We picked Madrid as a city to land in for our last trip to Europe. You see after flying for 30 hours from Australia we were looking for a city that must I say was not outstanding. We did not want to miss anything because of Jetlag. Madrid on paper seemed to be a city full of museums. Not exactly the stuff that would enthral our 8 and 11-year-old daughters or us for that matter of fact.
Don’t get me wrong I love looking at some amazing art but one museum a city is enough. What to do in Madrid for 3 days? With a little planning and exploring, we found enough to see and do for the 3 days we were in the Spanish capital. Looking back on it now Madrid is a confusing city style-wise. There is an amazing history mixed with a modern style. Classic buildings sitting next to modern design. Parks with kids playgrounds sitting next to Egyptian temples. Lets look at the best itinerary for 3 days in Madrid
Madrid for 3 Days yes, please
- Madrid is not just a city, it is one of the 17 autonomous communities of Spain
- Madrid was founded by Muhammad I, ruler of the Arabic reign of Córdoba. He chose to build a small castle in the region in the late 9th century.
- Madrid became the capital of Spain in the 16th Century
- Madrid is located 650 Meters above Sea Level
- Madrid Weather can vary enormously over the four seasons with temperatures of low as zero or -1ºC (30 Fahrenheit) in January and up to 40º (104 Fahrenheit) in August
- The currency used in Madrid Spain is the Euro.
Sandemans Madrid free walking tour.
We found ourselves in Plaza Mayor while looking for things to do in Madrid. We spotted the Madrid free walking tour sign. Having always talked about doing the free city tour here was our chance. We were not disappointed our guide Enrique informed and entertained us for 2.5 hours. The Madrid free walking tours are amazing as the guides work so hard to get a tip at the end. We have explained the history of the Plaza Mayor and its role in the Spanish Inquisition. We visited the worlds oldest restaurant. Restaurante Sobrino de Botín opened in 1725. We were taken to the Muslim wall from the 9th century.
We were explained about a time when Christians and Muslims lived in peace in Spain. You can still see today a huge Muslim influence in Spain in everything from food to buildings. We learned about the Hapsburg kings of Spain. The Hapsburgs were Austrian who married into the Spain Royal family. The Hapsburgs become the kings and Queens of Spain. We viewed the Almudena Cathedral, the newest Cathedral in Europe. It took 100 years to built, finished in 1993. We ended our amazing Madrid free walking tour in the gardens in front of the Royal Palace of Madrid. If I can recommend one thing to do in 3 days in Madrid this is it. The free walking tour in Madrid is an amazing thing to do. Don’t be cheap either make sure you tip the guides.
Mercado San Miguel Madrid
This is not your typical Spanish neighbourhood market. It does not that sells the traditional fruits, vegetables and meats. The Mercado de San Miguel is located in the heart of the city close to Plaza Mayor. For this reason its the most popular market in town. The Mercado de San Miguel Madrid Spain is a striking iron and glass design. The design allows you to view the goings on inside from every angle.
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The Mercado San Miguel sells all different types of tapas, wine, desserts, sweets and beers to the tourists. Tapas is like the Spanish national food little bite sizes foods of all flavours. It’s the type of place that you move from stall to stall trying all the different Tapas available. It’s a destination in itself and an unparalleled experience for your taste buds. The girls were going crazy especially with all the sweets available. Be aware that the Mercado de San Miguel is a hot spot for pickpockets and thieves.
The San Ginés Chocolateria is located halfway between the Puerta del Sol and the Teatro Real, in the heart of Madrid. For chocolate and churros this place is the Nirvana. You will find oit crowded you will have to wait for a table, but it will be worth it. Fresh cooked Churros are served with what can only be described as heaven in a cup. A thick choclate mixture that you dip your amazing churrios in and savour every last bite. The San Ginés Chocolateria Madrid has been operating since 1894 and is popular with locals and tourists alike.
Traditional Things to eat in Madrid
Like all place’s food in Madrid is big business whether its fine dining restaurants or Madrid street food. There is something for everyone. Below you will find 5 traditional things to eat in Madrid.
- Callos a la madrileña – A stew made of cow’s tripe. Today you will find it served widely across Madrid with Blood Sausage and Chorizo.
- Caracoles a la madrileña – Snails Madrid style. Cooked slowly in broth with garlic.
- Bocata de calamares – Fried Calamari on a crusty baquette.
DOES ANY OF THIS FOOD TO TRY IN MADRID TAKE YOUR FANCY?
- Oreja a la plancha – Fried pigs ears, yes you heard me. Served either straight up or with bacon and mushrooms
- Iberian Ham – Possibly the dish Madrid is most famous for Ham!. Ages, dried and salted. Its one of the most popular things to eat in Madrid.
Food to try in Madrid can add to any experience in the Spanish Capital.
Madrid Hop on Hop off Bus.
The Hop on Hop off bus tours is a great way to orientate yourself with a city. They also provide direct access to places that public transport can not. Considering Madrid is the 3rd largest capital city in Europe with 3.2 million people in the city centre area, navigating Madrid with 2 kids in tow can be tricky. Then we set off on the blue route around the city. The loop of the city took us around 90 minutes to complete.
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There are 2 routes to choose from. The blue route has 20 stops including Gran Via, Plaza de España, Templo de Debod, Teatro Real, Palacio Real, Puerta de Toledo and more. The Green route has 13 stops. Free headphones were given out so we could listen to the onboard audio guide that explained the history of the Spanish capital as we took in the Madrid landmarks. This is a great one day in Madrid itinerary. Along the way, we choose to get off the Madrid hop on hop off bus at a few different sites including the amazing Prado Museum. The bus runs every half house so you can spend as little as 30 minutes at each spot if you like. We certainly recommend at least one day on the Hop on hop off Madrid bus
Gran Via Madrid is known as the Spanish Broadway. Its a stunning wide street that conatins upmarket shops, restuartants and nightlife. Gran Via leads from Calle de Alcalá, close to Plaza de Cibeles, to Plaza de España. We stayed just 100 meters off Gran Via and enjoyed walking it everyday. Its an electric street alive with neon billboards, people heading in all directions and some of the most amazing designed building you will see.
Where did we stay in Madrid
Apartment GoodStay was located just off Gran Via in downtown Madrid. Located close to the Royal Palace and the main shopping area this was the best area to stay in Madrid. The famous Mercado de San Miguel is a few hundred meters away. GoodStay was fully self-contained with cooking facilities.
The Temple of De Debod
When reading about Madrid The Temple of De Debod always interested me. An Egyptian temple in Madrid how amazing. The Temple was built in Aswan in the 2nd century BC. The temple was dedicated to the God Amun. The temple had a remarkable life. It was an import enough temple That Pharaohs and Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius added to it. Anyway fast forward, the temple was to be flooded with the construction of the Aswan dam.
The Egyptian Government allowed the Spanish Government to move the temple. It was taken apart and resembled it brick by brick in The West Park, near the Royal Palace of Madrid. The temple is only open certain times of the year,.The parks location provides some great views towards the Royal Palace and the city. For the kids, it was a chance to have a play at the playground next to the temple. The Temple is one of the unique Madrid attractions
The Royal Palace of Madrid
This was a real highlight for us all. A mighty palace located right in the city centre. There has been a castle/palace on the site since the moors in the 8th century. The current version dates from the Hapsburg in 1764. The sheer size of this building was mind-blowing. It is the largest Royal Palace in Europe 3418 rooms, who on earth would require this many rooms. These days the palace is owned by the Spanish government and hosts royal and state functions.
We did a self-guided tour through this enormous palace. The decorations and furnishings were amazing. The royal staircase is something to behold with its sculptures and artwork. More amazing is that it was carved from a single piece of granite. The Grown room features the Charles III’s throne, sceptre and crown. The Palace houses the Royal Armoury. The collection showcases the personal arms of the Kings of Spain. military weapons, works of art like mixed tapestries, paintings and other works of art adorn the walls. The full tournament and battle armourers are something behold. These royals knew how to live in style. This is one of the most amazing places to visit in Madrid.
Plaza de la Armería lies just outside the gates to the Royal Place of Madrid. On the other side of the Plaze is the Almudena Cathedral well wort visiting while you are here. Standing in the plaza is breathtaking with these two neo classical designed building both comlimenting each other. There is a huge wow factor at play in this plaza. We found ourselves drawn back to Plaza de la Armería a few times on our 3 days in Madrid.
Royal Palace of Madrid Tickets
Skip the long lines to the Royal Palace of Madrid and learn the history of the Spanish monarchy on a guided tour. Hear how the palace has changed through time with informative observations from your expert guide. Discover an exquisite collection of tapestries, porcelain, antique clocks, armour and works of art from the royal collections, including paintings by Goya and Velázquez. Visit the private apartments, throne room and banquet halls, along with the Hall of Mirrors from the reign of Charles IV.
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El Retiro Park Parque de El Retiro
This park was the former playground of the Spanish monarchy. It was finally given over to the city in the 19th century to become a park. Located on the edge of the city centre and close to the Prado museum its is 350 acres in size. The park is known for beautiful sculptures and monuments. Some even call it Madrid’s outsider art gallery. Once home to the Buen Retiro Palace, today only 2 sections remain Casón del Buen Retiro and the Salon de Reinos. These two building now house museum art collections. The park is great for walking and relaxing in this busy city. Playgrounds for the kids and sculptures for adults. The highlight of the park is the monument to King Alfonso XII.
A semicircle of roman like columns with a statue of King Alfonso XII on a horse sitting atop. It is truly a striking monument located in a beautiful setting. In front of the monument is a man-made lake that you can hire a rowboat and sail out onto. The Paseo de la Argentina is a wide boulevard that leads into the heart of the park. This boulevard is decorated with s statues of kings of Spain. The statues come from the Royal Palace. These amazing sculptures are over 250 years old. Other features include The Crystal Palace, Avenida de Mexico, Casita del Pescador and the Rose Garden. One could spend a whole day exploring the park.
How to get around Madrid
Madrid public transport is the easiest way to get around the city. The Madrid Metro is divided into zones A, B1, B2 and B3. You will find all the Madrid attractions in Zone A You can buy an individual ticket for the Madrid Metro to travel anywhere on the network except the airport. This is valid for a single journey costing €1.50. The cheapest way to travel on the Madrid metro is to buy the Metrobús 10 journey ticket. This gives you 10 journeys on any metro line in zone A,
Casa de Campo Park
Much like Barcelona, Madrid also has a teleferico (cable car). This has been a great family activity since 1969. The Madrid cable car takes you on a 2.5-kilometre journey, 40 meters above the Casa de Campo. The start and finish points of the Madrid cable car are Pintor Rosales and Casa de Campo park. The trip will take you 12 minutes each way and provide an amazing view of the previously mentioned Egyptian temple of Debod, Plaza de España, the Royal Palace, Almudena Cathedral and the Chapel of San Antonio de la Florida.
Home to Madrid’s Zoo-Aquarium which is an ever-popular attraction for families visiting Madrid. The Madrid Zoo and Aquarium has been operating since 1770. The Madrid Zoo occupies a 20-hectare site. The main Madrid zoo attraction is the Giant Panda from China. The Madrid Zoo is one of a handful of zoo’s worldwide that has pandas. You will also find Koalas and Gorillas just to name a few. The Madrid Zoo Aquarium is home to 9 bottlenose dolphins. Just for the chance to see a Panda at the Madrid Zoo this should be included in your best itinerary for 3 days in Madrid The closest Madrid Zoo metro stop is Casa de Campo Station on line 5 or 10.
What to do in Madrid for 3 days – Take a day trip
Segovia is a UNESCO world heritage city. Segovia lies around 45 minutes away by train and 1 hour 15 minutes by car. Segovia is most famous for its historical sights. The Aqueduct of Segovia, The Alcazar of Segovia, The Segovia Cathedral, and The Walls of Segovia to name a few. The Aqueduct of Segovia built by the Romans contains 25,000 free standing granite blocks. The Roman technology of the times did not need any material to hold it together. This Aqueduct today spans 818 meters. It has more than 170 arches, reaching 29 metres high at its highest point.
The Alcazar of Segovia was first mentioned in 1122. It was a favoured castle of the Castillo Royal family. Today the castle contains the General Militar de Segovia archive and museum of the Royal School of Artillery. The Segovia Cathedral is famous for being the last Gothic cathedral built in Spain. The cathedral of Segovia was consecrated in 1768. The cathedral and measures an impressive 105 meters long, 50 metres wide and 33 m high. The walls of Segovia have been around since at least the 10th century. They were mentioned in the battle between Alfonso VI of León and Castile and the Arabs. The walls currently encircle the Jewish quarter of the city.
Toledo was known by many names including the “Imperial City”. Toledo in its time was the main venue of the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Toledo was heavily influenced by cultures of Christians, Muslims and Jews. Toledo was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive monumental and cultural heritage. Toledo is 50 minutes by train and 56 minutes by car away from Madrid. Toledo became famous for its sword maker from the 15th century onwards. Toledo was renowned for making the best swords in the world. Some of the main attractions in Toledo today include Castle of San Servando.
San Servando is a medieval castle first occupied by religious monks. It later served as a base for the Knights Templar. The Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo began construction in 1226. The Toledo Cathedral is considered the best of the high Gothic Cathedrals built in Spain. The Alcázar of Toledo is a stone fortification located in the highest part of Toledo, Spain. The Alcazar dates back to Roman times. It was used by high-ranking Roman officials into the 3rd century. Charles I (Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) and Philip II of Spain undertook considerable works on the Alcazar. Their construction works brought it back to its past glories. Toledo has a wealth of attractions to many to mention here. For more
How to get to Madrid.
- Fly into Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport, commonly known as Madrid–Barajas Airport. The Airport lies 18km away or 25-30 minutes by car. Check for flights to Madrid here with Momondo
- Madrid is connected by train to all major cities in Spain and beyond. Most of Spain including Madrid is connected to the high-speed AVE train network. Check for current train times and prices here!
- Pick up your rental car at Madrid Airport.
- Transfer to and from the city is available by private transfers, bus, taxi and the underground train network.
We hope we have provided you with enough ideas of what to do in Madrid for 3 days.
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