You really know how to choose charming destinations. Welcome to Madrid, the Spanish capital and one of the most important cities in Europe and the world. It is the largest city in Spain and the second largest in Europe.
Madrid has a lot of life, history, secrets, monuments and a fantastic gastronomy. Everything happens in Madrid and for Madrid. The biggest shows and events take place in Madrid year after year.
I'm sure you're already mad about starting your route around Madrid, but of course, where to start? There are so many things to do, see and try that you need an order so you don't get lost going from here to there.
Follow this 3-day route through Madrid with us so you don't leave anything behind and you can finish your 72 hours in the Spanish capital with the desire to come back soon to repeat. Here we go.
Arrival in Madrid
Depending on your point of origin, you will arrive in Madrid by different means of transport. We are going to show you how to get the best start to your journey and what is the quickest and most comfortable way to get to the centre of the capital.
We understand that if you have opted for train or bus, the last stop of these is already in the city centre, so we are going to guide those who travel by plane and land at Barajas airport.
Arrival at Barajas Airport
- - Metro: This is one of the most common options. Our destination is Nuevos Ministerios station, as this is where the main lines and the suburban train depart from. It takes about half an hour and costs just under five euros.
- - Train: For €3 you can get from Barajas T4 terminal to Puerta del Sol, Nuevos Ministerios and Atocha stations. It's very comfortable and fast, taking 20 minutes to get your luggage to the centre of the capital.
- - Bus: Leaving 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, depending on traffic, you will be at Plaza de Cibeles and Atocha stations in around 45 minutes.
- - Taxi: The price is fixed at 30 euros and the time depends a lot on traffic and the time of day.
72 hours in Madrid
Day 1 in Madrid
Here you have 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
We are going to start our route in one of the most emblematic and beautiful places in the capital; El Retiro Park. We start our first day here because you will need at least a couple of hours to see everything you need to discover.
El Retiro Park has 125 hectares, with more than 15,000 trees, which has become the lungs of Madrid. But you won't just be able to see nature, tie your shoelaces tightly because we're just getting started.
You can't leave El Retiro without visiting the incredible Palacio de Cristal, built in the 19th century, the monument to Alfonso XII, its viewpoint and the pond which is navigable from 6€ (8€ on weekends), the Fuente de los Galápagos, the Paseo de Argentina, although it is commonly known as the "Paseo de las Estatuas", the Fuente de la Alcachofa, the Jardines del Parterre and the Fuente del Ángel Caído.
By the way, for those who love curiosities, the Fountain of the Fallen Angel is exactly 666 metres above sea level.
Let's go out of the park to see... there it is, the Puerta de Alcalá! It is inevitable not to hum the song. A symbol of Madrid, yet another one, and this has only just begun.
It was built in 1778, in neoclassical style and reminiscent of the great Roman arches, to welcome travellers entering the city from the north.
Don't even think of lowering your camera, because just a few steps away you'll find the roundabout with the most monuments per square metre in the whole city.
We arrived at the Cibeles fountain. This is where Real Madrid fans celebrate their titles. If you are an Atlético de Madrid fan, the Neptuno fountain is just a few metres away, although that is planned for tomorrow.
Magnificent, majestic-looking buildings are clustered around Cibeles. Don't leave here without seeing the Palacio de Cibeles, although many Madrileños still know it as the Post Office building, El Palacio de Linares, officially named Palacio de los Marqueses de Linares which houses the Casa de América, the Palacio de Buenavista and the Banco de España.
On the way to our next destination, the eternal Puerta del Sol, as well as enjoying a stroll along one of the most iconic streets, Calle Alcalá, you'll be able to witness incredible views of the city from the rooftop of the Círculo de Bellas Artes.
Views of what, you may ask? Well, of the city centre, and of one of its most famous buildings; the Metrópolis building. Calle Alcalá, as well as being a monument in itself, will take us to our next destination; the Puerta del Sol.
The Puerta del Sol is the past, present and future history of Madrid and the whole of Spain. Here you won't be able to stop taking photos and discovering monuments you've seen all your life, even if this is the first time you've set foot in the Spanish capital.
Walk along kilometre zero of the Spanish roads while you gaze at the façade of the Real Casa de Correos, where the chimes of the New Year are rung every New Year.
All the monuments around you are Spanish history, some royal, such as the equestrian statue of Carlos III, others belonging to popular culture, such as the Tío Pepe poster, or to the history of the city, such as the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, the symbol of the city.
Let's go up the street looking for Plaza del Callao, passing by the renowned Corte Inglés and its fantastic terrace, which we recommend you visit and have a drink and enjoy the views.
From the square, or the terrace, you will find yourself in front of another iconic sign, the Schweppes sign in the Carrión building. This is the charm of Madrid, it makes you feel at home even if it's your first time visiting.
Everybody to Plaza de España! Let's enjoy its great atmosphere, the fountain dedicated to the master among masters Miguel de Cervantes and a possible third stop at a terrace or viewpoint. The terrace of the Hotel Riu has become an almost obligatory place to visit.
Let's put an end to the day by visiting one of the most beautiful gifts given to Spain; the Temple of Debod. Egypt gave our country this monument more than 2,200 years old, and there can be no better place to see the sunset in Madrid.
Well, maybe there is, our fourth place of the day to see views from a higher point; the Mirador de la Montaña. From there you will be able to see everything that awaits us tomorrow.
Day 2 in Madrid
This will be our route today, we will cross Madrid again 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
We start our day as we did yesterday, in a place where every minute we spend will be well spent and where the more time we spend, the more time we realise we need; the Prado Museum.
If you want to take a short walk before entering the museum, we recommend you start a few metres away, at the Madrid Stock Exchange. This historic building is located opposite the Plaza de la Lealtad, where the Monument to the Fallen for Spain stands in honour of the uprising of 2 May.
As promised yesterday, you can now visit the Neptuno fountain, where Atlético de Madrid fans celebrate winning their titles.
Back at the museum, be sure to check the Prado Museum website to get your ticket, if you want a guided tour and even get your free admission during free visiting hours. Be careful because you will only be able to enter with your ticket and after waiting in line, so do your homework.
You could spend days at the Prado, and it is the most outstanding of the many museums in Madrid in this area; Museo Nacional Thyseen-Bornemisza, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo Naval or CaixaForum.
After all this art and culture, you can't leave the area without seeing the Royal Botanical Gardens. It is much more than you might think. It is of great importance for both the city and the country.
Its collections, both plant and artistic, are unequalled and of incalculable value. More than a million sheets in its herbarium, ten thousand drawings in its archives and library, more than five thousand species of plants and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spanish National Research Council) manages it and uses it for numerous exhibitions and cultural events.
Next stop, the place of all stops; Atocha Station. Both the area around it and the building itself are well worth a visit. Once there you can take Madrid's public transport for the first time.
Our next destination is the unique and inimitable Plaza Mayor. Do you want to take a 30-minute stroll through its streets or take the C3 commuter line to Puerta del Sol and arrive in just 10 minutes? The choice is yours.
From Puerta del Sol to Plaza Mayor is a short walk that you will love. Once in the capital's most unmistakable square you'll be able to take all the photos you want and enjoy the typical calamari sandwiches, it's about time.
We recommend you walk through the streets around the square. There you'll find bars with a wide variety of food and the prices are lower than those right in Plaza Mayor, although nobody can deny the charm of having a drink in the Plaza while watching Felipe III on his horse.
We are heading to the most monumental Madrid, even more? Follow us and you will see. We are going to walk to the Cathedral of Santa María la Real de la Almudena, known by everyone as the Almudena Cathedral.
Impressive building of neoclassical style on the outside, although it has a neo-Gothic interior. More than a hundred years of construction that finished at the end of the 20th century.
Of course, we recommend a visit inside, without hesitation. Just in front of its façade, another building that will delight architecture lovers; the Royal Palace.
This architectural ode has 135,000 square metres and 3,418 rooms. Be sure to book a visit inside because you won't regret it. We warned you that this was the most majestic part of the entire capital.
Next to these last two points of interest you will be able to stroll around the Plaza de Oriente. There you will be welcomed by the equestrian statue of Felipe IV "The Great". Also, don't forget that the Teatro Real is right next door, so I hope you've checked out its programme.
We are going to finish our second day's tour of Madrid in the Sabatini Gardens, just in front of the north façade of the Royal Palace. A beautiful garden of just over two and a half hectares in neoclassical style. This is how we like to end our day.
Day 3 in Madrid
The most difficult day in the capital. This is where you realise all the things you have already seen, and all the things you have yet to see.
There are many options, but not so many days. For this reason, we are going to give you just a few alternatives for your last day in Madrid.
As a first option, we would like to offer you a walk through the most modern Madrid, which goes hand in hand with a great architectural development. To do so, we will take you to the famous four towers of Madrid: Cuatro Torres Business Area (CTBA).
We will take a nice walk along the more than famous Paseo de la Castellana. There we will also see what is known as the Puerta de Europa, the two most famous leaning towers in the country, popularly known as the KIO Towers. They are still popularly known as the KIO Towers.
These are located in the Plaza de Castilla, another symbol of the northern part of Madrid. And not far from here, it is time to delight the most football fans, we find the Santiago Bernabéu football stadium.
This small route is ideal for architecture, football and business fans alike.
Another option, calendar permitting, is to take a route around the street markets, especially those in the Embajadores neighbourhood. Walk among the stalls from Plaza de Cascorro to Ronda de Toledo. This is just one of the many that Madrid has to offer.
Our last tip is to visit nearby places that will surprise you. The train connections are fantastic and you can spend the day in an amazing city like Toledo, Aranjuez or Alcalá de Henares, all less than an hour away by train.
If you want to go a little further afield, we recommend Salamanca, Ávila, Segovia or Cuenca.