; the KIO Towers, although its official name is the Puerta de Europa.
From the Plaza de Castilla to the Santiago Bernabéu stadium. Real Madrid's stadium is an architectural masterpiece worthy of a visit, whether you are a football fan or not. By the way, going to a football or basketball match is also a highly recommended activity, both for the facilities and for the fans and atmosphere.
Last piece of advice; get away from Madrid. Visit nearby cities, thanks to good land transport connections. Visit cities like Toledo, Aranjuez or Alcalá de Henares, all less than an hour away by train.
If you're willing to travel a little further, don't miss Salamanca, Ávila, Segovia or Cuenca.