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Bucket list trip:

Madrid 5-day Itinerary

  • Spain

Last updated: 06 June, 2024

Where to go and what to see in Madrid to get the most from your trip – a 5-day itinerary from destination expert and travel writer Dana Facaros.

Editor note – Dana has not included specific recommendations of where to stay each day unless it’s necessary. Instead, see the ‘Where to stay’ section in our Madrid destination guide.

Day 1

3

Spend your first morning on a walking tour of historic Madrid, then stop for lunch on the panoramic rooftop of the ornate Palacio de Cibeles.

Afterwards, it’s time for the masterpieces by Velasquez, Goya, Titian, and Bosch at the world-famous Prado.

Afterwards, head for cocktails at Pictura, the beautiful bar at the Hotel Ritz. Then hop in a taxi for an unforgettable dinner at Diver XO (booking essential).

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

  • Bucket List Experience

The grand exterior of the Prado Museum. Made of white stone with multiple pillars, and a carved stone mural set at the top of the entrance building, there is a flag flying atop it. A large statue of a figure cast in dark metal sits in front of the entrance.

Experience

Prado Museum

Madrid’s most renowned museum, home to the single best collection of Spanish art and arguably the world’s finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century.

Adult price: 13

Good for age: 18+

DiverXO

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

Staircase into the restaurant entrance

Experience

Young chef David Munoz is at the helm of Madrid’s acclaimed three Michelin-starred restaurant, creating unique food ‘pictures’ in a Cirque du Soleil ‘Dream World’ atmosphere: there’s nothing quite like it.

Adult price: 70

Min age 10

Good for age: 18+

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  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

  • Official star rating:

Right next to the world-famous Prado Museum, Madrid’s grand old dame pairs old-school opulence with first-class service for a memorable stay.

Average £785

Extra beds

Pool

2+ bedrooms

Beach

Kids menu

Fitness center

Kids club

Day 2

7

Rise early to beat the queues on a visit to the Royal Palace, then cross the Calle de Bailen to the Mirador de la Catedral for the lovely view.

After, wander the city streets to the landmark Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s beating heart. Book in for lunch at nearby Botin – the oldest restaurant in the world.

In the afternoon, take the Bernabeu Stadium tour, or if football is not your thing, stop into nearby Casa Diego to buy a traditional fan, then walk 15 minutes to the Costume & Fashion Museum.

For dinner, book onto a tapas tour and sample some of Madrid cuisine’s enticing tastes and flavours.

Almudena Cathedral

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

Almudena Cathedral. A cathedral, with a central dome, pillars, and decorative elements. Pedestrians walk in the square in front of it.

Experience

Opposite the Royal Palace and the seat of Madrid’s Catholic Archbishop. Building started in 1880 and only officially finished in 1993, when it was subsequently consecrated by Pope John Paul II. Inside, it surprises with contemporary chapels, cupolas, statues and décor. Worth a stop if churches are your thing.

Adult price: 1

Good for age: 18+

Plaza Mayor

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

A view from the side of Plaza Mayor. Tables and chairs from cafes sit the the sun, people walk around on the cobblestone plaza.

Experience

Madrid’s big, Baroque main square, completed in 1619, is enclosed by stately symmetrical buildings and porticoed walks. For centuries it was the theatre of city life – witnessing coronations, bullfights, jousts, football matches, beatifications, and executions. Today, it’s Madrid’s beating heart, packed with cafés and restaurants.

Good for age: 4+

Casa de Diego

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

A traditional Spanish hand fan - black lace on top of the fan fabric which shows a pastoral scene.

Experience

Founded in 1858. Spain has long been one of the greatest producers of abanicos – traditional hand fans. This small studio upholds that tradition. The highest quality hand-made fans – with handles made from wood, ebony or bone – are made on site. Each one is a unique, gorgeous work of art.

Good for age: 13+

Day 3

5

Spend the morning with the masterpieces in the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum and/or the contemporary art at the Reina Sofia.

Follow the art fest with an atmospheric lunch in the 17th-century cellars at Bodega de los Secretos, then relax at the Hammam Al Andalus.

In the evening, book in for a Michelin-starred dinner and flamenco show at the Corral de la Moreria (bookings essential).

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

  • Bucket List Experience

Spain’s National Museum of 20th-century art is the third of Madrid’s world-class art museums. Reina most famously contains Picasso’s Guernica, and outstanding collections of Spain’s two greatest 20th-century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

Adult price: 8

Good for age: 18+

Hammam at Al Andalus Madrid

  • Madrid, Spain

Hammam at Al Andalus Madrid

Experience

If you need some time out from the hectic delights of this vibrant city, head to this excellent hammam, a modern-day version of the traditional Andalusian bathhouse experience, to soak in the hot spa baths. Traditional treatments include steamy massage, hot stones and kessa gloves.

Adult price: 60

Min age 25

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 2+ hours

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  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

  • Bucket List Experience

The biggest stars, the greatest shows. Madrid is the epicentre of this flamboyant, uplifting traditional Andalusian dance. Unmissable.

Adult price: 10

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 90+ minutes

When: All year round

Freq: daily

Corral de la Moreria

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

Sexy flamenco dancer performing her dance in a red long dress.

Experience

In a historic setting by the Royal Palace, this superb, award-winning club was founded in 1956, making it the oldest in Madrid.

Adult price: 12

Good for age: 13+

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Day 4

3

In the morning, book onto a guided tour of El Escorial Palace, one hour outside of the city, and the spooky Valley of the Fallen.

Back in Madrid, re-energize with hot chocolate and churros at the Chocolateria San Gines, then make your way north, poking around the little shops and sidewalk cafes of the lively Chueca quarter before an informal dinner at the San Ildefonso Market.

  • San Lorenzo del Escorial , Community of Madrid, Spain

  • Bucket List Experience

Vast, UNESCO-listed palace and monastery complex offering a fascinating insight into the Habsburg dynasty and centuries of Spanish history. The octagonal pantheon contains the tombs of nearly every Spanish monarch.

Adult price: 13

Good for age: 18+

Chocolateria San Gines

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

An overhead photo of churros on a white plate. One churro has been half dipped into a mug of hot chocolate.

Experience

Founded in 1894, unchanged with its mirrors and marble tables, this is the place to try Madrid’s favourite snack, churros – long doughnuts dipped in thick hot chocolate – available nightly until 11.30pm.

Good for age: 4+

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San Ildefonso Market

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

San Ildefonso Market

Experience

Away from the tourist crowds between the Chueca and Malasana districts, this street market is designed for socialising. It covers three floors, with two terraces and 20 wildly diverse stands and bars; it frequently hosts events.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

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Sunday only

5

If it’s a Sunday, start the day at the Rastro Flea Market before moving on to a lively Sunday brunch at Museo Chicote. Otherwise, visit one of Spain’s top private art collections in the Lazaro Galdino Museum.

After lunch (or brunch) visit Goya’s delightful masterpiece, the St. Antonio de la Florida and enjoy the Sunday afternoon atmosphere in the Parque del Oeste before taking a sunset ride on the cable car.

Reserve an informal dinner at colourful Rosi La Loca – one of the few restaurants open on Sunday evenings.

El Rastro Flea Market

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

Busy market stalls with many people looking around and shopping.

Experience

Madrid’s lively Sunday morning flea market sells everything from ceramics to fabrics, handmade shoes and antiques. It has been held in the La Latina district for over 400 years.

Good for age: 13+

Museo Chicote

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

External facade of a street bar

Experience

Spain’s oldest cocktail bar, founded in 1931; along with bucketloads of atmosphere is a wall of photos of the movie stars (Sinatra, Grace Kelley etc.) who once sipped drinks here. Go for Sunday afternoon brunch with a DJ.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

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Lazaro Galdiano Museum

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

Display artworks and large glass casing inside the Lazaro Galdiano Museum

Experience

A fantastic private collection of over 12,000 ceramics, jewellery, small bonzes, coins, carvings, manuscripts and other fascinating artefacts from the nineteenth century back to the prehistoric period. It’s housed in a historic Madrid, with original baroque painted ceilings.

Adult price: 6

Good for age: 18+

Website >

Royal Chapel of St Anthony of La Florida

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

View of the domed roof with exquisite Goya frescoes

Experience

Goya devotees should see his work at its most delightful in this chapel (now a museum), that’s also the artist’s final resting place.

Good for age: 18+

Madrid Cable Car

  • Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

Cable car over casa de campo park in Madrid, Spain. The blue cable cars are above the trees in the park, with the city visible in the background.

Experience

Grab the best views of the city from this cable car, which runs from Paseo del Pintor Rosales to the Casa de Campo park and zoo. It’s a 2.5km ride and takes around 11 minutes.

Adult price: 3

Good for age: 6+

Duration: 11 minutes