If time is tight and you are dashing through the lovely city of Madrid, don’t despair! Although the city is crammed with many wonderful things to see and do, it is possible to fit all of the highlights into 48 hours. It is possible to walk between many of the sights, though of course, a top tip for making the most of your time would be to hire a bicycle to explore the main attractions easily and save on travelling time, allowing you longer to enjoy the key places. Also, try and stay somewhere as centrally located as possible near to the heart of the city; you may spend a little more on accommodation but you will save on transport as well as being able to fully maximize your time in Spain’s capital city. Although there are many things for different people, this suggested two day itinerary takes in a bit of everything, sure to suit all tastes.
Make an early start on your first day and head to the authentic Egyptian Temple of Debod, where you can relax by the lake and watch the spectacular sunrise over this ancient structure. Have a quick walk around the temple then head over to the nearby Plaza de Oriente to admire the sculptures and the beautiful Royal Theatre.
Grab a quick bite to eat at a small café to taste spanish cuisine. Make your next stop the Royal Palace. Beat the queues by arriving for opening time; it opens at 9am between April and September and 9.30am between October and March. Europe’s biggest palace, you may want to decide before going what displays you are particularly keen to see. With over 2,500 rooms, it is easy to spend most of your day there. With time at a premium though, you are better to be selective, enjoy a few displays, take in the overall grandeur and opulence and have a stroll through the gardens before making your way to your next stop.
Make your next stop the modern Almudena Cathedral. Less than half a kilometer away from the Royal Palace, you can be there very quickly. Have a look around the cathedral and rest a moment, before making your way to one of Madrid’s largest churches, the San Francisco el Grande Basilica. The next stop is Madrid’s bustling main road, the Gran Via Promenade. The road is packed with theatres, restaurants and shops, not to mention the excellent architectural styles. Take pictures, soak up the charm, and have a peek in a shop or two.
Make sure to look at the impressive Parliament Building whilst in the vicinity.
Take a late lunch and a mooch at San Miguel Market, and then go to Madrid’s green heart, Retiro Park. Here you can relax and refresh by the shimmering waters of the lake and look at the different monuments, sculptures and buildings within the park. If you are lucky, there may be an open air orchestra performance, which you can enjoy for a while.
Go and see the Cibeles Fountain and Alcala Door, as well as the Plaza de Espana, where you can enjoy the Renaissance Revival architecture. Take a look at the Metropolis and perhaps enjoy a pre-dinner coffee or other drink at a café or bar. A good place to end your first busy day is the Plaza Mayor, where you can dine outdoors, in the historical setting, and watch the world go by.
Have a (slight) lie in on day two, grab a quick breakfast, and make your way first of all to “The Art Walk.” Choose one or two of Madrid’s most important museums to visit; Reina Sofia, Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza are all found in this area. Aim to be in the area for around 9am, to enter the first museum prompt on it opening. Spend a few hours admiring the fine artwork. Cross to the small Plaza de Neptuno, with its central fountain, before going to the historical and vibrant Puerta del Sol. There are many buildings and monuments to enjoy, and this would also make a great place to break for lunch.
There are several excellent restaurants in the area. After you have finished admiring this grand place, the royal Las Descalzes Reales monastery is an interesting place to visit. Next you should head to San Gines church, where you will find one of Madrid’s oldest churches. Make a quick dash to the colourful Chueca. Poke around in the many delicatessens and boutique shops, and perhaps pick up a memento from your time in Madrid. Peruse the shops and unwind, before enjoying a delicious meal in one of the area’s ultra-modern and super-chic restaurants.
Of course, walking or cycling around Madrid also provides the perfect opportunity to stop anywhere that catches your eye whilst en route between places. With some careful time-management, it really is possible to see the best of Madrid in a couple of short days. You will never forget your bicycle adventures in Madrid.