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How to Spend 48 Hours in Madrid

48 hours in Madrid

This Summer I spent 17 days traveling around Spain and it was an incredible experience! My friend and I backpacked, stayed in hostels, met some amazing people and had an unforgettable trip. Want to know what it’s really like to stay in a hostel? Check out more on that here!

While I could have spent months exploring Spain, this time I only had a few days to see each city. As long as you spend a little time getting a game plan together and prioritizing, you can see the top highlights of a city in 48 hours.

So how are you supposed to see everything in only 48 hours you ask? Simple, you can’t. I mean technically you probably could. But since you most likely won’t be competing on Amazing Race and frantically running around Madrid like crazy, here is my suggestion: prioritize. Pick out the top things you really want to do and check those out. As long as you spend a little time getting a game plan together, you can definitely see the top highlights of a city in 48 hours.

Here are my suggestions for 48 hours in Madrid.

Day 1 (East)

  • Puerta del Sol
  • Museo del Prado
  • Parque del Buen Retiro (Palacio de Cristal & Monumento a Alfonso XII)
  • Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
  • Tapas crawl in La Latina

Depending on the weather and where you are staying, I would definitely suggest walking everywhere. This is the best way to explore a city and you can always stop and wander into a shop or restaurant a long the way.

We stayed by Puerta del Sol and while this square isn’t as large as Plaza Mayor it’s still definitely worth the trip. After stopping to people watch or heading into a store head to Gran Via and start walking towards the museums and Parque del Buen Retiro.

Gran Via

Gran Via


Puerta de Alcala near the entrance to the park

Puerta de Alcala near the entrance to the park


Head to Parque del Buen Retiro and stroll around the beautiful grounds. Check out Palacio de Cristal & the lake in front of Monumento Alfonso XII. Grab some snacks and rent a row boat or bike if you have time for some additional activities!


Monumento Alfonso XII

Monumento Alfonso XII


Parque del Buen Retiro

Get lost in Parque del Buen Retiro

Here is where prioritizing comes into play

If museums aren’t your thing and you would rather spend time outside exploring the parks and other attractions, just check out one of the museums you find most interesting. Museo del Prado is one of the top museums in Europe, but if modern art is more of your thing check out Reina Sofia. Fortunately the three major museums are all located right by the park, so its easy to explore multiple spots in half a day. Always check for when the museums have free entry and plan the rest of your day around that if you can.

Inside the Reina Sofia Museum

Inside the Reina Sofia Museum

By this point you should be pretty tired and ready to head back to where you are staying for one of my favorite Spanish traditions, a siesta, aka an afternoon nap! After your siesta when you have your second wind, head to La Latina and explore the area which is full of great tapas restaurants. Enjoy the evening tasting tapa and exploring the area!

If you’re feeling up to it, head out to a local night club! But beware, the hours may slip away and before you know it, you’ll be dancing the night away until the morning (Madrilenos notoriously stay out till the early morning hours). Luckily there is always a coffee shop within reach in the morning where you can revive and enjoy churros and chocolate for breakfast as well!

Churros and chocolate

Breakfast churros and chocolate provided by Sungate Hostel in Madrid

Day 2 (West)

  • Mercado de San Miguel
  • Plaza Mayor
  • Palacio Real
  • Almudena Catedral
  • Parque del Oeste

Start your day out with one of my highlights from Madrid, the Mercado de San Miguel! Head to this amazing indoor market for Breakfast or Lunch, (depending how late of a night you had) to find endless mouth watering options. My favorites were the burrata station (burrata on toast with different toppings) and olive counter (hundreds of olives stuffed or coated with spices and sauces).

Mercado de San Miguel

Olive Bar in San Miguel Market

Mercado de San Miguel

Entrance to Mercado de San Miguel

After eating your fill at the San Miguel Market, head a few streets over to Plaza Mayor. This massive square is the largest in Madrid and once hosted bull fights and executions. These days it’s mostly filled with tourists taking pictures or eating at one of the cafes, but standing in the midst of the beautiful square it’s easy to feel transported back in time.


Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

Take a stroll through the winding streets that surround the city center and head towards the Royal Palace and Almudena Catedral.


Royal Palace in Madrid

Almudena Cathedral

Almudena Cathedral

If you have time take a tour through both the Cathedral and Royal Palace.. After head up to Parque del Oeste and if you have time for a sunset view at Temple de Debod, you won’t be disappointed.


Temple de Debod

View of Palacio Real and Almudena Catedral from Parque del Oeste

Regardless of how you choose to spend your time in Madrid have fun, explore and try something new! What are some of your favorite things to do in Madrid?


Want to see more awesome pics from my trip across Spain?

Read Next: 20 Dope Pictures to Inspire You to Visit Spain

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