Madrid is a glorious city that one would need weeks to explore fully. However, say, you have only one weekend there. How will you spend it to make the most out of your time, see the best sights, and taste the best foods?
The answer is ‘by planning very carefully.’
It’s also important to understand that a weekend in Madrid isn’t enough to see all of the best the city has to offer. Therefore, you’ll have to prioritize based on your tastes and interests. To spend your time with maximum efficiency, you should focus on the most high-profile places. They are the attractions that define Madrid as one of the tourist capitals of the world.
Planning a Perfect Weekend in Madrid: Choose a Place to Stay
Before you start thinking of which museums, parks, and other attractions to visit, you need to decide where to stay. Make your choice based on your budget as well as plans. The less time you spend on commuting – the more time you’ll have for exploring the city. Therefore, it’s best to choose either downtown accommodations or places located within a few minutes of transport hubs.
The best places to stay in Madrid (depending on your budget):
Itinerary for a Perfect Weekend in Madrid: Ultimate Plan
It’s impossible to see all the best places in Madrid within two days. Trying to drop by as many of them as possible is a poor strategy, as you’ll get no joy or educational value from these trips. Therefore, you should stick to visiting one museum and one park a day.
You also can add strolls through some of the famous squares and streets to do some souvenir shopping. You can do this while en route to cafes and restaurants, where you’ll get to enjoy the local delicacies.
In Madrid, tickets to nearly every attraction can be booked online, so you won’t waste time on buying them upon your arrival. You can also save the time and get an adventure by joining free walking tours in Madrid. Take one to explore the Old City one day and the New City on the next. This will give you a short overview of the most famous landmarks.
Where to Go During a Weekend in Madrid: Museums and Galleries
When coming to Madrid, one must enjoy the magnificent art displayed in this city’s museums and galleries. You’ll find no match to it in any other place on the planet. You’ll need no less than two hours, and preferably about half a day, to explore one, so only choose two destinations for a weekend trip.
Luckily, there are three plain leaders in the ‘house of art’ department, so that should be an easy choice.
- Prado Museum: This is the most famous museum in Madrid and has 8,600 paintings and 700+ sculptures in its collection. This place is extremely busy, so get your tickets online and get down there early. The museum opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday.
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum: This museum is much smaller than Prado and houses only about 1,000 artworks. However, they are truly splendid, so you’ll need a lot of time to take in each. There are originals of Picasso, Monet, Kandinsky, and other renowned geniuses. The museum is open from 10 a.m. till 7 p.m. every day, except Monday (noon-4 p.m.).
- Queen Sofia Arts Center: This is a truly magnificent museum that houses over 20,000 artworks. You’ll need no less than half a day to explore it, and even then, you’ll be fit to return for more. It’s open from 10 a.m. till 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sundays.
Spending a Weekend in Madrid: Parks
When you get tired of admiring art, you can relax and have fun trying various activities in the fabulous Madrid parks. The ones to visit are:
- Buen Retiro Park
- La Montana Park (home to the unique Temple of Debod gifted to Madrid by Egypt)
- Royal Botanical Gardens
- Parque del Oeste
- Campo del Moro
- Jardines de Sabatini
Gourmet’s Guide to a Weekend in Madrid
Spanish cuisine is amazing, and in Madrid, you can enjoy a fantastic meal anywhere. There are so many cafes, stalls, and restaurants all over the city that you can simply walk around and get into the one that looks the most inviting.
Some of the most famous places to eat and drink in Madrid are:
- Pretty much everything in La Latina
- Circulo de Bellas Artes (also enjoy art and the view while you’re there)
- Casa Lucas (best place for authentic tapas)
- Baco y Beto (exotic even by the Spanish standards as the chef is half-Cuban)
Do not forget about the famous Madrid markets, those they are best visited by day. There you can buy fresh produce and enjoy some delicious native snacks. Mercado de San Miguel is the most famous and amazing of all markets in this grand city.