Spain (Kingdom of Spain)

Languages: Spanish

Currencies: EUR · Euro (€)

Capitol: Madrid

Continents: Europe

Borders: France, Morocco, Gibraltar, Portugal, Andorra

More useful information

Area: 505,992km2

Population: 47,351,567

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +34

Timezones: UTC, UTC+01:00

Last updated on October 30, 2023

Madrid is a busy capital city full of world-class museums, culture, historic sights and galleries. It’s unlikely to become your pieceful destination, although I managed to capture some quiet spots around the city. Follow my Madrid 5 days itinerary which will entertain you with a list of top attractions and memorable places to visit.

Streets of Madrid - 5 days itinerary.

Just like everywhere in Spain there is one thing you’ll definitely get to enjoy – buzzing street life, tapas bars and unbeatable nightlife. Walk Gran Via – the most famous street and shoppers spot. Skip the main Avenida for smaller cobblestone walkways and incredible architecture.

The main historical squares are:

  • Plaza Mayor,
  • Plaza de Espana,
  • Puerta del Sol (with the famous monument of the bear licking the strawberry).

Apart from their historical importance and beautiful architecture, you might find them noisy and chaotic but these places are a great cultural heritage. Plaza de Mayor is the oldest part of the city and the square will leave you breathless at night time.  

You may want to get your GO CITY PASS, which allows to save 50% of the Madrid attractions.

Where best to stay in Madrid?

Madrid 5 days itinerary

Madrid is a busy city, make sure your accommodation is close to any of the metro stations. Madrid has amazing metro network and this is the most reliable and efficient way of getting around Madrid. Map of Madrid Subway with 13 lines & routes is available at major stations. Browse all the accommodation options here. 

Mercado de San Miguel.

Spanish cuisine is one of the top rated in the world. That’s why a famous local market – Mercado de San Miguel is a fantastic option to try number of traditional dishes, served in small portions (tapas). The place is not only a great spot to taste some delicious food but also to meet local traditions and customs. The place is probably a little overpriced but offers different kind of amazing Spanish cuisine. The market offers fresh and well cooked sea food specialities (great fresh oysters and scallops are must try!)! 

All the small stands offer tiny portion of different snacks, which is a very good option to try lots of local flavours. Everything looks colorful and smells delicious. You’re eating the place with your eyes 🙂 Don’t forget to drink it over with lovely Sangria! Or try one of the best city tours: Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting!

Madrid from the above – best rooftop bars and restaurants in Madrid.

One of the most amazing attractions in Madrid are rooftop bars with incredible terraces and restaurants set up. There are number of them in the city centre but make sure to book a table in advance. Rooftop bars are a must attraction in your Madrid 5 days itinerary. Madrid from the above is absolutely stunning with number of monuments and important history landmarks on the roofs of the city buildings.

Terrace Circullo de Bellas Artes Rooftop bar.

To experience incredible city view from the top you need to visit Terrace Circullo de Bellas Artes. The entrance to the top floor costs around 5 Euro. Upstairs restaurants will spoil you with fabulous coctails, champagne and food served to your comfortable canopy or sunbed. There is also a museum on the first floor. Check what’s in the house, as you may be very lucky to discover world-class exhibitions. I missed Picasso exhibition, which was showed in few Spanish cities over the summer.

Principal Madrid Hotel or Heritage Hotel Rooftop bar.

The other stunning rooftop bar is the Principal Madrid Hotel or Heritage Hotel. Casa Suecia is more private than the rest of the top bars. It will welcome you with comfortable sofas and a beautiful 360d view over the city.

The sculptures of two chariots pulled by four horses on the roof of BBVA Bank (Banco de Bilbao) illustrate the strength of the banks in previous centuries. The two sculptural sets weight 25 tons. Originally covered in golden color but during the Spanish Civil War the sculptures were coated with dark paint and finally moved to Madrid.

A great piece of art - Museo del Prado!

There’s one place you you absolutely can’t miss – Museo del Prado – world-class art museum. One and only place for Picasso, Goya, Rubens, Caravaggio, Velázquez and many more great artists..

If you are looking for free tickets – let me explain how it works. Free tickets are available from 6.00 pm. You have to place yourself in the queue from 5.30 pm. you’ll probably be able to collect your free ticket at around 6.15 pm. It means you’ll have an hour to explore the museum, as it closes at 8 pm, which is definitely not enough to explore 2 levels of the museum. 

A very good option is two day general admission ticket. That means you don’t have to explore everything in one day, as I’ll be honest – I struggled after 3.5 hours with my back pain, so it’s a very good option to split this attraction across two days. Of course no photos allowed inside. Here’s the characteristic monument of Velazquez, the symbol of the museum. Goya black paintings were extremely touching..

Enjoy quick access to any of the most famous heritages with most popular city tours: 

Royal Palace – Palacio Real.

Built for King Philip V in 18th century. It’s the largest royal palace in western Europe. There are also works by Goya, Caravaggio and Velázquez, as well as amazing displays of furniture, porcelain, silverware and sceptre of course.

Skip the line tickets with Madrid Walking Tour and the Royal Palace.

Parque del Buen Retiro.

Take a walk through Retiro Park. There’s an amazing monument of Alfonso XII located on artificial lake. Further you can enjoy green valleys and have some rest from the heat. There’s an interesting monument of Jacinto Benavente, one of the foremost Spanish dramatists of the 20th century. When sightseeing Madrid I noticed that ram horns must be a very important symbol in Spanish history. The royal jewel I saw in Royal Palace had a gold hanging ram. In Retiro Park the marmoreal elements had elements of ram’s horns. It must be related to the beaten bull, a symbol of strength and power.

Parque del Buen Retiro

Enjoy the streets of Madrid.

Catedral de Sta Maria la Real de la Almudena, the famous catherdal in Madrid. Most spectacular part of this structure – bronze relief door with images of some most famous people.
One of the most magnificent basilica in the city is Basilica de San Miguel. This stunning, non-touristic basilica is located not far from the Cathedral de Sta Maria la Real.

Have great fun sightseeing the city in an open-top double-decker bus or a private eco tuk tuk and join Spanish cultural events.

Plaza Mayor – one of the main city squares. Aside the amazing architecture the square is odious. Touristic crowd and migrant merchants overshadow the beauty of the old buildings, leaving no space for a nice atmosphere. Check the place after dark and you will not want to leave 🙂
Plaza Mayor in Madrid

One of the enjoying moments for me was walking Calle de Atocha. This tourist free street is full of small shops of local merchants, designers and dress-making workshops. It took me directly to Anton Martin Metro station with a monument of killed lawyers in Atocha massacre in 1977.

The Streets of Madrid

Best tips where to eat in Madrid.

Everyone knows Spanish cuisine is one of the best in the world. Madrid is still relatively cheap comparing to the rest of Europe. And also most famous for it’s tapas. Tapas – it’s simply a small portion of a main dish, a snack or appetiser. 

Tapas play an important part of Spanish culture and social life, which spins around restaurants, cafes and never ending conversations. Small portions – tapas allow you to taste few different options, instead of having one big meal.

Best tip – always ask for Menu del Dia/meal of the day. Usually available from 12-3 pm lunchtime at fixed price 10-14 euro. It gives a possibility to choose one starter from all positions and one main course, usually with a drink and coffee included.

Learn how to make paella and famous tapas in one of the amazing Morning Paella Cooking Class and Market Visit – Classes.

Menu del Dia in Madrid

If you’re thinking of renting a car in Madrid – DISCOVER CARS is the best option with free cancellation and great deals. I used it for few destinations in Spain and it has always served me with hassle free and best service quality. 

Cars are restricted from the city centre. City speed limit is 50km/h. Emergency number is 112.

Public transport Madrid.

Madrid has a great old underground. With 13 lines it’s possible to explore whole city by the fastest and most efficient public transportation. The underground map is available on major stations. I always recommend getting to the closes tourist information (there are many in Madrid) for a city map and useful tips. Spanish underground is noisy, people laugh, talk, play instruments. So different Japan regulations, which say: no talks, no phone allowed.

Ticket machines are available in all metro stations. You’ll probably spend few minutes trying to figure out how to buy a ticket but you should be successful at the end. You can always ask metro staff for help. 

Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!

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