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20 fun things to do during a 3-day city trip to Madrid

Madrid, the New York of Spain! With 300 days of sunshine a year, Madrid is a top destination for a city trip. 

Impressive museums, beautiful parks, lots of terraces, cool rooftop bars and great sights make Madrid a top destination for a city trip. But as far as we are concerned, it is mainly the atmosphere of this lively city that makes a trip to this city unforgettable.

And don't forget, Madrid really is a foodie's paradise! 


We share our travel tips with you for this great city break destination in Spain in our 3-day travel guide for a Madrid city break;

15 fun things to do on a 3-day city break to Madrid, Spain.  

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Day 1, exploring the heart of Madrid

On this first day of our city trip to Madrid we will explore the center, the heart, of Madrid. We walk past some of the most beautiful sights of Madrid, but don't forget to soak up the atmosphere of this great city when you walk through the center.

1. Plaza de Espana, the start of our Madrid city trip

Plaza de Espana is the starting point of our walk through the center of Madrid. Plaza de Espana is a grand and popular square in this capital of Spain, located at the end of Gran Via, Madrid's main street.

There are a number of attractions in this square, such as the Cervantes monument and the highth building in Madrid; Torre de Madrid. 

You will also find here the building that was the tallest building in Madrid before the construction of the Torre de Madrid; Edificio de Madrid. The Riu Hotel has been located here for several years, which you will see later in our travel guide for a city trip to Madrid. 

2. The Gran Via, a piece of Broadway in Madrid

The Gran Via is the main street of Madrid. And when you walk up Gran Via from Plaza de Espana, you immediately see what we mean when we talk about a piece of Broadway in Madrid. To your left and right you see theatres, cinemas with large billboards and advertising letters. Even if you've never been to New York, this is what you imagine Broadway to be. But Broadway in miniature, of course. 

You will also find on the Gran Via has many shops.

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Do you need coffee to start the day? In Madrid you will find more than enough nice coffee shops. Also on the Gran Via and in the vicinity of the Gran Via you really don't have to miss your morning caffeine. 

iSweet, a funny and unique coffee place with delicious pastries

Address: C. de Leganitos, 10, 28013 Madrid

La Borra del Cafe, a popular coffee spot in Madrid

Address: C/ Gran Via, 46, 28013 Madrid

Boutique Nespresso Gran Via 44, for a really nice Nespresso

Address: C/ Gran Vía, 44, 28013 Madrid

3. Puerta del sol, the gateway to Madrid

The name of this square, Puerta del Sol, literally means Gate to the Sun.  This square is clearly not the gateway to the sun, but it is certainly the gateway to several neighborhoods and attractions in Madrid. 

From this square there are streets to Retiro Park, but also to El Palacio Real, the royal palace of Spain. 

And not to forget, you will find side streets full of shops, restaurants, terraces and lots of fun. 

4. Plaza Mayor, the largest square in Madrid

El Plaza Mayor is historically the most important square in Madrid. This square was the center of many historical events. For example, executions used to be carried out here, but bullfights were also held here. 

Nowadays el Plaza Mayor is just a very nice square in Madrid, full of restaurants and terraces. 

5. Mercada San Miguel, the best place for tapas in Madrid

Mercado San Miguel is the nicest market hall in Madrid. But where most market halls mainly suffice with fresh products, you can buy a lot of tasty tapas in the market halls in Mercado San Miguel. In the middle of the market hall you will find a large terrace where you can eat the tapas from the various market stalls, of course with a nice drink. El Mercado San Miguel is a nice place for lunch or just a nice snack.

AddressPl. de San Miguel, s/n, 28005 Madrid

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You can of course also have lunch at Plaza Mayor or in the vicinity of this square. Below are some suggestions.

Subway Bistro, beautiful, luxurious dishes. 

adress: C. Imperial, 3, 28012 Madrid

Mimi's Creperie, a cute creperie with delicious crepes and other lunch dishes.

Address C. de Postas, 17, 28012 Madrid

Mesón de la Tortilla, a nice place with a typical Spanish menu. 

Address: Cava de San Miguel, 15, 28005 Madrid

6. Casa de la Villa, the historic town hall of Madrid

Casa de la Villa is a building full of history. It is the old town hall of Madrid. From the 17th century to the 21st century, this beautiful building was used as a town hall, but not anymore. Even longer ago it was once a prison. 

Nowadays it is mainly a very beautiful building with a special facade to admire, where the city coat of arms will attract the attention in particular. 

Address Pl. de la Villa, 5, 28005 Madrid

7. Plaza de Oriente, a place of tranquility in Madrid, but with a special view
Plaza de Oriente is just a lovely square, a quiet square on the outskirts of central Madrid. You will not meet many people here and you can really enjoy the peace and quiet on a bench. Or you can enjoy the view. Because while enjoying yourself on a bench you have one of the most important views in Madrid. Plaza de Oriente is adjacent to the royal palace, El Palacio Real. 

8. Catedral de la Almudena, an underrated church in Madrid

So from Plaza de Oriente you walk directly to el Palacio Real, on the side of it, where you can also see the changing of the guard. But if you want to visit the royal palace you have to go to the other side of the palace, where Catedral de la Amuldena suddenly appears. 

Catedral de la Amuldena is the main church of Madrid. But in terms of attraction, this church is perhaps somewhat undervalued. It is really a very beautiful church to see, but it does not enjoy the same fame as some other churches in Spain. 

Address: C. de Bailén, 10, 28013 Madrid

9. El Palacio Real, the Spanish Royal Palace in Madrid

El Palacio Real is perhaps the most famous landmark of Madrid. This royal palace can therefore only be called impressive. 

But no less than 3,000 rooms, el Palacio Real is the largest royal palace in Europe. 

This palace is already grand from the outside, but if you have the opportunity, we recommend that you also admire the royal palace from the inside.

El Palacio Real is everything you would expect from a royal palace, grand, opulent, lavish and classic. 


Address: C. de Bailén, s/n, 28071 Madrid

10. Sabatini Gardens, the royal gardens in Madrid

El Palacio Real, the Royal Palace, would of course not be complete without the Royal Gardens. The Sabatini Gardens are the royal gardens of the palace. 

The gardens, unlike the palace, are free to enter. Especially the views of the royal palace make a visit to these gardens well worth it. 

11. Malasaña, Madrid's hipster district

From the Sabatini gardens it is only a few minutes walk to the hipster district of Madrid, Malasaña. This is one of the youngest and hippest neighborhoods in Madrid. You will find many unique shops and restaurants here, which are slightly hipper and different than in other parts of Madrid. Moreover, this district is also a very good district for photos with the street art that you can admire throughout the district. 


After a long day, the Malasena district is the perfect place to find a restaurant. Because there is absolutely no shortage of hip and cool restaurants in this nice neighborhood. Here are some suggestions.

La Musa Malasana, a hip Fusion restaurant

Address: C. de Manuela Malasaña, 18, 28004 Madrid

Ochenta Grados Malasana, a nice restaurant with international cuisine

Address: C. de Manuela Malasaña, 10, 28004 Madrid

La Tia Juana Malasana ️, the nicest and most cheerful interior combined with good Mexican dishes.

Address: C. de Manuela Malasaña, 15, 28004 Madrid

Les Mauvais Garçons - Los Chicos Malos - Restaurante, a restaurant with an interesting name and equally interesting food. And a nice hip interior.

Address: C. de la Madera, 36, 28004 Madrid

12. Sunset with the best view in Madrid, RIU Hotel Madrid

We end the day with a magical sunset on the most beautiful roof terrace in Madrid, the roof terrace of theRIU Hotel Madrid. This hotel is located in the Edificio de Madrid, a historic building that was for many years the tallest building in Madrid. For several years this has been the RIU Hotel. And they have made optimal use of that height by creating a great roof terrace, from where you have a fantastic view of Madrid. This is by far the best place to see the sunset in Madrid

For thrill seekers, this roof terrace has another very cool feature, a glass bridge where you look straight down. 

This is also fantastic by the wayhotel to stay in. Nice and central, good breakfast and a great view over Plaza de Espana. 

If you are not staying in this hotel, it is wise to reserve a spot for this roof terrace.
We stayed in this hotel and you can always go on the roof terrace. But there was a long line every night to come up here for non guests. 

Address: C/ Gran Via, 84, 28013 Madrid


Day 2, to the outskirts of Madrid

On the second day of this Madrid city trip, we leave the center and head more towards the outskirts of Madrid. Here you can quietly enjoy the Spanish sun and forget that you are in one of the bustling cities of Spain. 

13. Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid's Instagram hotspot

We start this second day of our Madrid City trip at Puerta de Alcalá.

Check our Selfguided walking route for the complete walking route of this second day in Madrid.

This gate is located at El Retiro Park and is a popular place to take photos in Madrid. It is an important landmark in the city. 

Personally, we don't even find this gate very special. It stands on a busy roundabout and is not even that beautiful, but it is one of the most important sights in Madrid and that is why it also comes back in our travel guide for a city trip to Madrid. 

Address: Pl. de la Independencia, s/n, 28001 Madrid

14. The Prado Museum, The Louvre of Madrid

The Prado Museum is the largest museum in Madrid and has been compared to the Louvre in Paris. Just like in the Louvre, you will find mainly classical works in the Prado Museum and just like the Louvre Museum, the Prado Museum is immense. It is important to prepare a visit to the Prado Museum a little. Consider in advance which works of art you want to see, because because the Prado Museum is so large, you quickly get lost. 


AddressC. de Ruiz de Alarcón, 23, 28014 Madrid

15. Palacio de Cibeles, a second palace in Madrid

Palacio de Cibeles is, in our opinion, perhaps the most beautiful building in Madrid. The facade of this palace in Madrid is truly an architectural work of art. If you really want to admire the facade of this palace, go across the street, to the Plaza de Cibeles, to see the facade in its entirety.

This palace is free to visit and also has a beautiful terrace with a great view over Madrid. 

16. Plaza de Santa Ana, a village square in Madrid

Plaza de Santa Ana is actually just a very nice and cozy square in Madrid. It doesn't feel like the rest of Madrid, grand and busy. In this square it seems like you are just in a small Spanish village. 

At this theater you will find Teatro de Madrid, the oldest theater in Madrid. 


Tapa Tapa Santa Ana, tasty Spanish tapas

Address: Pl. the Sta. Ana, 1, 28012 Madrid

aafter Santa, A typical Spanish menu, luxuriously presented

AddressPl. the Sta. Ana, 14, 28012 Madrid

Restaurante Belbo Piropo, a very hip restaurant with a very cool interior and a delicious menu.

adress: Pl. the Sta. Ana, 3, 28012 Madrid

Mu! el placer de la carno, for the tastiest meat dishes

adress: C. de las Huertas, 1, 28012 Madrid

16. Atocha, Madrid's green station

Madrid's station, the Atocha Station, is a real surprise when you walk in. From the outside, this station is certainly a beautiful building, but the real surprise is the inside. This station has its own botanical garden in the middle of the station. A green oasis of peace in the middle of a busy station with lots of people and traffic. This is also a popular photo spot among instagrammers. 

AddressPl. del Emperador Carlos V, 28045 Madrid

17. El Retiro Park, the highlight of our second day in Madrid

It is now time to relax in the most beautiful city park we have ever seen, El Retiro Park Madrid. In principle you could enjoy yourself here for a whole day, but unfortunately we don't have time for that in a 3-day city trip. If you have an extra day, you could consider planning a whole day out for the park and just lazing around and enjoying the sounds in this park. 

El Retiro Park is a park that was once built for the Spanish royal family. Over the years there have been several kings, each of whom designed a different part of this park. That is also the reason that you see so many different styles in this park. 

There is so much to see and do in this park. You can enjoy a lovely picnic in the shadows of the trees, row in the lake, stroll through the rose garden or feast your eyes in the Crystal Palace, the most special building in this park in our opinion. 

Address28009 Madrid

Day 3, an extra day to enjoy in Madrid

On the first two days in Madrid you have seen the most important sights in this city. But that doesn't mean a third day in Madrid is superfluous, certainly not. Because on this third day you have the chance to really taste the atmosphere of Madrid. You can organize this day in many different ways. We have listed some special sights and activities for you for this third day in Spain. 


Because you don't have a full schedule on this third day of Madrid, you can start with an extensive breakfast. And in Madrid there are many nice places for breakfast.

EatMyTrip Brunch & cocktails, exciting, original dishes and really SUPER tasty

Address C. de la Moreria, 11, 28005 Madrid

La Rollerie, a well-known breakfast spot in Madrid

AddressC. de Atocha, 20, 28012 Madrid

Plenty, delicious and rich breakfast dishes.

Address: C. de Moreto, 17, 28014 Madrid

Pum Pum Cafe, a beautiful cafe with a nice atmosphere and good food.

Address: C. de Tribulete, 6, 28012 Madrid

18. Visit one of the other museums in Madrid

Madrid is a cultural city and has several museums that you can visit.

For example, there is the Reina Sofia Museum. This museum has a large collection of Modern Art and is a popular museum in Madrid. Here you will mainly find works of art from the 20th century and it is the most visited museum in Madrid after the Prado Museum.

Address: C. de Sta. Isabel, 52, 28012 Madrid



Another popular museum in Madrid is the Thyssen - Bornemisza Museum. This is another great museum in Madrid, which you can find on the edge of El Retiro Park. Here you will find more than 1,000 works of art from different parts of the world. You can see German, Russian and American artists here, but also Van Gogh and Renoir, for example. 

Address: P.º del Prado, 8, 28014 Madrid


19. Visit the Madrid Zoo or one of the many other theme parks in Madrid

Madrid is a very good city if you want to do a city trip with children. Because there is a lot to do for children. On the second day of this Madrid city trip, children have already had a good run, but this third day is ideal for doing something fun for the children. 

We absolutely recommend the Madrid Zoo. This is one of the nice zoos that  we have visited. There are so many animals to see, there is an aquarium and even a dolphinarium. 


If you prefer not to have a zoo, there are also several amusement parks and water parks in the Madrid area. 

20. Lavapiés and La Latina, the suburbs of Madrid

Madrid of course has a lot of nice neighborhoods to discover. The Lavapiés district is known for its diversity. Different cultures come together here and that is clearly noticeable when you walk through this district. La Latina is a very traditional neighborhood. Here you can relax on a terrace. It is mainly the colorful street art that attracts attention in these districts.

visit Madrid

Madrid is a great destination for a city trip, because it has a large airport where flights land daily from all over the world. The airport is about 30 minutes outside the city. 

The fastest and most comfortable is to take a taxi from the airport to the center, costs will be around 35 euros.

A cheaper option is to take the train to the center. For less than 3 euros per person, you can get to the center in about 27 minutes.

If you come to Madrid by car, there are many parking garages in Madrid to park your car. There is a nice parking lot on Plaza de Oriente, which is fairly central to the main attractions. Day tickets cost between 20 and 30 euros.

explore Madrid

Madrid isa big city, which you can explore in several ways. 


In the center, the sights are all within walking distance of each other.


Look atHERE our Selfguided walking route for the center of Madrid.


If you are going to the outskirts of Madrid, you can take the Metro. Madrid has a fairly simple metro system. 


You can also explore Madrid by bicycle.

Reserve your bike here


We have tried this and personally we found it quite spicy, because the city of Madrid is not as flat as you might think. And especially with children, it is a city with a lot of traffic and the cycle paths are not very well marked and well laid out. 

El Retiro Park is a nice place to discover by bike.

If you don't feel like walking and want to see all the sights in the shortest possible time, the Hop on Hop Off bus is a good option. Especially with children, we think these buses are a great means of transport during a city trip.


Best time to visit Madrid

You can visit Madrid all year round, because the city is always lively and it is also sunny 300 days a year. However, in winter it can also get quite cold and even snow.

We therefore especially recommend that you go to Madrid in the months of April, May or June or in the months of September and October. 

You then avoid the real heat of summer in Madrid and the cold of winter.

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