Guide to a long weekend in Madrid
Visiting a new place for a short amount of time requires careful planning, especially for a city rich in culture like Madrid. During my stay, I tried to get a feel for how locals live as well as experience the famous attractions, and I have shared what I did with you in this guide. It is designed for people staying for a full four days, so if you have less time just pick out what suits your tastes the most.
Address: Calle Palma 49, Madrid
Opens: Mon-Fri 08:00-20:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-20:00
Head to Toma Café for a delicious breakfast and some of the best coffee in Madrid. I personally recommend the avocado toast, but there are plenty of other options too, including gluten-free choices.
Shopping in Salamanca
Getting there: Short walk along Calle de Alberto Aguilera to Salamanca, or take Line 4 from Bilbao to Serrano on the Metro.
Salamanca is the exclusive quarter of Madrid, where anyone who loves to shop will feel at home among the boutiques. Calle de Jose Ortega y Gasset and Calle de Serano have the best choice of shops. You can also check out sights like Museo de Aire Libre and the Biblioteca Nacional if you have time.
Lunch at Jose Luis
Address: Calle de Serano 89, Madrid
Opens: Mon-Fri 08:30-01:00, Sat 09:00-01:00, Sun 12:30-01:00
After loads of walking, this reasonably-priced tapas bar is just what you need. I loved my tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelette), but I could have eaten anything on the menu. Tapas starts from €5.
Parque del Buen Retiro
Getting there: Very short walk along Calle de Serano.
Relaxing in the tranquillity of this much-loved park is a perfect way to take in everything you have found out about Madrid so far. Take a walk through the greenery, sit and watch the world go by, then finish off with 45 minutes in a rowing boat on the lake, which only costs €6.
Walk through the museum district to Lavapies and La Latina
By now, you’ve got a good feel for Madrid, but walking around the different quarters will ensure you get an even better understanding of the city. From the park, stroll through Real Jardin Botanico and appreciate its beauty, walk along the road past the museums, through Atocha, and onwards to Lavapies. Explore this district’s old architecture, before heading up to the lively La Latina for the night.
Dinner at Enotaberna del Leon de Oro
Address: Calle de la Cava Baja 12
Opens: 13:00-16:00 and 20:00-00:00 every day
This bar-restaurant places equal importance on delicious drinks as it does creative dishes, including seafood, vegetarian options, meats, cheeses, and burgers. I recommend getting a gin with your meal! The venue boasts a lovely, relaxed atmosphere with friendly staff and excellent service.
Casa Patas and ContraClub
Address & opens: Casa Patas is Calle de Canizares 10. Shows are 22:30 Mon-Thur, and 21:00 and midnight Fri-Sat.
ContraClub is Calle de Bailen 16. Opens 22:00-06:00 Wed-Sat.
Experience the local art of flamenco dancing by watching a show at Casa Patas. Admission is €36, which seems pricey, but that pays for you to watch a wonderful performance and a drink is included in the price. If you don’t want your night to end here, head to ContraClub to continue dancing the night away, where admission varies depending on the day.
Experience the historic quarter
Address & opens: Palace: Calle de Bailen, 10:00-20:00
Gardens: Calle de Bailen, May-Sep 09:00-22:00 and Oct-Apr 09:00-21:00
Cathedral: Calle de Bailen, Mon-Sat 09:00-20:30 and open for Mass on Sundays. Museum is Mon-Sat 10:00-14:30.
Madrid’s historic quarter is unmissable, even if it is a tourist hot-spot. It’s best to skip a leisurely breakfast and instead head to the Palacio Real for it’s opening at 10am. Admission is €11 for adults, and an extra €4 if you want an audio guide, which I highly recommend. It is free admission during the last two opening hours Monday to Thursday, but if you opt for this you will be joining long queues and battling massive crowds.
After exploring the royal opulence, meander around the stunning Jardines de Sabatini on the northern side of the palace, before heading into the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Almudena. If you want to go into the museum it’s €6 for adults, or you can enter the cathedral for free.
Lunch at Mercado de San Miguel
Address: Plaza de San Miguel
Opens: Sun-Wed 10:00-midnight and Thur-Sat 10:00-02:00
Live like a true local and try delicious food at one of Madrid’s oldest and most stunning markets, which has been recently renovated. There is a huge variety of food and drink, including tapas, larger plates, and desserts.
Getting there: from the market take a very short walk down Calle Mayor and follow the noise!
For me, Plaza Mayor encapsulated Madrid in a nutshell: vibrant, unique, and surrounded by beautiful architecture. Walk around the square and take in its magnificence, then stop off for a drink at one of the bars around the edge.
Head to Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
Address: Calle de Santa Isabel
Opens: Mon and Wed-Sat 10:00-21:00, Sun 10:00-19:00
There are loads of fantastic museums in Madrid, but if time is short this one would be high on my priority list. It houses Picasso’s Guernica, argued by some to be the most important piece of artwork of the century. There are many other pieces of artwork on display, mainly spanning the twentieth century up until the 1980s. Admission is €8 for adults, and is free Sundays 13:30-19:00 and from 19:00-21:00 every other day except Tuesdays.
Eat dinner at La Finca de Susana
Address: Calle de Arlaban 4
Opens: Sun-Wed 13:00-15:45 and 20:30-23:30, Thur-Sat 13:00-15:45 and
This was everything I want in restaurant: delicious food, good prices, and a relaxing atmosphere. I especially loved that there was greenery inside the restaurant. Main courses are €7-€12.
Address: Calle de Leon 3
Opens: Mon-Thur 17:00-02:00, Fri 17:00-03:00, Sat 15:00-03:00, Sun 15:00-02:00
Casa Pueblo is a perfect spot to experience some live jazz because it is totally free! You can order an amazing combination of cakes and cocktails as you sway to the music.
Breakfast at Chocolateria de San Gines
Address: Pasadizo de San Gines 5
Starting your day with chocolate con churros (thick hot chocolate and churros) is sure to put a smile on your face. Be prepared to want to return here at the end of the night, as it is open 24/7!
Museo del Prado
Address: Paseo del Prado
Opens: Mon-Sat 10:00-20:00, 10:00-19:00
Head to one of the most amazing art galleries in the world, holding over 7000 paintings, and displaying around 1500 at any one time. It includes masterpieces from Velazquez and Goya, and from a variety of European artists.
Lunch at Estado Puro
Address: Plaza de Canovas del Castillo
Opens: Mon-Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-16:00.
For something a bit different, take lunch at this excellent tapas bar and enjoy all sorts of interesting dishes, from lobster gazpacho to parmesan ice-cream! It is right next to the Prado Museum, so you can wander over and enjoy tapas for as little as €5.
Do a Segway tour
Address: Calle Escalinata 10
Opens: Check the website for tour details and times www.segwaymadridtour.com.
This was one of my favourite activities of the whole trip! By doing a Segway tour, you learn about the city at the same time as having fun riding on your Segway. I did my trip with Madrid Segway, and it cost €35 for 90 minutes, which was worth every penny. I chose the city centre tour, but the company has loads of offers for tours combined with entry to attractions at varying prices.
Cocktails at Museo Chicote
Address: Gran Via 12
Opens: Mon-Thur 17:00-03:00, Fri & Sat 17:00-03:30
A night out in Madrid’s lively counterculture barrios, Malasana and Chueca, is unmissable. Head over to this famous cocktail bar, which the likes of Hemingway and Grace Kelly have enjoyed, to choose a pre-dinner cocktail from over 100 on the menu.
Dinner at Bazaar
Address: Calle de la Libertad 21
Opens: Sun-Wed 13:30-16:00 and 20:30-23:30, Thur-Sat 13:15-16:00, 20:15-midnight
What I liked about Bazaar was its classy yet casual atmosphere, and delicious yet very cheap food! Main courses costs in the €8 region, and I personally recommend the roast tuna with mango if you’re into fish.
El Junco Jazz Club
Address: Plaza de Santa Barbara 10
Opens: Tues-Thurs & Sun 22:30-05:30, Fri & Sat 21:00-06:00
El Junco appeals to both jazz-lovers and night-clubbers. It holds fantastic live performances by jazz musicians from around Spain and the world at 11pm on Tuesdays to Sundays. If you don’t want the night to end early, you can stay for the DJ set afterwards and expect to hear funk, soul, blues and more.
Breakfast at Rodilla
Address: multiple cafes, I went to Rodilla in Plaza Puerta del Sol 13
Opens: times vary dependent on which Rodilla, but typically 07:00-22:00
This popular café was the perfect way to set yourself up for the day. The coffees, savouries, and pastries were delicious. I treated myself to the brunch, which included a toastie, pastry, fruit/yoghurt, juice, and a coffee all for around €6!
Cable car – El Teleferico
Address: Located on the Paseo del Pintor Rosales corner of Marques de Urquijo Street and Paseo de Camoeons.
Opens: Opening hours vary depending on day and month, so check the website.
Madrid’s cable car takes you over multiple parks as well as the River Manzanares and attractions such as the Egyptian temple of Debod. A recorded commentary talks about what you are seeing as you soar over Spain’s capital. The pods reach a maximum height of 40 metres above the ground, and the journey only lasts just over 10 minutes until it reaches the end at Casa de Campo Park, but it is well worth it.
Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida
Address: Glorieta de San Antonio de la Florida 5
Opens: Tue-Sun 10:00-20:00, hours vary July and August
From Casa de Campo, jump on the metro to Principe Pio, located in the Chamberi barrio. It’s time to really get a feel for what Madrid is about in this fascinating district away from the chaos of tourists. Begin with a viewing of Goya’s frescoes painted on the ceiling of a chapel, known as the Panteon de Goya. It’s completely free to go inside! Then explore the traditional shops, squares, and streets of Chamberi.
Lunch at Casa Mingo
Address: Paseo de la Florida 34
Next to the chapel is a famous Asturian cider house, which has a simple yet delicious signature dish of roast chicken accompanied by a bottle of cider. Perfect for a lunchtime refuel.
A walk around the city is a great way to round off your stay and remind yourself of what you have experienced. I followed a walking tour set out in the Lonely Planet Madrid guide, which began in Plaza de la Villa, near the Opera metro station, went through Old and Central Madrid, down the Paseo del Prado where the museums are, and ended in Atocha. Taking this route will remind you of Madrid’s outstanding architecture and ensure you see any buildings you have not yet viewed, such as the strange Caixa Forum which appears to hover off the ground. It took me a couple of hours, but time will vary depending on how often you stop.
Dinner at Restaurante Sobrino de Botin
Address: Calle de los Cuchilleros 17
Opens: 13:00-16:00 and 20:00-midnight
Don’t forget to fit in a meal at the oldest restaurant in the world. It was established in 1725 and its success seems down to its succulent meat dishes cooked in wood-fired ovens. I had the roast lamb and it did not disappoint. You can even eat your meal in the vaulted cellar! Main meals are around the €25 mark, so not too bad considering the restaurant’s fame.
Drinks at The Roof
Address: Plaza de Santa Ana 14
Opens: Mon-Thur 21:00-01:30, Fri & Sat 20:00-03:00
As its name suggests, this bar stands seven floors above the Plaza de Santa Ana and looks out over the rooftops of Madrid. You can sip cocktails and watch the sun go down while contemplating the city you have just been a part of for the last few days. Relax on the big cushions and listen to the DJ set, but make sure you follow the dress to impress entry rules!