Like any other major city in Europe, allowing just two days to see Madrid is just not enough. So, the list below is nowhere near a comprehensive list of everything worth seeing there. In fact, seeing everything listed here in two days is not really possible. What I have tried to provide here is a good cross-section of landmarks, shopping and museums. For every item here, you can multiply it by 10.
Day One - Landmarks and Shopping
The Royal Palace (Palacio Real) is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. Explore the opulent rooms and admire the stunning architecture and art collection.
The Palace stands on the site of an original Moorish fortress it became the the residence of Felipe. II. On Christmas Eve in 1734, a fire nearly destroyed the castle. Felipe V was the reigning monarch at this time. As he grew up in the French palace of Versailles, he had the Palace reconstructed in the French style.
Reconstruction took over 20 years, and was not completed until after Felipe V died. His son,Carlos III became the first resident after reconstruction. The palace was occupied by the royal family until the exile of Alfonso XIII in 1931.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, there is a military Changing of the Guard ceremony in front of the palace.
Mercado De San Miguel
The Mercado de San Miguel is a historic covered market filled with stalls offering a variety of food and drinks. It reminds me quite a bit of the City Market in Budapest.
The Plaza Mayor has been a focal point of social and cultural life in Madrid for centuries. The square has a rich history dating back to the 16th century. It has served various purposes throughout the years, including hosting markets, bullfights, royal coronations, and even public executions. Over time, it has become a central gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Plaza Mayor is a must-visit destination for its historical significance, architectural beauty, and vibrant atmosphere. It offers a range of dining options, from traditional Spanish cuisine to international flavors. The square is also surrounded by numerous attractions, including the Royal Palace, Puerta del Sol, and the Mercado de San Miguel.
The Gran Via
Gran Via is one of the most famous and bustling streets in Madrid, Spain. Known as the “Broadway of Madrid,” it is a vibrant and lively thoroughfare that showcases a mix of architectural styles, high-end shops, theaters, restaurants, and bustling city life.
Puerto del Sol
Puerta del Sol is located at the very center of Madrid and is considered the “Kilometer Zero” point from which all major roads in Spain radiate. It is a busy intersection where several important streets converge, making it easily accessible from various parts of the city.
At the heart of Puerta del Sol is the famous symbol of Madrid, the “Bear and the Strawberry Tree” statue (El Oso y El Madroño). This bronze sculpture represents the city’s coat of arms and has become an emblematic landmark. Additionally, there is a plaque on the ground marking the Kilometer Zero point.
Day Two - Parks and Museums
Reina Sofia Museum
The Reina Sofia Museum showcases an extensive collection of artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries. It is particularly renowned for its collection of Spanish art, with notable works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró. The museum’s most famous masterpiece is Picasso’s iconic painting, “Guernica,” which is a powerful depiction of the Spanish Civil War.
The Reina Sofia Museum is housed in a former 18th-century hospital building that was converted into a modern art museum in the 1980s. In 2005, an expansion was added to accommodate the growing collection and visitor demand.
The Prado Museum
Near to the Reina Sofia Museum is the Museo del Prado. While the Reina Sofia focuses on 20th and 21st century art, the Prado focuses on 12th to 19th century art, with works by Velazquez and Goya. But it also has an extensive collection of Flemish and Italian art.
The museum was originally designed in 1785, under the direction of Carlos III. and was intended to be a museum of natural history. Carlos’ grandson, Fernando VII, had it converted to an art museum.
By the way, if you wait until 2 hours before the museum closes, you can get in for free.
Parque del Retiro
Behind the Prado Museum is the Parque del Retiro. Although in existence as a royal nature preserve since the 1600’s, the park was opened to the public in 1869 “provided that the visitors were formally dressed.”
Today, visitors to the park can rent rowboats, watch artists at work, and have their fortune told.
The building shown here is the Palacio de Cristal. It is an iron and glass structure built in 1887, and is used for exhibits and other events.
Direct flights from the United States to Madrid are numerous with flights from Charlotte, Atlanta, Newark, Chicago, and Miami.
Ready to Go?
Contact me to set up a time to plan your trip.