Spain

Visit Madrid In 3 Days: Recommended Itinerary + Tips

3 days in Madrid: what to do and see? Or sleep?

Are you planning to go to Madrid for 3 days ?

Good idea!

To help you organize your trip, I have put together the ideal itinerary for you to visit Madrid in 3 days.

We start with my best advice to avoid waiting in front of the most touristic monuments and museums . You will see, you will save as much time as possible!

Then find my detailed program, with all the visits to do day by day + the small practical card for each day.

At the end of the article, I also give you my selection of the best hotels to sleep in Madrid according to your budget as well as activities for a family stay.

So where to go and what to do in Madrid in 3 days? 

Our tips to avoid queuing in Madrid

To discover the main tourist sites, including famous museums such as Prado and Queen Sofia, there are sometimes more than 1 hour in line!

If you have already visited the Colosseum in Rome or the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, you already know what awaits you and how the world can quickly congregate at the entrance…

Well I assure you, this is not inevitable!

To save a lot of time during your 3-day trip to Madrid, there are at least 2 very simple solutions.

Here they are:

1. The Madrid City Pass

The first solution I suggest to you to visit as many things as possible and save money is to buy the Madrid City Pass.

This pass is very practical and has a significant advantage : all skip-the-line tickets for the most famous sites will be sent to you directly by email! You will therefore not have to waste time when you arrive to collect them.

There is also no need to exchange them or print them out at the ticket office, just present them on your smartphone . 

To visit Madrid in 3 days, I think it’s the best solution!

Here is the detail of what is included in the Madrid City Pass:

  • A skip-the-line ticket for the Royal Palace of Madrid (on the program for the 1st day) – You will be asked for the date and an approximate time.
  • A skip-the-line ticket for the Prado museum (visit to be made on the 2nd day) + audio guide to download on your mobile – Here also date + time to be entered.
  • A Hop On Hop Off bus ticket valid for 1 full day + audio guide included
  • An audio guide to download to visit the city.

When booking, you can also choose an additional option including:

  • A public transport card to use the metro and the bus for 3 days in Madrid
  • A private transfer from the airport to your accommodation.

2. Skip-the-line tickets to Madrid’s tourist attractions

The second solution to quickly access the main tourist sites is to buy your skip-the-line tickets one by one, depending on your tour schedule.

There are many, both for museums and for other must-see attractions or activities to do in Madrid during these three days.

I am putting you the list of all those which could interest you and which correspond to the route which I will describe to you right after.

You just have to click on the links to book them and I will also give them to you as and when in the article.

Visit Madrid in 3 days: the best route

I now invite you to discover my 72 hour itinerary in Madrid . For each day, find my visit route and a map.

For the program, I base myself on the fact that you are going to leave for 3 full days in Madrid and that you have opted for one of the 2 solutions that I recommend so as not to waste time: the Madrid City Pass or the cut tickets file.

If you still have questions after reading this article or if you need help organizing your vacation, don’t hesitate to ask me your questions in the comments section at the very end of the article.

So  what to visit in Madrid in 3 days?

Day 1 of your itinerary in Madrid

Visit Madrid in 3 days: 1st day

Day 1 tours:

A. The Plaza Mayor 
B. The San Miguel market 
C. The cathedral 
D. The royal palace 
E. The royal theater 
F. The San Ginès chocolate factory 
G. The temple of Amun 
H. Flamenco show

A. The Plaza Mayor

I suggest you start this 3-day stay in Madrid by going to the Plaza Mayor.

This emblematic square in the city represents the heart of the Spanish capital and is constantly bustling. Many cafes and restaurants will allow you to start the day with good coffee.

You can take the opportunity to admire the beautiful buildings including the Maison de la Boulangerie(the first building built) or that of the Butcher’s shop, as well as the arcades that make up the charm of the Plaza Mayor.

The Travel Tips

If you want to get a city map, go to the Madrid tourist office on the square, in the old Casa de la Panaderia (bakery house).

Start your 3-day itinerary in Madrid via Plaza Mayor

B. The San Miguel market

Then join the San Miguel market, which is only a hundred meters walk from the Plaza Mayor.

With its glass and steel structure dating from the 19th century, you cannot miss it.

This traditional market where you will find fruits, vegetables but also cold meats and local cheeses will appeal to gourmets. The interior is really nice with tables and chairs to enjoy what you just bought.

And the other good thing is that you can taste everything before buying and that there are lots of kinds of tapas, just as delicious as each other.

The Travel Tips

If you are not hungry at that time, do not panic, the market is open every day from 10 a.m. to midnight and even later on weekends. You will certainly have the opportunity to come back during your 3-day itinerary in Madrid!

The Mercado de San Miguel

C. Almudena Cathedral

To continue the day, I recommend that you head to the Almudena Cathedral.

It is just a 5-minute walk up the Calle Mayor from the market. With an admission price set at € 1 symbolic, it would be a shame to miss out on the visit!

Unlike other famous cathedrals in Europe, that of Madrid is quite recent since its construction was completed in 1993 . It still took almost a century for it to be completed, after several long periods when work was put on hold.

The result is a certain architectural mix: the exterior is neoclassical, the interior is Gothic and its crypt is neo-Romanesque. For the record, it is the only cathedral in Spain to have been consecrated by a pope.

Its modern design allows you to admire splendid stained glass windows, just like the frescoes on the ceiling.

The cathedral also includes a small museum on the history of the monument (entry at 6 €).

Almudena Cathedral

D. The Royal Palace in Madrid

Adjacent to the cathedral is the Royal Palace, the other must-see during your 3-day trip to Madrid.

The former official residence of the Kings of Spain is one of the most beautiful and largest palaces in Europe . Although the royal family does not live there, it is still used for official ceremonies and receptions.

The visit of the royal palace (also nicknamed “palace of the Orient”) will allow you to discover more than twenty rooms among which:

  • The Royal Armory and its impressive collection of weapons and armor
  • Official salons such as the throne room or the ballroom
  • The royal chapel where are exposed Stradivarius
  • Royal cuisine
  • The pharmacy
  • The gallery of paintings and its 70 works by great Spanish masters

After the interior and its remarkable paintings and decorations, be sure to take a walk in the gardens of Sabatini and Campo del Moro . They are located behind the palace and are also worth a visit. Entrance to the gardens is free.

The Travel Tips

The skip-the-line ticket for the Royal Palace of Madrid is included in the Madrid City Pass.

You can also choose to take a guided tour of the palace . And you know what? This guided tour is so good that it is “satisfied or reimbursed”!

To book thanks to the green button below:
Book guided tour of the Royal Palace of Madrid now!The Royal Palace of Madrid – Visit Madrid in 3 days

E. The royal theater

Leaving the palace by the Place de l’Orient, you will find yourself right in front of the royal theater.

Ranked among the best operas in Europe for its exceptional acoustics, it is possible to visit the interior . You will have access to the dressing rooms, the hall and the exhibition rooms.

Tickets can be  booked directly here.

And if not, you can always just admire it from the outside.

The Royal Theater in Madrid

F. The San Ginès chocolate factory

You cannot spend 3 days in Madrid without testing the emblematic dessert of the capital: a chocolate con churros!

And it’s really great because the best place to taste is just a 5 minute walk from the theater. Yes I know I really thought of everything to make your 3 day stay in Madrid perfect!1

Then head to the San Ginès chocolate factory and have to order hot churros to dip in very thick and creamy chocolate. You tell me the news.

Yum! Chocolate churros, the ultimate Spanish gourmet break

G. The temple of Amun

To digest, I then suggest a short walk of about twenty minutes to reach the temple of Amun.

From the chocolate factory, first reach the Spanish Steps, this will give you the opportunity to see one of the other famous squares in Madrid. 

West of the square, enter the mountain park where the temple is located, which is also called “Temple of Debod” . You will then be surprised to discover an Egyptian temple, built in the 2nd century BC.

It was offered by Egypt to Spain in thanks for its help during the rescue (among others) of the temple of Abu Simbel which threatened to be submerged under water by the construction of the Aswan dam.

Inside, the temple shelters a small museum (free) retracing its history and allowing to learn more about the Egyptian civilization. Only about twenty people are allowed to enter the temple at the same time, so there may be some waiting.

Built at the edge of a body of water, the temple is very photogenic at nightfall, when it lights up and is reflected in the water.

The Travel Tips

Do not hesitate to stroll in the park to enjoy beautiful views of Madrid and in particular the royal palace. At sunset, it’s really very nice!

Debod temple in Madrid

H. Attend a flamenco show

If you were wondering what to do in three days in Madrid in the evening, I recommend you attend a flamenco show.

In Madrid, one of the best known places to attend this performance of traditional dance and song is the flamenco theater. The place is very busy and reservation is therefore necessary.

You will have the choice between several times: 6.30 pm; 8:30 p.m. or 10:15 p.m. The show lasts 1 hour.

Book your flamenco evening show in Madrid, it’s right here!

Attend a Flamenco show

Second day in Madrid: what to do and see?

Visit Madrid in 3 days: 2nd day

Day 2 tours:

A. The Queen Sofia Museum 
B. The Royal Botanical Garden 
C. The Retiro Park 
D. The Prado National Museum / Thyssens Bornemisza Museum 
E. The Palace of Cybele 
F. Circulo de Bellas Artes

A. The Queen Sofia Museum

For the second day of your 72-hour stay in Madrid, start by visiting one of the essential museums: the Queen Sofia Museum.

You can reach it on foot or by metro (station del arte).

This prestigious museum houses a magnificent collection of contemporary Spanish works of art . The centerpiece being the famous painting “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso.

In addition to Picasso, you can also admire works by Dali and Joan Miró.

To visit the museum and avoid queuing at the entrance, I really recommend that you take your fast-track tickets in advance by clicking on the following button:
Reserve my ticket for the Queen Sofia Museum now!
And if you prefer to take a guided tour of the museum to have all the explanations on the works, just click here:
Book my guided tour of the museum now!

Guernica, the Picasso painting you can see at the Reina Sofia museum

B. The royal botanical garden

At the exit of the museum, reach the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid in just 5 minutes on foot.

With its hundreds of trees and flowers from around the world, it is the ideal place to stroll and get some fresh air after the museum’s busy rooms. Do not miss the greenhouse and its exotic plants. 

Entrance to the garden costs € 6. 

The Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid

C. The Retiro Park

After the garden or simply if you don’t want to pay, you can also walk the paths of the Retiro park, whose entry is free.

The park is huge and you can take the opportunity to discover:

  • The Crystal Palace, an all-glass pavilion that hosts temporary exhibitions – Free access
  • The promenade of statues or “Paseo de la Argentina” and its statues representing the Spanish monarchs
  • The large pool where you can rent boats
  • Velazquez Palace, an annex to the Queen Sofia Museum which also hosts exhibitions and which is free to access
  • The monument to Alphonse XII  and his bronze equestrian statue
  • The rose garden
  • The perennial garden.

The Travel Tips

The towers Segway are also available in the park. The best way to not miss any of the most beautiful places thanks to your guide!

You can book this activity by clicking on the button below:
Book my segway tour now!

Retiro Park – 3 days in Madrid

D. The Prado National Museum or The Themisens Bornemisza Museum

For the rest of the day, I suggest you return to the museum and not just any one since it is one of the most important in the world: the Prado National Museum.

It is next to the Retiro park.

Here too you can contemplate remarkable paintings, from the 14th century to the 19th century. The visit is really complementary to that of the Queen Sofia Museum in terms of the periods covered.

We notably find works by Francisco Goya, Diego Vélasquez and Jérôme Bosch.

In addition to the canvases, you can also admire thousands of drawings and prints.

To do absolutely during your 3-day itinerary in Madrid if you are an art lover!

Along with the Prado and that of Queen Sofia, there is another very famous museum in Madrid: the Thyssens Bornemisza museum . It is located in the same area as the other 2.

Again, we come here for his paintings that we owe to Monet, Gauguin or Rubens. 

Skip-the-line tickets for the Thyssens museum can be purchased directly here.

In order not to come close to overdosing, I recommend that you choose between Prado and Thyssens, depending on your preferences.

The Travel Tips

The skip-the-line ticket for the Prado Museum is included in the Madrid City Pass.

If you do not have the pass, it is best to buy your entry ticket in advance by clicking on the button below:
Reserve my ticket for the Prado museum now!

The Prado Museum, a must for a 3-day circuit in Madrid

E. Cybele’s palace

After your visit to the museum, walk along the Paseo del Prado to go up to the palace of Cybèle.

The old communications palace is one of the prettiest monuments in Madrid.

It houses a cultural center which offers free exhibitions but above all allows you to enjoy a beautiful panorama of the city from the restaurant terrace on the sixth floor and from the watchtower on the eighth floor.

Access to the watchtower costs 3 €.

the Palace of Cybele

F. Circulo de Bellas Artes

On the same principle, you can also go and relax on one of the rooftops in Madrid.

Located a 5-minute walk from Cybèle Palace, the Circulo de Bellas Artes and its terrace offers a 360 ° view of the capital. The place is really nice with sofas and umbrellas, to sip a drink and enjoy the view.

Count 5 € to access the terrace + the price of drinks.

View from the Circulo de Bellas Artes

3rd day in Madrid: places to visit

Visit Madrid in 3 days: 3rd day

Day 3 tours:

A. The Santiago Bernabéu stadium 
B. The arenas of Las Ventas 
C. Shopping in Salamanca 
D. The Chueca district

A. The Santiago Bernabéu stadium

For the last day, in the list of things to see during your 3 days in Madrid, football fans are sure to visit the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.

To get there, the easiest way is to take the metro to Santiago station.

During the visit to the Real Madrid club stadium, you can walk the lawn but also discover the players’ changing rooms and admire the trophies won by the club.

You must book your visit in advance by clicking on the button below:
Book my visit to the legendary Madrid stadium now!

The Santiago Barnabeu stadium, home of Real Madrid

B. The arenas of Las Ventas

Then take the metro to Las Ventas stop. You will arrive directly opposite the bullring in Madrid.

Whether you are against bullfighting or not, I still recommend that you go there because they are the largest in Spain and their architecture is really beautiful.

To discover a little more about this part of Spanish culture and bullfighting, you can also visit the interior of the bullring and the bullfighting museum.

You can book your Madrid arena + museum + audio guide ticket by clicking here:
Book my visit to the bullring in Madrid now!

The Bullring of Las Ventas

C. Shopping in Salamanca

A 3-day trip to Madrid would not be complete without a little shopping session!

About 2 km from the bullring (access on foot or by metro), reach the Salamanca district.

Along Serrano Street and the streets perpendicular to it, you will find many shops of international brands(Zara, Mango) and luxury shops (Vuitton, Gucci).

The Travel Tips

In the very center of Madrid, you will also find a large choice of shops along Gran Via, the city’s main shopping street.

D. The Chueca district

If you want to end your three-day Madrid tour in style, I recommend spending your last evening in the Chuecas district.

This district is the center of nightlife in Madrid.

Have a drink in one of the many bars, discover trendy restaurants  and why not go dancing in a disco! 

Where to sleep in Madrid

I have now given you the majority of my advice on how to visit Madrid in 3 days!

But there remains an essential step: the reservation of your hotel. It would be nice to know where you will sleep during these 3 nights in Madrid.

To help you, I have made a  selection of the best hotels to stay in Madrid:

  • OK Hostel Madrid : Youth hostel located 700 meters from Plaza Mayor and 200 meters from a metro station. Bed in dormitory from 16 € per night, breakfast at 3 €. The most: ideal location, very friendly welcome, cleanliness and modernity of the dormitories, possibility of having a meal for 10 €. In short, nothing to complain about is  our favorite service / price ratio!  Note that the hostel also offers double rooms from € 75 per night.
  • Ibis Madrid Centro Las Ventas : Located next to the famous bullring in Madrid and 100 meters from a metro station. Spacious and modern room from € 60 per night and breakfast at an additional cost of € 7.95. The most: view of the arenas from the rooms, very rich buffet breakfast.
  • B&B Hotel Puerta del Sol : Ideally located 100 meters from the puerta del sol and 400 meters from the Plaza Mayor. Very quiet and comfortable room from € 89 per night with a breakfast bag (water, fruit and chocolate rolls) included every morning. Most: free provision of drinks and fruit 24/24, ideal location and lovely staff.
  • Only YOU Hotel Atocha :  Located right next to the park of El Retiro. Comfortable, spacious and design double room from 190 € per night, breakfast at 21 €. The most: the magnificent hotel, the staff available and attentive, the huge choice at breakfast, the location (10 minutes walk from the center and airport shuttle 5 minutes), the decor, the atmosphere. It is the best choice for a luxury stay in Madrid! 

The Travel Tips

Are these hotels already full or do they not exactly meet your expectations?

I recommend that you read my other article including a wider selection of accommodation . Very practical, the hotels are directly classified by districts and by budgets.

All you have to do is click here to read it:  The best hotels to sleep in Madrid.

Visit Madrid in 3 days with your family

For anyone planning to visit Madrid with family for 3 days, no problem. The Spanish capital lends itself well to this type of stay.

As it is not very extensive, there are also no major trips to plan and everything is done well on foot or by metro.

Among the activities to do with family in 72 hours in Madrid, I am sure they will like:

  • The tour of the San Miguel market, especially if they have the right to taste everything!
  • Visit the royal palace and its sparkling rooms. The armory will please both big boys and little ones!
  • Tasting of churros and chocolate
  • The walk in the Retiro Park 
  • Visiting the stadium
  • Discover the zoo animals,  which you can easily integrate into the program for the last day.

You can also choose to spend a day at Wagner Park, an amusement park near Madrid. Information and reservations by clicking here!

Mercado San Miguel stall

More things to do and see in Madrid in 3 days

And that’s it for my 3-day visit program in Madrid!

If you want to integrate activities or are looking for other places to visit, I also advise you to read my other article entirely dedicated to Madrid.

This comprehensive guide to the Spanish capital includes all the things to do and see, so you can end your 3-day vacation in Madrid having seen all the must-sees.

To read it, you just have to click on the following link: What to do in Madrid? The ultimate guide!

Map of your 3-day itinerary in Madrid

To help you visualize your routes during these 3 days in Madrid, I made you a map listing the places to visit day by day . You can display the legend of the map by clicking on the button at the top left with a small arrow. You can then view the routes for each day.

Are you going to Spain? Also read

Discover all our articles on Spain : all articles of Spain are listed here.

Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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