48 Hours in Madrid

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Madrid is home to superb art collections, bustling shopping areas, eateries serving top-notch Spanish and international fare and a buzzing street life. It’s impossible to see the whole city in a weekend, but two days exploring the top sights is a great introduction to the Spanish capital.

From the Art Walk to Hapsburg Madrid

Madrid is an exceptional destination for art lovers. Around the Paseo del Prado are three of the most prestigious art galleries in the world, an area also known as the Landscape of Light,  declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021. 

The Prado Museum is home to an unrivaled collection of Spanish painting from the Middle Ages right up to the 19th century, in addition to masterpieces from the Flemish and Italian schools. Don’t miss: Velázquez’ Las Meninas and Goya’s Third of May, 1808, Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights, and Titian’s The Bacchanal of the Andrians.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza takes us on a journey through the history of European painting from the 13th century right through to the late 20th century. Its walls are lined with works by the likes of Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Rothko, Gaughin, Dalí and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Last but not least is the Reina Sofía, Madrid’s contemporary Spanish art museum par excellence. A collection of over 22,400 works spans much of the 20th century and includes artworks by Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Juan Gris, and the museum’s crown jewel: Picasso’s Guernica.

Palacio Real

In the area, you'll aso find the Botanical Gardens and the Retiro Park, where you can spend the afternoone enjoyinga leisurely stroll. To make your way to the old part of town, take Calle de las Huertas, which cuts through the Barrio de las Letras (Literary Quarter), brimming with antique shops, tapas bars and charming cafés. You'll eventually come to the Plaza Mayor square, which is the epicentre of Madrid de los Austrias (Hapsburg Madrid). From here, in just 10 minutes, you can reach Plaza de la Villa, where the former City Hall is located, and Plaza de Oriente, which is home to two of Madrid’s most iconic buildings: the Royal Palace and the Teatro Real opera house. In this part of the city, the views of the Sierra de Guadarrama are spectacular, with the Mirador de la Cornisa viewpoint at the Royal Palace offering stunning views of the Campo del Moro and Casa de Campo parks. This area also houses the Royal Collections Gallery, which offers a journey through the history of the Spanish monarchy. A short walk from the Jardines de Sabatini, the gardens next to the Royal Palace, stands the Temple of Debod, a second-century Egyptian temple donated to Spain during the construction of the great Aswan Dam.

Tapas and signature cuisine

As well as Barrio de las Letras, another great place to go for tapas is La Latina district. Close by you’ll also findthe San Miguel Market which is lined with delicatessen stalls and bars serving raciones (dishes to share). In the area, there are many centuries-old taverns that serve typical local fare, like cocido (Madrid-style chickpea stew) or dishes from other parts of  Spain such as Galicia, Asturias or the Basque Country.

Cocido madrileño

You can find international food in the vicinity of Plaza de España, and more sophisticated restaurants in and around Gran Vía and Paseo de la Castellana. The Food Hall at Galería Canalejas offers a unique gastronomic experience in Madrid with more than a dozen restaurants of different specialities and nationalities.

The best shopping

International brands, traditional and specialised shops, innovative fashion and the creations of young designers all coexist on the streets of the city. In Barrio de Salamanca, especially along Calle Serrano and Calle Ortega y Gasset, many luxury brands can be found. At the other end of Paseo de Recoletos, around Calle del Almirante, there are shops brimming with style and personality.

And right next to Gran Vía, where all the department stores are located, Calle de Fuencarral show off young fashion trends in their shop windows. On the Gran Vía, you will find WOW Concept, a mega store conceived as a multi-brand, multi-product shopping centre; and the Galería Canalejas, an exclusive shopping gallery, which has become the new icon of luxury in Madrid, is in the former Equitativa Palace, between Calle Alcalá and Calle Sevilla.

Compras de lujo

Theatres and cultural activities

The city boasts a wide range of theatre offerings, hosting all sorts of performances in major venues such as Teatro Real (opera house), Lope de Vega, Teatro Nuevo Apolo, Teatro Circo Price and Teatro Español, among others. Madrid can be defined as the great capital of musicals in Spanish with an extensive offer of musicals. The Daoíz and Velarde Cultural Centre, a revamped stage space that expands the decentralisation of the city's culture, and the new  Serrería Belga Cultural Space, which showcases Madrid's creative dynamism in art, music, design, literature, image and gastroculture stand out.

Plans for all the family

If you are on holidays with your kids, a good option is to discover the capital’s theme parks and amusement parks. You can also have a rest in one of the cafés especially designed for all the family. Madrid can be defined as the great capital of musicals in Spanish with a wide range of musicals with names such as El Rey León or Billy Elliot.

Open 24 hours

Madrid is known the world over for its nightlife: theatres, musicals, flamenco bars, pubs and clubs where you can dance into the early hours.

Adding to this, some central hotels have turned their roof decks into sophisticated chill-out lounges overlooking the city, while a number of new bars serving refreshing cocktails have sprung up around the capital. This may be one of the best ways to wrap up your visit to Madrid, but there’s so much more to discover in the city that we’re sure you won’t be able to stay away for long.

El Corral de la Morería


  • Check out our selection of original souvenirs to remember your visit to Madrid.

    Souvenirs from Madrid
  • Recuerdos de Madrid - La Violeta
  • No matter what time of year you visit, in Madrid you will enjoy our light and an inexhaustible array of culture, food and entertainment.

    Madrid through the seasons
  • Madrid en todas las estaciones del año
  • Don't let a little drizzle ruin your visit! Check out all the things you can do in Madrid whatever the weather.

    Madrid in the Rain
  • Madrid con lluvia. Plaza Mayor
  • A selection of one-of-a-kind moments and experiences that you can only enjoy in Madrid. Come and share them with us!

    Things you can only do in Madrid
  • Solamente en Madrid


The city’s new official sightseeing and tourist travel pass.

An observation deck at 92 metres.

Our online store (in Spanish) sells artisan souvenirs.